Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Jul 3, 2015 |

Zmirak: Benedict? Or Benedict Arnold?

Zmirak: Benedict? Or Benedict Arnold?

Image source unknown; no ownership implied.

Image source unknown; no ownership implied.

Yesterday, we brought you Rod Dreher’s article for TIME magazine’s coverage of the “gay marriage” Supreme Court decision. In it he explains the “Benedict Option” he prescribes for all faithful Christians: withdrawal from public life. This excerpt from an opposing piece by writer John Zmirak ran on July 1st in The Stream, a daily online journal “championing freedom, smaller government, and human dignitiy,” where it was titled “The Benedict Option, or Benedict Arnold Option?” 

Last week, the Supreme Court redefined both liberty and marriage, and opened the door to punitive taxes, crippling lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against orthodox Christian churches, schools and hospitals. During President Hillary Clinton’s first 100 days in office, the U.S. would likely move toward a two-tier religious system, with faithful churches banished to the fringes of society along with the white supremacists. And the media will present it as progress: Love has won, now it’s time to shoot the prisoners.

That’s not the script for a paranoid, low-budget Christian film. It’s what many progressives plan. Pundits are already calling for the end of tax exemptions for churches — not on a fringe website, but in TIME magazine. That same magazine features a call by Rod Dreher for conservatives to drop our cooperation with Republican politicians who promise to protect us from persecution. Instead we should withdraw into apolitical enclaves of like-minded fellow believers and hope that the gay totalitarians and their fellow travelers decide to let our kids alone.

So is it time to give up, hide, and hope for the best? Should we throw down the weapons we still have, which God provided us? Shall we surrender America to the sex radicals, and leave our children with none of the liberty that we inherited from our parents? Is it moral to abandon our fellow citizens and neighbors to the ever-escalating demands of the secular culture of death? Is it time to dissolve all activist divisions of the pro-life movement, which has made so many strides, and accept that abortion on demand, for nine months, for any reason, will be legal here forever?

All of these outcomes would flow from the misnamed “Benedict Option,” favored by Dreher, who for years has advocated a sort of apolitical Christian separatism. I am not surprised that the same magazine that publishes a piece from a writer wanting to crush the churches with the tax code has given Dreher a venue to counsel surrender. Any conquering army hopes to sow defeatism in the enemy. Remember all those leaflets in Arabic we dropped on Saddam’s troops in 2003, promising good treatment and hefty rations for those who defected? Think of Marshal Petain’s appeal to the French Army in 1940 to throw down their guns and collaborate. The Germans were happy to broadcast it.

This is no time to back down. We still have legal options, including The First Amendment Defense Act, which would strip the federal government’s power to wield such penalties. A major candidate and big-state governor, Scott Walker, has called for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Court’s deranged decision. Christians retain political clout, in the upcoming Republican primaries. The candidates, as good politicians, are watching to see how much fight is left in America’s Christians: Will we make religious liberty a litmus test for our support? Will we set aside our differences on other issues — from national defense to immigration policy, from poverty programs to Obamacare — and unite as a powerful bloc in defense of our children’s freedom of faith? Some politicians, including Walker, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee, appear to be stepping out and offering to fight for us. Others, like Jeb Bush and Rand Paul, are kicking back and counting on our passivity and exhaustion.

Should We Find Some Hole to Hide In?

I understand battle fatigue. I started exercising Christian citizenship thirty-nine years ago, when at age 11, I rang doorbells collecting signatures for New York’s Right to Life Party. I have been active in one way or another ever since — earning ostracism at Yale for defying gay-rights groupthink; facing down most of my grad school professors across the picket line at an abortion clinic while one of them recorded each of our faces with a video camera; leading a successful fight (with a budget of $100) against a state-wide multiculturalist pro-gay brainwashing mandate for the entire LSU system; and so on, ever since. I am sure that many readers have similar stories to tell…

Read the rest here.


For more on religious freedom issues:

Click here for our Religious Liberty resources page. Click here to see all our previous stories and guest posts on religious liberty issues.

Click here for the USCCB’s resource page on the Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.

Click here to see all our current stories.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, please share it. To get local Catholic news, features and photos every day in your inbox, subscribe in the box at the top of every page or send a request to