Note from the Editor: The following post is one individual’s story on the way that his religious beliefs have shaped him politically. Outright Libertarians holds no religious stance and firmly believes in the freedom of — and from — religion.
At the age of sixteen, I lost my imaginary friend. I had been talking to myself in my head for my entire life up until that point. My imaginary friend told me all my life that being gay was wrong. He told me that trans people were invalid because that wasn’t how they were meant to be. He told me that it was wrong for a woman to make a decision about something in her body. My imaginary friend was someone I used to call “Jesus,” but really it was just a voice in my head. I could now look at life in a much broader lens. It is because I kicked my friend out of my head that I became more accepting of GSM (LGBTQ+) people, and ultimately, it is the reason why I’m a Libertarian today.
Growing up, I had a very fundamentalist Christian family in Mississippi, so naturally, we were all evangelical neo-conservatives. My original political philosophy that was given to me by listening to conservative talk radio with my dad was very interventionist, anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-abortion, and pro-borders. Our Christian faith was the reason why we believed these things politically. My dad always told me that the people who weren’t Republicans were against everything we believed as Christians. They just didn’t know Jesus since they weren’t conservative.
My transition from neo-conservatism was brought about by my deconversion from Christianity. Critically looking at the reasons for why I believed in my religion caused me to lose it. There just simply wasn’t enough evidence, in my opinion, to keep believing the stuff I was believing. The reason why families like mine were against gay marriage being legal was because of our deeply held beliefs about marriage. Marriage, in our eyes, was reserved for heterosexual relationships. The reason why families like mine were against transgender people being able to use the bathroom was because transgender people were still, in our eyes, just the gender they were assigned at birth because “that’s how god made them.”
After losing my faith, I began to grasp the reality around me. GSM people were just like me. They are beautiful, loving, and thoughtful people just like me. They have their own feelings and consciences. Many of them even have the same faith I used to have. They deserve the same rights as people who are heterosexual or cisgender because they bleed the same blood. My former devotion to my imaginary friend was the only reason I ever had regressive political beliefs about them in the first place. Freeing myself from the bonds of religion opened my eyes to socially progressive ideas.
In came the Libertarian Party! The Libertarian Party was advocating for the legalization of gay marriage since its inception in 1971. The Libertarian platform doesn’t take a moral stance on abortion, rather it leaves that decision to the individual where it belongs. The Libertarian Party was the first major party in the United States to have a caucus dedicated to secular people. These stances are what brought me to the Libertarian party.
After leaving the Christian faith, I became an atheist. I lack the belief in a god. After becoming an atheist, the issue of the separation of church and state became an important issue to me. Religion and the public sector should be separate. Public school teachers should not lecture about religion to their students, prayers shouldn’t be spoken at every high school football game, and the words “In God We Trust” shouldn’t be on every dollar bill or on our state flag (I’m looking at you, Mississippi).
The Libertarian Party is for the separation of church and state. As mentioned before, we are the first major party in the United States to have a caucus dedicated to secular people. The Libertarian Party Secular Caucus was founded in 2018, and their stated mission is to create a space “for those Libertarians who do not hold religious belief, seek to spread the message of liberty through Libertarian principles, and fight back against theocratic elements imposed by government.” The libertarian belief is that government should not coerce anyone into molding to any certain religious framework. The freedom from religion is just as important as the freedom of religion. The theocracy created by the Republicrats should be resisted and abolished at all costs.
As mentioned before, I’m from Mississippi. It’s not too uncommon to find people who are anti-GSM here. The religious right has a strong presence here as it does in every other state in the Bible Belt. In the city of Starkville, the city in which I now attend university, two GSM activists were denied their permit to do a Pride parade in 2018. This is the first time the Starkville Board of Alderman had ever denied a permit for any sort of special event. This was due to a narrow 5–4 vote against the permit. This was all over the news internationally, so they had to cave into pressure and give them the permit, but this kind of stuff happens all the time. GSM people are discriminated against across the Bible Belt, and it’s because of the regressive thinking that I mentioned earlier.
The Libertarian Party is against this. Our platform reads, “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant. Government should neither deny nor abridge any individual’s human right based upon sex, wealth, ethnicity, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference, or sexual orientation.” GSM people should never have their Pride events denied by their government simply because they are Pride events. Homosexual couples looking to get married should never have their marriage license denied simply because the clerk employed by the state does not believe it to be morally right. Trans people shouldn’t be denied the medical care they need to simply feel comfortable in their own skin because some state lawmakers have an evangelical lobby to answer to.
I’m a Libertarian because I’m an atheist. My deconversion from religion coincided with my deconversion from conservatism. My political stances have shifted drastically to be socially liberal/progressive, and that is how I found the Libertarian Party. I will continue to fight within the Libertarian Party to uphold these socially progressive ideas and fight outside the party to grow the ideas of libertarianism and the Libertarian Party.
By Zach Britt