Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Anti-Catholicism in the United States



"John Highham described anti-Catholic bigotry as "the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history".
Bigotry against the Roman Catholic Church and its followers, which was prominent in the United Kingdom from the seventeenth century onwards, was exported to the United States.
Two types of anti-Catholic rhetoric existed in colonial society. The first, derived from the heritage of the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars of the sixteenth century, consisted of the "Anti-Christ" and the "Whore of Babylon" variety and dominated anti-Catholic thought until the late seventeenth century. The second was a more secular variety which focused on the supposed intrigue of the Roman Catholics intent on extending medieval despotism worldwide.

Harvard professor and historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. characterized prejudice against the Catholics as "the deepest bias in the history of the American people" and Yale professor Peter Viereck once commented that "Catholic baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals"....
Anti-Catholic animus in the United States reached a peak in the nineteenth century when the Protestant population became alarmed by the influx of Roman Catholic immigrants. The resulting "nativist" movement, which achieved prominence in the 1840s, was whipped into a frenzy of anti-Catholicism that led to mob violence, the burning of Roman Catholic property, and the killing of Roman Catholics.
This violence was fed by claims that Catholics were destroying the culture of the United States. Irish Catholic immigrants were blamed for raising the taxes of the country as well as spreading violence and disease. The nativist movement found expression in a national political movement called the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s, which (unsuccessfully) ran former president Millard Fillmore as its presidential candidate in 1856. Similar sentiment was also manifested in the Ku Klux Klan. The case of the murder of Father James Coyle, although also motivated by ethnic bigotry, was a prime example of anti-Catholic violence in the US.

In 1834, lurid tales of sexual slavery and infanticide in convents prompted the burning of an Ursuline convent in Charlestown, Mass., setting off nearly two decades of violence against Catholics. The resulting anti-Catholic riots (which included the burning of churches), were largely centered in the major urban centers of the country and led to the creation of the nativist Know-Nothing Party in 1854, whose platform included a straightforward condemnation of the Catholic Church.

By 1850 Catholics had become the country’s largest single religious denomination. And between 1860 and 1890 the population of Catholics in the United States tripled through immigration; by the end of the decade it would reach seven million. This influx, largely Irish and Italian, which would eventually bring increased political power for the Catholic Church and a greater cultural presence, led at the same time to a growing fear of the Catholic "menace." The American Protective Association, for example, formed in Iowa in 1887, sponsored popular countrywide tours of supposed ex-priests and "escaped" nuns, who concocted horrific tales of mistreatment and abuse.

As the nineteenth century wore on animosity waned, Protestant Americans realized that Roman Catholics were not trying to seize control of the government. Nonetheless, fears continued into the twentieth century that there was too much "Catholic influence" on the government, and presidents who met with the pope were criticized.....
By the beginning of the 20th century, approximately one-sixth of the population of the United States was Catholic. Nevertheless, the powerful influence of groups like the Ku Klux Klan and other nativist organizations were typical of still-potent anti-Catholic sentiments.
During the 20th century, suspicion of the political aims and agenda of the Roman Catholic Church have been revived several times.

In 1928 the presidential candidacy of Al Smith was greeted with a fresh wave of anti-Catholic hysteria that contributed to his defeat. (It was widely rumored at the time that with the election of Mr. Smith the pope would take up residence in the White House and Protestants would find themselves stripped of their citizenship.)

In 1949, Paul Blanshard's book American Freedom and Catholic Power portrayed the Roman Catholic Church as an anti-democratic force hostile to freedom of speech and religion, eager to impose itself on the United States by boycott and subterfuge

As Charles R. Morris noted in his recent book American Catholic, the real mainstreaming of the church did not occur until the 1950’s and 1960’s, when educated Catholics—sons and daughters of immigrants—were finally assimilated into the larger culture. Even so, John F. Kennedy was confronted during his 1960 presidential campaign with old anti-Catholic biases. He eventually felt compelled to address explicitly concerns of his supposed "allegiance" to the Pope. Many Protestant leaders, such as Norman Vincent Peale, publicly opposed the candidacy because of Kennedy’s religion. And after the election, survey research by political scientists found that Kennedy had indeed lost votes because of his religion.
Although most historians have argued that Kennedy's election eliminated anti-Catholic bias as a major factor in American life, it should be noted that, while several Catholics have been nominated for President, no Catholic has been elected President of the United States since Kennedy in 1960.

