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Friday, March 15, 2013

Are Protestants Addressing Anti-Catholic Bigotry?

Two lynched Italian immigrants, Florida, 1910
Source: Without Sanctuary Website. This is photo 6

Like many Catholics, I have been chatting on facebook about the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy.

Last night, in a friend's discussion thread, I came across numerous posts from one Dan Smith that denigrated Catholics and Catholicism.

I visited Mr. Smith's facebook page, which included a link to an online "sincere question," "I am Catholic. Why should I consider becoming a Christian?" and to a facebook page called "The Voice of Truth" that included posts that equate Catholicism with Satan.

Dan Smith is probably not an influential person. His posts included non-standard spelling, including "vurse" for "verse" and "cathoism" for "Catholicism."

I mention Dan Smith because he is the anti-Catholic bigot I confronted yesterday. I've confronted many more. I've been told I can't be hired as full-time faculty at a "Christian" college because I am Catholic. Interestingly, this same institution hires Catholics as adjuncts. Catholics can influence students at this school; they just cannot enjoy the perquisites of fulltime employment, like health care and a pension.

I've been told that I will go to Hell because I am Catholic, and that God does not hear my prayers because I am Catholic. Recently, after praying for an acquaintance who had received a devastating medical diagnosis, I was told that my Catholic prayers were "idolatrous."

In other words, anti-Catholic bigotry is endemic among Protestants I know.

When I've mentioned anti-Catholic Protestant bigotry to Protestants in the past, they say, "Don't lump all Protestants together." But I've heard this bigotry from Lutherans, Episcopalians, Evangelicals, Baptists, and self-appointed internet freelancers. It runs across the spectrum of Protestant belief.

Above is a very grim photo: two Italian immigrant men who were lynched in Florida in 1910. I include this photo for a couple of reasons. One of my family members was lynched. His crime was being a "little Polak." Anti-Catholic bigotry has a very ugly, murderous history, including the Know Nothings and the KKK.

Question: Are Protestants addressing this at all?

Has there ever been a Protestant version of Nostra Aetate? Has there ever been a Protestant version of John Paul II's 1999-2000 Jubilee Year statements on Memory and Reconciliation, the Church and the Faults of the Past?

There is no Protestant pope, but there are influential Protestant individuals and bodies.

If Protestants have addressed the endemic bigotry against Catholics among them, why has that not trickled down to the Protestants I meet in real life?

I honestly don't know. I'm asking.

I've never experienced anything comparable among Catholics. No Catholic has ever told me that he or she assumes that Protestants are not really Christian, or that they are going to Hell, or that their worship is Satanic.

Mr. Smith's facebook page is here.

Typical Protestant anti-Catholic sites can be found here, here, here, here … there are thousands, perhaps millions more.


  1. I think there has been prejudice both ways. Whether it has been worse on the Protestant side I don't know.

    As you know, I left the Catholic Church in my twenties. I grew up in Irish/English Catholicism in the 1950s and 60s, pre Vatican 2 effectively. My religious world was divided into Catholics and non-Catholics.

    I remember offending a Protestant friend at my junior school when I asked her why she didn't come to Benediction.

    "I belong to the Church of England" she said.

    "Ah" light dawning "You're a non-Catholic."

    "No", she said sharply, "I'm not a "non-Catholic". I'm a Protestant".

    At the time, I could not understand the point she was making... Obviously I get it now.

    However, all "non-Catholics" were not damned or anything. In fact, to my schoolgirl eyes, they got a bit of an easy ride, via something called "baptism of desire" - which, insofar as I understood it, meant that if they were quite nice people, they would count as Catholics anyway, and float off to heaven, easy-peasy.

    There are many questions I would like to ask both Catholics and Protestants. And one of them is this. Why the insistence on going to heaven when Jesus said the meek would inherit "the earth".

    If he had meant heaven, wouldn't he have said so?

  2. Your article is nonsense, regardless of bias towards Catholics. Bigotry stands upon the ethics of preference, and discrimination in order to preserve, or be a detriment to. When you examine the alternative to bigotry, you have nothing to stand upon. Do you favor such a promiscuous policy so as to pretend inclusion, and offer a supremacy that is reserved?