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Embracing Liberty in No Way Means Embracing Moral Relativism

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20.09.2019

As the think-pieces continue to rain down in the aftermath of my debate earlier this month with Sohrab Ahmari, it’s been discouraging to see the sheer number of conservative thinkers who seem to confuse the embrace of First Amendment jurisprudence with the embrace of “moral relativism” or to confine the principles of the American founding to something they call “liberal proceduralism,” a form of government somehow incompatible with the “politics of the common good.” For example, here’s Hadley Arkes arguing in the American Mind that I’m “retreating to moral relativism” by defending viewpoint neutral access to public facilities:

As I’ve argued sharply, some of our friends have sought to protect religious liberty by retreating to moral relativism. They are willing enough to credit religious sentiments as religious if they are “sincerely held.” They attach this importance to sincerity precisely because they don’t wish to reach any moral judgments on the legitimacy of what any religious group purports to teach. For that reason some of our friends, litigating these issues, refuse to rule out Satanists from the circle of believers they would protect.

When David French celebrated “viewpoint-neutral access to public facilities,” I took it as a signal that he had signed on to this relativism, which has been deepened now by the accession of two other friends,........

© National Review