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Austin Cline

Authoritarian or Libertarian? Ron Paul on Church/State Separation, Secularism

By August 6, 2007

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US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
US Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
Photo: Jamie Rector / Getty Images
Ron Paul is frequently portrayed as a "sensible" conservative and staunch libertarian, thus making him increasingly attractive as a presidential candidate. He's being strongly promoted to libertarians, conservatives fed up with Bush and the Christian Right, and Democrats dissatisfied with the current crop of Democratic candidates. At the same time, though, Ron Paul demonstrates the limits of wedding libertarianism with social and political conservatism. They simply don't mesh well.

Ron Paul's consistent anti-war position has made him popular, but how many people also understand his rejection of secularism and church/state separation? How many realize that his "states' rights" rhetoric is a mask concealing a desire to use the government to promote "traditional marriage" and criminalize abortion? Ron Paul is only a "libertarian" where and when it's convenient. Much of the rest of the time, he's not merely a social conservative but a religious conservative promoting an agenda very close to that of Christian Nationalists.

If Ron Paul were a serious contender for the presidency, he'd be a significant threat to American secularism and liberty. Fortunately, he seems to have about as much chance of getting elected as I do — but this doesn’t mean that his candidacy won't influence people for the worse. In particular, I'm concerned about people learning to accept anti-secularism while making excuses for him and their support of him. The first and most important step in preventing that is to examine his ideas now and explain not only how wrong they are, but also why they represent such a threat.

 

According to Ron Paul himself (via Brent Rasmussen)

Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. The justification is always that someone, somewhere, might possibly be offended or feel uncomfortable living in the midst of a largely Christian society, so all must yield to the fragile sensibilities of the few.

It should be noted right at the beginning that Ron Paul consistently decries "secularism" and "secularists," though he more often uses the label "secular Left." This, perhaps more than many of his arguments, makes it clear where stands: squarely and unambiguously against a secular government, secular laws, and a secular America. This helps put him in the same camp as the extremist Christian Right.

The second thing to note is that there isn't a single word in the above that's true. Ron Paul is employing a falsehood which has been very popular with theocrats of the Christian Right who seek to deceive voters about what secularism is and what the separation of church & state is all about. Ron Paul has either been duped by those deceivers, or he knows better yet is actively participating in the deception.

No one has launched any court cases seeking to drive religion "from public view." There have been no organized efforts to prevent people from promoting religion in public, from having religious images on their front lawns, or engaging in religious evangelism in the community. What's actually been happening is that people have tried to stop the "public," which is to say public funds and institutions, from promoting, supporting, or endorsing the religion of just some of the citizens. Usually those offering dishonest claims about this rely upon ambiguity in the word "public" (in public view vs. publicly funded), but Ron Paul doesn't even do this — his is an unambiguously false claim.

A true libertarian would support efforts to stop the government from funding and supporting one religion out of many. Libertarians believe in less government combined with private action, which is exactly what the "secular Left" is seeking to achieve in the context of religion. Libertarians believe that the scope of government action should be limited to only that which the Constitution authorizes — and when it comes to religion, the government is not authorized to do anything.

Ron Paul is not a libertarian when it comes to his own personal religious beliefs — he seems to believe that in a "largely Christian society," the government magically acquires the authority to promote and endorse Christianity. Of course, this means endorsing and promoting one particular version of Christianity out of all the possibilities. Ron Paul doesn't seem to mind this — or perhaps he supports it in the hopes that his form of Christianity will be the one favored?

 

Church & State in the Constitution

The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion. The establishment clause of the First Amendment was simply intended to forbid the creation of an official state church like the Church of England, not to drive religion out of public life.

It is true that the Founding Fathers were strongly influenced by their religious beliefs, but Ron Paul makes two mistakes here. First, that fact does nothing to support this conclusion: being influenced by religion doesn't mean that one opposes church/state separation. Second, the religious beliefs of those men were not always consistent with the traditionalist Christianity of conservatives today. Thomas Jefferson, for example, denied the divinity of Jesus and that the miracle stories in the New Testament were true.

Many of the founders would be regarded as heretics according to traditional standards and that's why they supported removing from the government any authority over religious matters. It's bad enough when religious leaders have the power to harm those who dissent; it was deemed unacceptable for the state to have such power as well. Religion was conceived of as a private matter and not something which the state or any public institution to get involved with in any manner.

Ron Paul likes to make a big deal about having read the Constitution as part of an effort to create a contrast between himself and other politicians, but for someone who has read the Constitution he's incredibly ignorant of it's contents. The Constitution doesn't mention "God" at all — the closest it comes is the dating convention "in the year of our Lord." The Declaration of Independence also doesn't mention "God" in the sense of the Christian god — all references are standard deistic references to the Deistic god. The Declaration of Independence is a product of Deism, naturalism, and rationalism. It is not a Christian document.

Ron Paul is wrong when he claims that the Establishment Clause was only meant to prevent the creation of an official state church, but he's doing a good job at parroting the talking points of Christian Right extremists like James Dobson and Pat Robertson. I'm surprised that they haven't anointed him as their own chosen candidate, given that his opposition to secular liberty is every bit as strong and twisted as theirs.

 

Church Authority vs. Government Authority

The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility. Moral and civil individuals are largely governed by their own sense of right and wrong, and hence have little need for external government. This is the real reason the collectivist Left hates religion: Churches as institutions compete with the state for the people’s allegiance, and many devout people put their faith in God before their faith in the state. Knowing this, the secularists wage an ongoing war against religion, chipping away bit by bit at our nation’s Christian heritage.

Here Ron Paul's hostility to secular liberty is made unambiguous: he envisages and prefers a society where the government is weak but churches are strong. Has there ever been such a society that wasn't filled with intolerance, repression, and violence? If churches had more authority over the lives of citizens, there would be less liberty for women, less liberty for racial minorities, less liberty for gays, and of course less liberty for atheists.

It is arguable that the power and scope of the government creates alternatives and opportunities which make it easier for people to escape the power and influence of churches. Government welfare allows people to avoid relying on church hand-outs. Public schools allow people to avoid relying on church schools and church indoctrination. Civil marriage allows people to avoid having to marry in a church. Government social services of all sorts allow people to avoid being put under the thumb of priests and ministers in order to survive.

Opposing government provision of such services is, at least, consistent with libertarianism but libertarians take this position based on the principle that they are outside the scope of proper government authority. Agree or disagree with that, it's not Ron Paul's position: he opposes the government provision of such services because they prevent the power and authority of churches from superseding that of the government. Ron Paul thus appears to be using the "libertarian" label as a mask for his religious and authoritarian agenda: shrink the size of government so churches can step in and assume control.

To be fair, this isn't necessarily an easy issue for genuine libertarians who are also staunch secularists and supporters of church/state separation. If expanded government services and authority ensures reduced religious authority, thus ensuring the growth of secularism in society, then such libertarians are faced with a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, they would prefer to see government authority reduced; on the other, they don't want to see the authority, power, and influence of churches to fill all the vacuum left behind. Given how strong churches and religious organizations already are, it's difficult to imagine, though, that completely secular alternatives would compete very well.

 

Ron Paul Rated by Conservative Groups

Let's look at how various conservative and Christian Right groups have rated Ron Paul:

Family Research Council, 2005: 75%
John Birch Society, Summer '06, Spring '05, Fall '04, Summer '03: 100%
John Birch Society, Spring 2004: 88%
Concerned Women for America, 2005-2006: 62%
Eagle Forum, 2005: 71%
American Conservative Union, 2005: 76%
Christian Coalition, 2004: 76%
National Right to Life Committee, 2005-2006: 56%

Then there are these ratings:

Secular Coalition for America, 2006: 20%
Planned Parenthood, 2006: 20%
American Civil Liberties Union, 2005-2006: 55%
NAACP, 2005: 52%
Human Rights Campaign, 2003-2004: 25%

The ratings here for the ACLU and NAACP aren't too bad, but over all this does not paint a pretty picture. No one who can get 100% from the John Birch Society and 75% from the Family Research Council, but only 20% from the Secular Coalition for America, is a much of a friend of personal liberty.

For a "libertarian," Ron Paul is quite a moralist:

His family was pious and Lutheran; two of his brothers became ministers. Paul’s five children were baptized in the Episcopal church, but he now attends a Baptist one. He doesn’t travel alone with women and once dressed down an aide for using the expression “red-light district” in front of a female colleague.

Source: The New York Times

 

Ron Paul Defending Christian Privilege

Ron Paul has consistently opposed separating church & state and supported government actions in defense of Christian privilege. For example, he condemned the 9th Circuit Court ruling that the addition of the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional:

The judges who made this unfortunate ruling simply do not understand the First amendment," Paul stated. "It does not bar religious expression in public settings or anywhere else. In fact, it expressly prohibits federal interference in the free expression of religion. Far from mandating strict secularism in schools, it instead bars the federal government from prohibiting the Pledge of Allegiance, school prayer, or any other religious expression. The politicians and judges pushing the removal of religion from public life are violating the First amendment, not upholding it."

"The tired assertion of a separation of church and state has no historical or constitutional basis," Paul continued. "Neither the language of the Constitution itself nor the legislative history reveals any mention of such separation. In fact, the authors of the First amendment- Fisher Ames and Elbridge Gerry- and the rest of the founders routinely referred to "Almighty God" in our founding documents. It is only in the last 50 years that the federal courts have perverted the meaning of the amendment and sought to unlawfully restrict religious expression. We cannot continue to permit our Constitution and our rich religious institutions to be degraded by profound misinterpretations of the Bill of Rights."

On June 12, 2002, Ron Paul promised to introduce legislation forbidding federal courts from taking cases where people allege their religious freedom was violated by government agencies. Why would a "libertarian" object to people suing the government for infringing on their rights? This became the First Amendment Restoration Act and Ron Paul insisted that federal courts should have no jurisdiction over protecting Americans' religious liberties.

In a perverse twist of logic and morality, Ron Paul argued that it would enhance religious freedom if the federal courts could no longer rule in defense of religious freedom. Moreover, he insisted that people's personal religious liberty would be enhanced by ensuring that government agencies would have the authority to promote, endorse, sponsor, and encourage particular religions, religious opinions, and religious beliefs. Ron Paul consistently advanced this position by voting to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, by voting in support of government-sponsored Ten Commandments monuments, and co-sponsoring a constitutional amendment promoting school prayer.

Ron Paul supports a religious over a secular society on a number of other levels as well. He opposes Roe v. Wade and believes that it should be overturned. His preference would be for abortion to be criminalized and, contrary to most libertarians he doesn't not treat this as a states' rights matter. He would impose the ban at the federal level if necessary. Ron Paul also opposes states' rights when it comes to same-sex marriage: rather than let them work it out for themselves, he would use the power of the federal government to restrict gay marriage and prevent gay couples from being treated equally.

