Anti-Catholicism is arguably the oldest bias in the history of the American people. [And the oldest here in the country if you count the Freemasons, and the youngest if you count the Freedumbers aka Freethinkers.] Or so Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. — who had no dog in the fight — once told the dean of U.S. Catholic historians, Fr. John Tracy Ellis. Over the centuries, however, anti-Catholicism in America has taken on several forms.
In its classic New England iteration, anti-Catholicism was shaped by Protestant and, later, Enlightenment-rationalist assumptions. Both were neatly summarized in a letter from John Adams to his wife, Abigail, written during the First Continental Congress after Mr. Adams had undertaken an anthropological expedition through the streets of Philadelphia:
This afternoon, led by curiosity and good company, I strolled away to mother church, or rather grandmother church. I mean the Romish chapel. . . . [The] entertainment was to me most awful and affecting: the poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood; their pater nosters and ave Marias; their holy water; their crossing themselves perpetually; their bowing to the name of Jesus, whenever they hear it; their bowings, kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich white lace. His pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar piece was very rich, little images and crucifixes about; wax candles lighted up. . . .[John Adams hates holy things. Didn't I blog about this? An exorcist said that evil spirits hate holy things. Hmmm...]
Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination — everything which can charm and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell. [ASK BUGNINI and that Benedictine monk who praises Luther in public!]
Adams, it should be noted, contributed handsomely to the building of a Catholic church in Boston in the years after the Revolution; the passionate support for the cause of American independence displayed by such Federalist leaders as Charles Carroll of Carrolton had, evidently, caused the Sage of Quincy to reconsider. But in that 1774 letter to Abigail, he neatly summed up an indictment against Catholicism that would show remarkable staying power in the United States over the centuries: Catholicism is superstition; [like what inculturated liturgists want to call the TLM.] Catholics are ill-educated, [like what that old Jesuit constitutionalist who is shy to admit that he is pro-RH. and some of his Jesuit confreres, but not all.] priest-ridden boobies; the Church is a vast, money-making machine that sucks the lifeblood of the poor and ignorant; [like what Angsioco, that pro-abortion witch wrote.] no educated person could possibly take the doctrines of the Church seriously. [like what the Freedumbers say.]
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