Rand Paul: 'I Don't Believe Jesus Would've Condoned Killing'

Speaking to religious conservatives, the Kentucky senator invoked Christ and tied anti-war beliefs to his opposition to abortion.

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Reuters

Once again, Senator Rand Paul is confounding the normal categories into which we place politicians. A Southern, pro-life Republican, he took his anti-war message to a Values Voters Summit, telling the socially conservative audience -- usually regarded as antagonistic to libertarians -- that Jesus Christ wouldn't approve of most wars, perhaps even wars of self-defense.

Note how he ties his anti-war message (skillfully expounded) to his opposition to abortion, a stance he shares with "values voters": 

I'm not a pacifist. But I do think it unacceptable not to hate war. I'm dismissive of those who champion war as sport, and show no reluctance to engage in war. Any leader who shows glee or eagerness for war should not be leading any nation. I believe truly great leaders are reluctant to go to war, and trying mightily to avoid war. Though I detest violence, I would kill someone who injured or threatened my family. Though I hate war, I could commit a nation to war. But only reluctantly and constitutionally, and after great deliberation. I believe that while some would find this a contradiction in terms, that there is such a thing as a Christian or just theory of war. That a just war is a war of self-defense. At the same time, I'm conflicted. I don't believe Jesus would've killed anyone, or condoned killing, perhaps not even in self-defense. I'm conflicted.

The coarsening of our culture toward violent death has more consequences than even war. Tragically this same culture has led to the death of 50 million unborn children in the last 40 years. I don't think a civilization can long endure that does not have respect for all human life born and not yet born. We have a great many problems in this country to solve, but I believe there will come a time when we are all judged on whether or not we took a stand in defense of all life from the moment of conception until our last natural breath.

That portion of Paul's speech is far more anti-war than anything you'll hear from the vast majority of elected Democrats. How will it be received by the anti-war left, which is largely composed of people who favor legal abortion and support the Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade?

Paul's whole speech is here:
 

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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