Quaker attender Charles Murray shocks national conservatives

Charles Murray

Charles Murray

The New Yorker reports that prominent libertarian author Charles Murray shocked attendees at the conservative CPAC conference on Friday when he “ditched his prepared remarks on ‘America Coming Apart’ in favor of an impromptu admonition to fellow conservatives to accept the legalization of both gay marriage and abortion.”

Murray said that he himself used to think that “All they want is the wedding, and the party, and the honeymoon—but not this long thing we call marriage.” But since then, Murray said, “we have acquired a number of gay and lesbian friends,” and to what he jokingly called his “dismay” as a “confident” social scientist, he learned he’d been wrong… He had discovered that the gay couples he knew with children were not just responsible parents; they were “excruciatingly responsible parents.”

In January Friends Journal ran an interview with Murray, who is a regular attender at Virginia’s Goose Creek Meeting. He said of Friends:

Quakerism, insofar as it has a natural resonance with a political ideology, has a resonance with libertarianism … you persuade, not coerce. Use of physical force in coercion is one of the ultimate bad things. That is the central tenet of libertarianism.

Read the full FJ interview with Charles Murray here.

Posted in: Online Features

9 thoughts on “Quaker attender Charles Murray shocks national conservatives

  1. Bill says:

    Bravo! Good for him!

    And I completely agree with him on the resonance between Quakerism and Libertarianism–both of which properly reject coercion.

    1. City & State
      Potsdam, NY
      When did an FGC Friend *ever* reject coercion? EVER?? It doesn’t happen (unless you count me, and a Quaker of one isn’t a Quaker, because we exist in community or not at all.)

  2. City & State
    Potsdam, NY
    So why do SO MANY Friends reject Libertarianism out of hand. At Grinnell I had a Quaker tell me that libertarians are all racists. Since we were at a presentation, I didn’t want to tell him that I was a libertarian. In fact, I’m reasonably well accepted among FGC Friends precisely *because* I hide the fact that I’m a libertarian first and a Quaker second. And these days it’s becoming a *far* second. I’m still listed as a member, but as soon as I can dump off quaker​.org on someobdy responsible, I’ll ask to be removed from the rolls.

    Freedom is important. And when Friends embrace coercion and violence (through their support of government action), I must leave the Society.

    1. Martin Kelley says:

      Hi Russ, FWIW, Murray is a member of an FGC‐affiliated meeting. And Friends Journal published an interview with him conducted by Signe Wilkinson, a well‐respected Philadelphia Friend. I’m not going to try to argue that libertarianism is mainstream but there are connections to be made and revelations to continue. I for one think it would be a shame if Friends lost more of our culturally outlier members to groupthink.

  3. Your optimism is refreshing but not very grounded. Bluntly, Quaker economics is shit, and I can’t tolerate it anymore. The hipocrisy burns like a bad burrito.

    If you give a shit about poor people, then you’ll study economics. If you don’t study economics, then you cannot give a shit about poor people, because you won’t know how to help them. If you give a shit about black people, you will be 100% AGAINST minimum wage laws, and yet .. FCNL supports the minimum wage. Of course, FCNL only takes positions which are non‐controversial among Quakers because they want the largest possible donation base. Thus, all Quakers support racist positions — which is a tragedy because they don’t even KNOW they’re being racist because they haven’t studied economics. And yet when you try to tell them that minimum wage laws were created by racists to further their racist ends, they vehemently deny it. I cannot be a part of this facade, this charade, anymore.

    I’m a pacifist. You can join me or I’ll leave you behind.

    1. Stephen Poppino says:

      City & State
      Twin Falls, ID
      First, I’ll admit that I enter this conversation with no Quaker qualifications except for being a sometime subscriber to Friends Journal and donor to the AFSC. I find it odd to hear that Friends and Libertarians have views in common. Living in Idaho for 30 years I have heard a lot of libertarian talk. Libertarians here tend to like guns, distrust immigrants, and ignore the poor. Community is not one of their bywords. They are flag wavers and support the military establishment. They admire the rich and hate efforts to restrain greedy businessmen. Our congressional delegation reported that messages from constituents went 2‐to‐1 in favor of the recent government shutdown. If they had their wishes, there would be no welfare or food stamps or government‐supported health insurance. Does this sound like Friends?

      About keeping politics out of meetiings: I have heard the same argument in mainline churches. Politics disturbs the peace of contemplation. But everything Jesus said and did had political ramifications. His life was a refutation of selfishness. Likewise for the Friends who fought to end slavery and to enact social programs. Ayn Rand, the guiding light of libertarians, was not among them.

      1. Russ Nelson says:

        City & State
        The Libertarians with whom I am familiar have an actual interest in helping the poor rather than the theoretical interest that Quakers have. They are against minimum wages yes, but that’s because minimum wages help the poor at the expense of the poorest and blacks.

        I don’t know what kind of libertarians you’ve met, but they’re nothing like the libertarians I know. For example, NO libertarian is in favor of a strong military. NONE. They hate efforts to favor greedy businessmen. They want churches to dispense charity, not governments. Does that sound like Friends? No, they sound more peaceful than Friends, who are in favor of a strong government capable of dispensing favors to the favored and taking from the disfavored (like black people, or the rich, or the young, or other politically disconnected people, e.g. Obamacare is to be funded by the young, who don’t need healthcare).

  4. Steve Poppino says:

    City & State
    Twin Falls, ID
    Russ, I think we are talking past each other here, using similar words with opposite meanings. You have your political talking points all in a row, but you sound pretty uninformed about Quaker practice and history.

    For instance, I have no idea what the libertarian definition of “community” is. While in Friends meetings it is expected that an individual will receive a leading or opening from time to time, it is also expected that the individual will take that concern to others in the community for guidance and interpretation.

    This is probably not a “Friendly” way to say this, but I think you are completely missing the peaceful nature of Quaker practice. It is not an issue of big government versus small government. As I understand it, it is more the habit of always seeking the most constructive and kind way to look at any size of problem among any group of people. Sometimes that involves working with the government, as in the case of the Civil Rights Act in the 60’s. Where would blacks and Hispanics be today, without that?

    For a brief summary of my view about the tension between my wishes and the common good, please take a look at this blog entry from January 2012 on the Sojourners website.

    (I’m also a big advocate of looking outside one’s group for fresh ideas and allies.)

    1. Russ Nelson says:

      City & State
      Amusing. Ignorant, but amusing.

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