Liberal is a city in Barton County, Missouri, United States. The population was 759 at the 2010 census.
Liberal was founded as an atheist utopia in 1880 by lawyer George Walser, who named it after the Liberal League in nearby Lamar. The city had restrictions on both religious buildings and saloons, instead offering intellectual pursuits. A contingent of Christian residents moved to the town and began holding religious services against Walser's wishes, and eventually took hold of the settlement.
Liberal was founded in 1880 by George Walser, an anti-religionist, agnostic lawyer and former state legislator who wished to create an atheist, "freethinker" utopia. It was named after the Liberal League in Lamar, Missouri, which Walser was a member of at the time. Walser purchased 2,000 acres (8 km2) of land and advertised across the country for atheists to join his town, which would "have neither God, Hell, Church, nor Saloon".
Walser organized a reformed school system that sought to promote liberal education free from the bias of Christian theology, and had instructional classes on Sundays to replace religious services. The Free Thought University was founded in 1886 with a staff of seven teachers providing regular lectures and hosting intellectual debates. The arrival of the railroad triggered a population boom, bringing the town to 546 residents by 1890.
Christian practitioners began arriving in Liberal soon after it was founded, but were initially met with resistance by Walser.