Ron Paul thus opposes protecting the liberty of women and the liberty of gays when they would use that liberty in a manner contrary to his personal religious beliefs. This is consistent with his support of using government funds and power to promote his religious beliefs over and above the religious beliefs of any other citizens. The libertarians supporting Ron Paul have either been duped into supporting an authoritarian, or are actually like Ron Paul in that they are really more authoritarian than they let on.

Comments
August 6, 2007 at 2:37 pm
(1) MPABlazer says:

libertarianism is not averse to religion, nor does it equate to secularism. Beyond that, Paul is not a pure libertarian (in my view none but anarcho-capitalists are). The libertarian creed is based on non-interference of government in peoples lives and not aggressing against anyone but in defense of ones self and property.

If the state through democratic government is justified, then why not through religious means. As long as the apparatus does not infringe upon my natural rights why do I care?

Paul’s stance is on constitutional rights. The State is supposed to be superior to the Federal government except where specified in the constitution. This is important to a free-market libertarian as well, because at least if the states are making the rules on thier consitiutionally mandated areas of responsilibity then I can move to a different state if I don’t like the direction m ine is going. Also, it is much easier for the little guy to influence at the state level than the national level. Oh, and it is more difficult for large interest groups to fandangle 50 states rather than one large government.

August 6, 2007 at 7:37 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

libertarianism is not averse to religion, nor does it equate to secularism.

I didn’t say that libertarianism is averse to religion, but libertarianism requires a secular government that is neutral in religious matters. Otherwise, the government will be involved in matters which libertarian political philosophy denies that it has any authority or competence.

Paul’s stance is on constitutional rights. The State is supposed to be superior to the Federal government except where specified in the constitution.

And except where Paul’s personal religious beliefs come into play. He has no trouble with federal laws to enforce his religious beliefs when the states aren’t doing it.

For Ron Paul, “states’ rights” is a slogan of convenience in order to attract conservatives and libertarians who don’t think to look any closer at this real beliefs.

August 7, 2007 at 1:12 am
(3) Josh says:

He may not be approved very nicely by atheists, but most importantly, atheists are not enough to matter anyway! If they did, we’d not have a problem staying on the Democratic side.

The point here is, that Ron Paul stands for the maximum liberty, against all else. Nobody can match this (so far who have declared to run)

August 7, 2007 at 2:37 am
(4) Eric says:

When I first heard about Ron Paul, I must admit that I was very impressed with him, being a quasi-libertarian myself. I knew he had conservative religious personal views, which I disagreed with, but I figured that as long as he was a strict constitutionalist, he’d be alright.

Then a few weeks ago, I came across the article “Christmas in Secular America, and I think that’s the first time I ever really felt betrayed by a politician. Even if I did agree with all of his policies (I don’t), I’d still feel uncomfortable voting for him now.

Frankly, though, I’m glad that he supports a federal ban on abortion. It means I can strongly oppose his policy, not just his personal ideology. I can choose not to vote for him without feeling like I’ve given up on a potentially good candidate.

Still, I do have to defend him on one issue: Austin, you claimed that Ron Paul wants to ban gay marriage on the federal level. Unless his opinion on this matter has changed since October, 2004, what you say just isn’t true:

http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul207.html

August 7, 2007 at 3:58 pm
(5) C. Wesley Fowler says:

@ Eric

“Frankly, though, I’m glad that he supports a federal ban on abortion. It means I can strongly oppose his policy, not just his personal ideology”

The above is hogwash. Paul does NOT support a federal ban on abortions. Paul rightly sees definitions as to conception, life and other morality as none of the federal government’s business. He proposes to leave abortion to the states.

As for this story, it is an overly-wordy hit-piece. I don’t care one whit which groups approve of paul. Give me a policy of his and I’ll respond. The man understands what the Establishment Clause says and what it doesn’t say. that’s it. Paul has never, to my knowledge, advocated a state religion or limiting religious freedom.

The author is wrong, and I suspect he knows it. but you know what? Even if he had a point (which he does not) I would still vote for Paul because this issue is wholly marginal compared to the sure path to destruction every other candidate seems so hell-bent (just an expression :p) on taking.

I’m an agnostic and I’ll be voting for Ron Paul.

August 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm
(6) Jonny_eh says:

Not to mention that Ron Paul seems to give approval to the 9/11 truth movement.

http://michellemalkin.com/2007/05/19/trutheriness-and-ron-paul/

Despite all that, I still think he’s the best Republican candidate (but that doesn’t say much).

August 8, 2007 at 11:40 pm
(7) Lynette says:

Not so sure he is NOT about state supported religion. Why would one vote to “protect the Pledge of Allegiance” and to “ban gay adoptions” when all leading medical organizations say that kids in gay families grow up just as healthy and that gay families should be allowed to marry because it creates a much more stable environment for the children?

Why would he vote to keep judges from deciding if “god” in the pledge is unconstitutional when libertarian ideals are that children shouldn’t be forced to do anything that encourages one particular religion? People might say “oh…well “god” isn’t a christian thing, it’s universal” but it most certainly is. To anyone who isn’t monotheistic or theistic at all, it is. And asking kids to take up their parents war and giving rise to being picked on and treated as outcasts (trust me, I’ve seen it first hand and it’s not pretty) is reprehensible. This is very much against the libertarian principles.

The official libertarian national committee also states “Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Sexuality or gender should have no impact on the rights of individuals.”

“Repeal any state or federal laws denying same-sex partners rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration.”

Because Paul advocates a ban on gays from adopting, he is in direct violation of these principals.

“Oppose any new laws or Constitutional amendments defining terms for personal, private relationships.”

Paul things that amendments banning gays from marrying on the state level is okay. This is not along libertarian policies. It’s not okay to let the federal level to bash gays but it’s okay for the state? No so, says the libertarian party.

“End the Defense Department practice of discharging armed forces personnel for sexual orientation.”

Paul supports the DADT policy that forces out gays and lesbians if they talk about their orientation. Again, against the libertarian policies.

I could go on and on but you get the point. He’s not a libertarian, by any stretch of the imagination. To see where you stand vs. the candidates see: http://www.dehp.net/candidate/ for a comparison. Just because he’s the only republican complaining about the war doesn’t mean we should ignore the rest of the issues he poses. Actions certainly speak louder than words and what people are saying he’s for vs. what his voting record says he’s for are two totally different things.

March 21, 2011 at 5:19 am
(8) T Dawg says:

Awesome! Well put! This guy is NOT a true Libertarian. If only there was a true LIB candidate running for office. The masses are so brainwashed and the media doesn’t help by not allowing other parties to participate in public debates. Live debates, not scripted ones. Check out lp.org to see what true Libertarians are all about! I used to be a Dem, now I’m stuck between and LIB and Green. Love and Liberty to ALL! Peace!

August 12, 2007 at 8:19 am
(9) Todd says:

Thank you so much for this article. Now i have great ammo for Fark with the Ron Paul weirdos arrive.

August 14, 2007 at 9:49 am
(10) Jonesy says:

Heres a link I found when trying to find out what Paul really believes about the Bill of Rights. Its what I expected, but it’s not something I ever saw him say so directly before:

http://www.ronpaullibrary.org/document.php?id=259

He’s one of these people that doesnt think the Bill of Rights should be enforced on any of the states; he thinks it only applies to the federal govt, and even then in only the strictest terms. I think we’d lose alot of freedom if that was the case. States would have the power to pass all kinds of laws restricting peoples civil liberties.

Thats not my idea of libertarianism, and not the kind of country Id want to live in. I think most of Pauls supporters would be surprised to find that out though.

August 30, 2007 at 1:28 am
(11) Brian says:

Politics makes people believe inaccurate things… this article is terrible. Ron Paul isn’t going to use the Federal government to ban gay marriage or abortion, or to set up a Theocracy. Period. He has his beliefs about how a solid society would be structured, but over a couple of decades he has proven that he has no ulterior motives or delusions about how to coerce the nation that direction.

Paul’s complaint with the secular left is that it has used the coercion of the government to marginalize and unnaturlly shrink the influence of religion from what it would naturally be in a state of true liberty. Only a true liberty loving person can understand this concept without making the bad faith assumption that disagreement with the secular left equals secret religious right political ambitions. The author just doesn’t get it.

Really bad.

August 30, 2007 at 6:21 am
(12) Austin Cline says:

Paul’s complaint with the secular left is that it has used the coercion of the government to marginalize and unnaturlly shrink the influence of religion from what it would naturally be in a state of true liberty.

What is the “true liberty” of being under the coercive influence of authoritarian religious institutions rather than democratic government institutions?

December 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm
(13) Bongstar420 says:

I do believe it would be their true liberty

September 12, 2007 at 8:21 pm
(14) Karla says:

Thanks for your article as it helped me decide between 2 candidates. I must admit that you convinced me unequivocally to vote for Ron Paul in 2008. Thanks!

September 12, 2007 at 8:22 pm
(15) Dave4Rpaul says:

You could not be more wrong!
Ron Paul is about less federal government and more freedom. His own ethics do not allow him to impose his will on others.
Do some fact finding before writing such a thing, please.

September 12, 2007 at 11:32 pm
(16) RonMakesSense says:

“What is the “true liberty” of being under the coercive influence of authoritarian religious institutions rather than democratic government institutions?”

Ladies and gentleman! Behold, the straw man argument!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

September 13, 2007 at 5:18 am
(17) Rabbit says:

The author takes Ron Paul’s beliefs and politics way out of context, almost to the point of libel.. The author does not understand Ron Paul or Liberty in the slightest..

Brian (above) is very correct about liberty allowing a balance between religion and secularism.. Sorry, secular government can never be neutral, it is an extreme and exclusive concept..

September 13, 2007 at 6:23 am
(18) Austin Cline says:

The author takes Ron Paul’s beliefs and politics way out of context, almost to the point of libel.. The author does not understand Ron Paul or Liberty in the slightest..

Feel free to support this accusation.

Sorry, secular government can never be neutral, it is an extreme and exclusive concept..

Feel free to explain how and why government is “extreme and exclusive” when it is simply not religious.

September 13, 2007 at 12:46 pm
(19) John Doe says:

So Ron Paul has as much a chance of being elected president as you do? Current odds where people actually wager cash have him at odds of 8-1. Not the favorite but by no means a longshot.

Watch and learn as the odds drop over the next few months. My guess is the odds will drop to 2-1 after he wins the New Hampshire primary.

Still think you have as good a chance to win the presidency as Ron Paul?

