In regard to the John Farmer's Farmer article Middle East has Too Much History to Embrace Democracy, a correspondent replying to my comments stated that without religion, we can't have morality. Though robin1son's numerous comments have apparently been deleted by the moderator, My answer to his assertions remain:
A proper government is based on moral principles; specifically, the principles of individual rights. This means the government should protect the rights of the individual to hold and act on his own moral principles, so long as his actions don't violate the rights of others. Government should not be in the position of dictating personal moral values. A moral government protects rights—by banning physical interference in one's life and actions—and that's it. The Founders almost succeeded in creating one.
As to where morality comes from: A proper, rational morality is derived from a scientific study of the factual requirements of man's nature (the scientific method). Ayn Rand developed a new code of morality derived from this method. It is a pro-life morality provable by reference to facts, and it is the code I live by. It's called rational egoism—the code implicit in the Declaration of Independence. "No religion, no morality" is not true, and Ayn Rand proved it. Whether or not one believes that nature was created by God or always existed, every liberty lover should study it, so that liberty can be morally defended.
One more point. Religious ethics holds that self-sacrifice for the needs of others is the essence of moral action. What is socialism, in all of its variants, but everyone altruistically living for everyone else? By the standards of religious morality, socialist government is a moral government.
I'll don't expect to convince a religionist like robin1son (although it is possible). His faith will always get in the way, because faith is a wall of separation between one's mind and reality. But, hopefully, I have piqued the interest of other less dogmatic readers to investigate Ayn Rand, and question their own adherence to conventional morality.
The Roots of Morality: Primordial "Intuition" or Human Nature?
"Think!" Debate on Rand's Ethics of Self-Interest
"Think!" Debate on Rand's Ethics of Self-Interest—2
Audio of Debate on Ayn Rand's Ethics—From Diana Hsieh's Philosophy in Action