Ten years ago many conservatives branded themselves Libertarians. Some still do, but the culture wars have made it harder to stay neutral when transgender ideology and other social ills are being forced upon us.
Can Catholics be Libertarians? There are different ways of conceptualizing Libertarianism, but we’ll look at some principles many Libertarians embrace and see whether Catholics can get on board.
The Non-aggression Principle
For many Libertarians, this means that it is only acceptable to use physical force against a person if they have initiated force against you. They say this is true on an individual basis and on the state level.
There is some validity to this belief, at least in certain circumstances. Many of us can agree that the U.S. government has gone overboard in regulating our lives. Our religious freedom as Catholics is a divine right that no government can take away.
The Church also teaches that we are responsible for the common good. We are, to some extent, our brother’s keeper. So while we can debate how much control the government should have over our lives, we can’t adopt a radical individualism that undermines our responsibility to our neighbors — especially the poor, who are Christ among us.
One of the worst definitions of Libertarianism is that it is “social liberalism and fiscal conservatism.” That is not accurate. Libertarianism focuses mainly on the power of the state, not on whether people should change their genders.
Some Libertarians do take liberal positions on abortion and LGBTQ+ issues. Others don’t. And there are some who really don’t care.
Catholics need to follow the Church’s teaching. Abortion is murder, so it can’t be accepted. Same-sex relations and transgenderism are contrary to God’s will, so they need to be called out. There may be some legitimate debate as to how these issues are handled, but we can’t simply ignore them.
There is no straight answer as to whether Catholics can be Libertarians. It depends on what principles you hold and how those align with the Church’s teaching. As long as you’re adapting your politics to your Catholic beliefs — and not vice versa — you’re on the right track.