Guthrie's Gospel

Economic justice from a Christian perspective

Category: Politics

No Christian can support the GOP’s attacks on immigrants and refugees

It is the duty of Christians to welcome and embrace refugees and immigrants regardless of where they’re from and what faith they hold. This is made clear throughout the Bible.

The Old Testament is full of exhortations to the faithful to treat foreigners and refugees with the same justice and compassion we would want for ourselves.

In Exodus, God commands the Hebrews not to mistreat or oppress foreigners:

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.  If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:21-24)

This point is also made in Leviticus:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

Deuteronomy tells us that God loves the foreigners who reside among his faithful, providing for their material comfort, and that the truly faithful are to love foreigners as He does:

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:16-19)

Deuteronomy reiterates this point by cursing those who ignore the Lord’s command:

“Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.”

Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” (Deuteronomy 27:19)

The books of the prophets continue to reiterate this central duty of those who worship God.

In Jeremiah, the we are warned against empty religion that does not fulfill the Lord’s teachings:

Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.  This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. (Jeremiah 7:1-7)

Zechariah also condemns oppression of foreigners:

And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’ (Zechariah 7:8-10)

Malachi warns that the Lord will put on trial those who deprive foreigners of justice:

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.  (Malachi 3:5-7)

The New Testament continues this theme. In Matthew we are shown that Christ Himself and His holy parents were themselves refugees in the time of Herod:

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.  (Matthew 2:13-16)

And in His parable of the sheep and the goats, Christ makes clear the gravity of treating those in need, which certainly includes refugees, with a hard heart:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

Upon those who live their faith through practical compassion He will bestow heavenly rewards, but those who turn away strangers Christ will likewise turn away.

Paul too speaks about the importance of welcoming strangers with open arms. In Hebrews, Paul exhorts us to show hospitality to strangers and to remember those, like refugees, who suffer:

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13:2-3)

All this is reflected in Christianity’s central moral precept that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Luke 10:27). “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’,” as Paul teaches in Galatians 5:14, “for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the Law” (Romans 13:8).

Those who do not exercise practical love for their neighbor, even their foreign neighbor, even their neighbor who lives beside them without a visa, have renounced Christ and His teachings. It is to them that Christ says “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).


A Christian response to Syrian refugees

In the wake of the vitriolic opposition to aiding Syrians fleeing their ravaged and war-torn homes that has arisen in some dark corners of the American discourse, I feel compelled to address the issue from Christian perspective.

Syria has been locked in a grueling civil war since the latter part of 2011. Syrians of all religious and ethnic stripes have faced years of unending conflict and are largely trapped between the brutality of their dictator al-Assad, the horror that is the Islamic State. Thus they are fleeing by the millions, something I’m sure many American Christians would do if faced with such unrelenting violence.

In response to this humanitarian crisis, many countries, including the United States, have agreed to offer a new life to a portion of those escaping Syria. In the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Paris, many, including some who profess Christ, have suggested that the right thing for America to do is to refuse to allow Syrian refugees into the United States or to add new draconian screening measures to our nation’s already thorough security screening. The question thus becomes, what is the Christian response to this crisis?

The answer should be obvious to any student of the Gospel. As Christians, we must offer comfort and aid to those in need, even when those in need are foreign, speaking a different language, practicing different customs, and, often, following a different religion.

For those who find this conclusion less than apparent, there are three Biblical passages that I think will be particularly helpful in clarifying Christ’s teachings.

The first is the Parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:29-37:

 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

The parable begins with a declaration of the core of our faith. We are to love God and our neighbor. Jesus then goes on to tell the story of a Samaritan who went out of his way to help a person in desperate need, making clear that the Christian response to another’s suffering is to show mercy.

What makes this parable all the more striking is Jesus highlights the righteousness of an outsider. Samaritans were, and are, a religious group similar to but distinct from Jews. Especially at this time in history, Jews and Samaritans would have viewed each other with enmity. Yet Jesus, speaking to a Jewish audience, shows the unrighteousness of a priest and a Levite while highlighting the righteousness of a man his audience would have viewed as inherently unrighteous.

