For at least a decade, I have been writing off and on about what I call the Benedict Option: that idea that religious conservatives should respond to the rapid de-Christianization of our culture by taking philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre’s prophetic advice (invoking the 5th-century St. Benedict) and building forms of community within which the life of virtue can withstand assaults of the Dark Age upon us. The idea never really went anywhere—until this past spring. The national debacle over the Indiana legislature’s failed attempt to strengthen the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act in response to gay rights advances was where religious and social conservatives met our Waterloo. For the first time ever, big business intervened in a contentious culture-war issue, taking sides with the cultural left, and forcing GOP politicians to back down. It was now clear who really called the shots in the Republican Party—and how little religious liberty means to them.
A short time later, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated same-sex marriage in its Obergefell decision. Since Indiana, and certainly since Obergefell, concerned Christians from coast to coast are talking urgently about the Benedict Option as we try to discern our future in post-Christian America. And the center of the discussion is The American Conservative. In a column in The Week, liberal pundit Damon Linker wrote, “This may be the first time in American history that devout Christians have been forced by events to accept without doubt that they are a minority in a majority secular nation. We have entered uncharted territory.”
TAC is leading the way in charting that terra incognita for the American right. Your support of this magazine makes research and writing about the Benedict Option possible, and is seeding the culture of conservatism with fresh new ideas, not yesterday’s stale conservative pieties. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the foundation that supports our work. You will be literally investing in the future of American conservatism.