The silent majority?

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You have more than likely heard the phrase: ‘the silent majority’ more than once.  We use it every time something happens that is so preposterous that we automatically assume that the action was taken by someone so out of touch with the rest of the world, and that there is no way the majority of people could possibly agree with such a thing.

American Christians especially like to use the phrase ‘the silent majority’ when the courts or lawmakers enact things that are contrary to the Christian faith, such as abortion or gay marriage.  Because we disagree with the matter, we immediately assume most others do to, and so we say that ‘the silent majority’ will not remain silent forever.

But ask yourself this question: when has the majority ever been silent on anything?  If the majority of people in a stadium disagree with an official’s call, they are anything but silent.  If the majority of people disapprove of one candidate over the other, they are never silent.  If the majority of people act out loud enough and long enough, they always get their way.

Whatever the majority of people want at any given time, they always get; that is after all the very definition of a majority: you have the loudest voice, you have the most say, you get to decide what happens going forward.

There is no such thing as a silent majority.  The minority may kick and scream and make a lot of noise, but the minority only gets what the majority decides to give them.

What does this mean?  It means that when it comes to gay marriage, there is no silent majority sitting at home steaming over the issue.  The only people who care, are devout, traditional, conservative Christians, i.e. some Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists; and they are not in the majority.

It means that on the issue of abortion, the minority is vocal and loud and kicks and screams once a year at the pro-life march, and occasionally in state legislatures, but they are the minority voice again.  Want proof?  Look at the birth rate.  Most people may not be sucking their children out of the womb with a vacuum cleaner, but neither are they embracing the gift of life in their own homes by having more than one or two children.

I write this as I am currently reading Out of the Ashes by Anthony Esolen and am about to read The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher.  What do they have in common?  Both books are centered on the idea that there is no silent majority of Christians who are quietly living their lives repulsed by the society around them; rather, there is a minority of Christians who are watching society crumble around them, and are preparing for a new dark ages.

Majorities are never silent; that is the very opposite of what it means to be in the majority.  To speak of ‘the silent majority’ is to speak of a fairy tale that exists only in your own imagination.  The reality is that the majority has spoken quite clearly: it doesn’t give a damn.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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