A friend recently sent me the source for what became this post. It’s a different vision, if you will, of a political future that I described here. It’s called the Benedict Option and it deals with the possibility of right-wing conservative Christians abandoning politics.
I often write about “religious freedom.” I do this mainly because I, and others like me, typically end up having our civil rights curtailed by those of religious persuasion because our mere existence offends them. As one of the “heathen minority,” it gives me great personal pleasure to present this post. I won’t even try to contain that pleasure; my professionalism is strong, but not that strong.
The Benedict Option is an odd little cultural experiment that just might be gaining popularity with my far-right brothers (it SO annoys them when I say that). It is the realization that Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority may be gone. As the nation becomes largely more tolerant of gay marriage and less tolerant of bigotry, the former “moral majority” is finding itself a minority. Score one for us heathens!
In the past, the right wing elect was using elections to solidify a power base through which they could force their narrow beliefs down our throats. However, “times, they are a-changin’” and many in the GOP are focusing on economic issues rather than dictating morality. Then, of course, you have SCOTUS deciding the issue of gay marriage; while not done with it yet, the popular opinion is that the Court will rule in favor of gay marriage being legal.
Enter the clusterbombs that were the Indiana and Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Acts and the swift and severe backlash Christian conservatives got from the business community. After all, despite the fervency of their assertions that God’s Word rules their lives, we all know the truth: money talks, Jesus walks. Those states amended their discriminatory laws faster than you can say “re-election.”
The message that’s sending to the former Moral Majority is that they are possibly losing some of their power. Here is where the Benedict Option comes into play.
It’s an idea inspired by the end of a book called After Virtue in which Alasdair MacIntyre wrote about waiting “for another — doubtless very different — St. Benedict,” the founder of Western monasticism at the end of the Roman Empire. He would help build “local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual and moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages.”
Certain bloggers have crafted the Benedict option from this passage. The Benedict Option essentially involves right wing conservative Christians realizing that their political attempts to control morality are futile and withdrawing from politics. The new focus would be on building communities of like-minded believers living as close to their beliefs as is allowed in a largely secular society.
In short, they would almost “ghetto-ize,” as have many of the ones they formerly oppressed, in an effort to live their lives in peace.
I’m all for it.