Religion

The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian

By rejecting classical liberalism, Sohrab Ahmari and his ilk deny the dignity of the human person.

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When you're a practicing Catholic, the world loves to challenge your faith. Some want to know why you worship Mary, the mother of Jesus. Others want to know why you hate gay people. And everyone, sooner or later, wants you to answer for the Crusades.

The answer to those first two charges is straightforward: We don't. But questions about the Church's actions during the Middle Ages (which also include the conversion of Europe to Christianity and, later, the Inquisition) can be trickier. In general, there are three directions you could go with your reply.

One is to plead sinfulness mitigated by progress. There are many things in the Church's history we aren't proud of, you might say, but magisterial teachings today are clear and categorical: We no longer wage holy wars, and forced conversions are a thing of the past.

A second option is to argue that the question gets the history wrong. The Crusades were a response to a positive threat from Islamic tribes and nations whose goal was to replace Christianity, militarily if need be. They were largely defensive, in other words, and therefore just.

Finally, you could claim that even nondefensive violence can be legitimate when employed for noble ends. The Church has a commission to spread salvation, after all; stamping out heresy is part of the bargain, as is ensuring that Christians are obediently practicing the faith.

It's rare these days to find someone who would make the third case—but perhaps not as rare as you would expect. A small but increasingly vocal cohort of traditionalist Catholics do appear to believe that the state should play a role in enforcing Church teachings—including, it would seem, against non-Catholics. Until now, that's been something of a fringe position within the conservative movement. But 2019 may be remembered as the year theocracy went mainstream.

***

Last week, the Catholic convert and New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari published a long essay at First Things demanding that conservatives abandon their commitments to tolerance and civility. Instead, Ahmari wants his side to "fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good." Bizarrely, he takes National Review's David French, a civil libertarian former litigator, as the face of the old, soft conservatism at which his guns are aimed.

While it's lamentably thin on specifics, the guiding principle behind the Ahmari program is clear: Americans have become an immoral people—unchurched, "pornographized," overly consumerist, and insufficiently loyal to our fellow countrymen—and government force needs to be employed to correct them. That second point is key: The problem with "French-ism," Ahmari writes, is its "great horror of the state, of traditional authority and the use of the public power to advance the common good, including in the realm of public morality."

To say the First Things essay has been controversial would be to miss its significance as a watershed for the American right, where an internecine conflict has been brewing for some time. Much of the response to Ahmari has focused on his denunciation of French for being overly polite toward those with whom he disagrees. But the real issue is substantive, not stylistic: It's a schism between people who want to use the law to forcibly restore America's Judeo-Christian character and those who don't.

Catholic integralism—the idea that Church teachings should guide public policy—is not new. Ahmari doesn't label his anti-Frenchist alternative as integralist, though he isn't far off when he says the political right should be willing to use politics "to enforce our order and our orthodoxy." But mostly he speaks of orienting society to the common good. Who could be against that?

The problem hardly needs stating: What is meant by the common good? Progressives too believe their policies are morally correct—hence the common refrain that it's just wrong for bakers and florists to refuse to provide their services for gay weddings. And the disagreement isn't only between partisans of the left and right. The fiercest culture wars are playground disputes compared to the actual wars that have been fought over doctrinal differences among conservative Christians.

I want to be very clear: To observe that not everyone shares a common sense of the common good is not to deny the existence of an objective good, or even a deeply orthodox understanding of it. I grieve the scourge of abortion, the breakdown of the traditional family, the declining religiosity of the developed world. And pace many of my fellow libertarians, I do not see in the sexual revolution an unalloyed positive. I'm a young single Catholic woman. The erosion of traditional norms around courtship has been profoundly bad for me on a personal level. You try getting a date in Washington, D.C., when you're on the record supporting Humanae Vitae

All of which is to say that I am not arguing from libertinism here. I'm pointing out that, absent universal agreement about the common good, an integralist governing regime necessarily means imposing one group's moral vision on unwilling others. Ahmari is contemptuous of the Frenchian notion that cultural change is the answer to this quandary, but force exercised without popular backing is tyranny by definition.

***

In 2006, First Things ran a 6,000-word book review in which future New York Times columnist Ross Douthat eviscerated claims that "twenty-first-century America is slouching toward theocracy." If the religious right were to get its way, one worried left-wing author had predicted, public employees "would be required to participate in weekly Bible classes in the workplace," homosexuality would be criminalized, "the mainstream press and the electronic media would be beaten into submission," and more. Douthat wryly noted that the book lacked "examples of significant political actors who are proposing taking any of these steps, let alone all of them."

He continued:

Did Billy Graham once advise evangelicals to run for public office and take "control" of the various branches for government? Then he must believe, with the Reconstructionists, that "all adversaries must be completely eliminated from positions of authority" and that "to achieve a divine end by any means—including cruelty, deception, and brute force—is justified." Did Antonin Scalia suggest that government "derives its moral authority from God"? Well, he doubtless intended to issue "a legal green light" to theocrats seeking "to destroy all existing political systems…and replace them with their own religion-soaked political regimes."

Today, the same journal that published Douthat mocking America's paranoid anti-theocrats features an essay holding out as the ultimate betrayal the fact that French thinks it would probably be a mistake to ban porn or to give federal officials control over private social media companies' terms of service.

In the George W. Bush era, a simple biblical allusion in a presidential address—a reference to the log in your own eye and the speck in your neighbor's, say—would be interpreted by commentators as a fundamentalist "dog whistle" portending an imminent theocratic takeover. Needless to say, the idea was absurd. Sure, politicians on the right more forcefully advocated for certain socially conservative causes back then, but the public more forcefully supported those causes as well.

There's a world of difference between any of that and a conservative thought leader openly telling his allies that they'd better get comfortable treating "politics as war and enmity" because the other side will always be better "at winning in the realm of culture." Stop for a moment and compare what Douthat viewed as comically overwrought language in the quote above to Ahmari's assertion that "progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism."

I bring up Douthat in part because I worry folks like him might be susceptible to the allure of what Ahmari is offering: a righteous-sounding excuse to give in to the same kind of base temptation that makes you wish, upon encountering a world-class jerk, that you could pop him in the face. You restrain yourself because you know that physical violence is not an appropriate response to rude words…even if you're a little bit rueful about it.

Likewise, Christian traditionalists have mostly internalized the maxim, rightly bound up with the conservative tradition for many years, that you can't impose faith and morals by government fiat. However much Douthat and others might wish they could use the force of law to roll back the worst of modernity's blunders, to do so would be to prove the anti-theocrats right. Ahmari wants them to remember that desperate times call for desperate measures. The devil usually tells us we're saving others' souls when he's trying to convince us to sell our own.

***

In the last few years, the American left has embraced an increasingly illiberal progressivism—that is, a political and social program that stands opposed to the "classical liberal" project.

Classical liberalism privileges individual liberty, correctly understood as freedom from coercion and aggression, by championing things like free expression, due process, and the relatively unencumbered movement of goods and people. The ascendant progressivism, on the other hand, has no qualms about infringing people's liberty in order to advance its own moral agenda. Socialists seek to command people's behavior in the economic sphere, while social justice warriors try to impose rightthink on matters of culture. It's not enough that same-sex and opposite-sex couples receive equal treatment under the law, the left now says; the state must compel Christian business owners to participate in gay weddings or be driven from the marketplace.

