Adrian Wyllie: Religion, Atheism, and the Libertarian

Posted to the opinion section of 1787 Radio Network

 I’m frequently confronted by people who mistakenly believe that the word “Libertarian” is synonymous with “atheist.” I’ve even been accused of being a “Godless heathen” once or twice. As the Libertarian Party and the libertarian philosophy has grown in prominence over recent years, so have these accusations. 

Let me put those misconceptions to rest. Libertarianism does not promote atheism. It does not promote Christianity. It does not promote Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, or any other faith. Libertarians simply say you are free to believe as you choose, without restriction from government.

You may know that I’ve been a Libertarian my entire adult life. You may know that I’m the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida and a Libertarian candidate for Governor in 2014.

One thing you may not know, however, is that I am a devout Christian.

I believe that Christ is my Savior. I believe that all life is sacred. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I choose to live my life by the teachings of Christ.

But, I separate myself from the Christian Right by having one additional unyielding principle. That principle is freedom. It is a fundamental understanding that I do not have the authority to dictate your beliefs or actions, based on my morals and values. It doesn’t matter whether I’m sitting in my living room, or in the Governor’s mansion.

I don’t have the authority to tell you whom you can marry. I don’t have the authority to tell you what you can do with your body. I don’t have the authority to tell you what you can do with your money. I don’t have the authority to tell you how to raise your children. I don’t have the authority to tell you what to believe.

I do not have that authority.

You do not have that authority.

Government does not have that authority.

Being a Christian means understanding that God gave everyone the precious gift of free will. He gave us the freedom to embrace or reject Him. To use government to force one’s beliefs upon another is to enslave their soul. To believe otherwise is to assume that you – or by proxy, your government – has a higher authority than God. Thus, you have violated the first Commandment, by placing government before God.

Being an atheist means that you respect the right of all individuals to choose whether or not to practice religion. To use government to prevent someone from exercising their faith is to enslave their mind. To believe otherwise is to assume that you – or by proxy, your government – has God-like authority over the mind of other individuals. Thus, you have created a religion by trying to prevent religion.

Libertarians believe that all people are free to think, act, and live as they see fit, so long as they do not harm anyone else.

Most Christians strive for peace, acceptance and forgiveness. Most atheists seek peace, acceptance and tolerance. All Libertarians seek a government that allows us the freedom to actually achieve these worthy goals.

22 thoughts on “Adrian Wyllie: Religion, Atheism, and the Libertarian

  1. Dave Terry

    I am ALL FOR tolerance and openness, but I was raised in a Christian environment and tolerance of the views of non-believers was starkly absent and I haven’t seen even an inkling of it in all my 71 years

    I simply find it VERY difficult to rectify your apparently open mind with the dogmatism and fundamentalism of the “born-again” crowd.

    Perhaps you can respond to the scripture below and tell us HOW you square your statement:

    “I believe that Christ is my Savior. I believe that all life is sacred. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I choose to live my life by the teachings of Christ.” with the following:

    St. Luke Chapter 19
    27; “Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.”

  2. Reuven

    Atheists, while having nothing in common beyond a lack of belief in a deity reject an establishment (religion) and thus are likely to reject the political establishment as well.

    Almost all the Atheists I’ve run into are libertarian (of some variation) or Socialist-Social Democrat-Communist.

    I find religion completely evil, be it Christianity or Buddhism – they must be eradicated.

    That said, people should be free to believe whatever delusions they want, including the idea that a Galilean primitive died for their sins or that the Creator of the Universe requires human sacrifice in order to forgive His own failed creation.

    A creator who blames his tools is a terrible creator, a creator who blames his creations is pure evil.

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    Dave, I’m not sure of the point you’re trying to make. As far as Adrian’s paragraph: “I believe that Christ is my Savior. I believe that all life is sacred. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I choose to live my life by the teachings of Christ.”, are you saying that those views cannot exist because of the scripture you’ve quoted? I think it’s honorable that Mr Wyllie believes differently than many Libertarians, but yet has room in his “tent” for the rest of us.

  4. Robert Capozzi

    2 R: I find religion completely evil, be it Christianity or Buddhism – they must be eradicated.

    me: Charming. Perhaps you can expand on this. What is “evil” about Buddhism, for starters?

  5. Ross

    First, is it common for people to conflate libertarianism with atheism? In my experience, most people don’t even know what libertarianism is (and frequently have a ton of misconceptions about atheism). The highest profile libertarian is Ron Paul, who is openly religious. If anything, I’ve had more issues with people assuming I’m more conservative than I am.

    Secondly, as an atheist, I’m frequently embarrassed by the complete lack of social graces exhibited by my fellow nonbelievers. Spewing vitriol about the beliefs of others makes it more difficult for atheism to become an accepted position. In the long run, most people will move towards a secular position because the people they love, enjoy, and respect are nonreligious. By becoming the enemy of religion and insulting people, all we do is place a negative association in the minds of others with the concept of atheism. I’ve known several people who are atheists by definition, but who refuse the label because of that association. Be kind, be empathetic, and be understanding of the people who disagree with you. Dissent openly, firmly, politely, and with a smile whenever possible. Be a likeable atheist, and people will come to like atheism. These suggestions apply just as well to libertarians as they do to atheists.