September 13, 2007 at 2:41 pm
(20) Torrey says:

“Why would he vote to keep judges from deciding if “god” in the pledge is unconstitutional when libertarian ideals are that children shouldn’t be forced to do anything that encourages one particular religion?”

The court case wasn’t about forcing children to do anything. If children wish to say God during the pledge they should be allowed to. They have free speech and the first amendment protecting that right to exercise their religion. By banning people from saying it you are violating their rights.

September 23, 2007 at 2:46 am
(21) Mick Russom says:

Excellent drive by hit piece.

So you are for:
preemptive war
perpetual war
9 trillion dollar debt
850 billion trade deficit
obscene taxation
-etc
Because you don’t believe in the 10th amendment?

Ron Spends a lot of energy fighting for the dollar.

Im sick of my rights getting thrown away for non-enumerated stuff! This government has vastly overstepped its “powers” and given me no extra rights, taken some away and taxes me to HELL.

Im secular and pro choice, but I have a country that functions. And you think RON is scarier than Fred, Rudy and Mitt? You are an idiot.

September 23, 2007 at 2:48 am
(22) Mick Russom says:

Eric, hi there hillary bot, or is it a bush bot? Or a hannity bot.

“I’m glad that he supports a federal ban on abortion”

Wrong. Says reverse Roe v Wade and give the issue to the states via the 10th amendment.

He voted no on legislation banning the interstate travel to get an abortion.

Drive by hit piece.

September 23, 2007 at 2:52 am
(23) Mick Russom says:

Please understand that the “Christian” brotherly love goodwill towards men is an important piece of his libertarian philosophy. If the government wont take care of the poor/destitute, some system (charity and religion) needs to do it. You might find this proselytizing, or you could just get a detached bureaucracy that wastes 9 out of every 10 dollars to provide potentially worse care.

Compare any VA hospital to a foundation hospital for a clue.

September 23, 2007 at 2:54 am
(24) Mick Russom says:

“For Ron Paul, “states’ rights” is a slogan of convenience in order to attract conservatives and libertarians who don’t think to look any closer at this real beliefs.”

So you want to force Utah not to be mormon?

You might want to examine the idea that people might want to construct an environment for themselves they like. As long as the states are diverse, there will be something for everyone.

September 23, 2007 at 8:09 am
(25) Austin Cline says:

So you are for:
preemptive war
perpetual war
9 trillion dollar debt
850 billion trade deficit
obscene taxation
-etc
Because you don’t believe in the 10th amendment?

Feel free to explain how you arrive at any of those conclusions from anything I wrote. When you find that you can’t, I hope you’ll retract this.

Please understand that the “Christian” brotherly love goodwill towards men is an important piece of his libertarian philosophy.

I can do without that “love,” thank you very much. If we all have to depend on religion in order to get things done in society, then we are in effect under a system of religious authority and control — a system where power is unaccountable and undemocratic. In the end, then, reliance on religion for one’s libertarian philosophy leads one to actually support an authoritarian system of control of people. Of course, I pointed this out above and notice that you didn’t respond.

Drive by hit comment?

September 23, 2007 at 9:53 pm
(26) Ruth says:

No WAY would the likes of James Dobson and Pat Robertson endorse Ron Paul! Those men are not Christians: they’re more like the Pharisees in the bible, and they support Bush and the war in Iraq.

Look, the war is costing us $12 billion a month and creating a record budget deficit, not to mention the horrendous causualties on both sides. Habeas corpus and posse comitatus have been killed and judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court who would just as soon use the Constitution for toilet paper as uphold it.

In the meantime, you’re quibbling about abortion rights, gay marriage and Christainity? I’ve seen no evidence Ron Paul wants to outlaw abortion or gay marriage on a federal level or create a theocracy. These are non-issues! They’re red herrings! The REAL problems our nation currently faces are too serious to be ignored!

Who do YOU propose we elect to end the war, balance the budget, save our economy and restore our civil rights? Hillary? Rudy? WHO?!!

I’M voting for Ron Paul.

September 24, 2007 at 6:14 am
(27) Austin Cline says:

In the meantime, you’re quibbling about abortion rights, gay marriage and Christainity?

Quibbling? Feel free to justify why these issues are irrelevant.

Or are they simply irrelevant because they aren’t The Most Important Thing to you?

Who do YOU propose we elect to end the war, balance the budget, save our economy and restore our civil rights?

I think that expecting any one politician to do all those things is a fools’ game. Indeed, I’d go so far as to argue that the very act of investing so much expectations from a single person is part of the problem because it entails investing a person with too much responsibility — and, ultimately, power. It’s Congress, an organization of many diverse people, which needs to have the power to take responsibility for such things; a president’s responsibility should be to encourage them and get out of their way.

I’M voting for Ron Paul.

That’s nice. Care to provide an argument as to how that will help?

September 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm
(28) Ruth says:

Austin Cline – I’m not saying Ron Paul alone is the answer to all our problems, I’m just saying he’s our best bet. The simple fact is currently both the president and congress have record low approval ratings, and that’s because neither are carrying out or even paying attention to the will of the people.

All the legislation is in place. All the checks and balances our founding fathers wrote in the Constitution have become unbalanced. We’re only one terrorist attack, natural disaster or disease outbreak away from living under martial law. I don’t trust any of the “top tier” candidates of either party to refrain from taking full advantage of that. I’ve noticed you are not endorsing anyone at all for president, so I suspect you know they’re all about the same, too.

Let me put the issues in perspective for you: while war spreads through the Middle East and Queen Hillary has her jackbooted paramilitary marching in the streets, enforcing curfew and rounding up “enemy combantants” and putting them in “detention centers,” are you going to be taking comfort in the fact a woman can still obtain a legal abortion through her “Universal Health Care” program, under which every citizen in America is required to participate?! I’m pro-choice myself, but I sure won’t!

Ron Paul is a Constitutionalist, so he’s exactly who we need to help us restore our freedom and liberties after Bush declared the Constitution is “just a @#!damned piece of paper” and did his best to destroy it.

Don’t worry, if Ron Paul is elected, you will still have your abortions and gay marriages. These issues are not on his top priority list, and by your own logic, one politician cannot do all things. As long as your Constitutional rights are intact, you and your ilk will be able to lobby for whatever you want!

September 24, 2007 at 3:42 pm
(29) Austin Cline says:

I’m not saying Ron Paul alone is the answer to all our problems, I’m just saying he’s our best bet.

And I’m saying that thinking that a single person is even our “best bet” to answer all our problems is the sort of thinking which has gotten us to this point in the first place. That is, after all, just what Bush’s supporters think of him — give him the power to fight our enemies and make us safe again. No one person is our “best bet.” Strong democratic institutions, and in particular a strong democratic legislature made up of democratically-minded legislators, is our best bet.

Democracy, democratic institutions, and electing lots of democratically-minded representatives — that’s how we keep free.

All the legislation is in place. All the checks and balances our founding fathers wrote in the Constitution have become unbalanced. We’re only one terrorist attack, natural disaster or disease outbreak away from living under martial law. I don’t trust any of the “top tier” candidates of either party to refrain from taking full advantage of that.

No one person can be trusted not to take advantage of that — our system was created precisely because no one person is virtuous enough for that. Everyone has a different tipping point, but everyone does indeed have one.

Let me put the issues in perspective for you: while war spreads through the Middle East and Queen Hillary has her jackbooted paramilitary marching in the streets, enforcing curfew and rounding up “enemy combantants” and putting them in “detention centers,” are you going to be taking comfort in the fact a woman can still obtain a legal abortion through her “Universal Health Care” program, under which every citizen in America is required to participate?! I’m pro-choice myself, but I sure won’t!

I, however, don’t need to spin dystopian fantasies to justify voting for anyone.

Ron Paul is a Constitutionalist, so he’s exactly who we need to help us restore our freedom and liberties…

There is absolutely nothing he can do because he can’t pass laws. He cannot give us our freedom. We have to take it by electing representatives who will pass the laws necessary to protect liberty.

At best, he can issue a few declarations to reverse those issued by Bush — which means he’s using the same tactics as Bush and they can be reversed again by the next president anyway. There is not a single thing a president can do which another cannot reverse on a whim. Bush has done what he’s done because Congress wouldn’t — and usually didn’t want to — challenge him. A strong, democratically-minded Congress could reverse everything Bush has done, do it in a democratic manner, and help ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

It’s simply another form of authoritarianism to want, expect, and hope for a single strong president to “take charge” and “do the right thing.” I don’t want liberty to be beholden to the assumed virtues and philosophy of a single politician. Our liberty needs to be enshrined in stable, institutions that can survive both corrupt and the misguided adventures of the virtuous.

September 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm
(30) David says:

OK, you guys. There is clearly some confusion on what kind of federal bans Ron Paul supports. But it is really easy…
HE SUPPORTS FEDERAL BANS ON FEDERAL BANS

This means congress should help to limit the power of federal courts over the states.
He wants to push power back down to the individual as much as possible.

September 24, 2007 at 4:07 pm
(31) Austin Cline says:

HE SUPPORTS FEDERAL BANS ON FEDERAL BANS

This means congress should help to limit the power of federal courts over the states.

A “federal ban” is an act of legislation (directly or indirectly). The power of the federal courts is a different subject entirely. If federal courts are limited in their power over state actions, then they are necessarily limited in their ability to apply the Constitution to state and local actions — hardly a positive outcome for liberty or equality.

September 24, 2007 at 4:27 pm
(32) Ruth says:

Austin Cline, you are incorrect on one thing. Ron Paul, as president, can immediately end the Iraq war, without passing any laws or getting anyone’s approval, because the commander-in-chief has control over the military. No other candidate is likely to end the war, even the ones who claim they want to.

I find it appalling you would even dare to compare Ron Paul to Bush. If you are looking for a “democratically-minded” politician to elect, look no further than Ron Paul!

Where is all the crap about Ron Paul being same kind of authoritarian coming from? All I am saying is he by far the most likely candidate to propose and support the kind of legislation we need to put the checks and balances back into our government. He won’t veto any bill consistent with upholding the Constitution, nor approve any bill inconsistent with upholding the Constitution. The president’s job, after all, is the uphold the Constitution!

Why do you seem so convinced Ron Paul can somehow ban abortion and gay marriage on a federal level but won’t be able to persuade congress to repeal unconstitutional legislation such as the Patriot, Military Comissions and Real ID Acts, all of which he voted against in Congress?

One more question: If you’re so sure Ron Paul has no chance of becoming president, then why are you devoting so much time and energy into trying unsuccessfullly to discredit him?

You need to ask yourself why Ron Paul is such a threat to you, or maybe more importantly, why he is such a threat to the people who pay your salary.

