Heather Mac Donald is John M. Olin fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Well known for her realist take on immigration reform and law enforcement, of late she has been the center of a small controversy precipitated by a piece in The American Conservative where she expressed her atheism rather forcefully.
What prompted you to "come out" as an atheist in The American Conservative earlier this year? [...]
I wrote The American Conservative piece out of frustration with the preening piety of conservative pundits. I attended a New York cocktail party in 2003, for example, where a prominent columnist said to the group standing around him: "We all know that what makes Republicans superior to Democrats is their religious faith." This sentiment has been repeated in print ad nauseam, along with its twin: "We all know that morality is not possible without religion." I didn't then have the courage to point out to the prominent columnist that quite a few conservatives and Republicans of the highest standing had no religious faith, without apparent injury to their principles or their behavior.