Ahmari also wishes to use government power to constrain people's freedom. Thus, he is advocating an illiberal conservatism—a rejection of the right's longstanding fusion of social traditionalism with staunch respect for individual rights.

My colleague Robby Soave and countless others have already pointed out that this would be a catastrophic unforced political error on the part of conservatives. Classical liberal values and institutions offer a robust bulwark against the worst excesses of the illiberal left. Do Ahmari et al. actually think the system that gave us the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling is so broken as to justify setting the whole thing ablaze? More to the point, do they really believe that what follows after the smoke clears will be better for religious traditionalists?

But the First Thingsian rejection of the liberal order isn't merely strategically imprudent. It's morally reprehensible from a Catholic perspective. The dignity of the human person, which follows from our being created by God in His image and likeness, demands that we be given expansive freedom to make choices for ourselves.

That's not libertarian propaganda. It comes straight out of the Catechism ("God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions"), which in turn quotes the Bible ("God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him"). As the economist Eric Schansberg once wrote of Adam and Eve, "It was not God's plan that they should sin, but it was God's will that they should have the choice." To exercise coercive control over a person is to treat him as undeserving of a gift bestowed by his creator. It's to place yourself above your creator. 

The new illiberal conservatives like to paint the Reason set as moral-relativist libertines. But as I've pointed out at length elsewhere,

libertarians see the human person as worthy of respect. For the most part, they do not recognize the deeper truth: that this is so because we are made by God in his image and are incomparably valuable to him. But in a real sense, without meaning to, libertarianism takes that idea more seriously than most other political philosophies.

There's nothing Christian about the idea that we should hope not to convert or persuade but to defeat and destroy our ideological opponents. To gain the whole world and lose your soul is no victory at all.

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  1. “Last week, the Catholic convert and New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari…”

    No one’s as fanatical as a true convert.

    1. You vill become a true beliewer!

    2. Still not giving up my 1st Amendment and its prohibition of government establishment of religion nor giving up my life-long atheism.

    3. Religion has destroyed everything it has ever touched. If there is a HELL it will be full of these so called christians. Religion=Evil.

      1. It’s morally reprehensible from a Catholic perspective.
        https://jasabolagol.com

  2. Jonah Goldberg has been excommunicated from National Review?! He is cast out into the wilderness.

    1. nobody hardest hit.

      1. lol.

      2. I suspect he hit the Couch pretty hard.

    2. Saying he was excommunicated is probably a stretch, although if NR’s subscriptions have gone through the floor since the Never Trump cover edition, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of several causes for him leaving.

      1. I don’t think he was fired. But I think he saw the writing on the wall that he didn’t have a future there. It is just another step in the long process of NR making piece with its readership after the Never Trump debacle while not making doing so too obvious.

        1. NR still has readers?

    3. He’s also disappeared from Townhall. Somewhere he and Kevin Williamson are making a never Trump baby.

  3. Tried to read. Could not. All I kept picturing was 2 five-year-olds arguing over whose imaginary friend is better. If it isn’t the Christians vs. the Muslims, it’s the Evangelicals vs. the Catholics vs. the Protestants. Like your belief in UFO’s and Bigfoot, your belief in supernatural entities controlling our lives has no real place in public policy. You may believe in anything your heart desires, just do not attempt to force others to live by YOUR beliefs.

    1. > Tried to read. Could not.

      The rest of your comment clearly demonstrates that you did not.

      1. need like buttons

    2. You sound like an incredible dumbass

    3. Sheesh. Cut the girl some slack. She’s one of the good ones. Her belief is that her imaginary friend should not have control of public policy (for the most part).

    4. Billy you have a very stunted view of the universe. If you equate God to Bigfoot you are too much of an idiot for anyone to ever help you.

      Enjoy your smug delusions of superiority though. However laughable and unfounded they may be.

      1. And just so we’re clear, I say this as an agnostic.

      2. Strangely, there is far more evidence for the existence of bigfoot than there is of any god. Atheists are not superior to anyone and we care very little if anyone wants to continue to believe in their god. We just don’t want anyone preaching to us or attempting to install their beliefs into political discourse.
        Don’t knock on our doors on a Sunday morning and attempt to convert us. If you are with you faith, then by all means, stick with it, just don’t expect us non-believers to buy into it.

    5. So sorry that the article was written above your reading level grade. (/sarcasm)

  4. >>>re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good

    exponential hurl.

  5. I said it before and I’ll say it again anytime you find yourself on the same side as David fucking French you should examine your position because while it’s possible(broken clocks and such) to be in agreement it should be rare.

  6. The problem with French is how mild he is. He routinely subscribes to dishonest narratives advanced by the left (he initially bought into the Covington smear) and continues to defend the Iraq War. He believes Trump is an immoral swine (he’s right) but doesn’t consider that many of his neoconservative colleagues also fall into that category. Michael Malice was right when he referred to National Review as his favorite “paleontology journal.”

    Michael B. Dougherty is cool, though.

    1. Also, French’s Game of Thrones tweet are cringe-y AF (as the kids say).

      1. *tweets

    2. French is also an asshole.

      1. He seems too mild to fall into that category. Care to elaborate?

        1. He writes for national review so strike one and he might be one of the more sanctimonious twats going. WHERE MUH CONSERVATISM GON!

        2. I do like Doherty though. Williamson was decent every once in while but he was def an asshole. Cooke rarely writes anything worth interesting.

          1. Cooke is not an asshole the way French and Williamson are. He is just boring. I have read a decent amount of his stuff and I honestly can’t remember a single thing about any of it.

        3. dude makes palpable smarm ooze from a monitor

    3. The problem with French is how mild he is.

      There is some truth to that. The problem, however, isn’t so much just that he is mild. The problem is that underneath his mildness he is a real nasty, santamonious piece of work.

      1. He’s mild in the sense that he routinely buys into liberal nonsense and underestimates the extent to which such individuals want to eliminate the freedoms of expression and religion. But he’s definitely sanctimonious. The fact that Trump’s infidelity was a deal-breaker for him is amusing when you consider how consistently pro-war French is.

        1. The funny thing is that he claims to be a Christian conservative but buys into the very leftist idea that someone’s character can be defined as “good” or “bad” in a definitive way. I get the feeling that French read the Bible and thought the Pharissies were the good guys.

          1. One of the things that drives me nuts about Christians in general, ever since the Christianizing of the Roman Empire, is their seemingly obsessive need to create heaven on earth and their devotion to legalism. For several centuries now, they’ve completely missed the point that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t to enable the creation of an earthly paradise, but to provide a means to escape earth altogether. The earth has always been portrayed as Satan’s playground, and his dominion over it is something that Christians should be seeking to escape, not entrench themselves. When they do so, they’re actually playing by Satan’s rules, indulging in their own pride and carnality.

            There’s a reason that the gospels had Christ explicitly say, “If any man love the world, love for the Father is not in him,” and “my kingdom is not of this world.”

            1. That and the fact that they sell their own morality short. They treat morality as some kind of test rather than a practical guide for living a happy life that it is.

            2. Jesus basically preached Buddhism from a Jewish perspective. After his death, Christianity became a popular cosmopolitan trend. Constantine seized on it to lay the foundation for a new state religion.

              1. No. Buddhism is predicated on the desired/achieved rejection of self. The only sort of Christianity that can remotely lay claim to a similar attitude is predeterminist Calvinism.