Twenty-first century
Philip Jenkins, an Episcopalian historian, in The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN 0-19-515480-0) maintains that some people who otherwise avoid offending members of racial, religious, ethnic or gender groups have no reservations about venting their hatred of Catholics." (Source: Wikipedia; cited above).

17 comments:

Dale said...

Paul, Victoria is once again attempting to justify her own anti-Catholicism and that of the Cohen Center at Keene State. Here is my reply posted at the Keene Sentinel Blog


"Victoria wrote, "There has been quite a lot of comments regarding the Cohen Center and what is perceived by some to be it's anti-Catholicism. I would like to refer to one posted by Dale on 12/6/07. He references the words of David Kochman which were posted on 8/9/07 on sbcwatch. Mr. Kochman denounced anti-Catholicism as he did anti-Semitism. The reason I bring this up is because David Kochman is on the Cohen Center Advisory Board. I trust his words ring true for all at the Cohen Center.
Furthermore, if any of you who accuse had participated in the Teach In at the Cohen Center, you would know first hand that your accusations bear absolutely no merit whatsoever. I spoke with a friend earlier today and he bumped into Mrs. Cohen in Keene right after the Teach In. My friend said she was at the event and that she was extremely pleased. I am really glad she was able to see the good coming out of the center named for her family."

But it is her defense of the anti-Catholic Cohen Center which has no merit. Victoria (and other anti-Catholic persons associated with the Cohen Center)still hasn't responded in any way to the legitimate concerns of Catholics. There has been no response to Catholic concern over Mr. Henry Knight's offensive accusation that Church teaching has been anti-Semitic, there has been no response from Victoria as to why her and her husband initially attempted to equate Ave Maria University and Town with the SBC or why they posted the offensive anti-Catholic quote at SBC Watch referring to "monkish ignorance and superstition" and a priesthood which is always in alliance with "the despot." There has been no explanation as to what HOLO 254 teaches students when it examines "connections between the Holocaust and present-day manifestations of homophobia."

Victoria has made the claim that she is a practicing Catholic but speaks of "theocracy" and "homophobia." The latter being a semantic weapon as Paul has explained - as well as a word designed to silence opposition to homosexuality.

No Victoria, I do still commend David Kochman. But I (and many others) reject the anti-Catholicism which is so obviously part and parcel of the Cohen Center. Keep telling people that you're concerned about "theocracy" Victoria. Paul's post in which he quotes Dr. David Carlin demonstrates just how silly your concerns are:

Separation of church and state: Nothing but dust...

"David Carlin is a lifelong Democrat. From 1981 to 1992, he served as a Rhode Island state senator, serving as senate majority leader in 1989 and 1990. In 1992 he was his district's Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. For more than twenty years, Mr. Carlin has been a professor of philosophy and sociology at the Community College of Rhode Island.

In his book entitled "Can a Catholic Be a Democrat: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion," he writes:

"..an excuse that appeals to the 'separation of church and state' seems to be among the silliest rationales for a Catholic's support of the secularized Democratic Party. This separation, so we're told, is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, and it prohibits the intrusion of religion into the affairs of government. Yet the First Amendment says nothing about keeping religion out of government; it's concerned instead with keeping government out of religion. Its two religion 'clauses' say (1) that there will be no 'establishment of religion' and (2) that there will be no interference with the 'free exercise' of religion. That's it: government must keep its hands off religion; nothing about religion keeping its hands off government.

However, it should be considered that in writing the religion section of the First Amendment, the framers were no doubt remembering the history of England and how the government of that nation, from the time of Henry VIII until what was then the present day (the 1780's), established a national religion and interfered with the free exercise of dissenting religions. This was a case of government controlling religion, but at the same time it was a case of religion controlling government. That is to say, government persecuted, or at least discriminated against, all religions other than the Church of England, but one of the main reasons it did so was because the Church of England, both through its bishops and its lay members, had tremendous influence over government (only members of the Church of England could serve in Parliament or government). In other words, in its competition with other churches, not to mention its competition with outright infidelity, the Church of England used government to put down the church's rivals.

