Thursday, August 28, 2014

Libertarian Christians?

Now I'm not religious, I'm an atheist objectivist. However, it is worth noting that being a libertarian does not necessarily mean one is an atheist (and certainly not objectivist).  

I do believe that people can be both, quite simply the state can leave free people alone, some of them can be Christians and live lives according to Christianity, as long as they don't initiate force. Indeed, if people of all religions could simply grasp that, we would live in a far better world, albeit one that would still face debates about science and ethics, education and the like - but for these to be determined through persuasion not force.  

Well known libertarian oriented Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has a strong faith, and in NZ, the hard-working and outspoken Tim Wikiriwhi is a Christian libertarian, as is Richard Goode a libertarian standing for the ALCP.  Their blog has their own perspective, and it's safe to say that while we'll agree on much politically, when it comes to matters spiritual, we part company.  Evangelical Christian bloggers Matt and Madeleine Flanagan likewise, are libertarians.   There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans who would claim the same.

However, that is how a free society works.  People can proselytise their religion or atheism, they can live their lives according to religious teachings and rules, as long as they respect the right of others to do differently.  As long as the religious do not break fundamental individual rights of others (that includes ensuring children are not subjected to physical and sexual abuse or neglect), they can live their lives in peace.  

The key is for Christians to not want laws passed that break the crucial "non initiation of force" principle, which has tended to be a weakness of many Christian politicians keen to regulate what people do with their bodies.   That means not wanting the law to regulate consensual adult sexual behaviour or artistic depictions of it (I use artistic to include any media depictions at all).  The tricky area comes into what is one of the most fraught issues - abortion.  Libertarians differ on abortion, some believe that the foetus has no rights, some believe they do have rights.  This is a fertile area for debate, as it should be, but as long as it is debate based on objectively defined factors - i.e. where life begins, what sort of entities should have rights, what rights and why - then debate can be rational.  That's where I fear it gets difficult for some Christian libertarians.

Yet if only we could get to that debate.   There may be libertarians from other religious faiths, I'm keen to meet Muslim libertarians for fairly obvious reasons, but it would appear that Christianity has offered more scope than most religions to "live and let live" and grant adults the freedom to choose to believe and then to respect the right of non-believers to live their lives, as long as they do the same to others.

So whilst I'll happily argue against religion generally, and argue against some of the key tenets of Christianity, I do respect the fundamental right of Christians to hold and to disseminate their beliefs.   Moreover, Christian libertarians are allies in the wider push for individual freedom.   I'd like Jewish (as in religious not merely ethnic) libertarians and Muslim libertarians as well as Hindu and Buddhist ones. Yet, rather sadly, there doesn't appear to be too many of any of them.

No comments: