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Taming Religious Conservatives

Reader Devinicus comments:

As so many commenters on this thread are enjoying the analogy game, I offer the analogy of 18th century Britain and Ireland under the penal laws. By the mid-1700s, Catholics in these countries were largely safe from physical threats and could worship more or less freely. However, they were banned from the professions, from matriculating to Oxford or Cambridge, from serving in the military, and from holding political office.

By the early 19th century, Catholics in Britain and Ireland had become so politically, socially, and culturally enfeebled that there was no longer any real point to penal laws. And so they were repealed by 1829. But they had done their work. Catholicism had been definitively reduced to a rump and what survived was ensured to be completely docile in every way possible.

This is the future of American religious conservatism. A Benedict Option is necessary to preserve what can be preserved. Yet it is important to admit that — like Catholic England in 1829 — Christian America will be but a faint memory by the time Rod’s children are drawing their first Social Security checks. We work today to make a difference by 2116.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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