While reading a recent critique of the new atheism, I came across the story of liberal Missouri, and this St. Louis Dispatch article from 1885.

Liberal, MO, named after the Liberal League in Lamar, Missouri (to which the town’s organizer belonged), was started as an atheist, “freethinker” utopia in 1880 by George Walser, an anti-religionist, agnostic lawyer.  He bought 2000 acres of land and advertised across the country for atheists to come and

“found a town without a church, [w]here unbelievers could bring up their children without religious training, ” – and where Christians were not allowed.  His idea was to build up a town that should exclusively be the home of Infidels…”a town that should have neither God, Hell, Church, nor Saloon.”  Some of the early inhabitants of Liberal even encouraged other infidels to move to their town by publishing an advertisement which boasted that Liberal “is the only town of its size in the United States without a priest, preacher, church, saloon, God, Jesus, hell or devil.” (from Atheism and Liberal, MO) 1

Well, how did that little experiment turn out?  It’s more incredible than you could imagine.

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