This is the kind of thing people, many of them Catholics, have in mind when they say that advocating laws against abortion or same-sex marriage violates the principle of separation of church and state. They fear that an alliance of conservative churches might someday gain enough governmental power to impose religious values on everybody else, non-believers included. This is what they mean when they speak, as they often do, of the looming danger of 'theocracy.' Behind the moral-conservative political activism of Christian churches they see would-be theocrats, or 'dominionists,' who want to take over America, stamp out abortion, subjugate women, drive homosexuals back into the closet, and enact other items allagedly on the agenda of the Religious Right. Yet this would be clearly un-American, violating the philosophical, religious, and moral pluralism that has long been, and should be, characteristic of the United States.

One obvious and oft-given answer is this: few liberals have made similar objections to the modern civil-rights movement, which was in large measure inspired by religion and based on churches. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Protestant minister - even, it might be said, a Christian martyr. Are the objectors ready to say that the great legislative fruits of this religio-political movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, are illegitimate, that they're instances of the imposition of theocratic values? Will they say that the spirit of American 'pluralism' demanded that the pro-segregation values of the KKK and other racists should have been respected? Of course not. And so it appears that what's at stake for these people isn't a matter of principle (separation of church and state) but a matter of policy. Some policies they like )e.g., civil rights legislation), and some they dislike (e.g., laws restricting abortion). A religion-driven politics is okay when it produces laws they like, but it's very naughty when it produces laws they don't like. And so we may conclude (may we not?) that all this talk about the separation of church and state is nothing but dust they throw in people's eyes." (Can a Catholic Be a Democrat: How the Party I Loved Became the Enemy of My Religion, pp. 129-131, Sophia Institute Press, 2006)."

Susan said...

I agree with Philip Jenkins. Anti-Catholicism is the "last acceptable prejudice." I used to be criticized at work all the time because of my Catholic Faith. I don't think those Americans who hate Catholics - and the hate is usually very subtle - even recognize their own anti-Catholic bias. Most likely because Hollywood and the secular media are constantly making movies and other forms of "entertainment" which ridicule the Church and her teaching. Films such as "Dogma," "The Da Vinci Code," "Superstar," "The Golden Compass" etc. The list is almost endless. Hatred of Catholics has become institutionalized in America. Ridiculing Catholics and attacking the Catolic Church is almost a national pastime.

Susan said...

David Kochman was dead-on right Dale. Ave Maria should not be equated with the SBC. Anti-Catholics hate Ave Maria. This is not the first time Ave Maria has come under attack and it won't be the last. Be assured of that. Some would have us believe that ALL Catholics are like the pseudo-Catholics of the SBC: promoting anti-Semitism, denying the Holocaust, and looking to close down the public schools, place homosexuals in jail [Eugene De Lalla's gem) and install a "Theocracy" and "impose" our "religious-right" fanaticism on the Western democracies.

I shiver when I think what sort of image these people have of us: I can see them comparing us with Mr. Bookman chastising Jerry Seinfeld for never returning "Tropic of Cancer" and angrily pointing a finger as he accuses him of being a "funny boy."

Yeah boy, when I'm not celebrating Mass once a week at my lovely parish, I'm meeting with co-religionists (all members of the "Religious Right") and conspiring to take over Western Democracy so that we may impose our religious beliefs on the entire free-world. In fact, we wear brown-shirts and sport short moustaches (even the women) and walk in goose-step.

Yep, we Catholics are a real threat to the American way of life. And how dare we even contemplate creating a University and Town where we can practice our Catholic Faith without the ACLU telling us how evil we are and attempting to banish any and all public expression of Christian faith while still welcoming those who aren't Catholic.

Read here:http://fumare.blogspot.com/2007/08/judge-targeted-for-hiring-ave-maria-law.html

Expect Ave Maria to keep coming under attack.

Stephen said...

