Franciscan University of Steubenville, the conservative Catholic university in eastern Ohio, hosted a two-day conference in October where leading "New Right" nationalists, "post-liberal" conservatives and Catholic integralists declared that America's "liberal consensus" has come to an end.
Several speakers articulated a vision of the United States where domestic manufacturing is not only revived and globalization reigned in, but where traditional Christian morality is restored to a central place in society and mainstream culture, and where leaders in government are comfortable using political power to enforce those religious values and punish "woke" progressives.
"Overt biblically grounded lawmaking, a concomitant biblically informed constitutional jurisprudence, and an approach to God in the public square that we might think of as an ecumenical integralism, represents our only hope for recovery at this late hour in our ailing, decadent republic," Josh Hammer, a Newsweek opinion editor, said during one panel discussion.
The conference, entitled "Restoring a Nation: The Common Good in the American Tradition" and held Oct 7-8, featured a who's who lineup of influential speakers in the national conservative movement, where grassroots momentum has been building on the right since former President Donald Trump in 2016 shook up the Republican establishment with his nationalistic rhetoric, hardline partisanship and bare-knuckled style of political combat against his liberal critics.
Disaffected by secularization, social media censorship, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage and the widening societal acceptance of LGBTQ rights, the conference speakers described an America in crisis, where tyrannical forces in "Big Tech," media, academia, government and industry are cracking down on and isolating social conservatives and religious traditionalists in the United States.
"Look around you. … Does the world look free?" said Sohrab Ahmari, a former New York Post op-ed editor and current fellow at Franciscan University's Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, who helped organize the conference. Ahmari spoke about "privatized coercion" in the market economy that he said subjugates American consumers and workers.
"If China treated workers the way Amazon does, American elites would be outraged," Ahmari said.
Rachel Bovard, senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute think tank, attacked the "woke industrial complex," which she described as the "axis of Big Tech, Chinese and corporate totalitarianism." She characterized the Pentagon — which in 2021 announced new guidelines to allow transgender people to enlist and serve openly — as "woke."
"If the last 30 years has taught us anything, it's that the left's fascist orgy is not somehow going to abate," Bovard said. "No one knows what lunacy is coming next, but we all know what's eventually coming: normalized pederasty, forced euthanasia, postnatal abortion, persecuting dissident faiths, disqualifying religious traditionalists and political conservatives from banking, property rights and public benefits."
To prevent that dystopian future, several conference speakers called for a restoration of Christian values, where abortion and gender reassignment surgeries are outlawed, traditional marriage and large families are supported by generous state subsidies and paid parental leave, where prayer is readmitted to public schools and commerce is banned on Sundays.