Christ taught that mercy and compassion know no ethnic or religious boundaries. If a man who was not a follower of Christ could be an exemplar of Christian morality, then, as Christians, we must be even more merciful, for the Samaritan acted righteously without the teachings of Christ, but for those of us to whom much has been given, much is required (Luke 12:48).

Our duty to aid Syrian refugees is further reinforced by Leviticus 19:33-34:

 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

God demanded of the Israelites that they treat foreigners with justice and that they love the foreigners as they loved their own kind. This duty remains with all Christians today. We are required to love those who are different just as we love ourselves, for it is what God demands of us. Even if we view Islam as a false religion, even if we view it as an evil religion1, there is still no excuse for acting with mercy toward Syrian Muslim refugees.

Finally, we may turn to Matthew 25:31-46, where Christ tells his followers that those who treat the downtrodden with mercy will inherit God’s kingdom while those who shunned them will receive eternal fire:

 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

Whatever we do to “the least of these” we do to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. It is hard to think of people more fitting of the designation of least among us than Syria’s refugees. After living under an oppressive dictatorship and facing years of civil war that has destroyed much of their homeland, they have been forced to flee. They leave behind their homes, their worldly possessions, their homeland, the graves of their loved ones and ancestors. They leave behind friends and family who cannot or choose not to flee. They leave behind all the horrors they have seen and a land whose custom, language, and religions were familiar for Turkey, for Europe, for America. They are met with new languages and new cultures. They are met with both open arms and open hostility in lands whose geographic, cultural, and political landscapes are often foreign and strange. They have chosen to become lost in the world because the world they knew was too terrible to endure. These truly are the bearers of Christ. Let us feed them and give them drink. Let us clothe them and give them shelter. This is Christ demands of us, for whatever we do to the Syrian refugees, we do to our Lord Himself and He will judge us accordingly.



  1. I am not proclaiming that Islam is an evil religion. I am acknowledging that among some of those who oppose offering sanctuary to Syrian refugees this view of Islam is sometimes held.

Music Monday: Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)


In honor of the holy Martin Luther King, Jr., here is a second song for this Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)” by Nina Simone

“Turn the other cheek
He’d plead.
Love thy neighbor
Was his creed.
Pain, humiliation, death
He did not dread.

With his Bible at his side
From his foes he did not hide
It’s hard to think
That this great man is dead.”

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr., Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Icon

Martin Luther King, Jr. Icon

On this late January day, let us remember the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and all others who have struggled to live Christian lives and to bring the Kingdom of God to those who most need it. Let Rev. King’s example inspire us to work for the benefit of our neighbors, to better their lives and to create a better society for them to live in, because by acting out our love for our neighbors we are showing our love for God. The racial injustice Dr. King worked against is still prevalent. The economic injustice Dr. King worked against is still prevalent. The militarism and violence that Dr. King worked against is still prevalent. Let us take up his struggle, the struggle of many, many other people as well, and tear down the personal and institutional racism we see around us. Let us create an economic system based not on greed and inequality, but in line with the egalitarian spirit of the Bible. Let us beat our swords into plowshares. Let us do what God calls us to do and let water roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

I will leave you today with a few quotes from Martin Luther King himself:

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.

True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness.

We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic. And yet I am not so opposed to capitalism that I have failed to see its relative merits. It started out with a noble and high motive, viz, to block the trade monopolies of nobles, but like most human system it fail victim to the very thing it was revolting against. So today capitalism has outlived its usefulness. It has brought about a system that takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes.

Tumblr, a racist rape-endorser, and Obamacare

So the other day, I posted this quote to my Tumblr:

We are mystified as to how can good Christian men and women oppose – in some cases in the name of religion — providing health care for it citizens. … Adequate healthcare for all should be championed by evangelical Christians who follow the teaching of Scripture.