September 24, 2007 at 4:38 pm
(33) Austin Cline says:

Austin Cline, you are incorrect on one thing. Ron Paul, as president, can immediately end the Iraq war, without passing any laws or getting anyone’s approval, because the commander-in-chief has control over the military.

It’s true, he can do that — and the next president can send the troops back or somewhere new. Ron Paul as president cannot change this. Moreover, merely having the troops abroad does not inherently harm liberty at home — it’s wrong, but it’s a separate issue.

No other candidate is likely to end the war, even the ones who claim they want to.

Feel free to support this allegation.

I find it appalling you would even dare to compare Ron Paul to Bush.

Feel free to explain where my comments are actually mistaken.

Where is all the crap about Ron Paul being same kind of authoritarian coming from?

I think I explained my position in the article. If you have specific questions about specific statements, just ask.

All I am saying is he by far the most likely candidate to propose and support the kind of legislation we need to put the checks and balances back into our government.

Unless we have a Congress that can and will pass the legislation, his proposals and support are irrelevant.

Why do you seem so convinced Ron Paul can somehow ban abortion and gay marriage on a federal level but won’t be able to persuade congress to repeal unconstitutional legislation such as the Patriot, Military Comissions and Real ID Acts, all of which he voted against in Congress?

I’m not the least bit “convinced’ that he “can” do those things and I never said he could do those things. I described his positions, not his powers.

One more question: If you’re so sure Ron Paul has no chance of becoming president, then why are you devoting so much time and energy into trying unsuccessfullly to discredit him?

A single blog post isn’t that much time and energy at all.

You need to ask yourself why Ron Paul is such a threat to you, or maybe more importantly, why he is such a threat to the people who pay your salary.

I explained why his positions are a threat. Perhaps you could ask yourself why you feel the need to try to use an ad hominem (“threat to you” and “threat to the people who pay your salary” are ad hominem fallacies) rather than address my writings directly.

September 24, 2007 at 4:54 pm
(34) Ruth says:

Fair enough, Austin Cline. Your description of Ron Paul’s positions in your article are inaccurate. Like I said before, I’ve seen no real evidence whatsoever Ron Paul wants to outlaw abortion and gay marriage on a federal level or create a theocracy. Even if he wanted to and did, the next elected congress could come along and reverse the whole thing. By your logic, there’s no reason to bother supporting or opposing any presidential candidate at all and it doesn’t matter in the least who’s president, because only congress has the real power. This article is such a waste of words!

September 24, 2007 at 5:14 pm
(35) Austin Cline says:

Your description of Ron Paul’s positions in your article are inaccurate.

Feel free to demonstrate this rather than just assert it. Keep in mind that your assertion is about my description of his “positions” generally, not just a couple – so you should be able to demonstrate that my description of all his positions is inaccurate, not just one or two.

By your logic, there’s no reason to bother supporting or opposing any presidential candidate at all and it doesn’t matter in the least who’s president, because only congress has the real power.

Feel free to construct a logical argument which uses my premises and actually leads to this conclusion. I don’t think you can do it because, interestingly enough, that isn’t actually a valid conclusion that can be drawn from my position.

This article is such a waste of words!

That’s an easy enough claim to make, but harder to support. The mere fact that you don’t like it and disagree with it isn’t sufficient to make it a waste.

September 24, 2007 at 7:04 pm
(36) David says:

“A “federal ban” is an act of legislation (directly or indirectly). The power of the federal courts is a different subject entirely. If federal courts are limited in their power over state actions, then they are necessarily limited in their ability to apply the Constitution to state and local actions — hardly a positive outcome for liberty or equality. ”

I apologize for the innaccuracy. As Austine Cline points out, it is only in the area of law that has already overstepped the limits of the constitution, that Ron Paul would act. There is no reason to think the federal government is any “wiser” than any state government…”and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

September 25, 2007 at 5:26 am
(37) Ruth says:

Austin Cline, fine. You asked for it, you got it. Here are Ron
Paul’s postions on abortion and gay marriage, both straight from the horse’s mouth:
First abortion:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul301.html
Then gay marriage:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/paul/paul207.html

In both, Ron Paul clearly states these issues are not mentioned in the Constitution and are not meant to be decided on a federal level. He is against Constitutional amendments to ban either.

Our founding fathers felt strongly about everyone being able to worship as they pleased, so freedom of religion is written into the Constitution. Setting up a theocracy would violate the Constitution, and Ron Paul, being a constitionalist, would do nothing to interfere with how people choose (or don’t choose) to worship.

How come when I bring up an issue you apparently agree with, like restoring our civil liberties, Ron Paul can’t do that because Congress won’t let him, but when you’re talking about abortion, gay marriage or religion all of a sudden he’s an “authoritarian” and “a significant threat to secularism and liberty?” That makes no sense! He would have to go through the same processes to change any one of these issues, and it seems to me he’s have a great deal more success overturning a bunch of unconstitutional acts than overturning Roe vs. Wade! So which is it? Does the president have the power to influence congress or not?

I’m really amused by how you trivialized how he would end the Iraq war by saying “the next president can send the troops back or something new.” As if four years, or more likely eight years of peace is completely meaningless!

The reason I believe no other candidate would end the Iraq war is because all the other republican candidates have made it clear they don’t want to, and all the democratic candidates (with the exception of Gravel and Kucinich, who both have far worse odds of winning the Ron Paul does on the gambling sites) are “centrists” who are afraid of being pegged “soft on terror” and are gullible enough to believe our immediate withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a “bloodbath.”

I stand by my statement your article is a waste of words. So you don’t like Ron Paul, I get it, but how many Ron Paul supporters, or even borderline Ron Paul supporters do you think have bought into your lies and dropped their support? My guess is one could easily count them on one hand, and for good reason: Ron Paul is by far the best presidential candidate I’ve seen since I was eligible to vote in 1980.

I don’t agree 100% with everything he stands for either, but so what? In what utopian world is there such a thing as a presidential candidate anyone completely agrees with?

September 25, 2007 at 6:35 am
(38) Austin Cline says:

In both, Ron Paul clearly states these issues are not mentioned in the Constitution and are not meant to be decided on a federal level. He is against Constitutional amendments to ban either.

Ron Paul voted to ban “partial birth” abortion. Ron Paul voted to ban gay adoptions and supports don’t ask/don’t tell. He said that if he were in Congress in 1996, he would have voted for the Defenese of Marriage Act. In 2004, he co-sponsored the Marriage Protection Act which would have denied federal courts jurisdiction over challenged to the DMA.

The Ten Commandments isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, but he voted to support government-sponsored displays of the Ten Commandments. Clearly, Ron Paul is very selective when it comes to what is “meant to be decided on a federal level.” It doesn’t matter so much whether it’s in the Constitution, but whether he wants it — just like every other politician.

How come when I bring up an issue you apparently agree with, like restoring our civil liberties, Ron Paul can’t do that because Congress won’t let him, but when you’re talking about abortion, gay marriage or religion all of a sudden he’s an “authoritarian” and “a significant threat to secularism and liberty?”

Yes. A person can be an authoritarian even if they don’t have the inherent power to do very much about it. Of course, a Presdient Paul would be able to do things if the Congress is weak and compliant — and this is the situation we currently have. Is that what you desire? Is it truly the case that you are searching for a Strong Leader to right the wrongs and restore what you think is America’s correct path?

I’m really amused by how you trivialized how he would end the Iraq war by saying “the next president can send the troops back or something new.” As if four years, or more likely eight years of peace is completely meaningless!

It didn’t prevent Bush from sending them in to begin with, did it? So long as Congress is weak and gives the president carte blanche to do as he wishes, he’ll be able send troops anywhere on any pretext. Is that what you want?

Be honest about which you would prefer: simply having a president willing to remove the troops this time from this quagmire with no concern about future troops under future presidents getting sent into new meat grinders, or a Congress able to firmly establish that the president doesn’t have the authority to do that and make it stick? Which has the best long term consequences for America: a strong president or a strong Congress?

The reason I believe no other candidate would end the Iraq war is because all the other republican candidates have made it clear they don’t want to, and all the democratic candidates (with the exception of Gravel and Kucinich, who both have far worse odds of winning the Ron Paul does on the gambling sites) are “centrists” who are afraid of being pegged “soft on terror” and are gullible enough to believe our immediate withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a “bloodbath.”

Doesn’t matter if Congress is strong enough to do something about it.

I stand by my statement your article is a waste of words.

Fine. To be intellectually honest, though, you have to support the claim.

So you don’t like Ron Paul, I get it, but how many Ron Paul supporters, or even borderline Ron Paul supporters do you think have bought into your lies and dropped their support?

So, I’ve lied? That’s a pretty serious allegation. Please support or retract it.

Anyway, why do you assume that I’m speaking to Ron Paul supporters? It might not have occurred to you, but there may be undecided people out there who can benefit from more than just propaganda from Ron Paul supporters.

September 25, 2007 at 12:50 pm
(39) Ruth says:

Austin Cline, Bush started the Iraq war illegally. Under the Constitution, a president is not allowed to start a war without the approval of 3/4 of Congress. That is exactly why restoring the Constitution is so important!

You keep ignoring the fact that currently, the president DOES have have powers beyond what our founding fathers intended. It’s true Congress still has the power to repeal unconstitutional legislation (for now), but that’s going to be much easier with a president who isn’t going to veto their bills, and infinitely easier with a president who doesn’t find an excuse to declare martial law!

It’s true the Constitution isn’t always cut and dry, and what one person might consider unconstitutional another might not, but what other presidential candidate is even bothering using the Constitution as their guide?

Ron Paul is unique in that his political career has always been grassroots: lobbyists avoid him like the plague because they know he can’t be bought. His campaign is being funded solely by private contributions and fundraisers.

Yes, I do want to see a strong Congress, because that is one of the checks and balances written into the Constitution, but I want to see a Congress whose members strive to uphold the Constitution and carry out the will of the people. Currently, we have a Congress full of politicians beholden to the special interest groups who fund their campaigns. It’s true Ron Paul isn’t going to be able to do much to change that, but maybe he can at least help set a new standard for what we demand in our politicians.

The simple truth is people are hungry for a president who stands for peace, prosperity and freedom. Your qualms with Ron Paul seem trivial in comparison to what could happen to us under another warmongering, power crazed president, which is exactly what we’ll get whether a republican OR a democrat is elected, barring Ron Paul.

True, some undecideds might take your article to heart, but they are doing themselves a grave disservice if they take your opinions as their only source of information.

September 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm
(40) Austin Cline says:

Austin Cline, Bush started the Iraq war illegally. Under the Constitution, a president is not allowed to start a war without the approval of 3/4 of Congress.

