Conflict between conservatism and Christianity

Perhaps the strangest pairing of bedfellows in the conservative pantheon is that of Jesus Christ with Ayn Rand. Rand’s writings reveal her as a militant atheist, hostile to religion. In openly declaring both altruism and Christianity evil and preaching a steroid pumped version of social-economic Darwinism, she has earned the critics’ designation as the anti-Christ.

What then is her seductive appeal to conservatives, e.g., as required reading for the staffs of both Clarence Thomas and avowed Catholic Paul Ryan? Diverse world views may be reconciled in a cast of mind that compartmentalizes contradictions rather than showing connections. For Instance, the words attributed to Christ, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8), apart from the Jewish context in Deuteronomy 15:11, may be recast in a Randian context that depicts the poor and those of moderate income as undeserving victims of their own moral failures and not worthy of consideration. Such a convolution might explain the current far-right antipathy for people down on their luck. Extreme conservative pronouncements often seem to express, not merely heartlessness, but actual vindictive malice meant to punish the less fortunate (less than 100 thou a year?) for their plight, as per recent health care and tax policies promoted by the Republican Party.

I sometimes suspect Conservatives tolerate Christianity only as long as no one actually practices it, as in addressing the structural causes of human misery. Bronze age mythology and a limited inventory of immutable truths serves to control the rubes. Also, the public expression of piety provides opportunity to express moral superiority by ostentatious generosity to the poor they help impoverish. This, of course, is only my own speculation. Can any reader help me understand the conservative mind in a more charitable light?

Robert L. Greene