And it's only getting worse. The winds of persecution are increasing in strength. I think it's only a matter of time before laws legitimizing persecution of Catholics are adopted in America.

Brian said...

The fact that someone who is so involved with the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies has been critical of the Catholic League and at the same time has affiliated himself with Talk To Action is damning. Clearly, Pete Majoy is more concerned with attacking the Catholic Church than with opposing anti-Semitism. It is my sense that he is an ideologue and not someone primarily concerned with anti-Semitism. The Catholic League has done, and continues to do, so much good. But Pete Majoy apparently cannot see this. Blinded by ideology, all he sees from the Catholic Church is a threat to his own agenda. Pity.

Carrie said...

Brian, exactly WHEN has Peter Majoy been critical of the Catholic League? Could you point us in that direction, please? Mr. Majoy and the Provosts are FAR from anti-Catholic. None of you know them, so therefore, don't even know what you're talking about. If you're going to accuse, then please have something to back it up. Thank you, I think........

Brian said...

Carrie, you wrote: "Brian, exactly WHEN has Peter Majoy been critical of the Catholic League? Could you point us in that direction, please? Mr. Majoy and the Provosts are FAR from anti-Catholic. None of you know them, so therefore, don't even know what you're talking about. If you're going to accuse, then please have something to back it up. Thank you, I think........"

I will happily point out exactly when Peter Majoy was critical of the Catholic League. At the comments section of the Cohen Center blog he posted a link to a slanderous article at the Talk to Action website which is very critical of the Catholic League.

As for the Provosts, have you been following the discussion at the Sentinel blog? The Provosts posted some rather hateful anti-Catholic items at their blog.

Shouldn't all forms of discrimination be denounced Carrie?

Susan said...

You have to wonder why the Provosts refuse to answer Dale's questions over at the Keene Sentinel Blog. That they would compare Ave Maria with the SBC is very unsettling. But all their talk of "theocracy" is even more cause for concern. Do the Provosts view the Catholic Church as trying to impose its tenets on Americans? If not, why were they so concerned about Ave Maria? And why no statement regarding the offensive quote from Jefferson? Why was it posted? Do they share this view? The Provosts have chosen not to publish some remarks which they said were inappropriate. Why then publish anti-Catholic comments? Carrie?

Dale said...

Posted at the Keene Sentinel Blog:

If Keene State College isn't anti-Catholic, why has the student newspaper, The Equinox, published an article titled "Town residents express concern about Catholic group"? The article may be found here: www.keeneequinox.com/news/2007/12/06/News/Town-Residents.Express.Concern.About.Catholic.Group-3137245.shtml

The Diocese has stated quite clearly that the SBC has "no affiliation" with either the Diocese or the Roman Catholic Church. So why is that publication attempting to convince students that the SBC (which is anti-Semitic) is "Catholic." Clearly, this is an attempt to portray Catholicism as being somehow "anti-Semitic." And such an approach is truly reprehensible besides being dishonest.

To "Ya Right," (funny how the anonymous names continue to multiply), I owe no one an apology. I do not apologize for believing what my Church teaches: that homosexual ACTS are gravely sinful from an objective standpoint. What I don't sink to (and what a shame that you cannot see the difference) is attacking someone's belief system. Unlike you, I don't believe one can condemn anti-Semitism with any credibility while denigrating another faith tradition: in this case Catholicism.

Keene State College, the Cohen Center and SBC Watch owe people of the community an apology for engaging in anti-Catholicism.

Roger Vaste said...

Response to Mr. Pete Majoy:


To Mr. Pete Majoy:

"It might interest you to know that Daniel Dreisbach agrees fully with Dr. David Carlin. Daniel Dreisbach is a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University in Washington, D.C., and the editor of Religion and Political Culture in Jefferson's Virginia (2000) and Religion and Politics in the Early Republic (1996).

As noted here: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com/2007/08/thomas-jefferson-and-wall-of.html:

"In his latest book, Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State, Daniel Dreisbach exposes the history of the wall metaphor and argues that the wall is rooted in anti-Catholicism and the fear of religious influence in public life."