I want to challenge my American evangelicals friends to consider whether your views of health care are truly biblical, and to consider whether you have been blinded by a culture of hyper-individualism, economic rationalism, placing faith in market forces. Because to outsiders the anti-Obamacare thing looks like “civil religion,” a syncretistic concoction of Christian teaching, Republican partisanship, capitalistic-worship, and social Darwinism with its mantra of the survival of the fittest.

The quote was taken from “American evangelicalism is defined by political tribalism” on Patheos.

The quote was pretty soon thereafter reblogged by blondetraditionalist, who added this factually inaccurate rant:

I don’t oppose Obamacare because of “hyper-individualism” or “social Darwinism,” I oppose it because it’s the stupidest and possibly one of the most evil laws to grace this nation.
Obamacare is not only unconstitutional, it’s also unbiblical. Forcing people to pay outrageous sums of money for a subpar service they don’t want, or forcing them to pay to NOT have the service, is un-Christlike. Forcing companies to cancel life-saving insurance policies, leaving people with the choice of either going bankrupt while trying to stay alive, or die because they can’t afford the medical care, is un-Christlike. Instating a universal healthcare plan that will create death panels is un-Christlike. Instating a universal healthcare plan that will cause people to lose their jobs or have their much-needed hours severely cut back because employers can’t afford it is un-Christlike. Letting the people who created the law exempt themselves from what they know is a shitty healthcare service, is un-Christlike.
So maybe people who don’t know what they’re talking about should keep their mouths shut.

The rant has become popular enough among some conservative Tumblr’s that I thought I’d address it here. Let’s look at blondetraditionalist’s concerns one by one.

1. Obamacare is not only unconstitutional, it’s also unbiblical.

The Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional:

If Fox News is too liberal of a source for you, you can always read the Supreme Court’s decision yourself.

The Bible says very little that could invariably be taken as a condemnation of the Affordable Care Act (surprise). Without a fuller theological argument from blondetraditionalist based on sound exegesis, this one’s hard to answer because it seems so baseless. The Bible, however, does have a lot to say about the importance of healing the sick, which could suggest that Obamacare might be in line with Christ’s teachings.

2. Forcing people to pay outrageous sums of money for a subpar service they don’t want, or forcing them to pay to NOT have the service, is un-Christlike.

Not sure where she’s getting here evidence for “outrageous sums of money” or “subpar service,” but it’s the for-profit insurance companies that set the premiums and define the services of their policies, not the federal government. If you want to view the federal government as the modern-day equivalent of Caesar, the “render unto Caesar” the money with Caesar’s face on it (or Jackson’s, Lincoln’s, Grant’s, Franklin’s) and pay the healthcare tax, as Paul would urge (Romans 13:6).

3. Forcing companies to cancel life-saving insurance policies, leaving people with the choice of either going bankrupt while trying to stay alive, or die because they can’t afford the medical care, is un-Christlike.

People are already being forced to choose between bankruptcy and death. That’s the pre-Obamacare status quo. And health insurance companies could deny policies or charge exorbitant rates for people with “pre-existing conditions,” condemning them to suffering and death or crippling poverty. That’s a large part of what the law is trying solve.

79 million Americans had trouble paying there debt under before Obamacare


More than 60% of bankruptcies were do to health care costs:

Over 47 million Americans lacked health insurance pre-Obamacare:

4. Instating a universal healthcare plan that will create death panels is un-Christlike.

Death panels were never a thing. Ever. They were never part of the law or any proposed version of it.

5. Instating a universal healthcare plan that will cause people to lose their jobs or have their much-needed hours severely cut back because employers can’t afford it is un-Christlike.

Again, no evidence for blondetraditionalist’s argument. Again, cut backs are made at the decision of the employer and are not mandated by law.

6. Letting the people who created the law exempt themselves from what they know is a shitty healthcare service, is un-Christlike.