                Every other form of Christianity is predicated on free will and a personal relationship with God. Judgement Day is you alone before God, there is no ‘we’ at that moment, and there certainly is no Nirvana. Yes, you have been encouraged to be selfless in your lived life, but the ultimate purpose is the betterment of your own soul.

                1. Christianity is what happens when post Socratic Greek philosophy gets superimposed upon Judaic mysticism.

            3. Ephesians 6:12-13 King James Version (KJV)
              12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

              13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

              I see nothing wrong with Christians engaging in politics to create a better society, and for political leaders to be informed by their Christian beliefs, for are not Progressivism, Cultural Marxism & Secular Humanism basically also religions that guides Liberals?

              I ask which side in the last 10 years has been more tyrannical & controlling? Which side wants to censor people, criminalize speech & stifle freedom of conscience!

              The true Christian is the one who knows that Freedom and Liberty are sacred gifts from the Creator and should be adhered to and protected as much as possible!

              1. I agree. But secular humanism doesn’t belong on that list, especially on a site called “Reason”.
                “Secular humanism, or simply humanism, is a philosophy or life stance that embraces human reason, ethics, and philosophical naturalism while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.” – wikipedia

                1. Good point….I should’ve replaced Sec. humanism with Communism & Socialism

                2. In 300 years an estimated 3000 to 5000 people were executed by the Inquisition. In a few years the secular humanists of France executed 40000 during the revolution. They may not be religious but they are deadly when given the opportunity.

      2. “…he is a real nasty, santamonious piece of work.”

        Nailed it.

  7. There is a difference between saying the government should force people to do things and saying that some things are right and others wrong. Just because you are doing something wrong doesn’t mean that the answer to that is throwing you in jail.

    I think Stephanie either doesn’t understand what Ahmari is saying or is just engaging in a straw man here. The problem with French and his ilk is that they don’t actually take what they are saying seriously. If you think there is such a thing as right and wrong, you don’t just tell everyone doing things that are wrong and bad for society and the future “that is okay just do whatever works”. If you are unwilling to stand up and say something is wrong and the people doing it ought to stop, then why should anyone listen to your opinions about such matters?

    1. “The problem with ‘French-ism,’ Ahmari writes, is its ‘great horror of the state, of traditional authority and the use of the public power to advance the common good, including in the realm of public morality.'”

      1. ha touche. the *real* problem w/Frenchism is it is.

    2. Yup. There is a difference between being willing to say something is wrong or fucked up, and advocating a law.

      I am 110% down with saying allowing 50 year old men with dicks who think they are women to be in shower rooms with 10 year old girls is fucked up… But if it’s a private gym that has that policy, so be it.

      The problem is progs have given themselves a lockdown on dictating what is acceptable speech, and the sane people in the world are too damn scared to speak their mind about a lot of this stuff… I truly believe that a LOT of people are against the levels of crazy the left is pushing now, but are too scared to say so.

      My evidence? Hanging out at freaky deaky goth clubs in an uber progressive city, if and when such issues come up… Even the waaay left of center people I talk to there almost all think the last few years worth of prog stupid has gone too far. If half the lefty weirdos hanging at freak show bars in prog infested cities aren’t down, then who the fuck is?

  8. Did Ahmari convert from Islam? Because this sounds a lot like retooled Wahabbism.

    1. No it really doesn’t.

      1. Yes, it really does.

    2. It’s actually just Christianity the way it’s meant to be…

      One of my biggest complaints with bible thumpers is they’ve all (well some denominations anyway) lost their balls. Their religion explicitly says a ton of shitty behavior is shitty… Yet they’re too scared to actually stand up for and defend those beliefs. Yet still claim to be Christian. In my book that makes you a pussy.

  9. As I’ve long said, if your God is so weak that he needs a coercive state to implement his will, then how strong is he really?

    There were grave problems with the institution of the Church while it was wedded to the power of the State. But the Church’s disentanglement from the State mirrors the same progress we have made limiting the state itself. In fact, one of the greatest flourishing of religious ideals in history came about due to one nation’s insistence that there be no establishment of religion.

    As for Christianity and Libertarianism, the only reason I am a libertarian is due to several devout Christians in the movement at a time when I was worried about the libertine excesses of some others.

    1. God doesn’t need the state to implement his will. I don’t think this guy is saying that at all.

      1. He is saying it. He’s criticizing French for not daring to use the power of the state to achieve his ends.

        1. I don’t read it that way. I think he is criticizing French for not standing up and saying people shouldn’t do things he views as wrong. You can’t just say “well everyone should just do whatever works for them but I think this is best” and expect anyone to take you seriously because you clearly don’t actually believe what you are saying. But just becuase you don’t say that doesn’t mean you have to advocate for a law.

    2. The power of the state isn’t needed… But as I say below, SOCIAL PRESSURE is needed in a libertarian system.

      The progs have become so powerful in controlling what is or is not acceptable speech that many Christians are too scared to even speak their minds and criticize behavior they believe is bad.

      In 1950s America it wasn’t the state that dictated almost any of the social norms, it was peer pressure. The same could be returned if people were willing to shame those worthy of shaming… Which is exactly what the left has done to much success.

  10. There’s nothing Christian about the idea that we should hope not to convert or persuade but to defeat and destroy our ideological opponents.

    Where did this guy ever say he wanted to destroy anyone? Stephanie is totally and I think likely willfully distorting his point.

    1. I have to disagree with you regarding Ahmari’s position. Read his piece. He absolutely wants to use the state to further his social goals.

    2. “Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism.”

      1. Why does it take the government to destroy institutions? The progressives are not using government to destroy women’s sports for example. They are doing it by getting transgendered men to bully their way in. They didn’t use government to bully the boy scouts into selling out their principles and allow gays. That was all done socially without any help of government. That is what this guy is talking about.

        1. They are also using large businesses and the tech industry to shut down debate. Visa and Mastercard aren’t government, but they are being used by the left to curtail 2nd ammendment rights through the power of financing.

          1. This is why NAP doesn’t work with progtards. They must be destroyed where they are found. When we stopped doing that, it resulted in the things you speak of. And so much more.

            1. How much aggression should be used in defense of the NAP?

              1. Perhaps NAP isn’t an end-all, be-all?

                The ONLY reason Gandhi’s non-violence worked was Britain’s unwillingness to use serious violence to stop it.

                If he tried it in, say, China — Gandhi would be an unknown who didn’t do a damned thing.

                You sometimes have to adjust tactics.

              2. It’s not aggression if it’s in defense.

                When one is being attacked the sanest course of action is to eliminate the attacker.

                1. It really takes some serious bullshit to get someone in my crosshairs. Infringing on my natural rights is definitely on the list.

                  Progressives existentially are driven to infringe on our natural rights. It’s the whole point of them ultimately. The only way to prevent this is to remove them from the equation. Let’s hope we can get them to leave.

        2. If you really think the government doesn’t force high school and college athletic departments to allow transgender athletes, then you are not looking.

          1. How many schools take the case to court? Not bloody many. They are, by and large, HAPPY to surrender.

        3. Why does it take the government to destroy institutions?

          It doesn’t. But that’s not what you asked. You asked:

          “Where did this guy ever say he wanted to destroy anyone?”

          But now you are moving the goalposts, as is typical.

    3. Whether or not he advocates using the state, the progs surely are… And defeating them can be done without the state, if people just apply the same social pressure the progs have used to gain most of their victories.

