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Mystery Of The Ages

Hey, I have been granted an extension of a few hours to do very, very last minute polishing on the Benedict Option book manuscript. While I’m away with my head buried in my laptop, I want to throw this question out there that I’ve been thinking about since a comment appeared here over the weekend.

One of the conservative Catholic commenters on this blog wrote that he wishes we had a Religious Right run by Catholics, because Evangelicals are so dumb they really messed it up. I pointed out in reply that if you were depending on Catholics to run the Religious Right, we wouldn’t have much of one; on key culture war issues, Evangelicals are better Catholics that Catholics.

I’m serious. The Catholic Church is against abortion. Look at these polling results from Pew:


The Catholic Church says that marriage is exclusively between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage is wrong. But the most recent Pew poll found only 27 percent of white Evangelicals approving of gay marriage, versus 58 percent of Catholics doing so.

Here’s something I have never figured out. In theory, Catholics ought to be a lot more theologically conservative on such matters. They have a clear teaching proclaimed by a clear church authority, with a deep Biblical theology behind it. And yet, on the whole, it doesn’t seem to matter to lay Catholics. Evangelicals, on the other hand, have the Bible, but no binding interpretive authority to keep them from diverging. Yet, on these issues, they are more morally conservative than Catholics — even by Catholic standards.

Why is this? I’m asking in a serious way. Any of you have a theory? I’m not going to publish gratuitous Catholic bashing or Evangelical bashing in the comments.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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