And so can the next president, even Ron Paul, without a Congress that is willing to take action. There is nothing Ron Paul can do to prevent it from happening again.

You keep ignoring the fact that currently, the president DOES have have powers beyond what our founding fathers intended.

I’m not ignoring it; I’m simply pointing out the simple fact that only Congress can truly change the situation. Even if a President Ron Paul could change it, it would be via powers he shouldn’t have — thus creating an irresolvable contradiction.

It’s true Congress still has the power to repeal unconstitutional legislation (for now), but that’s going to be much easier with a president who isn’t going to veto their bills, and infinitely easier with a president who doesn’t find an excuse to declare martial law!

Yes, it’s easier for Congress to act if the President isn’t being a pain, but first you need a Congress that will act because there is nothing positive the President can do anyway. So, it’s best to focus on the Congress and getting enough good people in there.

To put it another way: you can achieve the goals without the president you want; you can’t achieve them without the Congress you want. Ergo, focus on the Congress first and president last.

Ron Paul is unique in that his political career has always been grassroots: lobbyists avoid him like the plague because they know he can’t be bought. His campaign is being funded solely by private contributions and fundraisers.

And we all know that money from private contributors and fund-raisers can’t lead to any sort of collusion, corruption, and undue influence? The key is ultimately the number of contributors and the percentage they contribute. I honestly don’t know what those numbers are for Ron Paul, but they are what you should be looking at.

The simple truth is people are hungry for a president who stands for peace, prosperity and freedom.

I distrust all political movements that invest so much in the way of hopes, expectations, and needs in the person of single leaders. In a democracy, our hopes, expectations, and needs should be invested in democratic institutions.

Your qualms with Ron Paul seem trivial in comparison to what could happen to us under another warmongering, power crazed president, which is exactly what we’ll get whether a republican OR a democrat is elected, barring Ron Paul.

Unless, of course, we elect a Congress that is willing to act. As I pointed out above: with a good and strong Congress, a bad president can be restrained. I don’t think that there is a single thing Bush has done wrong that couldn’t have been mostly if not completely checked by a strong Congress. With a strong Congress, both good and bad presidents can be kept in line; with a weak Congress, both good and bad presidents can do bad things (do keep in mind that Ron Paul isn’t perfect — it’s not just that you disagree with some of his positions, but that he is susceptible to error, vice, and misdeeds like all the rest of us).

Ergo, we are better off with a strong Congress no matter what sort of president we end up with. This means that ensuring Congress is strong must be the priority. Even better, a strong Congress is one that persists across multiple administrations while even the best president is only around for two administrations. Ensuring we have a strong Congress is a fix that is more secure, more reliable, will do more for us, and will last longer than the election of any one person no matter how good.

True, some undecideds might take your article to heart, but they are doing themselves a grave disservice if they take your opinions as their only source of information.

So, now we come back to my article being a waste of time because you don’t like it rather than because it won’t accomplish anything.

September 25, 2007 at 1:39 pm
(41) Ruth says:

Austin Cline, you keep on saying we need to concentrate on getting people in Congress who will make it strong so it won’t matter who the president is or what he or she stands for. Exactly how is your article promoting that? Are you hoping Ron Paul doesn’t become president because you think he’ll be more effective staying in Congress? Remember, he may have voted for some bills you don’t agree with, but he also stood up against Bush’s war and unconstitutional legislation from the very beginning.

September 25, 2007 at 1:51 pm
(42) Ruth says:

Here is the most recent information I could find on Ron Paul’s campaign finances: http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/summary.asp?id=N00005906

September 25, 2007 at 2:17 pm
(43) Austin Cline says:

Austin Cline, you keep on saying we need to concentrate on getting people in Congress who will make it strong so it won’t matter who the president is or what he or she stands for. Exactly how is your article promoting that?

This article isn’t about that issue. I keep pointing out that Congress is more important than the Presidency for protecting liberty as a response to your claim that we absolutely need Ron Paul and that any other option would be atrocious.

RE: finances — it’s not clear to me how many different people contributed the $3 million of individual contributions. One the one end of the scale, if it were a single person (and I know it’s not — I’m just speaking hypothetically), then he’s be very beholden to that one person; on the other end, if it were 3 million people, he’d be equally beholden to them all. The closer it is to the latter, the better. I don’t think that someone who gets a few really huge contributions from a few really wealthy people is in any better state than someone who gets large amounts from a few PACs.

September 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm
(44) Ruth says:

By law, the most any individual person can contribute to a presidential campaign is $2,300 (I think they limit it to help prevent third party candidates from raising enough money to become competitive). That means the fewest possible contributors Ron Paul could have is somewhere around 1300, assuming my math is correct, since that’s not my strong suit. I don’t think it’s possible to know for certain the actual number, other than it’s certain to be more than 1300!

I’ve said everything I came here to say, and then some. Best of luck to you, Austin Cline. Goodbye.

October 28, 2007 at 12:56 pm
(45) Josh says:

Wow. What a terribly written article. Full of inaccuracies. Do you actually call yourself a journalist?

October 28, 2007 at 1:42 pm
(46) Austin Cline says:

Wow. What a terribly written article. Full of inaccuracies.

Wow. What a wonderfully written comment. Full of corrections, empirical information, and constructive criticism.

Do you actually call yourself a journalist?

No, I don’t actually. Therefore your attempted ad hominem simply falls flat.

November 12, 2007 at 9:54 am
(47) Dan says:

He’s right. You’re wrong. The things you point to and say, “SEE?!”, are the very reasons I support him. If you truly want to see the problem, look in the mirror.

November 12, 2007 at 10:40 am
(48) Austin Cline says:

He’s right. You’re wrong.

That’s easy enough to say; can you support your claims, though?

The things you point to and say, “SEE?!”, are the very reasons I support him.

You support an authoritarian political agenda?

If you truly want to see the problem, look in the mirror.

Examples, please?

November 15, 2007 at 12:35 am
(49) Desmond Kelvin says:

Ron Paul supporters:
Do not expect Austin Cline to understand libertarianism. It is an individualist philosophy. A practical one at that: libertarians know that democracy is an inherently corrupt institution (see Hoppe’s book on democracy vs natural order). Cline is approaching this issue from the opposite side of the fence, and his ideas seem as alien to true libertarians as ours are to the likes of him. Engaging him in debate is simply not productive-he is too set in his ways.

That said, RonPaul is no authoritarian. That is a baseless claim if you check his voting record. If anything, Paul is a minarchist conservative with a bit of a nationalistic bent. I will support him because his actions show him to be a consistent supporter of civil liberties as well as the republican ideal that first defined this country.

November 15, 2007 at 5:39 am
(50) Austin Cline says:

Do not expect Austin Cline to understand libertarianism.

Rather than insinuating that I do not understand libertarianism, why not demonstrate how this is so? Then again, you don’t trouble yourself to dispute anything I have written, so perhaps no one should expect you to know how to construct a systematic argument to defend what you say?

It would also appear to be too much to expect you to realize the extent to which libertarians themselves not only doubt Ron Paul, but are recognizing that he is more of an authoritarian than he admits to. His recent refusal to return campaign donations from a neo-Nazi fascist was very telling, though.

December 17, 2007 at 11:17 pm
(51) Alex Smith says:

Hey Austin,
Been a while. I’ve read these comments and, of course, the entry itself. In regards to the entry: your references speak for themselves. When Paul speaks to the immersion of state into church, both morally, and–with an albeit misguided sentimentality on the good ol’ Christian Right Founding Fathers God Is In All Of Our Paperwork Myth–to the liberties which he may very well intend on revoking and/or pursuing revocation of, I feel a bit shocked.

Not everything that one candidate says is idiotic. I find, more often than not, that Huckabee makes a good point or two: public speaking being his forte for a while and all. Also, I think Paul does a darn good job trashing the war in Iraq. I began getting that feeling: “hey, this guy sounds kinda like a libertarian, what with all his constitution talk and the like”, but your article really changed my mind on him. I will be more weary of him as his campaign continues.

Here’s to hoping that we actually do, one day, get a libertarian candidate into a youtube debate, if at least to watch the sparks fly.

Also, it was truly delightful to read how you handled your comments.

Thanks

December 18, 2007 at 9:38 pm
(52) Anna says:

Even if Paul is a Libertarian, we wouldn’t have a libertarian administration or judiciary. Most of his appointments would be run-of-the-mill Republicans since there aren’t enough Libertarian-minded people to fill the posts. In the case of judges, no non-Republican would live up to his religious standards. He certainly wouldn’t appoint a pro-lifer. Nearly by definition, his judicial appointments would be strongly conservative. This would color all their decisions, including the many that have nothing to do with religion. That’s why Paul’s religious zeal is of concern to any moderate who otherwise likes his freedom-and-peace platform. Another round of ultra-conservative judges and another administration with Republican conservatives in major posts is the last thing I want, even if I like many of Paul’s positions. So I’ll take any Democratic candidate over Ron Paul and join Austin Cline in hoping for a strong Congress.

Austin, it would be great if you could write an article on exactly that: why voters must focus on electing the strongest possible congress people.

December 19, 2007 at 12:12 am
(53) Matt says:

Johnny_eh said:
Not to mention that Ron Paul seems to give approval to the 9/11 truth movement.

No, he doesn’t. Why do you listen to Michelle Malkin?

Today he denounced the 9/11 truthers on the record on the Glenn Beck Program.

December 23, 2007 at 1:45 am
(54) Fab says:

Austin,

Why do you insist that if government does not provide services, that there are only churches that will? Are you saying there are no people outside of government or church that care about poor people? There are plenty of non-religious humanitarian organizations that would benefit greatly if donors were not forced to pay federal income tax. Do you really enjoy giving 25% to 30% of your hard-earned cash to the federal government, where you have no control on what it gets spent on? If you really want to educate the world and make an impact, wouldn’t you feel better sending that money to an organization you agree with 100%?

December 23, 2007 at 7:25 am
(55) Austin Cline says:

Why do you insist that if government does not provide services, that there are only churches that will?

I didn’t write that.

There are plenty of non-religious humanitarian organizations that would benefit greatly if donors were not forced to pay federal income tax.

Do any receive anywhere close to the donations received by religious organizations?

Do you really enjoy giving 25% to 30% of your hard-earned cash to the federal government, where you have no control on what it gets spent on?

Whereas I would have control of the money donated to an unaccountable private entity?

If you really want to educate the world and make an impact, wouldn’t you feel better sending that money to an organization you agree with 100%?

There is no such organization, and never will be unless it’s an organization of me alone — and even then, I’m always questioning and reconsidering my ideas.

