12 October 2010

My Only Quibble is the Contention that a Vibrant American Catholicism Wouldn't Meet the Same Opposition Today

This op-ed comes from the LA Times:

When America feared and reviled Catholics



In the early 1900s, many Americans — from ordinary citizens to those in high office — were frightened by the perceived threat from the Roman Catholic Church. Their fear had tragic consequences.
 
By Sharon Davies

October 10, 2010


The mind-set is all too familiar: A radical religious group, lurking inside the country, owing loyalty to a foreign power, threatens America. No one denies that its members have a right to worship as they please, but good Americans, patriots, feel compelled to call for curbs against the menace they present. Because of the number of Americans sharing these fears, calls for restrictions on the religion are voiced openly and unapologetically, even proudly.



Today this description may bring to mind the flap over the proposed Islamic cultural center near ground zero in New York, or recent calls for greater restrictions on Muslims in America, like banning their service on the Supreme Court or in the Oval Office. But in fact, it describes the year 1920, when the reviled group was Roman Catholics, not Muslims. As Mark Twain once quipped, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.


In the early 1900s, many Americans were genuinely frightened by the perceived religious threat of the Roman Catholic Church and the suspected imperialistic intentions of its leader, the pope. He was plotting the overthrow of the United States, warned the fearful, to "make America Catholic." His foot soldiers, tens of thousands of Catholic men who called themselves the Knights of Columbus, were busily stockpiling arms and ammunition in the basements of their churches, all in preparation for the day when their papist leader would give the signal for the violent insurrection to begin.


The holders of such beliefs were not just some fringe crazies safely outnumbered by their clear-eyed, religiously tolerant neighbors. To the contrary, widely popular, openly anti-Catholic literature spilled from newsstands across the country, newspapers like Sen. Tom Watson's Jeffersonian out of Atlanta and the Menace of Aurora, Mo., whose subscriptions dwarfed those of the largest newspapers in New York City and Chicago combined. Elections were won on promises to oust Catholics from positions of public trust. Only "true Americans" should hold such positions, went the warning, not Catholics who were loyal first to their religious leader in Rome.



A number of state legislatures were persuaded to take steps against the perceived threat as well, mirroring the anti-Catholic fear in their "convent inspection laws." These laws, little remembered today, authorized the warrantless searches of Catholic buildings — convents, monasteries, rectories and churches — for weaponry and for young women supposedly seduced into the nunnery by Catholic lies.



Religious fear on this scale had fatal consequences. Eighty-nine years ago in Birmingham, Ala., in the midst of this simmering anti-Catholic atmosphere, Father James E. Coyle was brutally slain. Coyle, a native of Ireland, had been sent to the United States to begin his priesthood. When he dared to stand up in defense of his faith, federal agents warned the bishop in Mobile about death threats on Coyle's life and pledges to torch his Birmingham church.


Such threats were not idle. During this same period, the popularity of the Ku Klux Klan exploded after it rebranded itself a "patriotic" fraternal organization dedicated to safeguarding America against the threat of Catholics, Jews and the immigrants flooding the country in unprecedented numbers. This new Klan attracted some of "the best men in town" — doctors, lawyers, judges, law enforcement officers, even clergymen.


On Aug. 11, 1921, one of those men — a Methodist minister, the Rev. Edwin R. Stephenson — brought a loaded gun to the porch of Coyle's home and shot him dead in front of a street full of witnesses. About an hour earlier, the priest had committed the apparently unforgivable act of marrying Stephenson's 18-year-old daughter to a practicing Catholic wallpaper hanger of Puerto Rican descent.


The KKK quickly circled its wagons around its initiate, raising funds for Stephenson's defense and hiring his lead attorney, a young future Supreme Court justice, Hugo Black. Black, it was hoped, might persuade a Southern jury to see Stephenson as the community's champion rather than a bigoted killer. Articles published in the Menace throughout the trial pounded the same theme, pitting one of the most potent worries of the day against justice itself. You can guess the outcome.

Stephenson walked out of the courthouse a free man, and he never so much as apologized. Black joined the Klan himself 18 months later and, with its support, was elected to the U.S. Senate. Only years later did he calmly state that he did not share the Klan's beliefs and was no longer a member, after a reporter revealed his membership as he prepared to take his seat on the Supreme Court. Black survived the ensuing scandal.

[...]


