Religion and Liberty

Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By Paul Martin

Another Kind of Liberalism

by Jörg Guido Hülsmann

Religion and liberty – few issues are more controversial among current-day libertarians. At least four positions can be distinguished. One well-known position holds that religion and liberty are separate spheres that are almost hermetically sealed from one another, while any historical point of contact is purely accidental or contingent. According to another widespread position, religion and liberty are outright antagonistic. These advocates see in religion the most deadly foe of individual liberty, an even greater enemy of mankind than the state.

A third position contends that religion and liberty are complementary – on the one hand, pious men facilitate the workings of a society with minimal or no government, and, on the other hand, political liberty facilitates religious life as each one sees fit.

Finally, some thinkers defend a fourth position, namely, that religion – and in particular the Christian faith – is fundamental for individual liberty, both as far as the historical record is concerned and on the conceptual level.

In our thoroughly secularized culture, the third position is held to be daring and the fourth insolent. Yet today I do believe they are both true and that the third is a skin-deep statement of the truth, while the fourth goes to the root of the matter. Once a pagan interventionist, I first saw the truths of libertarian political theory, and eventually I started to realize that the light of these truths was but a reflection of the encompassing and eternal light that radiates from God through His Son and the Holy Spirit. This realization has been a slow process and I could not say now when and where it will end. But I can pinpoint the circumstances of its beginnings. I can pinpoint the one writer who got this stone in me rolling.

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