Libertarians believe in religious freedom — the right to worship or not worship. Organized religion has no role in U.S. government.
“It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics, ” Heinlein wrote in a postscript to Revolt in 2100, which includes “If This Goes On –”, a tale of how the United States fell into a religious dictatorship under the Prophet, Nehemiah Scudder.
“History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis,” said Lazarus Long, Heinlein’s surrogate in Time Enough for Love. “Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.”
Heinlein’s most acclaimed work, Stranger in a Strange Land, deals with a man raised on Mars who returns to Earth and starts a religion based on his Martian teachings. Job: A Comedy of Justice, deals with a fundamentalist minister’s discovery that Heaven and Hell are not what he imagined them to be.
“The Bible is such a gargantuan collection of conflicting values that anyone can prove anything from it,” said Jake Burroughs in The Number of the Beast.
The Branch Davidians were a bunch of overly religious gun lovers. Libertarians say: So what? Our nation was founded by religious gun lovers. The massacre at Waco happened after Heinlein’s death. So any opinion on this event (which weighs heavily on the minds of libertarians), must be inferred. The deaths started because of the government’s made-for-media raid to deprive the Davidians of their weapons.
Because Heinlein did not live long enough to see the government siege at Waco, we have no way of knowing exactly what he would have said when the siege started or when the tanks rolled in. But we know he believed believed in private ownership of weapons, and in many articles (“Free Men” in Expanded Universe, Requiem) urged readers to stockpile supplies (including weapons) in preparation for a coming war between the U.S. and the communist nations that Heinlein at the time believed was inevitable. Please note that no one was more pleased than Heinlein that this open conflict did not occur. Heinlein also would have defended the right of the Davidians to believe whatever the Hell they believed.
Heinlein clearly didn’t have much respect for anyone who professed to have the only inside track to God. But he did lack the arrogance, religious bigotry and self righteousness that made it possible for Bill Clinton and Janet Reno to order tanks to drive through a church on trumped-up pretense that children were in danger.