House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) at a town hall event on Friday denied his worldview had been influenced by the libertarian writer Ayn Rand, who advocated the “virtue of selfishness” and called Christianity the “the best kindergarten of communism possible.”
In video obtained by Think Progress, one of Ryan’s constituents questioned why he had praised Rand’s works in the past.
“This is kind of fun, because you know you’ve arrived in politics when you have your own urban legend about you,” Paul responded. “This one is mine. I get a really big kick out of this one.”
Paul, a practicing Catholic, explained that although he was fond of some of Rand’s novels he did not embrace her philosophy. He acknowledged that it was Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged that got him interested in economics and politics.
“Just because you like someone’s novels doesn’t mean you agree with their entire worldview philosophy and she has a worldview philosophy which is completely antithetical to mine,” he added.
Ryan has said that his Catholic faith helped shape his budget plan. But Catholics have questioned his admiration for the atheist novelist.
“I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are,” he said in 2005. “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”
The Atlas Society previously told Raw Story that Ryan’s policies are “very much in line” with Rand’s philosophy.