December 24, 2007 at 3:47 pm
(56) Fab says:

I didn’t write that.

No, you didn’t, but it sounded like you implied it when you wrote these words:

What is the “true liberty” of being under the coercive influence of authoritarian religious institutions rather than democratic government institutions?

….

If we all have to depend on religion in order to get things done in society, then we are in effect under a system of religious authority and control — a system where power is unaccountable and undemocratic.

What federal institutions would be replaced by religious institutions?

As for your question:

Do any receive anywhere close to the donations received by religious organizations?

Probably not. However, more and more people are getting fed up with religion, but still want to help out society. Since there are already donors to the non-religious organizations, I would hope that those donors would give more if they were not paying federal income tax.

Now I understand that donating to a private organization does not give you any more control of the money than when you pay your taxes. But you at least have a better handle on what kind of thing your money goes toward by making a contribution to an organization that is focused on an issue that you feel strongly toward. Our income taxes paid to the federal government are not donations or gifts. We are criminals if we choose to not pay them. The government is supposed to be accountable to me, but what can I say when I see how much we pay for simple items like keyboards ($400) and monitors($1500)? Sure, the info is out in the open, but I am still forced to pay this organization to keep doing what it is doing.

December 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm
(57) Bongstar420 says:

“…donating to a private organization does not give you any more control of the money than when you pay your taxes. But you at least have a better handle on what kind of thing your money goes toward by making a contribution to an organization that is focused on an issue that you feel strongly toward.”

I don’t know why people should have “control” like this. After all, why not eliminate the government and everyone can pay for their own stuff. Oh, wait. That’s what it was like several hundred years ago-we were surfs mostly. We should just let the top 1% of the wealth takers dictate to us directly. Then they wouldn’t have to spend so much time buying ads and infiltrating government affairs.

“like keyboards ($400) and monitors($1500)?”

That couldn’t be why so many government officials end up working at some rich donators facilities after their “service”?

I figure this is inevitable when you have a bunch of exploitative asshats running populations of dumbasses. We are still very much a work in progress

December 24, 2007 at 3:59 pm
(58) Austin Cline says:

No, you didn’t, but it sounded like you implied it when you wrote these words

Sorry, I don’t see the implication. Perhaps you can explain?

What federal institutions would be replaced by religious institutions?

The services like welfare, job training, and education are all currently performed by government entities and which some would like to see performed by religious institutions instead.

Do any receive anywhere close to the donations received by religious organizations?

Probably not.

And I don’t see that changing. That’s why I wrote: “Given how strong churches and religious organizations already are, it’s difficult to imagine, though, that completely secular alternatives would compete very well.”

Now I understand that donating to a private organization does not give you any more control of the money than when you pay your taxes. But you at least have a better handle on what kind of thing your money goes toward by making a contribution to an organization that is focused on an issue that you feel strongly toward.

Sorry, but I see no reason why that would be the case.

Our income taxes paid to the federal government are not donations or gifts. We are criminals if we choose to not pay them.

That’s right. So?

Sure, the info is out in the open, but I am still forced to pay this organization to keep doing what it is doing.

If you don’t like what it’s doing, work for change.

December 25, 2007 at 7:59 pm
(59) Fab says:

The services like welfare, job training, and education are all currently performed by government entities and which some would like to see performed by religious institutions instead.

Those services are performed by local government, not federal entities. I’ve never seen a federal public school.

If you don’t like what it’s doing, work for change.

That’s exactly what I’m doing. The problem is, people like you are afraid of freedom, so you are hindering progress. Communal societies worked for small villagers, but it isn’t going to work for a large country.

December 25, 2007 at 8:31 pm
(60) Austin Cline says:

Those services are performed by local government, not federal entities. I’ve never seen a federal public school.

Libertarians object to government at every level on an equal basis. I guess you aren’t actually a libertarian. Sorry, my mistake. I’m guessing you missed the fact that my critique of Ron Paul and his faux-libertarianism didn’t specify federal government and federal institutions in any way.

The problem is, people like you are afraid of freedom, so you are hindering progress.

I am indeed afraid of the faux-freedom libertarians and their pseudo-libertarians have in mind. Replacing the power of democratic government with the power of un-democratic private institutions would create “freedom” for the powerful on the backs of the majority of the people.

December 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm
(61) thinktwice says:

I am indeed afraid of the faux-freedom libertarians and their pseudo-libertarians have in mind. Replacing the power of democratic government with the power of un-democratic private institutions would create “freedom” for the powerful on the backs of the majority of the people.

- I came to this same conclusion. (By myself, no forums or blogs necessary.)

One thing I noted when I read your article and all the refutations and rebuttals was concerning the abortion issue as it relates to the bigger “picture” of what appear to be RP’s underlying principles.

He has voted on legislation that would ban federal funding to clinics that do abortions, but also voted to GIVE federal funding to clinics that don’t.

http://www.issues2000.org/TX/Ron_Paul_Abortion.htm

My interpretation is that this is one element that shows RP’s selective application of limiting federal powers. He claims to preach that the federal government shouldn’t be funding health care, but it appears to be fine as long as the place involved is in accord with his owm personal beliefs, which doesn’t seem very Libertarian to me.

To be honest, the more I read on RP and research him, the more my conclusions follow your article.

January 20, 2008 at 3:54 pm
(62) Ayn R. Key says:

When one has a constitutionalist position, that the Federal Government should not impose the religion of the president, then even if Paul were a creationist (which he is not) or a theocrat (which he is not) then, even aftar all of that, he would be safe.

So why do you really feel so poorly about Ron Paul? Are you using religion as a vehicle to attack since if you honestly comment that you have policy disputes you know you would get nowhere?

January 20, 2008 at 4:33 pm
(63) Austin Cline says:

So why do you really feel so poorly about Ron Paul?

I think I explained in some detail why I think — think, not feel — so poorly about Paul. Feel free to actually engage any of the arguments I have made. Or, if you’d rather not, feel free to engage some of the arguments made by the many other people who have come to realize that Paul is not so much a libertarian than he is an authoritarian-minded paleoconservative.

January 23, 2008 at 9:09 am
(64) Kanard says:

Ron Paul is only a threat to the current agenda and administration, not to the country.
He is authentic and has his personal religion and beliefs, but he will not impose those on his country as president.
If there is something he stands for the most it is Liberty, that is the LAST thing he threatens, this article is just another attempt to smear the good character of Ron Paul.
Vote for Freedom, vote for Ron Paul.
Read for yourself what he stands for, www . Ronpaul2008 . com

January 30, 2008 at 5:17 am
(65) James Quinn says:

I just have to day Austin Cline, that I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles every time I come to your site. As an Atheist myself, I have found a lot of your essays to be illuminating and inspiring.

As a Canadian, I really had little opinion on any of the political candidates in the United States. That was until I was presented with a You Tube video of Ron Paul claiming that evolution was just a theory. Here was a man who has graduated from Medical school, and yet claims to believe in Creationism? There seems to be a contradiction here.

Then I began to notice more and more contradictions in what Ron Paul was saying. As you have pointed out, Ron Paul seems to be trying to unite the Libertarians and the Theologists under his platform.

As we might say in Canada, Ron Paul is a man who has both his feet in two separate canoes. Pretty soon, he’s going to have to jump into one canoe or the other.

Since I have read your article, I have written several posts in newsgroups such as Tribe.com and using this post as a reference. Understandably, I have encountered opposition from ‘both sides’ of the Ron Paul camp. I have also come across people that claim they voted for Ron Paul merely as a protest vote.

I have to say though, many of the comments made by Ron Paul supporters on this comment blog are a lot more convincing than those I have encountered. This might just be due to the amount of people coming to your site.

Austin Cline, you are the flickering flame of a candle in the darkness of the storm. Keep up the good work!

February 22, 2008 at 1:43 am
(66) chris says:

After following all this carefully,and being athiest I have to vote ron paul!!!

March 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm
(67) Andy says:

This article is rubbish, Discreditted on many levels. Just another pathetic liberal fascist. Anyone with an extra ten minutes can see that the guy is lying on many fronts.

March 25, 2008 at 2:26 pm
(68) Austin Cline says:

This article is rubbish, Discreditted on many levels.

Feel free to show how, instead of just claiming it.

Just another pathetic liberal fascist.

Who, exactly, misled you into thinking that fascism was a phenomenon of the left?

Anyone with an extra ten minutes can see that the guy is lying on many fronts.

Then you shouldn’t need more than two to support the accusation.

July 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm
(69) asdf says:

you sir, are making your bed. one day you will get to sleep in it. Heir Obama is making the rounds right now. This country is headed full steam ahead towards heavy authoritarianism. The government big enough to legislate everyone into equality (at least on the surface), is powerful enough to police the world, and bitch slap it’s own people into a state of acquiescence. when this country goes down the tubes, the smart individualists will be gone. the crazy christians, the gays, the skinheads, the atheists, the bubbas, and the latte sipping elitists will still be here. morons.

June 24, 2010 at 11:44 am
(70) tim says:

One need not be atheist or agnostic to be in opposition to Ron Paul. Buying into his candidacy is akin to his belief in creationism. When one ignores evidence and facts and makes up others to suit his ideology/theology, how can one be trusted? Libertarianism is no different than Communism, Capitalism, Anarchism, Fascism, Monarchism or any other “ism” of choice. All are fantasies, in that none of the ideologies work on their concepts alone. Thomas Jefferson was a whole lot smarter than Ron Paul in his belief that the church was an enemy of liberty. History has proven that time and again. There are plenty of Christians who absolutely believe in the separation of church and state. Whose religion? Yours? Mine? If Christian, Catholic? Protestant? If Protestant, Methodist? Presbyterian? Mennonite? Baptist? If Baptist, Southern Baptist? American Baptist? Primitive Baptist? Pentecostal? Snake handling? I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United Sates of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under Shiva, with liberty and justice for all. Think that would go over well in Louisiana? Heck, it should, since their governor is of Indian descent and most in that country are Hindu, why not introduce a tiny bit of his own ethnic identity into the public schools? Heck, there are so many gods just in Hinduism that a different deity could be invoked every day, k-12, that none would have to ever be repeated! It would be a free expression of religion in the classroom, and Ron Paul is all for that, right? Oh, and for the previous comment, the German word for Mister is Herr, not Heir.

October 28, 2010 at 3:00 am
(71) tim says:

Church is not separate from theology, and if church is not separate from the state, theology is not separate from the state. This always has been and always will be a republic, not a theocracy: Jesus is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution.

April 16, 2011 at 1:12 am
(72) Seantzizl says:

I know this article is out dated, but as a somebody who considers themselves as vocally an atheist as a Ron Paul supporter, I see no inconsistency in being an atheist and supporting Ron Paul.

