The Humble Libertarian

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Debating Christian Libertarianism

Is Libertarianism compatible with Christianity? That's the big debate that is finally coming out of the closet. While emotions are high on both sides and debate is fierce, it's one of the most important debates we need to have if Christian America is ever going to embrace constitutional liberty. If anything, our founders were the original American Libertarians. The website,, focuses exclusively on this critically important issue.
I have historically been a fan of the Acton Institute. Their site has been on LCC’s blogroll for quite a long time. Yet they (or at least one particular blogger) seem to be becoming more and more “conservative” rather than sticking with their relatively libertarian roots. A few weeks ago, Acton blogger Joe Carter wrote Libertarians, Religious Conservatives, and the Myth of Social Neutrality and spoke against what he admittedly called a “grossly simplistic caricature” of libertarianism. His main point was, simply, that the “conservative” position trumps the “libertarian” position because it is more “realistic” about “neutrality” and “bias.” (I use the scare quotes intentionally because I think the terms of the debate are basically a bunch of straw-men set up to be pushed back down, and his “caricature” is truly, grossly, simplistic.) About a week later, Jacqueline Otto responded with Christian Libertarians and the Myth of Legislating Morality, which argued that the Christian libertarian position powerfully answers his objections. Carter then promptly responded more or less by saying there ain’t no such thing as a Christian libertarian because I haven’t seen one. 106 comments later on that post, one could not tell whether he had changed his mind. After Jacqueline’s next followup (Five Ways to Be a Christian Libertarian), Carter again responded with what amounts to “Sorry, libertarianism and Christianity have irreconcilable differences.” To be fair, Carter seems like a fine fellow. Overall he is a courteous interlocutor, which is something to be commended. However, he also seems strangely uninformed about what libertarianism actually is, and even less informed about Christian libertarians.
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