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Friday, October 2, 2015

Protestant Anti-Catholic Bigotry and Pope Francis' Visit to America

Still Life with Lobster by Catholic Painter Jan Davidsz de Heem
Recently Pope Francis visited the United States. Protestant anti-Catholicism visited, as well.

I've been exposed to Protestant anti-Catholicism my entire life. I grew up in a very diverse, and also very small town. There were Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews, at least one Confucian, and at least one Hindu. The only group that I knew hated me for religion reasons were the Protestants. The kids at the Dutch Reformed Church told me I was going to Hell. It occurs to me now to wonder if one had to be Dutch to be a member of this church. Lots of tulips, ice skating, and dikes in Heaven, I guess.


Protestant anti-Catholicism is more than a nyah-nyah-nyah game from childhood. It has world historical importance that resonates today.

Protestants devoted a great deal of energy to producing skewed histories that slandered Catholics. Those histories are still powerful. They are used by capital A Atheists and Muslims to discredit all Christians and Christianity.

During the Reformation, when Catholics and Protestants began to vie for power, money, territory, and butts-in-the-pews, Catholics announced the superiority of their faith through art. The lush, flamboyant Baroque style, found in music, painting, sculpture, and architecture, and, yes, even food, was meant to overwhelm all senses, to immerse the audience in the splendor and truth of Catholicism. See, for example, Bernini's "Ecstasy of St Teresa." See also the "Still Life with Lobster" by Catholic painter Jan Davidsz de Heem.

Protestants, in reaction against all things Catholic, including splendor, chose minimalist clothing, food, and architecture. As one scholar said, "Protestants don't eat." England, famously Protestant, also famous for bad food. America, child of England, also once very Protestant, was also once famous for bad food like Jell-O mold salads. Of course this is a sweeping generalization, and Protestants no longer follow an ascetic approach to food. But there is a kernel of truth in this generalization. Most people, if asked, will admit to preferring traditionally Catholic Italian, French, or Spanish cuisine to that of traditionally Protestant England or Holland. Then there is this joke:

Heaven Is Where
The French are the chefs
The Italians are the lovers
The British are the police
The Germans are the mechanics
And the Swiss make everything run on time
Hell is Where:
The British are the chefs
The Swiss are the lovers
The French are the mechanics
The Italians make everything run on time
And the Germans are the police
And then there is the theory that "fast food is Protestant."

"Massimo Salani, professor of the Inter-diocesan Center of Theology of Pisa, has responded with a harsh judgment on the fast food revolution in his book At the Table with the Religions.

'The style of fast-food completely ignores the sacred dimension of meals,' Salani told the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire on the occasion of his book launching this January. 'At McDonalds you satisfy your hunger in a rushed way so that you can move on to do other things,' he lamented. Adding fuel to the fire, he insisted: 'It lacks the communitarian or sharing aspect of a meal. Fast food is not Catholic. It is Protestant. Even atheist." (Read more here)

I'm on a bit of a tangent here … my goal is not to slander Protestant food. It's already been slandered, and Catholic cuisines have been celebrated, by writers much more powerful than I. Rather, I am referring to the competition between Catholicism and Protestantism, and how that competition played out in culture.

Protestants proclaimed their superiority not through art, but through texts. They produced written propaganda disparaging Catholicism. This propaganda's reach extends to the twenty-first century. The world understands the Inquisition, the Crusades, and the Witch Craze largely through the distorting lenses of anti-Catholic propaganda. Atheists and Muslims mine this rich vein for material in order to slander all Christians and Christianity. It is tragic that Protestants don't acknowledge, and have not corrected, how their distorted histories are used to undermine their own faith.

There's a good Wikipedia article on how Protestants rewrote the history of the Inquisition to suit their own mythology. It's here

Author Robert P Lockwood assesses one Protestant propaganda book about the Inquisition as one of the five most influential anti-Catholic books ever written. Lockwood wrote

"The Inquisition as depicted in Reformation anti-Catholic propaganda is perhaps the most persistent image of Catholicism, appearing in everything from later editions of John Fox's Book of Martyrs to Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum' to D.W. Griffith's film Intolerance.

…Unfortunately, the Catholic urban legend of the Inquisition, defined in Reformation and post-Reformation polemics as a universal Catholic machinery of repression centered in Rome, has remained a part of the normal cultural and political language of today."

You can read Lockwood's full article here

Bernini's Ecstasy of St Teresa of Avila Source: Wikipedia 

In recent years historians have attempted to correct the records in each of these areas. Below are three examples. There are many more.

