Action Alert!

No, Paul Ryan does not admire Ayn Rand

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 26, 2012

By now you’ve probably heard that Congressman Paul Ryan is a big fan of the “objectivist” philosophy Ayn Rand. If you hadn’t heard those reports earlier this year, Father Tom Reese provided a reminder when he joined the Georgetown faculty members protesting Ryan’s appearance on campus:

I am afraid that Chairman Ryan’s budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There’s just one problem with that story. It’s wrong. 100% wrong. A fraud. Ryan is not an Ayn Rand fan--as anyone can find out, simply by asking him.

“I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly.

Oh? And why doesn’t he like it?

“It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas…Don’t give me Ayn Rand.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: nanajessey2119 - May. 02, 2012 1:06 PM ET USA

    I am very proud of Paul Ryan and I pray for him every day. God has put him in the place he is in on purpose. Catholics who choose to bash him are not Catholics anymore. Georgetown and Notre Dame in particular. They should smarten up and follow Our Lord. God Bless you for what you are doing.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Apr. 30, 2012 8:02 PM ET USA

    Good for Paul Ryan. And good for the country if the GOP wins the presidency and both houses of Congress. Maybe then we can restore fiscal sanity to government. But the Republicans will have to take a brave pill for it to happen. Chances are more likely they will continue kicking the proverbial can down the road -- in which case the Democrats will be back in power four years later.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 30, 2012 6:04 PM ET USA

    Let's not knock Ayn Rand too hard. I was on Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse's website recently, and she admitted to having converted to orthodox Catholicism from Ayn Rand. I have to say I felt much relieved that someone I much admired also had something heinous to live down. At least Rand paid some homage to individual responsibility. The jump to free will and accountability is not that great, though the direction is a little weird.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 29, 2012 9:45 AM ET USA

    polish.pinecone, It is not the job of the laity to get involved in “fighting it out” at the doctrinal level... If this were merely a matter of a discussion on a “policy preference” than it would be within our (the laity’s) domain, but it is not. It is truly, though, within the realm of “black humor” to consider what Georgetown was certainly meant to be, and that is, a center of orthodox Catholic thought. Instead, it seems to have become a nest of vipers. Only a Bishop could hope to remedy it.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Apr. 27, 2012 8:25 PM ET USA

    Shrink, you think the faculty at Georgetown are Jesuits? Yes, there are some, but the vast majority are laity. Who haven't studied Aquinas. And John Plick, I'm glad it was Paul Ryan at the podium. He was fulfilling the Council's call that laity are to be the ones involved in the day-to-day politics of the land, not the bishops.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Apr. 27, 2012 12:57 PM ET USA

    There should have been a Bishop on that podiun and not Representative Ryan. And the message that "they" Georgetown, should have been compelled to hear would have been given more in the form of an ultimatum.

  • Posted by: Petronius - Apr. 27, 2012 2:02 AM ET USA

    Why anyone would take seriously anything (the Rev.) Tom Reese says is a mystery to me.

  • Posted by: shrink - Apr. 26, 2012 8:25 PM ET USA

    Congressman Paul Ryan says that he defers to the moral philosophy of Thomas Aquinas when he authors his budget proposal. Whereas the Georgetown faculty accuse him of being a follower of Ayn Rand. Now it is possible that Ryan is a liar, and is, as the faculty assert, inspired by Rand. Me thinks, however, it is more likely that the faculty of Georgetown simply don’t recognize a budget inspired by Aquinas because they haven’t studied Aquinas, but only Marx. They are post-modern Jesuits after all.