Paul Ryan. Ayn Rand?

Paul Ryan is an interesting choice for Romney’s Veep, but then strange bedfellows have always been the norm in politics. Especially this year.

When I was LDS, I was taught that the Catholic Church was the Great Whore of Babylon, which led the world into the Great Apostasy, which made the LDS Church necessary—without the apostasy and loss of the “truth,” no restoration would have been necessary, which would have eliminated the need for Joseph Smith and all that followed. But, according to what I was taught, the Catholic Church lost its authority and power and corrupted religion. So, Romney, a devout Mormon, picking a Catholic is interesting from this view point.

I was later in the Baptist tradition.  The general view point was that Catholics were not true Christians, which was first an issue when JFK ran.  Somehow, many in the evangelical right believe Catholics worship the Pope or the Saints.  The real doctrinal issue is that evangelicals eschew the need to the church to facilitate salvation, but that is not what I heard sitting in classes or over the pulpit on Sunday mornings. And the evangelical right seems fully behind Ryan.

Strange bedfellows.  Of course, Ryan voted twice—in 2004 and 2006— to amend the constitution to prevent non-heterosexual couples from marrying and he is a vehement opponent of abortion. He was a cosponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, a federal bill defining fertilized eggs as human beings, which, if passed, would criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization. These are enough to garner support from evangelicals, LDS and the official Catholic Church (as opposed to most of its members).

Perhaps these positions will galvanize the TEA Party and the right wing of Christianity and get them out to vote for Romney.

This troubles me because in doing so, it seems they are ignoring the other social issues, such as caring for the poor and disenfranchised, which is more central to the beliefs of all three groups than denying civil rights to LGBT and banning abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger (he opposes abortion in the case of rape and incest), neither of which were ever spoken of by Jesus. In fact, abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus and, surprisingly, abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced throughout recorded human history.

Hanging on to the Catholic vote may be difficult, because before Ryan spoke at Georgetown this past April, More than 80 Georgetown University faculty members and administrators signed a letter to him challenging his use of Catholic teaching in defending his budget proposals, which includes privatization of social security, drastic cuts in food stamps and healthcare for women children and poor, while leaving intact all military spending.

The letter refers to the COMPENDIUM OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH TO HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II MASTER OF SOCIAL DOCTRINE AND EVANGELICAL WITNESS TO JUSTICE AND PEACE.  Two paragraphs are depicted below:

 

328. Goods, even when legitimately owned, always have a universal destination; any type of improper accumulation is immoral, because it openly contradicts the universal destination assigned to all goods by the Creator

329. Riches fulfil their function of service to man when they are destined to produce benefits for others and for society. . .The rich man — Saint Gregory the Great said — is only an administrator of what he possesses; giving what is required to the needy is a task that is to be performed with humility because the goods do not belong to the one who distributes them. He who retains riches only for himself is not innocent; giving to those in need means paying a debt.

They closed their letter with the following:

“In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the letter continues. “Her call to selfishness and her antagonism toward religion are antithetical to the Gospel values of compassion and love.”

 

Presidential elections rightfully seem to turn on ideas, on what we want the country to be. This one seems to also be about what it means to be a Christian—or moral person of any stripe— in this country. Voting for Romney/Ryan would, it seems to me, require ignoring a large portions of the teachings of Jesus and adopting in their stead those of Ayn Rand.

Speaking of Ms. Rand, the advocate of the self-centered life, the proponent of standing on one’s own: she took social security in her old age. This would be like Jesus eating the fishes and loaves.

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