Congress isn’t exempt from the Affordable Care Act:

Since blondetraditionalist frames her opposition to Obamacare in terms of how Christlike she thinks it is, let’s see what she thinks is Christlike. She thinks advocating that women who don’t hate “illegal” immigrants should be raped is Christlike. She thinks reblogging pictures of Nazis is Christlike. She thinks regularly reblogging from racist Tumblrs is Christlike. It’s pretty clear that blondetraditionalist has no idea who Christ was, what He taught, or how to act in imitation of Him.

Remember conservative tumblrites, when you reblog blondetraditionalist’s anti-Obamacare rant, you’re not only spreading lies, you’re also associating yourself with a racist rape apologist. I don’t think that’s what Jesus would have done.

What I Mean by (Christian) Socialism

Socialism is a term fraught with meaning and misunderstanding. To many, especially in the tea party movement, socialism is equated with nearly everything that government does. To others, socialism is defined by the oppressive, totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union, China, and even Nazi Germany. For some socialism is defined by the works of Karl Marx. For others, socialism is the desirable social services that governments can provide through taxes without fundamentally challenging the basic structures of capitalism. For some, socialism is a centralized, command economy run by bureaucrats. For others, socialism is the outgrowth of a healthy democracy. For some, socialism is big government. For others, it is anarchism.

Part of the problem is that there are many groups and individuals that advocate a wide variety of economic programs and political philosophies under the umbrella of socialism. These range from certain strands of anarchism and social democracy movements that emphasize varying degrees of volunteerism and democracy to hardline Marxist-Leninists and Maoists who advocate insurgency and full communism. These movements generally share the belief that the means of producing wealth (land, machinery, natural resources, etc.) should in some way be controlled by society, rather than by individuals with enough power to control others’ access to the means of production. How they seek to implement this social control of the means of production is where they diverge, often widely. Another part of the problem is that those who oppose socialism, intentionally and accidentally distort different versions of socialism, creating caricatures of the different movements.

The third part of the problem, with regards to this blog, is that I am somewhat vague in what I mean by socialism. This is because I don’t adhere to any particular dogma about how socialism is to be achieved. I’m not Leninist nor a Trotskyist. I’m not an anarchist (at least not strictly). I’m not a social democrat. I am not a De Leonist nor a Fourierist. I am a Christian socialist, and what that means for me is that…

…when I advocate socialism, I am not:

  • advocating a violent revolution,
  • advocating for totalitarian regime,
  • seeking to oppress the rich,
  • advocating a centralized, state-run economy,
  • necessarily advocating for a total dissolution of the market economy.

…when I advocate socialism, I am:

  • promoting a peaceful transition away from global capitalism and routine worker exploitation,
  • advocating a more equitable distribution of wealth,
  • seeking a less hierarchical, decentralized, worker-run economy,
  • advocating a society based on the ideas of liberty and equality,
  • seeking a community-centered way of life,
  • advocating a truly democratic form of government,
  • seeking an end to poverty and all forms of oppression.

…when I advocate Christian socialism, I am not:

  • advocating Marxism with a thin veneer of Christian symbolism,
  • calling for a theocracy that oppresses non-Christians,
  • advocating a society that requires all its members to be Christian,
  • promoting one particular branch of Christianity over all others.

…when I advocate Christian socialism, I am:

  • seeking to establish the Kingdom of God within my own heart,
  • seeking to establish the Kingdom of God in the world,
  • advocating an economic system that is faithful to the moral and economic teachings of the Bible,
  • advocating an economy, government, and society based on love for one’s neighbor rather than love of material things.

The Tea Party and Ayn Rand versus Jesus Christ

This video imagines what a false Jesus would preach today if he were to stand on the National Mall and espouse the values of tea party Repbulicans and then contrasts those teachings with that of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The video is entertaining and manages to draw a clear line between Christianity and the tea party movement. However, it only tangentially alludes to the root of this difference when false-Jesus calls Ayn Rand his prophet. Herein, I will endeavor to make clear the foundational importance of Ayn Rand to tea party ideology and the contradictions between her philosophy, Objectivism, and authentic Christianity, which many of Rand’s admires still claim to confess.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is inextricably linked to the ideology of the tea party movement, and much of the contemporary Republican Party and many conservative political organizations. Paul Ryan, a professed Catholic, claimed Ayn Rand was the reason he got involved in public service and has said that:

