The writer of the story below attempts to connect presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent anti-Muslim rabble rousing with American anti-Catholic sentiment in the early 20th-century.
But let’s take a step back and see if there might be a bit more to the story than Mr. Pierce is letting on.
Sure, there was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment in this country going all the way back to its Plymouth and Jamestown roots. Some of it was extreme and even violent. But what precipitated the intolerance? Did it just appear out of thin air as Pierce seems to imply or were there very real historical forces that helped shape national opinion?
Protestant settlers to this country were mindful of the Catholic church’s very heavy-handed ecclesiastical despotism in European religious and political history. Anyone remember the Crusades? The Inquisition? Following the Reformation, Jesuits operated in Protestant nations, sometimes clandestinely, with the determined goal of returning those countries to the fold of Catholicism. Popes continued to insist upon their allegedly God-given right to suppress all “schismatics” and “heretics” in alliance with civil governments where Catholics were in the majority. Popes also condemned democratic forms of government and the constitutional right of freedom of religion. See information on Pope Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors (1864) here. What were American Protestants supposed to think when they read those proclamations?
Intolerance and sometimes violent persecution of non-Catholic minorities was standard practice in Catholic countries and continued right up into the 20th century in such places as Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy, inter-war Poland, Vichy France, and Pavelic’s Croatia. Anti-Protestantism was also widespread throughout Latin America, fueled by falangist clerico-fascism. See my previous blog here. Also, for a recent report of lingering Catholic intolerance in Mexico see here.
No, I don’t condone or support hatred of any group of peoples but to suggest anti-Catholic sentiment in America appeared out of thin air as Pierce would have us believe is irresponsible, drive-by, two-dimensional journalism meant to elicit an unsophisticated, rah-rah response.
Evidently, it’s politically incorrect to bring up a millennia’s worth of deadly Catholic intolerance but it’s okay to bring up the sometimes-less-than-benevolent Protestant reaction.
A century ago, a popular Missouri newspaper demonized a religious minority: Catholics
by Matt Pierce