  6. Q2Q

    I’m all for respecting other religions, however atheists do not deserve tolerance. They are the ones removing traditional holiday symbols from the public square. They’re the ones filling lawsuits to remove any monument with any christian iconography, regardless of who it honors. If you want to be tolerated, then you have to tolerate the beliefs of others. Atheists (most, not all) do not tolerate other religions, and actually view those with a belief in God as some idiot that needs to be educated. I’m sorry, I will not tolerate atheists because they don’t deserve it.

  7. Ross

    Q2Q, I doubt you know most atheists. Please remember that people who post messages online are the loudest, and often angriest, example of their particular faction. Most atheists, like most Christians, have lives to live and don’t spend their energy on legislation and picking fights.

  8. Jill Pyeatt

    Q2Q @ 7: “If you want to be tolerated, then you have to tolerate the beliefs of others.”

    In my view the religious right are the least tolerant large group in the country. I do self-identify as a Christian, but I usually keep it to myself because my life has included a few events not traditionally aligned with Christian views. I don’t think we should have the Ten Commandments in courtrooms or prayer in public schools, and the reason is that Christianity could easily be replaced by another religion in those public areas. I don’t usually tell my clients “Merry Christmas” because I have many different ethnicities as clients, and I often don’t know if they celebrate Christmas. I send a card to them asking for world peace during the holidays. I respect that someone else might not celebrate Christmas, but sincerely wish for peace for all of us. I don’t recall anyone ever complaining, in almost 30 years in business.

  9. Richard Winger

    What does it mean to say “all life is sacred?”

    Is death also sacred?

    Does someone who says “all life is sacred” refuse to pluck weeds out of the ground, to swat a fly? The only people I know who think like that are certain types of Buddhist.

  10. Dave Terry

    JP (3) Good question, Jill.

    It was not my intention to challenge Adrian’s sincerity OR his openness. It is just the fact that so many evil acts have been committed in his name, and Mohammed’s and YHWH, that I find it difficult to square his “brotherhood of man” positions with his “ye must be born again” nonsense.

    I actually have too younger brothers who are both practicing Christians; one is a high schood history teacher at a Christian School in So. California and the other is the Choir Director at a Church nearby.

    We love and respect each other and the others’ opinions. Needless to say, we DON’T discuss religion. :>)

  11. From Der Sidelines

    @10: Death is a part of life; without death, we cannot appreciate life.

    However, not all death is “sacred”. It depends on the death and what one believes. A lot of death is simply needless aggressive violence, but some of it, such as processing plants and animals for food, is necessary.

  12. Ben in SoCal

    Libertarianism fits well into the shallow consumeristic “Church of Me” culture of modern America. As far as I see, libertarianism does not respect the natural world nor offer much in terms of the conservation ethic.

    I am from rural Maine, and the conservation ethic was beat into me, both by my mother and by the pure surroundings of God’s magnificent Creation.

    Which is why libertarianism and atheism, to me, fit well together. Only support for the “here and now.”

  13. Steve M

    @5 Thomas,

    I have always wonder how one practices no-religion?

    Do you have to keep a calender of all holidays for all religions and work on those days?

    Check list…. lent is coming up buy some meat.

  14. Pingback: » Adrian Wyllie: Religion, Atheism, and the Libertarian

  15. Brian Holtz

    libertarianism does not respect the natural world nor offer much in terms of the conservation ethic

    All libertarians agree that pollution is a violation of the rights of any affected unconsenting person.

    Some libertarians recognize that the best way to protect the environment is through green pricing. Each person should pay the full costs he imposes when he depletes, pollutes, congests, or monopolizes the natural commons of the Earth. That includes air, water, land, minerals, wildlife, spectrum — everything that is not created by persons.

    We call ourselves “green libertarians” or “ecolibertarians” or “geolibertarians”.

  16. robert capozzi

    Ben 14, IF ONLY. Ls – and most, near as I can tell – are about the “here and now.” Many Ls are pronouncedly NOT about the present moment in their political philosophy. (I’m in recovery from the dysfunction.)

    The better question is what is the virtuous next step. Ls often dream of an aggression-free world, but they seem uninterested in the process of moving in that direction. Instead, they often spin wild tales of stateless societies. Charming as that thought experiment can be, it has almost nothing to do with NOW. At least, that I can discern.

  17. Nick

    Good article. Even though I’m not a Libertarian, I understand libertarianism enough to know that what the author says is true.

  18. langa

    We call ourselves “green libertarians” or “ecolibertarians” or “geolibertarians”.

    … while the rest of us just call you “nuts”. 😉

  19. Jill Pyeatt

    Brian, I have some Libertarian friends who want to start a caucus of people concerned with educating people about the dangers of GMOs. Would that possibly be consistent with the views of green libertarians?

  20. Robert Capozzi

    JP 21, I don’t think geoL-ism is especially in line with the GMO issue one way or the other, although BH may have another take.

    My quick take on GMOs is that issue tests whether the modifications are a form of fraud if not disclosed. I assume most Ls of most stripes would prefer government not regulate GMOs.

    If there’s an overarching concern that introducing modified genes into the environment might replicate and in a sense pollute the food chain is an area that I wonder whether torts are a sufficient means to address the aggression (if there is one).

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