“I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are…It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged…It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding principles are…there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.” (Audio available here)

Ron Paul, a professed Baptist, said Ayn Rand had a lot of influence on him.  His son Rand Paul, a Presbyterian, calls himself a “a big fan of Ayn Rand.”  Ted Cruz, a professed Baptist, read from Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged during his filibuster against Obamacare. Marco Rubio, a Catholic (or maybe a Baptist), read Atlas Shrugged twice during his first term in office. Ron Johnson, a Lutheran, called Atlas Shrugged his “foundational book.” Michelle Malkin, a professed Catholic, hyped the links between the tea party and Ayn Rand. Rush Limbaugh, a Methodist, is fond of talking about Rand. Many tea party groups promoted the 2011 movie Atlas Shrugged, based on Rand’s most famous novel. The Heritage Foundation hosted a special screening of Atlas Shrugged. FreedomWorks claimed it helped bring the movie to the big screen. Even where these groups draw their ideas from sources other than Rand, they usually manage to find thinkers who largely reinforce a worldview espoused by Ayn Rand and her disciples.

Some of the tea party’s canonized saints, like St. Ronald Reagan the Great, a member of the Disciples of Christ and later the Presbyterian traditions, and St. Barry Goldwater the Forerunner, an Episcopalian, have expressed appreciation for Ayn Rand. Even some more “establishment” Republicans have voiced their appreciation of Rand.

But what is the trouble with Christians drawing on the ideas of Ayn Rand? Surely many Christians have drawn on philosophies outside of Christianity to clarify their faith. While that might be the case, there are two major problems with any attempt to marry the philosophy of Ayn Rand with Christianity. The first is that Rand’s ideas fundamentally contradict the teaching of Christ, his apostles, and the prophets. Jesus taught us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27,35; Matthew 5:44). Ayn Rand said: “I regard compassion as proper only toward those who are innocent victims, but not toward those who are morally guilty” and that “You love those who deserve it.”

Another area where Rand diverges from Christ is on the issue of charity. Charity and giving are central to the Christian faith. Moses taught the importance of charity (Deuteronomy 14:22,28-29, 15:7-11, & 24:19-22). Christ commanded that we “Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42) and St. John the Baptist proclaimed “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (Luke 3:11). St. Paul also taught the importance of giving (Hebrews 13:16) and Isaiah declared that aiding those in need was the form of worship God desired (Isaiah 58:6-7). Furthermore, Amos condemned those who ignored or exploited the poor (Amos 2:6-8) as did Christ in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31 ) and when He warned of His judgement to come (Matthew 25:31-46), St. John also condemns those who are uncharitable (1 John 3:17–18). But Rand told Playboy that:

My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue.

Rand also differs with Christianity on the issue of wealth. St. Paul taught us the desire for wealth is evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10) as did Christ in his parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21). St. James condemned the wealthy (James 5:1-6) as did Amos (Amos 6:1,4-7) as did Christ when he told his disciples  about how difficult it would be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23-24),  and when he declared “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Luke 6:20). Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:

So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

Christians are called to love all people and to do good for others even if it means suffering or death for oneself. Christ taught his disciples “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13). St. Paul teaches “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). Ayn Rand calls altruism and self-sacrifice “evil,” “immoral,” and “cannibalism”:

The second problem is that Ayn Rand was a vitriolic atheist. She openly hated Christianity and religion. In her novel Anthem Rand proclaimed that people should worship themselves: “And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.'” She told the pornographic magazine Playboy that she believed faith was a “negation of reason” that was “very detrimental to human life.” In a television interview, she declared she was “against God” and calling religion a psychological weakness:

And Rand’s atheism isn’t some quirky side note of her philosophy; atheism is the corner stone of her philosophy; atheism is the root from which her philosophy grows. Rand once condemned the National Review as “the worst and most dangerous magazine in America” for daring to try and link capitalism and Christianity. Ayn idolized human reason and human wisdom as the wellspring of her philosophy. Rand goes so far as to specifically disparage Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross:

According to the Christian mythology, [Christ] died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the non-ideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors.

