Stephen Speicher has transcribed an answer Ayn Rand gave about religion in America.
This is from the Q & A after her 1961 speech, The Political Vacuum of Our Age, to The Matrix Table banquet of the National Fraternity for Women in Journalism Columbia Club, Indianapolis, Indiana.
In other words, you feel that religion is very instrumental in spreading altruism among people, and we cannot fight against altruism without fighting against the power of religion. Is this your question?
Well, I would say this. particularly in America, religion is very non-mystical.
Religious teachers predominantly in America, compared to Europe, are good healthy materialists. They would go with common sense. They would not stand in the way, er, if you want my impression of the general run, the majority of religious people in this country, they would not make an issue of mystic faith out of the idea of jumping into a cannibal’s pot and giving away your last shirt to the backward people in the world. A great many religious leaders are teaching this today, but it is because their own politics are leftist.
It is not intrinsic to religion, or, rather, there is a great many historical and philosophical connections between the altruist morality and most religions, but, that is not the real function of religion in this country, and you would not find too much opposition and, even among some individuals, you will find support (as I was very pleased and astonished to hear today, and the gentlemen knows whom I am acknowledging).
There are rational religious people.
I would personally say, no, if you wanted to be a full Objectivist you could not reconcile this with religion. But that does not mean that religious people cannot be individualists and cannot fight for freedom. They can, and this country is the best proof of it.
But, so long as a country is not under a dictatorship, a trend, an intellectual trend, can be turned peacefully, particularly in a country like the United States, which was fundamentally based on the ideas of freedom.
It would be harder in Europe, where they are traditionally statist, where freedom is a kind of exception, where the basic subconscious values are all statist in one form or another.
Not here, and I would take the last election as proof of it. Here people bear too much, too innocently and too naively.
But I don’t think any totalitarian dictatorship would ever hold here. Because under all their errors the American people’s basic premise is freedom. That is the unspoken emotion, the emotional sense of life atmosphere in this country.
And traditionally, historically, the American people can be pushed just so far, and then they stop it.
That was 45 years ago. Has the American spirit changed significantly since then? Does what Ayn Rand said back then still apply today?
From what I observed, speaking with Christian Americans during my 2 trips to the USA, I believe it does.
Many fellow Objectivists, however, including Leonard Peikoff, believe otherwise and are urging Objectivists to vote for the Democratic Party.
They say that voting for the Republican Party which supposedly “stands for religion” would “push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner”.
I have yet to see any evidence to support this.
Ayn Rand still rules.
I urge American Objectivists to vote for the Republican Party on Tuesday.