I became a libertarian the same way I became an atheist; examining all sides of the issues and applying reason and skepticism to come to a conclusion.

I have read Ron Paul’s book, listened to his speeches, and have come across hundreds of articles, from both the left and the right, about Ron Paul’s legitimacy. Every attempt to label him as a racist or claim he has some hidden religious agenda has been adequately debunked. Nothing written or said in his own words, when properly examined, suggest such. In fact, he explicitly directs people to the writings of Murray Rothbard, Ludwig Von Mises, and Ayn Rand, all of which were atheists.

The only legitimate stance that Ron Paul has that would be particularly disagreeable with many atheist, has to do with the the power of government and unintended consequences, not his personal religious beliefs. I find that allowing the federal government to take precedence over local governments on issues that primarily split based on geography, even in cases where I agree with the position of the feds, can potentially. 1) Create more tension in the regions that most strongly object to the proposition, thus inhibiting any sort of real social change and 2) Allow the government to exercise equal power in cases where I am the one in opposition.

Furthermore, even Ron Paul wanted to paint “AMERICA, CHRISTIAN GOD’S COUNTRY!” on the white house lawn, I still would have voted for him over any other candidate last election. Stopping the endless cycle of war, the war on drugs, the federal reserve, the corporate bailouts and collusion, and a terrible economic system is more important to me than my atheism.

I

April 16, 2011 at 10:24 am
(73) Austin Cline says:

Every attempt to label him as a racist or claim he has some hidden religious agenda has been adequately debunked.

Then maybe you can “debunk” what’s above.

April 18, 2011 at 1:35 am
(74) Seantzizl says:

The newsletter from the 80′s was not him. It was people in his district using his name for their own publication. However, he did admit to fault. Even if he had been a racist, which he wasn’t, racism is a tentative position. Nothing he has ever said in his own words over the last decade has been close to sounding racist, in fact, it has always been to the contrary. The democrats had a senator that was a KKK member. When he died everybody jumped to talk about how heroic his service to the country was.

Him not giving money back to the Stormfront member was a completely hollow ploy. It is virtually impossible to keep track of every single donor, and it was a relatively small contribution. Ron Paul’s response was essentially, why give money back to a racist when he is going to do racist things with it. Besides, look at all the big lobbying groups that give money to both sides, the same groups that in public politicians.

On questions of faith, Ron Paul has made it quite clear that he checks his religion out at the door when it comes to legislating. He constantly credits and accepts people of all faiths who understand his “message of liberty”. He openly accepts atheists in his movement, no strings attached. Just the fact that he is willing to openly associate with atheists puts him far above most politicians. Even democrats who are “pro religious freedom” tip toe around the word atheist.

Once again, his approach to the first and tenth amendment isn’t what the typical atheist activist is looking for, and I’m fine with that.

April 18, 2011 at 5:13 am
(75) Austin Cline says:

On questions of faith, Ron Paul has made it quite clear that he checks his religion out at the door when it comes to legislating.

A person who rejects secularism is not a person how leaves their religion at the door. A person who rejects secularism is a person who rejects the separation of church and state, and that means a person who rejects individual liberty.

Ron Paul also repeats the lies of the Christian Right by saying, for example, that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are “replete with references to God.” A liar like that can’t be trusted.

Once again, his approach to the first and tenth amendment isn’t what the typical atheist activist is looking for, and I’m fine with that.

If you’re fine with theocracy, then you’re fine with faith-based dictatorship. That’s not libertarianism, which is precisely what the above article argues. Far from “debunking” the above, you’re only reinforcing it. You don’t even attempt to directly and substantively address a single point I make above. If this is the best that a Ron Paul apologist can manage, then my criticism of Ron Paul is not merely vindicated but strengthened.

April 20, 2011 at 8:25 am
(76) Seantzizl says:

I have a feeling that the only articles you’ve read about Ron Paul are from heavily left leaning, pro-democrat websites. During the last election, for fear of Ron Paul garnering support from the left, hundreds and thousands of hit pieces could be found in the news. The establishment Right wasn’t, and still isn’t too fond of him either.

So I’m going to give you credit to the notion that you are misinformed, and not actually setting up a straw man that I’m fine with a theocracy/dictatorship.

I understand the disagreement with the liberal atheist position, which would prefer the federal government to intervene with every single state and local body that posts a religious sign, conducts a prayer, or w/e.

And using the word dictatorship with relation to Ron Paul is laughable, considering how much time he has spent in congress trying to limit the power of the executive branch.

I’ve heard Ron Paul use the bible on occasion to reinforce positions that can already be reasonably defended, that’s about it. Either way, if you care about if your beliefs are true you would do your own research. Getting all your information about Ron Paul from liberals/democrats is like getting all your information about atheism from William Lane Craig. I suggest watching some of his house floor speeches, the debates from 08, and reading his book.

April 20, 2011 at 8:56 am
(77) Seantzizl says:

I couldn’t fit enough words in the last post….

Your claim about a person who rejects secularism doesn’t check their religion out at the door is simply poor reasoning. Your idea of secularism is using the federal government to forcibly remove any religious reference or activity lead by state and local officials. The position Ron Paul advocates, is that this should be left up to the local bodies, so long as participation is voluntary. This is a function of federalism, and even as an atheist I share this position. It isn’t because I’m okay with it, it is because, as I said in my first post, I think it is an issue better fought at the local level.

It is fair to disagree with these positions, but I stand firm that you are either ill-informed or being dishonest by labeling Ron Paul as an authoritarian theocrat.

April 20, 2011 at 9:21 am
(78) Seantzizl says:

And addressing more points, even though it was never my intention to line for line argue against you, just merely point out that there is more to Ron Paul’s position and that you should probably do more research to have a larger sample size of Ron Paul’s views before you make the jump from political disagreement, to false accusations.

“If Ron Paul were a serious contender for the presidency, he’d be a significant threat to American secularism and liberty” – The only threat is that he could potentially sign one of the bills you disagree with. I already pointed out that this has nothing to do with his religious beliefs, and more to do with federalism. He would also put an end to the war on drugs on the exact same principle.

“A true libertarian would support efforts to stop the government from funding and supporting one religion out of many” – I agree with this. The difference in opinion is whether we should fight our state and local governments, or the federal government. I’ve already explained why I believe the bottom up scenario to be superior.

“Many of the founders would be regarded as heretics according to traditional standards and that’s why they supported removing from the government any authority over religious matters” – This is true, to an extent, but it doesn’t change the fact that the constitution was drafted with federalism in mind. Some states adopted their own establishment of religion clause. It is almost silly to argue original intent anymore, but Ron Paul is not entirely inaccurate with his assertions on the founders.

April 20, 2011 at 9:47 am
(79) Austin Cline says:

I have a feeling that the only articles you’ve read about Ron Paul are from heavily left leaning, pro-democrat websites.

Nope. You’ll notice that I’m quoting Ron Paul directly a number of times.

So I’m going to give you credit to the notion that you are misinformed, and not actually setting up a straw man that I’m fine with a theocracy/dictatorship.

If you’re fine with an abandonment of secularism, you’re fine with theocracy.

I understand the disagreement with the liberal atheist position, which would prefer the federal government to intervene with every single state and local body that posts a religious sign, conducts a prayer, or w/e.

You mean, the position that government at all levels is bound by the First Amendment. That’s not an “atheist” position.

Your claim about a person who rejects secularism doesn’t check their religion out at the door is simply poor reasoning. Your idea of secularism is using the federal government to forcibly remove any religious reference or activity lead by state and local officials.

No, that’s not my idea of “secularism.” Talk about relying on a straw man…

The position Ron Paul advocates, is that this should be left up to the local bodies, so long as participation is voluntary.

The position that Ron Paul advocates is an opposition to any church/state separation beyond “creation of an official state church like the Church of England.” Go back and read his words – that’s width and breadth of how he interprets the Establishment Clause. It’s an interpretation that really only has traction with the extremist Religious Right. It’s an interpretation that is contrary to basic church/state separation and basic secularism.

If you want to argue against my conclusions about Ron Paul, then you have to argue to defend the position he outlines in the quotes I provide. What this means is that you have to defend the idea that the Establishment Clause prohibits no more than the creation of a national church. You’ll find tons of material from Christian theocrats to use; none from secularists – be they Christian or atheist. Why do you suppose that is?

I stand firm that you are either ill-informed or being dishonest by labeling Ron Paul as an authoritarian theocrat.

The only way to do that reasonably is to argue that allowing the government to do anything it wants respecting an “establishment” of religion, so long as no national church is created, is consistent with secularism and church/state separation, and is inconsistent with authoritarian theocracy.

I already pointed out that this has nothing to do with his religious beliefs, and more to do with federalism. He would also put an end to the war on drugs on the exact same principle.

Except that his interpretation of the Establishment Clause has nothing to do with federalism – that interpretation has implications for what the federal government is allowed to do, not merely lower levels of government.

I notice that you don’t even try to defend the specific quotes from Ron Paul which I cite and discuss. You don’t even try to make any sort of case for those positions being consistent with the defense of a secular government where church and state are separated and which is thus not theocratic. I’m not surprised, since so many of the comments above are indefensible – they are comments normally made only by the far Christian Right and which no atheist can reasonably accept. But did you think no one would notice?

April 20, 2011 at 11:35 am
(80) Seantzizl says:

It’s no use… You do realize there is strong evidence to support Ron Paul’s claim that the establishment clause only applies to what the federal government can do right? In fact, the historical evidence is overwhelming. And congrats, you can quote mine Ron Paul. Obviously, that one article is everything he has ever had to say about the issue. I’ve read that article. It’s posted on Lew Rockwell, along with plenty of articles that support the absolute separation of Church and State. The issue is more complicated than just the establishment clause. It is about the power of the federal government vs the power of state governments, and the negative effects of allowing the federal government to be the ultimate authority.

And I made plenty of claims that Ron Paul’s position is consistent with secular government.,but you ignore it. I never argued that government should be allowed to do whatever it wants with respecting the establishment of religion. The federal government may not. State and local authorities may pass laws as their constitutes see fit.

April 20, 2011 at 2:50 pm
(81) Austin Cline says:

It’s no use… You do realize there is strong evidence to support Ron Paul’s claim that the establishment clause only applies to what the federal government can do right?

No, I’m only aware of the ridiculous argument from Christian theocrats. You’re welcome to prove you can do better.

And congrats, you can quote mine Ron Paul.