To preach the gospel of Ayn Rand while proclaiming oneself a Christian is an act of heresy, blasphemy, and apostasy. It is an open rebellion against God. Those who do so are false prophets, the wolves in sheep’s clothing Christ warned about and we know them by their evil fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). The dark, twisted, greed-driven philosophy of Ayn Rand can never be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus Christ, not even if we ignore her atheism. As Christ our Lord taught “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). We must either choose Christ or Rand. Let us pray that those who have fallen into the blasphemies of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy will repent and return to the Lord in both word and deed. Let us pray that those in the Republican Party and in conservative organizations across our nation publicly repudiate Rand’s philosophy and work to expunge her demonic teachings from their political goals and political works.

For more on how Ayn Rand’s Objectivism is antithetical to Christianity, check these out:

Christians Must Choose: Ayn Rand or Jesus

Ayn Rand Versus Christianity

Chuck Colson’s Two-Minute Warning: Atlas Shrugged and So Should You:

Christianity versus Objectivism

You Can’t Reconcile Ayn Rand and Jesus

Satanism and Objectivism

Ayn Rand’s Wikiquote page

Dear Christian conservatives

Dear Christian conservatives,

I understand that you fear big, secular government and that you prefer, in general, limited government and less regulated economics. I do not wish to discuss how the Bible makes no mention of a laissez-faire capitalism and libertarian interpretations of the Constitution or how Jesus said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and Paul tells us in Romans “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (13:7). What I wish to discuss is the reasons our government has grown so much in the last century and what Christians could have done and can do to stop it.

Jesus commands his followers to be charitable. To those who follow this commandment he promises eternal salvation, saying, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me…Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:34-36,40).

When the Great Depression struck Christian groups gave aid, but they did not give enough to meet the needs of America’s poor. To meet this need the government had to step in and provide work and support for those who could find none.

Christian groups have done much to aid the elderly, who can no longer work or care for themselves, but again they have not done enough. To meet the needs of the elderly poor, the government instituted Medicare and Social Security.

As America’s poor continued to be unable to find work that would pay them enough to avoid eviction and to feed their families, government again stepped in where Christians had failed to provide and instituted various welfare and food stamp programs.

When Christians failed to heal the sick, as Christ commanded, the government stepped in to try and provide health care reform that would aid those who could not afford basic medical necessities.

I make no arguments that these government programs are necessarily the best solution to the problems they address. I am not even arguing that they are always successful. Nor am I trying to denigrate the work of the many Christians who have worked hard and given of themselves to help those in need. Many have done good work and many will continue to.

What I am arguing is that the government steps in when the needs of the people are not met. The easiest way to prevent government from stepping into peoples’ lives is not to protest and carry signs. It is not to succumb, as many of us (including myself) sometimes do, to un-Christian hate and rage against those we perceive as enemies. It is not to try and tear down government aid programs without offering anything to take their place. It is to heed the call of Christ and provide for the needy. More than two-thirds of Americans identify as Christians, yet at least 39 million Americans live in poverty right now. Those are 39 million hungry, desperate voices crying out for succor and we have not given it.

Instead of protesting the charitable actions of the American government, step up your own charity. Provide for the hungry, the thirsty, the strange, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned. Employ those on welfare with good wages, so they won’t have to rely on the government. Open hospitals to provide free medical care for the elderly and the poor, so they will not need to rely on Medicare, Medicaid, or Obamacare. Give money, food, and housing to the elderly so they will not need Social Security. Feed those who cannot afford to buy food so they will not need food stamps. If you want to stop big government, then you must step in and provide the services so many Americans rely on to survive. If you want to stop big government, you will have to act like a Christian, because if we perform our Christian duty, perhaps the government won’t have to.