As a recovered Objectivist, I have sometimes noted the various eccentricities and peculiarities of Rand's philosophy and the movement that grew out of it. The latter has only grown more bizarre since Peikoff became its "official" leader upon Rand's death.
Here is Peikoff's nuanced, carefully thought-out position on the role of religion in our lives:
Religion ... the destroyer of man since time immemorial ... is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.... [Religion is] a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer.... [T]he only real threat to the country now, the only political evil comparable to or even greater than the threat once posed by Soviet Communism, is religion and the [Republican] Party which is its home and sponsor.
Got that? Religion - all religion, religion as such, any belief in anything divine or spiritual - is a destroyer and a killer, rotten to the core, a threat worse than Communism. Since the Republicans are religious, they are worse than Communists, too.
And if people vote for these dastardly Republicans? Quoth Peikoff: They "are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner."
A theocracy in the United States! And not in fifty years, but "much sooner."
Of course, this is the same guy who has been predicting since the 1960s that the US is going to turn into a Nazi-style dictatorship. All he's done now is to substitute Christians for Nazis. In his mind there is apparently little difference.
Anyway, a couple of weeks before the election Peikoff was imploring his followers (all ten of them) to vote for the Democrats:
The most urgent political task now is to topple the Republicans from power, if possible in the House and the Senate. This entails voting consistently Democratic, even if the opponent is a “good” Republican.
"Good" is in quotes because, of course, there are no good Republicans. They are all rotten theocrats just waiting to take over the country and ram Bibles down our throats. They will turn Wal-mart stores into religious re-education camps. They will make women dress in hoop skirts down to their ankles. They will stone adulterers and homosexuals to death on every street corner. They will teach creationism in the schools!
Meanwhile, in the real world, religion has never had less political power in America, or less of a cultural impact. Whether or not this is a good thing is debatable, but the fact itself isn't. Anyone who thinks American politics today is more imbued with Christian values, terminology, and sentiment than it was twenty-five years ago, fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago, needs to crack open a history book. Anyone who thinks American culture today is more Christian-friendly than it was, say, in the 1950s or in the 1850s, also needs to do some reading - or at least watch a few reruns of Ozzie & Harriet and Leave It to Beaver.
We live in a society where people are afraid to say "Merry Christmas" at holiday time or even "God bless you" when you sneeze, for fear of offending someone. The Ten Commandments can't be posted in courthouses or tacked up on school bulletin boards. Any hint of prayer at a public school ceremony produces a firestorm of controversy. When George W. Bush said the historical figure who most influenced him was Jesus, he was ruthlessly mocked by half the country, including virtually all media elitists. Secularists, when they're not tooling around in SUVs with Darwin-fish on their bumpers, like to make jibes about redneck "Christers" who live in "Jesusland." When Mel Gibson made a movie about Jesus' crucifixion, he was practically crucified himself. TV shows like South Park and Family Guy dine out on Jesus jokes on a regular basis. The movie version of The Chronicles of Narnia was lambasted by many reviewers for its Christian themes. A photo of a crucifix in urine or a painting of the Virgin Mary spattered with dung is applauded as an important artistic statement.
Never in American history has the prevailing cultural-political ethos been so overtly hostile to Christianity (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Judaism).
Now maybe this is a step in the right direction, progress down the road toward the secularist utopia that we have been promised for some time now. Or maybe it is only the spasms of a society that has damaged its moral fiber and is running amok.
One way or the other, though, it's undeniable that our present society is about as far from a Christian theocracy as we are likely to get. There's not the slightest reason - zilch, zero, nada - to think that Christianity is on the march and preparing to seize control of our political institutions and cultural products. There is zero chance that the president will address the nation by speaking in tongues, or that Britney Spears' next album will be removed from the shelves so Greatest Hits of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir can be sold in its place. There is no chance that smutty (but funny) TV shows like Two & a Half Men will suddenly vanish, replaced by episodes of Davey & Goliath. Only someone who is deeply paranoid about religion and profoundly alienated from common-sense reality would even imagine such a threat.
Maybe now Bob Wallace's astute characterization of Ayn Rand as a leftist begins to make sense to those who doubted it. Ditching all traditional values in favor of an intellectual's dream of the perfect technocracy is leftism through and through.
Ever since he became a prominent figure in Ayn Rand's tiny inbred circle, Peikoff's primary contribution to Objectivist dogma has been to make it look silly.
This time he's outdone himself.