An atheist's case for religious liberty

The second big argument in the current battle over religious liberty is that Christians may have a private right to religious liberty, but they give that up when they start a business and enter the “commercial sphere,” at which point they must submit to unlimited regulation of their activity by the state.

All that this demonstrates is the artificiality of the left’s historic division between property rights and all other rights. The left has always had something of a transactional relationship with free speech; they love it when they need it to protect themselves and forget about it when somebody else’s neck is on the line. But this argument shows the exact mechanism by which the left’s rejection of economic freedom inevitably leads them to reject all other freedoms. It is hardly possible to do anything in life without in some way engaging in or affecting commerce. In fact, the left has elevated to an art form the practice of justifying anything they want to do, anything at all, by connecting it to the federal government’s power to “regulate interstate commerce.” In the arguments over the individual mandate in ObamaCare, they even argued that not engaging in commerce is covered under the power to regulate interstate commerce.

So the result is that you can think what you like in your own brain, maybe, but don’t dare lift a finger to act on it. Many years ago, Ayn Rand—an atheist philosopher if ever there was one—summed up the left’s outlook: “The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe—but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.” Some concept of “freedom” that is.