      1. Also, there is NOTHING wrong with DEFEATING your ideological opponents in a “war” of words, including harsh words. What is wrong with crushing communists?

  11. Finally, you could claim that even nondefensive violence can be legitimate when employed for noble ends. The Church has a commission to spread salvation, after all; stamping out heresy is part of the bargain, as is ensuring that Christians are obediently practicing the faith.

    Yeah – and that ‘noble purpose’ lead to the Inquisition inside Catholicism. Persecution and torture.

    And its lead to horrible outcomes every time people try to use non-defensive violence ‘for noble ends’. Look at our ‘nation-building’ in the Middle East. Look at the War on Drugs. Or how ‘sex-trafficking’ is dealt with.

    ‘Non-defensive violence’ is what the rulers of North Korea do. Its what every totalitarian does. Its what the mob does. Its what the guy who mugs you does. ‘Stamping out heresy’ is what Muslim terrorists are doing.

    You can justify non-defensive violence if you’re a horrible person.

    1. Yeah pretty much. I can’t really think of a non defensive reason for violence other than to subjegate someone in some way.

      1. A lot of it comes down to what is aggression against you? What is offensive? What is defensive?

        If you have mobs of open communists saying we have to take down the government and form a new government of the people… And they’re known agitators… And they’re armed… But haven’t attacked anybody yet… But you know they have wide support amongst the stupid and violent types… Is it wrong to proactively fuck their shit up?

        IMO it’s case by case based on ones judgement. It’s not always clear cut.

  12. A second option is to argue that the question gets the history wrong. The Crusades were a response to a positive threat from Islamic tribes and nations whose goal was to replace Christianity, militarily if need be. They were largely defensive, in other words, and therefore just.

    Finally, you could claim that even nondefensive violence can be legitimate when employed for noble ends. The Church has a commission to spread salvation, after all; stamping out heresy is part of the bargain, as is ensuring that Christians are obediently practicing the faith.

    Stephanie has some brass balls!

    1. Let’s kill people because god said so!

      Exactly the opposite of what the U.S. Constitution exemplifies, you naked fraud.

      1. No faggot, Christians started killing Muslims after the Muslims (such as the Moops) pillaged, raped, and ransacked their territories. Eventually, enough was enough.

        Even a progtard kiddie raping piece of shit like you should be able to fathom that.

        1. The Crusades weren’t shit. The Mongols were the ones who really destroyed the Islamic world (which has never fully recovered), to the point that the Muslims begged the Christians for a truce so they could join forces and try to mount some modicum of a defense.

          But nobody ever criticizes Genghis Khan. He didn’t even have a legitimate excuse. Just naked aggression and self-aggrandizement. All of these people who wring their hands about the eeeevil Christians and the eeeevil Crusades are pushing an agenda constructed entirely of bullshit.

    2. The crusades may have occasionally went a bit far… But it mostly all started in retaliation of aggression by the Muslims. It turned a bit Hatfields and McCoys at a certain point, but if one wants to think of it as one big long cluster fuck it wasn’t entirely unjustified.

  13. In general, there are three directions you could go with your reply.

    Specifically, there is a far more realistic, fourth answer in your reply. If one is a fan of Prof. James Burke, you’ll learn that the Crusades as the Church recounts them was mainly a propaganda blitz, whereas in reality there wasn’t a whole lot of fighting, and there was so many back room political deals and intermarrying going on, that the crusades really amounted to a cultural exchange. Especially considering that the crusaders themselves were happy to get over to the Islamic world so they could finally get a hot bath.

    1. It is a myth that Europeans in the middle ages didn’t bath. Bathing and Roman baths remained in fashion until the 14th Century when the plague put a whole new and very bad light on public gatherings.

      1. I don’t think it’s much of a myth that the peasantry didn’t bathe often for obvious reasons. And also, different cultures did in fact have differing views on regular bathing. Ie, the first European travelers to Japan marveling over how the Japanese people would go through a long bathing ritual every morning and rub incense in their hair before leaving the house. Ie, the Japanese didn’t go out in public wearing sweats and a fanny pack.

        1. Well, the truth is there’s really nothing wrong with not bathing frequently. At a certain point your body actually kind of self cleans your hair etc if you’re not constantly stripping it with soap. Plus back in the day it was just a pain in the ass. So even if they didn’t bathe all the time, it’s really more a made up worry than anything.

  14. The Founding Persons endorsed the following, in a statement largely written by an anti-Catholic who wanted to edit the miraculous parts out of the Bible:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    The same dude also said, in relation to slavery in Virginia:

    “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just (and) that his justice cannot sleep for ever”

    And his religious views were at the time considered overly liberal (his supporters didn’t deny this but said it wasn’t anyone else’s business).

    Fast-forward to today, and the same dude – I mean Thomas Jefferson of course – would be considered a theocrat.

    How did Jefferson suddenly change from a dangerous theological liberal and suspected “infidel” to a modern-day fundamentalist? Obviously he didn’t change, the country did.

    Today, the idea of people having rights because they come from God is deemed by many to be the same as saying God created the world 6,000 years ago, or that a giant teacup is orbiting the sun opposite the earth.

    Theocracy isn’t what it used to be.

    1. I tend to agree with what you are saying. But, Ahmari is hardly Jeffersonian. His piece is filled with statements alluding to using the power of the state to enforce his vision of social order.

      1. Certainly, but alas that’s no innovation. We used to have blasphemy laws and obscenity laws – the latter weren’t applied just to gross-out stuff and child porn, but to all-text novels about hookers or adultery.

        etc.

        1. Instead of Ahmari, I could perhaps cite David French, who himself sounds theocratic by the standards of many moderns:

          ““Frenchism” (is that a thing now?) contains two main components: zealous defense of the classical-liberal order (with a special emphasis on civil liberties) and zealous advocacy of fundamentally Christian and Burkean conservative principles. It’s not one or the other. It’s both. It’s the formulation that renders the government primarily responsible for safeguarding liberty, and the people primarily responsible for exercising that liberty for virtuous purposes. As John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

          ““Moreover, I firmly believe that the defense of these political and cultural values must be conducted in accordance with scriptural admonitions to love your enemies, to bless those who persecute you, with full knowledge that the “Lord’s servant” must be “kind to everyone, able to teach, and patiently endure evil.””

          https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/05/david-french-response-sohrab-ahmari/

  15. Ahmari used the expression “libertine and pagan” to mean an incredible insult. I wear these statements with pride.
    And I know people joke about how they can have my porn when they pry it from my cold dead fingers. But, if this is the way the conservative movement goes, then fuck them all.

    1. All forms of religion, including any form of paganism, is kind of a joke to me… But libertines are douches. There is nothing inherently good about being a debaucherous fucktard. And in fact empirical evidence shows that basically all such behaviors such people push are in fact bad for most people and lead to shittier life results.

      Not that I’m too much of a virtuous sort myself… I have done my share of partyin’. But basically proclaiming you’re a fucked up degenerate isn’t exactly something to be proud of.

  16. Of course, mainstream “liberals” are upset by this. They just HATE theocrats and theocracy:

    https://grrrgraphics.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/shrine_of_the_statists1.jpg

  17. “The Crusades were a response to a positive threat from Islamic tribes and nations whose goal was to replace Christianity, militarily if need be. ”

    Not so. The Albigensian crusade was waged against the Cathars, a renegade Christian sect. For most crusades the goal was conversion or death. For heretics, however, conversion was not an option.