The anti-Catholic fever of the 1920s was not a regional story; it was an American story, extending north, east and west, casting Catholics as second-class citizens for decades. It didn't truly end for another 40 years, when presidential candidate John F. Kennedy felt compelled to say directly that his allegiance was to the United States, not the pope. Today, the worst of the anti-Catholic fervor might simply be an embarrassment, were the consequences less dire and were there not so many signs that we haven't learned from our mistakes.

12 comments:

MP said...

This silly author might open her eyes to see that there is absolutely no commparison between the radical Muslims who use their mosques to recruit terrorists and commit numerous terrorist acts around the world, including the attack on our WTC, the sight in which they now wish to build their monument of conquest and Catholicism.

There is absolutely NO persecution or precaution taken against Muslims in our country - on the contrary they are embraced, lauded over as such a harmless, peaceful religion. If it was Catholics who have been blowing up people, we would be rounded up and drawn and quartered. Oh yeah, that was England.

Fenian said...

I would argue that anti-Catholicism did not end after JFK's election, it simply took on a new form.

Where at one time it was the bigotry of nativists, it is now the bigotry of the left.

I would recommend the book, 'The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice' by Philip Jenkins, to anyone interested in this subject. He is a professor of history and an episcopalian. He makes a very powerful argument about how anti-Catholicism is a socially acceptable prejudice and how it is perpetrated by those who carry the banner of 'tolerance'.

Peggy said...

Somewhat relatedly, a Muslim defender of the Ground Zero mosque said to the light-skinned non-threatening young black CNN anchor that this treatment of Muslims was like making blacks go to the back of the bus. To his credit, Don Lemon protested and said oh, no. Blacks didn't kill 3000 Americans. Neither blacks nor Catholics, nor Chinese, German, Italian (mob and small gangs aside), etc., ever posed the threat to American lives, property and principles as does Islam.

X said...

"Blacks didn't kill 3000 Americans. Neither blacks nor Catholics, nor Chinese, German, Italian (mob and small gangs aside), etc., ever posed the threat to American lives, property and principles as does Islam."

I think that beam has gone right through your eye and into your brain. The Anglo-American empires have been raping, pillaging and plundering the Muslim world for nearly 200 years now. The death toll is easily in the tens of millions. The Muslim world, with the exception of our "ally" Pakistan, does not posses a single nuclear weapon, China has thousands.
Exactly which American "principles" are threatened by Islam? Is it abortion on demand, rampant pornography, stealing from the workers to give to the shirkers, wealth without responsibility, privilege without merit, Ritalin in every lunchbox, Viagra in every pillbox, taxes without limit or war without end amen?

Anonymous said...

Exactly which American
"Principles" are threatened by Islam?
Here's one for you; how about human rights, specifically that of women. One example is how a woman who has been raped is treated by the community. It is well known that the woman is treated as the criminal and is put to death by stoning. They are of the opinion that a woman raped is really an evil temptress causing a man to be unable to control his sexual desires and therefore he is the victim.

StGuyFawkes said...

Correspondent "X" and I rarely agree but let me point out how correct he is about one thing in his last post.

The growth of Islam is caused largely by the unequivocal clarity of the Moslem voice on the social issues of today.

Billions of souls are soul weary of the slut-glut of our pornography, the Jabba-the-hut spread of our ostentious wealth built on usury, and the criminality of abortion on demand.

Add to this the abuse of the natural female form which adorns the advertisment for every trivial product coming off the he assembly line and it's no wonder whole cultures look upon the modesty of the veil with respect.

If a re-vitalized Catholicism could make inroads against these evils no Islamic would need apply to convert our souls.

They have the veil, we have the mantilla, they forbid alcohol, we used to have reasonable blue laws.
We have stripped ourselves of every tool to defeat them.

As long as the West keeps killing babies, undraping women for sport, and calling evil things civil rights Islam will grow, and grow and grow. Why? It fills a hole in the soul of secular society.

Sharia is harsh and suffocating. But it is the price the West pays for divorcing their code of statutes from natural law.

Anonymous said...

X said...

"Exactly which American "principles" are threatened by Islam?"

OMG, you sound like that Bishop Williamson of the SSPX. I guess it's all the Jews? Why don't you live in Switzerland where the SSPX are hiding Bishop Williamson!

thetimman said...

