Ayn Rand - she's often considered the intellectual darling of America's political right. Rand's free market thinking rubbed off on Alan Greenspan in a big way. At the Cato Institute, Stephen Moore writes, "Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok [Atlas Shrugged] was practically a job requirement." Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledges a deep debt to The Fountainhead, Rand's celebration of the individual, and makes his law clerks watch the 1949 film adaptation of the novel. Rand Paul, the new Tea Party senator, calls himself a fan of both books. And Ayn Rand book sales surged once Obama came into office. You get the picture.
Given this love affair, it's a little incongruous to rediscover old footage (circa 1979) that features Rand coming out "against God," calling faith an abdication of individual responsibility (so important to her philosophy), an insult to the human intellect, and a sign of psychological weakness. If she were alive today, Rand would easily give the "new atheists" (Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, etc.) a very good run for their money. It's not exactly the stuff that traditionally makes you a conservative saint, but stranger things have happened. Maybe.