    “Kill them all, God will know his own” was the cry of the papal legate Amalric pointing to Beziers, a city known to contain both Catholics and Cathars. No resident of Beziers survived the onslaught.

    1. Dude, half of all that shit was just political. They wanted to take land, and used religion as the excuse. But a lot of it was in response to Muslim aggression, being that they were doing the EXACT SAME THING.

      Either way, none of any of it is any worse than anything else done by governments who were invading places just to take the land and or resources. Quit trying to pretend the evil Europeans were somehow singularly worse… If anything the Muslim invasions of everywhere were far more brutal. See Muslim conquest of India.

    2. The passage that you quote and attack was obviously using the word “Crusades” to refer to the wars against Muslims in the middle east (as is indeed the case about 95% of the time when someone uses the word “Crusades” generically).

      Your anecdote about the Albegensian crusade is an equivocation and does not provide a counterexample sufficient to refute the quote.

      1. I didn’t name the Albigensian Crusade, the church did.

        This was the extermination of heretics, not a confiscation of land.

  18. The problem with Ahmari’s remarks is that they’re at a level of generality that he will be able to disavow any given policy (“I didn’t mean…”) while still giving talking points against a generic libertarian boogeyman.

    1. That’s been a “problem” with Republicans/conservatives for years now. They’re angry with the way things are going, and want things to change (note, one of the things that triggered Ahmari was “Drag Queen Story hour”), but they either cannot or will not enumerate what they actually want.

  19. The title of this piece says it all, but somewhat by accident in that it was not the writer’s intention.

    The new Theocrats are a nasty bunch indeed, worse than any Crusader or Inquisitor. They impose a strict adherence to Wokeness, and fake Science! (Man-caused Climate Change that kills us all in a decade), and strict Group Identitarianism at the expense of all Individual Rights. I guess I side with French in that we should preserve Individual liberty, and side with Ahmari in that we should take the battle to and conquer these evil heretics

    1. I actually thought that’s what this was going to be about… The progs!

  20. We don’t.

    worship : v. – show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites

    This is how Catholics treat Mary. They pray to her and honor her with religious rites. Catholics worship Mary.

    1. Your dictionary was obviously written by a protestant. Catholics distinguish between worship and adoration.

    2. need like button

    3. Meh. It’s not worth it to try and tell someone that they’re doing their religion wrong.

  21. I would say that the ongoing problem with pedophile priests is a much bigger challenge for Catholics than how to explain the Crusades.

    1. Right? The Crusades were sweet! They whacked a lot of foreigners, jacked their land, etc. The foreigners did it back. There’s nothing to apologize for there. But pedo priests… That’s a tough one to explain away.

  22. Likewise, Christian traditionalists have mostly internalized the maxim, rightly bound up with the conservative tradition for many years, that you can’t impose faith and morals by government fiat.

    Did I read this correctly?

    1. Exactkt.. How about all the “heartbeat” bills? Believing a 6-week old embryo is a person is about as religious as you can get.

      1. I’m not a believer, and I wouldn’t draw the line at 6-weeks, but I’d draw it earlier than now and I don’t think viability is the magic threshold either. If you can’t kill the comatose — quick — before they regain consciousness, why can you kill fetuses — quick — before they gain consciousness? A fetus is wholly dependent, yes, but so is a comatose person.

        If we’re willing to tell men that if they have unprotected sex that results in pregnancy, they’ve incurred a 20+ year legal duty of care in paying child support, isn’t it equally reasonable that we could tell women in the same scenario that they’ve incurred a several months legal duty of care (after which they — unlike the men — can choose to cut their losses and walk away by giving up the baby for adoption)?

        *No religion was used in any of this reasoning.

  23. […] Stephanie Slade, writing in Reason, says that Team Ahmari is neither conservative nor Christian. Excerpt: […]

  24. Saying he was excommunicated is probably a stretch, although if NR’s subscriptions have gone through the floor since the Never Trump cover edition, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was one of several causes for him leavin

    part time online jobs

  25. When you’re arguing from a position of faith (e.g., as a Catholic), you’ve already lost. Faith and reason are opposites.

    1. That isn’t necessarily true.

    2. Amen. Sam Harris does an excellent job making that argument in “The End of Faith”. You lose the all credibility when you start arguing based around metrics that can’t be tested.

      1. Sam Harris is full of shit.* You can’t get from empirical metric-based observations foundations of morality, e.g., a definition of “the good.” You can use empirical, measurable observations to help choose actions that facilitate whatever you think the good is, but that’s about it.

        *By “full of shit” I just mean he’s catastrophically wrong. I admire Sam Harris for his intelligence and openness.

        1. Yes, but no religion has a more empirical answer than any other, and at least secular attempts at defining the good do not amount to “Santa says so.”

    3. All reason starts from a premise which stems in faith. Even the non aggression principle.

      1. Good first principles and axioms, though not provable, are subjectively true to all observers and do not yet have a dispositive case, which is entirely unlike that religion garbage. Christians (of which I once was) are particularly fond of fetishsizing the virtue in blind belief in things that specifically can’t be proven a la “faith”. Political and ethical beliefs like the NAP may be “first pricipals” of libertarianism, but they are in no way true first pricipals of morality or ethics. They can be derived.

        1. I think you could prove or come close to proving that libertarian first principles are best at ensuring the survival and flourishing of humanity as a whole.

          1. Not really.

            In a huge number of situations it is beneficial to not follow the NAP. That’s why most people and societies historically did not follow the NAP.

            Free markets are good. But why is taking in poor people from other countries that will be a drag on your higher wage native population? Why is it not good to invade and steal the resources of weaker countries when it suits you? Why shouldn’t you shoot first and ask questions later when in a sketchy situation?

            There are LOTS of situations where the NAP gets less good results than being aggressive.

          2. Generally I agree with you, but that’s non-trivial to show, and requires acceptance of a bunch of other axioms, and metrics. For instance, you need to agree on what “flourishing” generally means, and why that matters, etc. My point is that people that this stuff is things that rational people can come together on, agree on reasonable metrics for judging the value, and then make factual statements about based on those metrics and the reality they (and the majority of humanity have observed for millennia).

            Arguing from religion, especially as it is actually implemented, is precisely the opposite. Christianity is almost entirely based on fabulous claims about a creator that not only cannot be proven, but directly fly in the face of every reasonable, measurable thing of what generally rational people observe around them on a day to day basis. They fly in the face of everything we can prove using scientific axioms that have no known false case. Most odious, instead of acknowledging this as a short coming, Christianity teaches its followers that they just need to have blind faith and “accept” that stuff, and that it is actually virtuous to ignore the truth of the reality they observe every day.

            For someone to claim that “You are just pushing faith back a step” is both idiotic and missing the point. My “faith” is based on reality that remains the same for all of observable history and is based on observations using instruments and metrics that consistently demonstrate the phenomena.

        2. You are just pushing the argument back a step. Your “first principals of morality and ethics” (whatever they are; you conveniently decline to name them) are based just as much in “faith” and “belief” as religious people’s. Either your moral beliefs are based on an infinite regression of principals, which I doubt, or they are grounded in some first principal to which you adhere to strongly and do not look behind.

