Sohrab Ahmari vs David French From an Atheist Point of View

Sohrab Ahmari is a Catholic conservative commentator who recently wrote a piece calling fellow Christian conservatives to political action to Christianize the U.S. In the piece, he takes aim at David French, who is more of a live-and-let-live classical liberal, though also a conservative Christian. This has sparked a lot of conversation amongst those of a social conservative ilk.

I’m an atheist and a classical liberal (for practical purposes, but I won’t go into that). That is exactly why I believe in religious freedom. Because I’m an atheist, I do not want to be persecuted for being a heathen like I would be elsewhere in the world. But I also would not want to see theists persecuted for their beliefs. As a classical liberal, it just seems like religious freedom is a fundamental part of civil liberty.

This means, even as an atheist and someone who has a libertarian view on people’s lifestyles, I will side with the most conservative Christian on issues like the famous gay wedding cake case, or if the state wanted to force churches to perform gay weddings, or if a religious private school wants to teach religion. I loath the postmodernist, political correctness culture sweeping educational institutions. I do agree that there is an anti-Christian bias in a lot of the liberal media that ought to be cleaned out so that we can get a more balanced and honest perspective.

However, it’s because I’m a non-believer that I have to stand by classical liberalism and the religious freedom aspect that seems fundamental to it. If the state integrated with the Catholic church (or any other ecclesiastical institution) I would, unfortunately, end up having to ally myself with the illiberal anti-religious crowd just for my own self interest. I think this is something Ahmari seems to disregard: it’s not just that he has a weak hand to play in the culture war, but that he’ll lose religious liberty allies like myself if his strategy is widely adopted.