As Dr. Carlin has noted, "..the First Amendment says nothing about keeping religion out of government; it's concerned instead with keeping government out of religion. Its two religion 'clauses' say (1) that there will be no 'establishment of religion' and (2) that there will be no interference with the 'free exercise' of religion. That's it: government must keep its hands off religion; nothing about religion keeping its hands off government."

There is really nothing to debate here. The First Amendment says nothing about keeping religion out of government."

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

An individual calling himself "Jackson" has twice attempted to leave a comment at this thread which was so obviously an attempt to imply something negative about my person. For this reason, I didn't post the comments.

I will, however, answer "his" question by pointing him to the film Black Rain where cops Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia call one another "babe." Likewise, Michael Keaton in some of his movies uses the term in a cutesy way without it making him an effete.

Lastly, George Herman Ruth (February 6, 1895 - August 16, 1948), one of the greatest baseball players of all time, was popularly known by millions - and still is - as "Babe" Ruth.

Nice try "Jackson." Back to the drawing board huh?

Roger Vaste said...

Paul, good for you! Since "Jackson" is so bothered by your use of the word "babe" on one occasion (which you employed in a mildly sarcastic way) maybe we can infer that he is havng doubts about his own sexuality?

Matlee said...

I wonder if "Jackson" is the same guy from the SBC who wanted to throw homosexuals into jail Paul? Could be that Roger has hit the nail on the head, whoever this "Jackson" is, he is probably struggling with his own fears of being homosexual or effeminate. At any rate, "Jackson" should consider what you wrote to Sanctus Belle (a woman) at the comments section here:

http://lasalettejourney.
blogspot.com/2007/11/maximilian-saint-of-auschwitz.html

You said to her: "By the way, caught your photos at your Blog. You really are a looker....you French girls..." I remember this because it was posted at your Blog article dealing with my favorite Saint Maximilian Kolbe.

So I'm not concerned about your sexuality Paul. I do think that "Jackson" is struggling with his own though.

Susan said...

David Kochman [a board member of the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies] was right when he said that, "I think that individual critics of SBC have drifted into making anti-Catholic statements. For instance, I absolutely couldn't understand why Ave Maria was being discussed or why Thomas Jefferson was being quoted by opponents of SBC. As such, I think that it is imperative to make it clear that anti-Catholicism is just as disgusting as anti-Semitism. Catholics, Jews, and other people of good will should be allies here, not enemies."

Russell Provost obviously didn't share this view and simply made excuses for posting the anti-Catholic hate at his Blog. Now he is shutting his Blog down (for the most part) and refers to the tidal wave of criticism for his having posted the hateful anti-Catholic quote which Tom Matson offered but makes no mention of how he tried to equate Ave Maria University with the SBC.

Russell Provosts agenda, like that of the SBC, has been exposed. Sadly, it seems that he was motivated not by good will but by hatred of Catholicism.

carrie said...

Unfortunately, Susan, you don't know the Provosts as I do. They are BOTH far from anti-Catholic, but I'm sure that you won't take my word for it, as you don't know me either and I, too, am far from anti-Catholic.

Susan said...

Carrie, how then do you explain their comparing Ave Maria University with the SBC? And what was the deal with that quote from Thomas Jefferson? How is that quote NOT anti-Catholic?

Louis Villarrubia said that the Jews "undermine public morality" and SBC Watch jumped all over that hateful quote. And you don't find the Jefferson quote to be hateful? How is that Carrie? We are reasonable people here. Can you explain? How is it bad when Jews are insulted but "okay" when Catholics are the target?

Matlee said...

The anti-Catholicism of the Cohen Center and SBC Watch have now been very well documented. Just as SBC members denied their anti-Semitism, so now activists associated with the Cohen Center and SBC Watch are denying their anti-Catholicism. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Notice how as soon as Catholics protested the anti-Catholicism of the Cohen Center and SBC Watch, "Richmond Rising" exhorted people not to visit La Salette Journey any more? And suddenly these people - with the exception of Carrie - stopped visiting this Blog.

Maybe Carrie would also like to explain why the Provosts published a slander of Paul at their Blog?

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