          Whatever the foundations of your morality are, I strongly suspect that they are not grounded in empirical, physical phenomena. In fact, I bet they look strikingly like the first principals of a religious person.

          1. The conditions that benefit human beings are more or less definable and measurable.

            The first principle is “we should work to benefit human beings.” Sure, an article of faith. But a rather uncontroversial one.

            We only get lost in the details, and that’s what we fight wars over and bitch about on the internet.

        3. “Good first principles and axioms, though not provable, are subjectively true to all observers”

          All??? You mean just like that one you just offered?

          Yeah, sure.

    4. need dislike button

    5. Only if you can’t find common ground.

      For example, let’s take the 10 Commandments. The first couple are specific to Judaism and Christianity. But several are more common. “Don’t steal”, “don’t murder” for example.

      If you want to debate the moral acceptability of killing (that is, when is it murder) with someone, you don’t need to them to share a belief in Moses and the 10 Commandments. It is often “good enough” that they have a similar core principle, even if it has an entirely different source.

      This different sources may lead to some conflicts, but they’re probably sufficient for most purposes. So in the example, you may disagree over some edge cases of murder/not-murder, but for 95% of cases you’ll probably agree.

  26. We are not in a live and let live time. They will not let you live. The “both sides” arguers are pathetic. It is not both sides.

    If you truly want to live as you wish, as a free man, you have to start fighting

    1. Yup.

      Playing a game only works insofar as both sides adhere to a set of rules… If the other side changes the rules, or the stakes, you need to match or exceed them… Or be prepared to lose.

      Leftists changed the stakes and the rules, and conservatives and libertarians hadn’t quite picked up on this until the last few years.

  27. […] Stephanie Slade, writing in Reason, says that Team Ahmari is neither conservative nor Christian. Excerpt: […]

  28. I couldn’t get very far into this before I ran into ridiculous superstitions. What’s un-Christian? Whatever the guy in charge of Christianity says. You can’t lose a soul, because there’s no such thing as a soul. Or gods. Child molestation is real though.

    1. You’re such a banal bitch, aren’t you?

      1. He’s probably mad because his childhood priest didn’t want to ass bang him?

        1. All the other kids except him got special attention from the priest.

      2. Not all of us can have your charm and wit.

  29. So a couple things.

    I probably don’t agree with a number of the things homeboy wants in terms of specifics, as I am not religious… Although I probably do on some things since the degeneracy in our society is ridiculous… I surely don’t want the government to impose such things, even if I agree.

    BUT the man is 110% right that sane people need to start fighting back. This has been THE singular flaw in the right wing in America for decades. Gracefully losing, while trying to maintain some theoretical moral high ground… It was fucking stupid.

    The truth is much of what the left, and all these modernists/postmodernists preach is utterly HORRIBLE for people and their happiness. It’s almost all empirically bad ideas that lead to bad life results.

    So why the fuck did conservatives fear fighting for doing the right things?

    The left never did. The situation has been the left has been kicking us in the balls for 50 years straight, and the right has been groaning in pain saying to itself “Well, I can’t kick them back because that would be mean!” RETARDED.

    If somebody is attacking you, you fight back with equal or greater force, in order to WIN. So on that issue he is correct. If conservatives had grown some balls in decades past America would be a far better place today… But better late than never.

  30. On a similar but kind of different note… I can’t remember who said it, but some right leaning dude in the last few years I believe…

    “Given the choice between a well ordered society and anal sex, most people will choose anal sex every time.”

    Doesn’t have to mean literal butt sex of course, merely degeneracy and being irresponsible…

    A HUGE portion of the population basically will never make responsible life choices unless they have SOCIAL PRESSURE forcing them to do it. As a libertarian I am opposed to laws, but those did in fact work back in the day as well stacked on top of the social pressure. But social pressure alone will do it.

    But if you want to have a non dysfunctional society, without laws, that means you have to apply that social pressure… Not be accepting of bad behavior.

    That means when some chick is a slut who gets knocked up by some guy, you SHOULD make her feel bad, and pressured to stick with the guy. If some guy knocks up a chick, you should shame him into staying and taking care of his kid too.

    If somebody is a lazy bastard who wants to leach off the state, they should be shamed for not working. A freak who gets drunk and high every day and does other shitty stuff? Social pressure them into feeling ashamed for being a druggie.

    Social pressure is the libertarian means by which we enforce decent behavior in absence of government mandated laws. Left to their natural devices there is a strong minority, if not slight majority, who will make bad decisions. Social pressure is the non government way to deal with these issues.

    What issues are problems and which aren’t? Well, it all depends. And that’s where part of the battle ground lies. But the truth is the progs are waging their war in this EXACT manner, and it’s working. The problem is most of their issues are WRONG, whereas most conservative values are correct.

    So man up, and be willing to shame people who deserve shaming.

    Is it mean

    1. The left uses social pressure just long enough to get a slight majority and then codifies their beliefs into law or judicial fiat for all eternity.

      Standing back from the culture wars and the use of government imposition will lead to tyranny if it has not already. The NAP means nothing in a democracy where the only liberal protections are a flawed bill of rights.

      1. “If we don’t engage in some tyranny of our own, the result will only be more tyranny!”

        1. *Sigh*

          If you agree to a fist fight with somebody… And they bust out a knife, is it wrong to get out a knife of your own?

          Idiots like you just don’t seem to understand the stakes of allowing the “bad guys” to play dirty pool, and endlessly win, while the better people get stomped into the ground. Do you really not realize how horrible things could potentially get if hardcore leftists take over the USA?

          1. If all you want to do is substitute THEIR tyranny with YOUR tyranny, then you’re one of the ‘bad guys’ too.

            1. What tyranny do I want to institute asshole?

              Low taxes? Minimal regulation? Ending the drug war? Not invading foreign countries?

              I’m REALLY libertarian in my views. I DO believe we need to have social pressure for bad behavior, but I don’t want there to be laws against being a druggie. I just want people to shame the druggie into getting their shit together.

              Either way, as I have said before: If leftists take over and gets their every wish, we’ll be living in the USSR in the 1950s… If the right takes over and gets their every wish we’ll be living in the USA in the 1950s.

              There is ZERO equivalency there. Even if the “mean” social views came back, society would be on net far better off than now. Slut shaming making a comeback will actually produce better practical results for 99% of people, even if 1% of hardcore sluts feel bad about themselves.

        2. Explain how you would dismantle a hypothetical Communist state in America without excessive force and suspension of the NAP.

          1. You can’t.

            If the commies ever take over, and later on the will to remove them comes, millions will have to be slaughtered to do it… Most likely. There is always the possibility of a simple collapse of that government if they lose too much popular support.

      2. Pretty much. And a lot of the time they didn’t even actually convince most people, they just had their preferences put in by the courts or other powerful institutions that they control, and then decry any attempt to undo it since it is the “status quo” already. If you disagree with us, you lose your job, your social life, etc.

        Immigration is a perfect issue where the majority of the country is opposed to low skilled immigration, and wants the system changed. But the Top Men are against it and have ignored the peoples voice for literally decades.

        There’s nothing wrong with people who have better ideas using the same means IMO.

    2. In this and other posts vek, you have made arguments against a libertarian way to live.

      Example here “If somebody is a lazy bastard who wants to leach off the state, they should be shamed for not working. A freak who gets drunk and high every day and does other shitty stuff? Social pressure them into feeling ashamed for being a druggie.”

