Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Anti-Catholicism and the American Revolution

Steven Waldman over at Beliefnet.com has a post on the anti-Catholic sentiments that helped push the country towards independence from Great Britain: How Anti-Catholicism Helped Fuel the American Revolution. There is no question that British tolerance towards the Catholic French of Quebec was one of the motivating factors behind the push for American Independence, as any reading of the petitions of the Continental Congress to the Crown and of the Declaration of Independence reveal. Waldman provides a list of other examples of anti-Catholicism during the Revolutionary period.

Fortunately, due to the character of men like George Washington and the desperate need for the newly-formed United States to receive support from formally Catholic France, the anti-Catholicism of the Revolutionary period gave way to a regime of religious liberty under law that, while imperfect, allowed the Catholic Church to thrive in the new American Republic.


Anonymous said...

How can you complain about anti-Catholicism? They are the ones who insist everyone "Speak English", and yet they lack linuistic skills in any language while they blather vacuously for fear that if they actually said anything they would be excommunicated. They are the ones who sided with the enemy in the Civil War, both World Wars, and even against terror, while they clamor for Homeland Security pork. Pio Nino banned voting. It is their book-burning, labor-union ways which destroy American productivity. They have no right to proclaim themselves American!

Tom Van Dyke said...

FTR, today the Catholic vote splits ~50-50. A truer cross-section of America would be hard to find.

Mark D. said...

Ugh, there were lots of Catholics who supported the North during the Civil War -- Sherman was a Catholic! As for the rest of Anonymous' ramble, well, I'll just let it stand as its own refutation.

JMS said...

Thanks Mark – for reminding AC readers about Steven Waldman’s blogs on BeliefNet, his great book (Founding Faith : Providence, Politics and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America) and the Founding Faith archive (also at BeliefNet) that makes so many essential primary sources related to early America’s history of religious freedom available to all of us.

“Whatever the cause, Washington’s approach to religious tolerance represented a significant departure from earlier generations.” (p. 63) Of course, as Waldman states, “military necessity spawned [religious] tolerance.” (p. 67) GW rejected anti-Catholicism for the Continental army and for the fledgling United States for practical and strategic reasons, and I’m sure non-sectarian Masonic influences also shaped GW’s worldview. Waldman concluded that GW "was one of the first Americans to recognize that a revolution based on 'liberty' would need a new approach to religious freedom." (p. 65)