Anonymous at 15:13,

I posted your comment so I could respond to it, but I did so with reservations. First, X said nothing about the Jews, and I reread his comment several times to see whether it remotely approached anything which could lead you to make your comment. I did not find anything that justified the conclusory response you posted. He didn't mention Jews. He didn't mention Bishop Williamson (who resides in Britain, I think) or the SSPX.

In other words, you seem to be posting a respnonse to a comment that was not actually made. I will not let this discussion devolve to a blanket accusation party. If you take the comment of X to be anti-semitic, I think you need to relax.

Pax.

Peggy said...

Ok X,

I'll bite as well.

How about political, religious and economic liberty? That's what I see are underlying significant American "principles" of governance and society. Islam does not stand for these. They do not stand for human rights; they are brutal to criminals and sinners. They are horrific in their treatment of women.

As St. Guy pointed out, yes, our moral failings in many areas have made us vulnerable and very weak against Islam.

Why is it that America is not allowed to have ANY virtues or positive traits as a society or nation because of the destructive sinful natures that segments of our society engage in--& which other segments of society seek to overcome?

Latinmassgirl said...

X,

To claim that Muslims are pro-life and can claim moral superiority over our us is just ludicrous.

Renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1895, "Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a "religion"; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views."

The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists,. . . points out that "Islam is primarily a legal system, a law, rather than a religion"

Non-Muslims (i.e. Christians) are called Kafit and do not have equal protection under Shariah.

In 199 references to Jihad, were followed by, "in the path of Allah." Mohammed said, "The person who participates in (Holy Battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise (if he is killed)" (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, No. 35)

"Mohammed fought 66 battles/raids, slaughtering the innocent, even those who would surrender. "In 627, Mohammed attacked a Jewish tribe, Banu Quarayza. Ibn Ishaq described what followed: "the apostle went out to the market of Medina and dug trenches in it, then struck off their heads in those trenches. . . There were 700 Jews beheaded by Mohammed's orders that day."

The first 2 million people killed by the Muslims, over the past 20 years in the Southern Sudan were black Christians and Animists but the media only reported the last four years of roughly 100 thousand Muslims killed in Darfur.

True practicing Muslims wish to conquer the world through the excuse of Jihad, regardless of people's holiness and virtue. We must all be Muslim or we must die. Don't even claim that they respect life!!!!

P.S. The convent/orphanage that I spoke with, whose name I can't even mention for fear for their lives, pick up abandoned Muslim babies and children off the streets. So they may not abort them, but there is no respect for their lives either.

Latinmassgirl said...

X,

To claim that Muslims are pro-life and can claim moral superiority over us is just ludicrous.

Renowned Oxford historian J.M. Roberts wrote in 1895, "Although we carelessly speak of Islam as a "religion"; that word carries many overtones of the special history of western Europe. The Muslim is primarily a member of a community, the follower of a certain way, an adherent to a system of law, rather than someone holding particular theological views."

The Flemish Professor Urbain Vermeulen, the former president of the European Union of Arabists and Islamicists,. . . points out that "Islam is primarily a legal system, a law, rather than a religion"

Non-Muslims (i.e. Christians) are called Kafit and do not have equal protection under Shariah.

In 199 references to Jihad, were followed by, "in the path of Allah." Mohammed said, "The person who participates in (Holy Battles) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostle will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to paradise (if he is killed)" (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 1, No. 35)

Continued, see next post. . .

Latinmassgirl said...

Continued from previous post. . .

"Mohammed fought 66 battles/raids, slaughtering the innocent, even those who would surrender. "In 627, Mohammed attacked a Jewish tribe, Banu Quarayza. Ibn Ishaq described what followed: "the apostle went out to the market of Medina and dug trenches in it, then struck off their heads in those trenches. . . There were 700 Jews beheaded by Mohammed's orders that day."

The first 2 million people killed by the Muslims, over the past 20 years in the Southern Sudan were black Christians and Animists but the media only reported the last four years of roughly 100 thousand Muslims killed in Darfur.

True practicing Muslims wish to conquer the world through the excuse of Jihad, regardless of people's holiness and virtue. Don't even claim they respect life!!!!

P.S. The convent/orphanage that I spoke with, whose name I can't even mention for fear for their lives, pick up abandoned Muslim babies off the streets. So they may not abort them, but there is no respect for their lives.