      David Boaz had some good things to say.

      “Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property-rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force.”

      I cannot reconcile what you advocate with those ideals. Your verbal attacks are aggressive, you speak of battle grounds and enforcement of decent behavior.

      Perhaps instead of libertarian you are more in line with what is called conservative today.

      1. Do you not understand the difference between social pressure, and a law?

        I don’t advocate laws. This is why I am a libertarian. Here’s the thing, our society already has TONS of rules for when social pressure is applied to people to nudge them in a direction most people find preferable.

        Why can’t you piss on a tree in the public park in broad daylight in front of dozens of people? Because social pressure makes you too ashamed to do it, because most people don’t want people pissing in the park.

        Likewise, being a useless crackhead is NOT a desirable outcome… Not even for the crackhead. There is a 100% chance that crackhead would be better off if they’d never tried crack and had never got hooked, or if they did try it, if they quit using it.

        Social pressure exists to nudge people in the right direction. People can and will argue about what behavior should be pressured against, and that’s fine. But IMO a lot of things that used to be unacceptable need to be made so again… Because there are statistics that back up the reality that people who adhere to the “old rules” have far better outcomes than those that don’t.

        Single parent households produce kids that do less well in school, are more likely to be criminals, and grow up to earn less than their peers from 2 parent households. Maybe there shouldn’t be a law to force people to stay together forever, BUT a little more social pressure to encourage it would probably be a good thing. To pressure people into not getting divorced for petty reasons, only legit things like true abuse or cheating, would likely have positive outcomes.

        If this is all outside of government, and just enforcing social norms, it’s very libertarian.

        And if you argue against the idea… You’re full of shit. As I said society is FULL of this already. You don’t yell at women the way you might a guy who pisses you off because of social pressure. You don’t beat off on park benches because of social pressure. You don’t walk around naked because of social pressure. I could go on for EONS with listing things off. The only question is what things we choose to enforce.

        What you’re REALLY saying is that you don’t believe in slut shaming or ragging on crackheads for some reason… Even though both are destructive behaviors as per science. Which is fine I guess, as I said arguing about what to shame or not is a legit thing. But I’m pretty sure you’re not for 65 year old men beating off at the crosswalk outside an elementary school when it gets out… So you DO believe in having social standards in general.

  31. Start playing the game or it’s over.

    1A will be reduced to whatever the 4 lib SCOTUS judges deem is not hate speech. We are one squish, Roberts Kavanaugh from that happening

    2A same thing

  32. Wow, this is one of the best articles I’ve seen on reason. I really like how it pointed out that anti-Christian progressives have just as much of a “religion” as the crusading conservatives or, for that matter, anyone else. This, I think, is an essential part to understanding the separation of church and state.

    Really anything can be called a religion. As Jefferson said in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, the state must concern itself with actions rather than words. Its primary purpose, of course, should be to stop those actions which violate the person and property of others. When government gets involved in more than that, it runs the inevitable risk of, whether it is particularly religeous or not, violating the separation of church and state.

  33. […] saving others’ souls when he’s trying to convince us to sell our own,” suggests Reason‘s Stephanie Slade, weighing in on the First Things/theocracy versus David […]

  34. “There’s nothing Christian about the idea that we should hope not to convert or persuade but to defeat and destroy our ideological opponents. ”

    You are wrong. It is entirely within Christian doctrine to seek to defeat and destroy evil. And, doctrinally speaking, evil is simply the absence of God.

    1. If that thought scares you, as a practicing Catholic you might need to ask yourself why.

      1. Because most Christians don’t actually believe in the shit in the bible anymore…

        The Torah and Bible are pretty fucking hardcore. But most people just ignore 90% of it nowadays, because they’re sissies.

  35. The new Theocrats are here, and they’re not on the side of the GOP. The new Theocrats call their gods “Diversity” and “Tolerance” and they are dedicated to

    fight the culture war with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good.

    They will re-order the public square, and the presence of those like Reason.com will not be tolerated. You can choose to fight or you can back down.

  36. Stephanie:

    Then you might be interested in Douthat’s NYT column today:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/04/opinion/conservatives-david-french-trump.html

    There, feel better?

  37. I can understand why some devout peoples are becoming more extreme about forcing faith. Religion has been the only time-tested, effective stalwart against hedonism and degeneracy. I don’t mean degeneracy in a pejorative sense, but in the sense of behaviors that actually devolve society, such as pedophilia and drug addiction. Knowing this, it’s hard not to lament the loss of religiosity and question whether or not its even possible for an atheistic society, which does nothing more than denounce the concept of God, to have a strong moral code. I don’t like Sam Harris’s take on this issue. All the moral atheists I see are just regurgitating religious teachings without the belief in God and I think they’re just being intellectually dishonest when they won’t admit that they follow those prescriptions because of divine punishment. If you reduce morality to “righteousness”, everything becomes moral because everyone believes they are just. Nobody wakes up and says “I am unjust, let’s do this shit.”

    1. “they’re just being intellectually dishonest when they won’t admit that they follow those prescriptions because of divine punishment”

      Speak for yourself! We believe without any doubt there is no divine punishment but moral atheists are still not going to go around breaking windows, stealing from others, raping children etc. Following the golden rule does not require religious belief, only empathy.

      1. Only empathy.

        Good luck with that. I’m sure you’ll love living under a tyranny of good intentions.

        1. If you are only moral due to a fear of punishment from God, and would gladly steal and rape if you were not anticipating hell, you have a couple of neurons loose. The next time something goes wrong and God doesn’t answer your prayers, there you go raping and stealing. Stating that moral atheists fear divine punishment is a cool mind-reading attempt, but that’s about all it is.

      2. Good for you. Now go and teach the entire world to be upstanding for…reasons.

        1. Not even reasons, empathy is about feelings.

      3. Lester is correct. The origin of human ethics and morality is a formal field of academic study and general consensus is that property of ‘Empathy’ is the root of human ‘goodness.’ (What else is the ‘Golden Rule’ common to most religions, than recognizing that others are the same as you in their needs, their abilities to feel pain, their capacity for affection.)

        Empathy then leads to ‘Compassion’—a related but more advanced concept. Then add ‘enlightened self-interest,’ which eventually leads to the development of the Social Compact. This all affects the development of human ethics and values, without religion as a necessary component (if interested, research Hobbes and Spinoza’s thoughts around the social contract).

        I feel sorry for those who apparently feel they can’t detect what is good without being told by a religion—that seems a sad and bitter approach to life.

        This route to enlightened self-interest seems to be a basic condition of all self-aware animals that live in interactive societies. All social animals seem to exhibit empathy and the behavior it engenders. Nature selects for it, as this trait supports the value of ‘Community,’ which has a survival advantage. (If you’re really interested, you may want to start with the research and writings of Frans de Waal.)

        1. This route to enlightened self-interest seems to be a basic condition of all self-aware animals that live in interactive societies.

          Really? Because in the last 230 years, the only thing it appears to foster is solipsism and self-righteous crusades that ultimately degrade social capital.

    2. I think the thing of it is this:

      Most people can be reasonable based on the Golden Rule. Golden rule is basically almost just the NAP. Most religions however went beyond that, and for a reason: There are many behaviors that are known in general to be bad, but don’t necessarily violate the NAP.

