Roughly 25% of self-professed Christians in the United States attend independent Bible-believing churches. They are categorized as Independent because they do not belong to a formal denominational structure. Some with common beliefs and practices may join in loose alliances with similar churches, but each local church retains its autonomy and manages its affairs in a biblical fashion. In addition some 76% of Americans claim to be Christian so that would suggest that about 19% of the U.S. population attends independent churches. Why do they prefer the independent church versus the mainline or Roman Catholic? Personally, I suspect their preferences are similar to mine. They cherish their relationship with Christ and the Father, and they do not want any bureaucratic hierarchy inserting itself into that very personal involvement. They value the Word and do not believe that they require someone to “interpret or parse” it for them. In essence they do not want anyone doing their thinking or making their decisions for them. They are theological libertarians.
Political libertarians are very similar because they distrust the heavy hand of government. They do not want a huge bureaucracy between them and their life choices. Libertarians honor and respect the Constitution of the United States and are dismayed when political leaders and special interests distort its purpose. They do not need anyone to “interpret or parse” the document for them. They have read it, and many of them have perused the supporting documents from the ratification process. They do not want politicians or others with personal agendas to claim to have divine knowledge about the Framers’ intentions when the historical record suggests a contrary view.
It is possible that theological and political libertarians are simply strong-willed and head strong people. They may be too bull-headed to conform to the rest of the faith community or electorate. On the other hand, the fact that both approaches swim in a pool of nearly 20% of the nation’s population would suggest that they are not reclusive iconoclasts. They are thoughtful believers and supporters. I do not have hard data to support this, but I believe that I can safely assume that libertarians, theological and political, read more, study more and know more than their non-libertarian co-hort.
Some of you who read this will be offended. You read, you study and you learn….and you are NOT a libertarian (I can see the sneer as you utter the foul term). You truly believe that your insights, faith-based and political, are valid and justified. You may be a Methodist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, agnostic or atheist who resents when anyone attempts to pigeonhole you. Well, my fine feathered friend, you are a libertarian. You just don’t have the self awareness or courage to leave your present comfort zone. You would rather remain with a group that doesn’t truly reflect your views, and chafe at their constant efforts to make you conform. You are a person who thoroughly examines your faith or your politics and have arrived at your conclusions through faith and reason.
There are some self-professed libertarians, religious and secular, who travel on the fringes of normal society. In the religious sense they might be recluses or street preachers. Politically they could be anarchists or off-the-grid survivalists. They are the outliers…the “two deviations from the norm.” The fact that they exist doesn’t discredit the true libertarians. Some clergymen are sexual predators but that doesn’t disbar faith from its role in life. Weirdo’s exist in every measurable demographic, but critics use the outliers to defame the movement or the group. True libertarians whether theological or political have usually arrived at their positions through study and introspection. If libertarianism is transmitted from one generation to another (as in lifetime Democrat or 3rd generation Methodist), it is only because the younger people have gone through the reflective or salvation process themselves. Libertarianism in faith or politics demands a constant defense because others love to denigrate it. Ask Tim Tebow. Ask Ron Paul.
Too many people are comfortable sitting in a box without truly exploring what they believe. Libertarians are willing to step out of the box and search for meaning. Libertarian may be a label. It may even be a pejorative to some, but in reality it signifies that an individual is willing to examine life and its consequences, and behave accordingly. The opinions of others are valued but never accepted at face value. The libertarian goes to the Source when seeking Truth.
Our nation and our world needs more free thinking, thoughtful people who value liberty and knowledge. We need them now. Right now. Pronto. Today. This is the hour.
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