The Great Debate
REP. RYAN, AT RALPH REED CONFAB, TURNS DOWN A BIBLE
by James Salt
June 7, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 7, 2011 -- On Friday, during Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition conference here, a progressive group I belong to called Catholics United attempted to deliver a Bible to Congressman Paul Ryan.
We asked the congressman why his budget modeled Ayn Rand more than the economic principles of the Bible?
Ryan had just completed a speech to the Faith & Freedom gathering where he extolled the moral virtue of his proposed budget cuts.
Two-thirds of Ryan's budget cuts come from programs that serve the poor and vulnerable - such as Pell grants, low income housing support, food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare - all while maintaining tax breaks for the rich and subsidies for Big Oil. Catholics United wanted to know how the Congressman can justify those cuts given his professed Catholic faith.
Most of the speech was caught on video.
The doctrines of Ayn Rand and the core values of Christianity are explicitly opposed - as Rand herself insisted," wrote columnist Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast."
"And this poses a philosophical problem for contemporary Republicanism, which insists on both Randian capitalism and evangelical Christianity.
"That can only work if you treat Christianity as a cultural signal and a political organizing tool, rather than a living faith; hence, my insistence on using the term Christianism, rather than Christianity," said Sullivan in the June 5 edition.
Amy Sullivan tipped him to the story on June 3 in her Swampland column in Time.
"I am fairly certain that when Paul Ryan first decided to publicly share his admiration of Ayn Rand, he could not have imagined it would lead to him speed-walking to his SUV to avoid a young Catholic trying to give him a Bible and telling him to pay more attention to the Gospel of Luke," she wrote.
"But that's what happened Friday morning in downtown Washington after Ryan spoke to the surprisingly smallish crowd gathered for Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Conference.
"Paul Ryan was chased by a protester waving a giant Bible and decrying libertarian author Ayn Rand on his way out of the Faith and Freedom Conference, a social conservative gathering in DC where he delivered a speech on his budget," the female Sullivan said.
TalkingPointsMemo picks up the story:
"'Why did you choose to model your budget on the extreme ideology of Ayn Rand rather than the faith of economic justice in the Bible?' the blond, 20-something male asked. He said he wanted to 'present' Ryan with a Bible to teach him how to help the 'most vulnerable.'"
The Ryan belief is contrary to fundamental precepts of Christianity, most faith traditions, and most secular ethical sytems.
It ain't American, either.
No doubt many fundamentalist Christians will ignore the deepest principles of their religion in favor of their Republican idols. Idolatry is another one of those Big 10 bad things. But the cognitive dissonance one day will explode inside them and perhaps they will have a revelation that greed and a cult of selfishness are wrong.
This can be exploited politically and it should be. That protester did a very good thing.
Reach James Salt at email@example.com. He is Acting Executive Director of Catholics United