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Can Libertarians Be Religious?

Or vice versa? Stanley Kurtz wants to know.

I don't know, but I would suspect the correlation is low, based at least on empirical data. There are probably theoretical reasons as well, but I don't have time to give it much thought right now.

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 09, 2005 09:39 AM
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Yeah, I'd suspsect the correlation is pretty low. There are some exceptions, such as myself and some others I know, but the majority of mainstream libertarians or anarchists I know are at least not actively involved with any particular religion, and are usually agnostic or atheist. I don't think there really is any reason why someone who's actively religious (even in a more conservative faith like mine) can't have a libertarian bent in political philosophy.


Posted by Jonathan Goff at February 9, 2005 10:46 AM


There's a colon at the end of the link to the article, instead of a closing quote (just before the target=" ". Those of us IE-using heathen can't see the post too well. ;)

Posted by John Breen III at February 9, 2005 10:49 AM

Columnist and blogger Vox Day is a self-professed Libertarian and Christian.

Posted by Jeff Arnall at February 9, 2005 01:22 PM

Talk about trolling your own blog for comments.
Okay, I'll bite.

Number of "laws" for Christians: 10 commandments, "golden rule", perhaps a few dozen more.

Number of laws from US/state governments: hundred thousand plus.

Finally, I should point out that there are a great many Christian libertarians in history, most obvious being the vast majority of the "Founding Fathers".

Posted by E. Bryan at February 9, 2005 07:49 PM

E. Bryan, I expect that that's exactly the kind of post that Mr. Kurtz was looking for...

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 9, 2005 07:54 PM

Some have argued over at Vox Day's blog that God must be a libertarian. "Here's the world, here's the rules, and here's what will happen to you if you break them. But I won't stop you from breaking them."

Also, it could be said that having the moral and ethical foundation of Christianity on which to build your libertarian views is better than building libertarianism without it. I know that you have written about atheist morals and ethics, but IIRC, you acknowledge that your personal ethics and morals were developed in a Christian atmosphere. What if they were not?

Given the decreasing influence of Christianity on American society, I think we might see part of the answer to that...

Posted by Astrosmith at February 9, 2005 09:03 PM

Of course a libertartian can be religious. One simply has to break the link that law=morality or that what is bad ought to be banned.

Most people want laws to ban something they don't like, whether they are religious or not, from cruelty to animals to liquor sales on Sunday. But libertarians think that laws ought to protect rights, not proscribe wrongs.

Admittedly, libertarianism serves as a platform for a lot of people who simply want to be libertine. But for myself, I don't see why a person cannot love Jesus and love freedom at the same time. I love them both.

Posted by El Borak at February 9, 2005 09:24 PM

Most people want laws to ban something they don't like, whether they are religious or not, from cruelty to animals to liquor sales on Sunday. But libertarians think that laws ought to protect rights, not proscribe wrongs.

There's another way to look at it: just because something is bad doesn't mean that criminalizing it won't create something even worse. The treatment of witchcraft is a classic example. The witch burnings didn't end because people stopped believing in (the medieval conept of) witches. They ended because such laws couldn't be prosecuted objectively - it was always someone's hearsay that sent someone to the stake. Witches, bad - legalized lynching, worse.

Posted by Alan K. Henderson at February 9, 2005 10:24 PM

This seems one of those weird social correlations. A similar question might be why are libertarians overrepresented in old school science fiction? Belief systems evolve and some of the strange combinations of beliefs we see today may be a result of how one of the beliefs came into being.

Posted by Karl Hallowell at February 10, 2005 04:40 AM

Here you go:

Posted by Astrosmith at February 10, 2005 07:55 AM

Every sapient human being is religious, without exception. A given person may have a metaphysics where there is no Deity, but each person still has a conception of metaphysics, a "ultimate concern", etc.

Posted by Circuit_Rider at February 11, 2005 11:15 AM

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