Henry Kamen The Spanish Inquisition a Historical Revision published by Yale University Press, see here

Lyndal Roper Witch Craze Yale University Press see here

Rodney Stark God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades Harper One see here

I'm not a huge fan of Walid Shoebat, but I very much appreciate the outrage he shows against Protestant propaganda's distortion of history by way of maligning Catholics in his blog post, "Them Damned Catholics," see here

Shoebat wrote,

"Why is it so rare to find holy spirit-filled evangelicals that speak of such history, except paint it as Crusader, dark, warring and bloodthirsty? What difference then is there between the die-hard liberal and the spirit-filled evangelical? Both criticize this history. Even further, like many evangelicals and liberals, the Muslims also condemn this history. So why do we echo their interpretation as we damn the Catholic?

Why? Is it because of them 'damned' Catholics who defended Christendom and saved the Protestants from utter annihilation? Could it be perhaps the Catholics did something right, like fight them damned Muslims and thwart them from annihilating Christendom?

In all these battles there were no Protestants coming to help save Europe and Protestant states refrained from helping or even lifting a finger. They were too busy doing Bible studies on how them 'damned' Catholics were the Antichrist."

Blogger Matt Walsh recently was naïve enough to publish a blog entitled "Dear Christians and Conservatives, the Pope Is Not Our Enemy" You can view it here

Boy oh boy did he get hate mail. Samples:

"You lost me when you called Francis a Christian, Matt. He is not. I don't care if Catholics are offended by the truth. The only future, one-world (false) utopia I see in the near future is the NWO under Satan's anti-christ and his false prophet."

"Research the Vatican and its evil. The Pope is a False Teacher. There are so many things wrong w the Vatican, the place filled w Idols and Wealth remember? The Pope peaches Socialism, thats his backround among other things. I have many disillusioned Catholic friends who worship their Pope and Hail Mary Rosarys. I pray for their Souls as all unsaved Souls."

"Take the title of this story and SHOVE IT!!!"

"The pope is a nobody who is given a grand stage to spout his anti-Christian diatribe"

"The pope is the leader of the devils church!"

"The Black Pope abides within the very top levels of the Jesuits, and if you research, you'll find they are the behind the scenes rulers of the world (the shadow government)"

"The pope is either the false prophet or the anti Christ"


Again, Protestants' anti-Catholic bigotry is self-defeating.

One example. I know of a university campus where there is a large and active Muslim presence. The Muslims align with the many capital A Atheists and hate-America-first types on the faculty to brainwash students into believing the worst about the Judeo-Christian tradition and Western Civilization.

It would be good if there were a united Christian presence on this campus.

There cannot be a united Christian presence on this particular campus because the Protestant minister who oversees Protestant student activities refuses to speak to the Catholic priest who oversees Catholic student activities.


Protestant anti-Catholic bigotry turned up in my Facebook feed. I tried to address it.

One person responded with "tu quoque." "You Catholics do it, too!"

"Tu quoque" is a logical fallacy.

In any case, in my experience, Catholics really don't do it, too. I've been a Catholic all my life, and I've never heard Catholics talk about Protestants or Protestantism as I have heard Protestants talk about us.

That doesn't mean it doesn't happen – perhaps it does.

But is there, anywhere, a current Catholic publishing house disseminating the kind of filth about Protestants that Jack Chick publishes about Catholics?

One person responded with "blame the victim." "You obviously have a problem with Protestantism!"

One person, named Cheryl, sent me the following message:

"I want to invite you to consider Saddleback Church. There is an online ministry also. 50% of our congregation are former Catholics so there should not be any problem feeling welcome. Here is a link recently posted on Facebook to give you a glimpse. The search can be painful, I know and I am so sorry. You are loved by the Creator of the Universe!"

The above message, trying to get me to leave my Catholic Church and join her Protestant Church, fills me with overwhelming disgust.


This is what Protestants need to do.

Protestants need to look at themselves and acknowledge that anti-Catholic bigotry has been an issue ever since the Reformation. Certainly Luther's writing was full of inflammatory rhetoric, including "these Cardinals, these Popes, and that whole abomination of the Romish Sodom … why do we not wash our hands in their blood?"

Protestants need to say, yes, we did this, and we are doing it now. They need to apologize. They need to resolve to stop. And they need to stop. And they need to tell their fellow Protestants who persist to stop.


While googling around on the topic of anti-Catholic bigotry, I stumbled across this compilation. I think every reader, Catholic, Protestant, or other, could learn something from reading it. "The Persecution of Catholics by Protestants." It's a compilation of brief and pithy quotes from historical texts. The author's stated goal is to give the reader a different point of view than the one usually promulgated. The compiler quotes numerous sources, including Martin Luther and Will Durant. You can find it here

I haven't checked the facts here; did Protestant England really massacre Irish monks at the rate of 800 a year?

The post is followed by an extensive bibliography, so fact checking is facilitated. 

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