The utility and morality of orthodox Christian social beliefs can be debated. But according to Christian teaching, it is licit, perhaps even mandatory, to withdraw and walk away—“shake the dust off your feet”—rather than violate one’s conscience or become corrupted by the world.
We’ve all heard of the idea of a general worker’s strike. In her tome Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand posed a provocative question. What if, in response to an increasingly overbearing regulatory state, the entrepreneurs of America decided to go on strike?
The resulting 1000 pages, if you can get through them, constitute one of the most creative, if overwrought, dystopias ever envisioned. Society’s producers quietly disappear, enclosed in their own hidden capitalist utopia, while innovation grinds to a halt, intellectual property languishes, and overconfident, arrogant bureaucrats run world-class factories into the ground. When all’s said and done, all that was required to liberate America’s unappreciated geniuses and creators was for them to walk away and leave society to pick up the pieces.
American Christians may find themselves in a position closer to John Galt than to Saint Benedict, with apologies to Rod Dreher. Many of the services Americans take for granted are provided by churches and Christian organizations. It is not hyperbolic to say that core areas of American life would languish or collapse without the contributions of Christian people and organizations. These enormous social contributions are frequently underappreciated, but would certainly be missed.
Perhaps the most important is health care. John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, wrote in an article titled “No Christianity, No Hospitals: Don’t Take Christian Contributions for Granted”:
One in six hospital beds in our country is located in a Catholic hospital. In at least thirty communities, the Catholic hospital is the only hospital in a 35-mile radius. This doesn’t even take into account hospitals run by other Christian bodies such as Baptists, Methodists, and especially Seventh-Day Adventists.
Catholic hospitals are the largest single category within non-profit hospitals, which themselves account for about half of all hospitals.
Christians also run thousands of private schools that often meet or exceed the quality of public schools; a full 70 percent of all private schools are either Catholic or affiliated with another religion, generally some form of Protestantism (a much smaller percentage of these are Jewish or run by a non-Abrahamic religion).