We have written from time to time where we doubt the libertarian commitment to freedom of religion. Libertarians as a group haven't really come out with guns blazing to support the religious rights which are involved with the health care debate in the United States today. A recent article in Time appears to indicate why.
This: http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/29/whos-a-real-libertarian-now/ is a very interesting piece and worth a conservative taking a moment to read. It in many ways supports the idea that conservatives and libertarians could (in fact ought to) get along better. The seeds are there to the point where the poll cited as the basis of Nick Gillespie's writing (the American Values Survey) indicates that around 45 percent of those who may be identified as libertarians also call themselves Republicans, a higher affiliation than independents. Only 5 percent of libertarians call themselves Democrats, a mind bogglingly low number considering the general libertarian positions on social issues.
But the most troubling aspect is the assertion that libertarians 'are far less likely than most Americans to be religious and to think that religion has a place in politics.' This puts libertarian philosophy at odds with conservatives on questions of abortion and gay rights, the questions which are at the heart of the entire health care debate with regard to religion. Libertarians are so focused on the individual that they have trouble fathoming that an organization may have rights above the individual will.
Yet it must be noted that religious organizations are moral persons too (just as the government is a moral person, as are big or small businesses as well) and as such have rights individual to them. If a Catholic hospital does not want to offer abortions or a Catholic adoption agency does not want to adopt children to homosexuals, they have that right. Indeed if any given religious organization feels that way, they have that right. Truly, if an individual business does not want to offer certain health care options because of a serious religious conviction, it has that right too.
Libertarians don't seem to care about that. They are so focused on the person that they cannot accept that not each and every right is quite so personal. This means they have difficulty accepting that there are obligations on the person above or beyond that person's will whether that person wants to accept them or not. And now we are right at the crux of the abortion debate: who is a person, and what are their responsibilities? Further, we are faced with the issue of who determines responsibility: the person acting alone, or something greater than he or she?
We are willing to argue that the trouble stems from a lack of real respect for religion on the part of our libertarian friends if not also from a lack of responsibility in the best sense. Or, that is, from a lack of an understanding of the causes and sources of responsibility. They believe it is the person. Yet when they do that, they fail to consider whether a tyranny of the individual is better than the tyranny of society.
We're not arguing for either; tyranny is bad either way. But we are arguing for a better course than what we've got, one that should lean strongly towards individual freedom while keeping it checked where checks are needed. Conservatism, being so more closely in touch with right religious sentiment, indeed being more in touch with right sentiments generally, sees that. Libertarians, being generally disassociated with religion, do not. In the end, it is a telling example of why we are the one rather than the other.