Quote Mining is the act of quoting someone so out of context that they are made to appear to be saying something radically different from what they actually wrote – even to the point of making them appear to be saying the opposite of what they actually wrote. That’s a very serious accusation and I challenge you to back it up by demonstrating that the article in question does not say what I describe and instead is actually an argument for something radically different. Or you can admit that the article does say what I describe and retract your accusation.

The issue is more complicated than just the establishment clause. It is about the power of the federal government vs the power of state governments

Except, as I already pointed out, his interpretation of the Establishment Clause is at odds with the concept of secularism even if we limit ourselves to discussions of the federal government. You’re deliberately avoiding that, I think. My conclusion that Ron Paul is more of a theocrat does not depend on any interactions between federal and state governments.

And I made plenty of claims that Ron Paul’s position is consistent with secular government

Claims, but nothing to back them up with.

I never argued that government should be allowed to do whatever it wants with respecting the establishment of religion.

Ron Paul does, short of creating a national church. So do you agree with Ron Paul that the EC only forbids the creation of national church and no more? Do you want to argue that this position is consistent with secularism and church/state separation? Or would you like to admit that this position is one otherwise held only by far-right Christian Nationalists and thus more consistent with theocracy than anything else?

April 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm
(82) Seantzizl says:

“No, I’m only aware of the ridiculous argument from Christian theocrats. You’re welcome to prove you can do better.”

If you are not aware of the original intent of the establishment clause and the issues surrounding its ratification then you need a history lesson. If you disagree that laws should be interpreted as they were intended, that is an entirely different discussion. My conclusion that Ron Paul is more of a theocrat does not depend on any interactions between federal and state governments.

“So do you agree with Ron Paul that the EC only forbids the creation of national church and no more?” This question is loaded. It is indisputable that the EC was intended to prevent the establishment of an official church like the church of England. By extension, government can not give special treatment or directly support any religion. It also can not coerce people into religious belief, nor punish people for not believing, as these were the attributes of the Anglican church. What it does not do, is restrict government institutions from displaying or participating in voluntary religious traditions within its own body.

April 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm
(83) Seantzizl says:

(cont)
” his interpretation of the Establishment Clause is at odds with the concept of secularism even if we limit ourselves to discussions of the federal government. You’re deliberately avoiding that, I think. .”

I’m not avoiding it, I think it’s non-sequitur. His interpretation of the EC allows for a representative democracy of a largely religious country to rule effectively rule in a secular manner. The implementation of secular government within a democracy is not dependent on a body in Washington D.C. telling the people of Burmington Alabama to more secular or else we’ll come in with guns and kidnap people. My position, as stated, is that such actions potentially stifle real social change by fueling descent. After ratification, many states established a state church, and those churches were later disolved without need for federal intervention.

Also, to my understanding a theocrat is somebody who rules by supposed divine authority. Nothing written in your article supports that claim. In fact, the second paragraph is full of unsupported claims. If hypothetically your position was only based on his interpretation at the federal level, then Ron Paul would be one of the least theocratic members of congress across all parties. When asked in an interview about the religious overtone of Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul stated that he is annoyed when religion is overused, and that religion should be a private and personal matter. Unlike most members of both parties, he doesn’t attend the national prayer breakfast because it is “all just for show”.

April 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm
(84) Austin Cline says:

If you are not aware of the original intent of the establishment clause and the issues surrounding its ratification then you need a history lesson.

I’m fully aware of what some people claim about original intent; I’m also aware that none of those intentions had any relevance for the passage of the 14th amendment.

And, once again: My conclusion that Ron Paul is more of a theocrat does not depend on any interactions between federal and state governments.

“So do you agree with Ron Paul that the EC only forbids the creation of national church and no more?” This question is loaded.

Feel free to show how.

It is indisputable that the EC was intended to prevent the establishment of an official church like the church of England. By extension…

By extension… according to whom? Ron Paul? Quote him, then.

What it does not do, is restrict government institutions from displaying or participating in voluntary religious traditions within its own body.

Then make your case.

His interpretation of the EC allows for a representative democracy of a largely religious country to rule effectively rule in a secular manner.

Feel free to show how.

Also, to my understanding a theocrat is somebody who rules by supposed divine authority.

Theocracy, like democracy, capitalism, monarchy, communism, and every other such system comes in a wide variety of flavors or forms. One thing that unites all forms of theocracy is the privileging of one favored religion, its beliefs, its traditions, etc. That religion is held up by officials as a basis for official practices, laws, etc.

If hypothetically your position was only based on his interpretation at the federal level, then Ron Paul would be one of the least theocratic members of congress across all parties.

No; when the government is allowed to single out one religion for every possible sort of favorable treatment short of creating a national church, that’s as close as you can come to theocracy without declaring it as an official position.

When asked in an interview about the religious overtone of Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul stated that he is annoyed when religion is overused, and that religion should be a private and personal matter.

A person who supports government favoritism towards religion does not actually think religion should be private and personal.

Unlike most members of both parties, he doesn’t attend the national prayer breakfast because it is “all just for show”.

Which makes sense if he prefers non-showy and more meaningful blending of religion with government.

Curious that you didn’t support or retract your accusation of Quote Mining, as I requested. Do you feel that it’s appropriate to toss out such accusations without even a weak attempt to back them up?

April 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm
(85) Seantzizl says:

“Quote Mining is the act of quoting someone so out of context that they are made to appear to be saying something radically different from what they actually wrote”

Yes, and your entire article consists of false assertions inferred by quotes from one and half sources that vaguely support your conclusion. Most of your quotes come from an article he wrote in response to people who actively campaign to have the federal government stop local authorities from allowing things like donated nativity scenes being displayed on public property. Often times, the plantifs aren’t even from the locality in question. You are using them to insinuate that If you had done any type of in depth research and analysis, you would know things like

“Here Ron Paul’s hostility to secular liberty is made unambiguous: he envisages and prefers a society where the government is weak but churches are strong”

are false. The entire paragraph is essentially a refutation of marxism. In no way does he suggest that churches should have some special authority over individuals. The same can be achieved through secular means, but the point is that churches and secular humanist societies gain “allegiance” by voluntary means, while collectivist governments resort to coercion.

And on other issues in which you falsely state his position…

Abortion – Ron Paul is pro-life. Throughout his 08′ campaign he reiterated that he does not support blanket legalization, or criminalization of abortion. He has reiterated many times over that the criminal penalty of acts of violence fall under the jurisdiction of the states. This includes no penalty at all.

Gay Marriage – Same thing – state issue. I’m also under the impression, that like most libertarians, Ron Paul doesn’t understand why government should be involved in marriage at all.

April 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm
(86) Austin Cline says:

“Quote Mining is the act of quoting someone so out of context that they are made to appear to be saying something radically different from what they actually wrote”

Yes,

I’m glad you agree on what the definition of Quote Mining is, thus showing that this is what you had when you accused me of it. So, provide the context from the article which demonstrates that he was saying something radically different from what I have described. Nothing short of that will permit any further comments from you to be published. If you can’t or won’t support or retract accusations, you have no business here.

Most of your quotes come from an article he wrote in response to people who actively campaign to have the federal government stop local authorities from allowing things like donated nativity scenes being displayed on public property.

Really? Prove it – cite the cases.

Often times, the plantifs aren’t even from the locality in question.

Impossible, as they would not have standing and thus couldn’t be plaintiffs. Now I know you’re just making things up.

you would know things like

“Here Ron Paul’s hostility to secular liberty is made unambiguous: he envisages and prefers a society where the government is weak but churches are strong”

are false.

Then prove it. Show me where he asserts that he would like the government be strong and/or the churches be weak.

Abortion – Ron Paul is pro-life.

He voted to ban “partial-birth” abortion. He voted to define life as beginning at conception, which by implication defines abortion as murder.

Gay Marriage – Same thing – state issue.

Except he supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which contradicts the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution. Since there are government actions that vary based on whether people are married, the question of who is and is not legitimately married is a question that the federal government must be able to answer – and according to Ron Paul, the federal government should be forbidden from recolonizing any same-sex marriage as a legitimate marriage. Even valid marriages performed in the US or elsewhere.

A person who sincerely thought it should be left to the states would say “the federal government should recognize whatever marriage a state says is legit; the federal government shouldn’t be coming up with its own, independent definitions of marriage – especially since it isn’t issuing marriage certificates.” But he didn’t do that. Instead of leaving things to the states, he supports the federal government taking sides… kind of like he does when it comes to religion.

Ron Paul doesn’t understand why government should be involved in marriage at all.

Yet he has no problem with the government being involved with religion. He opposes letting the federal government recognize a valid marriage simply because it is same-sex, but he supports the federal governmental investing time and money for Ten Commandments displays. Curious how the things he doesn’t believe should be decided at the federal level are things which would enforce equality for minority groups while the things he believes should be decided at the federal level are things which reinforce the privileges and power of those traditionally in charge.

Coincidence? Hardly. I reiterate: “Ron Paul is only a “libertarian” where and when it’s convenient. Much of the rest of the time, he’s not merely a social conservative but a religious conservative promoting an agenda very close to that of Christian Nationalists.”

May 4, 2011 at 11:56 am
(87) Todd says:

Gay marriage CAN’T be a state issue for the same reason straight marriage isn’t. Each state has to recognize the others documents.

Ron Paul has been right about one thing in his career, that the Fed Reserve is evil and must go. But he’s wrong about what should replace it.

May 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm
(88) Nashka says:

Roughly 16% are atheist within the USA. What politician would dare take our side, when the 84% gets them what they want. We may have to wait till reality sets in on more of the populace before any politician will take our views seriously, or at least support them with conviction.

August 11, 2011 at 9:05 pm
(89) cls says:

I have followed Paul’s career for a long time and even remember when he voted to reinstate sodomy in the District of Columbia after the local government decriminalized it.

The Rondroids simply will ignore evidence. They act much as a cult does so evidence doesn’t matter.

Ron is a social conservative who is willing to have those values imposed by state governments. His theory of “state’s rights” is one that nullifies the concept of individual rights. He seems to think that oppressive government is peachy if done at the state level. That is even crappy constitutionalism. He is a faux constitutionalist. He invokes it when convenient.

The states have always defined marriage and the federal govt. then followed their lead. But Ron, who is anti-gay in my opinion, says that DOMA is okay even though it sets a federal definition for marriage for the first time in history.

He also is a pathetic constitutional scholar. He claims the Constitution is “replete” with references to God. Where? Of course, it isn’t. But he tells his conservative followers what they want to hear, even if it is false.

December 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm
(90) Jason says:

Austin,

Your article has certainly changed my viewpoint on Ron Paul. Thank you for bringing to my attention his stance on religion. I have to say that he has always been a politician whom I have admired, but I have trouble voting for any politician with deeply religious views.

Jason

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