      So many societies codified this stuff either into their religion or just their secular culture, BECAUSE IT WORKS. 2 parent households work, which is why most cultures on earth developed the concept of marriage. Some allowed people to marry multiple people, but almost always with the restriction that it was for life. That is because this creates a more stable and functional society.

      Likewise with drug use, drinking to excess, etc. Most rules that go beyond the NAP exist because they are in fact the best way to create a stable and prosperous society. The thing is many people can enjoy a few drinks and have no issues… But some people can’t hang. Likewise with other vices. Hence religions have rules on this stuff, and back when religion was strictly enforced, this helped steer society in a way that functioned well.

      Now that we have lost most of that stuff, we can see the results in all the dysfunction we have today. There’s a REASON that 90% of traditional cultural norms exist in all societies on earth… They work.

  38. […] The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian Stephanie Slade, Reason […]

  39. I am always a little mystified when the writers at Reason appear to be threatened unto death by Christian morality, but tend to take illiberal morality in stride.

    1. The tenets of Christianity establish that no good can be compelled. If you force someone to do something good neither you nor they accrue any benefit. It is only that which is freely accepted and undertaken than counts. So,objectively speaking, Reason opposing Christian overreach and legal compulsion makes sense, both to the secular and the Christian.

      Reason’s tolerance of, and criticism of Christian opposition to the imposed illiberal morality of the progressives and leftists defies any such justification.

  40. […] saving others’ souls when he’s trying to convince us to sell our own,” suggests Reason‘s Stephanie Slade, weighing in on the First Things/theocracy versus David […]

  41. I grieve the scourge of abortion, the breakdown of the traditional family, the declining religiosity of the developed world.

    Not me! Get a grip, you sky fairy-worshiper!

  42. “The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian”

    They’re Postmodernist Marxists, and their theocratic rule extends throughout the major institutions of the West.

    But I wouldn’t call them “new”.

    1. Naturally the NeoCucks target their fire on the Right dare suggesting that the Right fight back against the Left institutional hegemony, and naturally Reason backs the NeoCucks.

      1. In reality, they are perfectly content to live in a culture in which universities reject scientifically sound peer-reviewed papers for fear of offending the transgender community; in which pro-Israel speakers are routinely shouted down on campuses, and people with unpopular views are physically attacked; in which large technology platforms actively censor speech; in which journalists giddily defend the doxxing of a private citizen who created and shared a video they didn’t like; in which faith and those who practice it in earnest are dismissed as benighted bigots; in which the whims of unelected bureaucrats trump the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Never Trump was therefore a misnomer; they were simply elitist progressives who did an awkward kind of dance before arriving at their predestined home in the Democratic Party.

        https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/285822/why-jews-should-pay-attention-to-the-recent-debate-rocking-american-conservatism

    2. It’s the Reason rope-a-dope, aka the double standards that only apply in direction.

  43. Jeeby dead.

  44. This is 21 first century and people getting more weird..
    In the old times everything is manually..
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  45. The original sin was to eat the forbidden fruit… giving mankind the knowledge of good and evil. That is what we call judgement. We exercise individual judgement in a way that can resemble prejudice, but in fact it is pre-judgement.

    Both the modern conservative and the modern liberal (excellently defined in this article) have colluded to build a foundation for government predicated on the notion that individual judgement is evil, socially irresponsible and/or not to be trusted to be in the interest of the “common good”. Part of that is macro-economic. When your society has no permanent community, personal interactions are anonymous and remote, and random chaos is the rule of the day, who do you include as “common” when defining common good? Increasingly it is defined by political segmentation — the color of one’s skin, sexual orientation, or also who is wearing a crucifix (and is Jesus on that crucifix or is it just a flat medallion).

    But getting back to the point… liberals now want to remove individual judgement form the equation. If you build a wall with a gate and let a judge make an individual determination of a person’s fittness to enter the country, it is considered to be disparaging of human rights. If you drive a car with tail-pipe emissions, you are killing the Earth. But conservatives have slumped into the same kind of thinking. If you want to let individuals decide whether they should terminate a pregnancy, you are disparaging human rights. If you believe in imposing the marginal public costs on large actors who have been exploiting loop-holes in rules to reduce marginal private costs to near zero, you are killing the free market; rules stand as sacred doctrines. The promise of original federalism and the limited state have been disparaged as the size, scope and scale governments and populations in the West have risen to Chinese proportions, and not surprisingly, the West has embraced the Chinese solution.

  46. […] writer David Marcus suggested the story was emblematic of the divide between newly popular Catholic theocrats and more traditional conservatives like David French, positing both that the very pro-life French […]

  47. […] writer David Marcus suggested the story was emblematic of the divide between newly popular Catholic theocrats and more traditional conservatives like David French, positing both that the very pro-life French […]

  48. […] writer David Marcus suggested the story was emblematic of the divide between newly popular Catholic theocrats and more traditional conservatives like David French, positing both that the very pro-life French […]

  49. If Stephanie Slade is fond of the Catholic catechism perhaps she should explain the following:

    2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge.

    Is it any wonder that Pope Francis is a socialist?

  50. […] writer David Marcus suggested the story was emblematic of the divide between newly popular Catholic theocrats and more traditional conservatives like David French, positing both that the very pro-life French […]

  51. but there was a growing Islamic threat as Turks pushed west against the buffer Byzantines….the author is the typical Reason intellectual dilettante

  52. […] suspect why Catholic theocrats always want more State power to back their objectives is because they — like the liberals — are essentially […]

  53. Anytime someone complains about pornography they should have to share their browsing history.

  54. stop racists, all humans and religions are the same … at the end it will end …
    every one in this earth will die, no one live forever…
    even artist, kpop, mega star. Bola88 , me ,and you

  55. No one is rejecting “classical liberalism”; we’re simply willing to do more than wring our hands when we’re fighting a civil war. How much emancipation” was ultimately effected by being willing to actually fight? ALL OF IT.

  56. Interesting article, but this is just wrong:

    It’s a schism between people who want to use the law to forcibly restore America’s Judeo-Christian character and those who don’t.

    Those on the other side don’t want to “restore America’s Judeo-Christian character,” they want to impose Christianity on the country. The “Judeo” part may be an effort to be polite, or to conceal intentions, but it’s not accurate.

  57. […] an ugly, name-calling rift on the right between theocratic Catholics on the one hand and classical-liberalish evangelicals on the other, you could be forgiven for thinking that the […]

  58. […] an ugly, name-calling rift on the right between theocratic Catholics on the one hand and classical-liberalish evangelicals on the other, you could be forgiven for thinking that the […]

  59. […] an ugly, name-calling rift on the right between theocratic Catholics on the one hand and classical-liberalish evangelicals on the other, you could be forgiven for thinking that the […]

  60. “Americans have become an immoral people—unchurched, “pornographized,” overly consumerist, and insufficiently loyal to our fellow countrymen”

    Thank God!

  61. […] an ugly, name-calling rift on the right between theocratic Catholics on the one hand and classical-liberalish evangelicals on the other, you could be forgiven for thinking that the […]

  62. […] “The New Theocrats Are Neither Conservative Nor Christian,” by Stephanie Slade […]

  63. […] his own impressive list of courtroom victories on behalf of conservative causes. The libertarians weighed in on French’s side, and the lefties are rooting for […]

  64. this is nice quote let me save to my notebook”To gain the whole world and lose your soul is no victory at all.”

    every people have different race and region but we all still human, who need a friend peace and love, but now everything is about money and power.
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