The Persistent Prejudice: Anti-Catholicism in the U.S. by Michael Schwartz; Our Sunday Visitor Press, Huntington, IN.

Catholicism is so pervasive in America that it is taken for granted as somehow normal. Schwartz traces hostility to Catholicism from its Reformation roots in England, where it was identified with “foreigners” and political conspiracy. Trans­planted to the New World, Anti-­Catholicism played an important part in the French-Indian, Mexican, and Spanish-American Wars. During the early 19th century, the Irish migrations made the Catholic issue even more explosive than the crisis over slavery. It was the core (along with anti­Semitism) of restrictions on migration in the early 20th century and even played a major role in the leftist support of the anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War. It is, moreover, not a phenomenon of the past. Pro­-abortion forces, supporters of “peoples’ democracies,” those who oppose all American intelligence activities as McCarthyism, and opponents of support for sectarian schools all seem to share a deep, open, and avowed anti-Catholicism.

Schwartz spells out some of the myths which support this bias: Catholics are backward and stupid (though Catholics, next to Jews, have the highest achievement rates in the U.S.); Catholics are bigoted and anti-Semitic, e.g., Hochhuth’s The Deputy in which Pope Paul XII is accused of supporting nazi extermination policies (in reality, Catholic teaching is against bigotry and Pius XII saved some 750,000 Jews); Catholics are bad citizens who owe their first loyalty to Rome (yet Catholics have died in disproportionately high numbers in U.S. wars against Catholic Spain, Mexico, and Italy). Other myths are obviously pathological projections, such as the “priest-nun orgy” myth-which is often put forward by the same people who accuse the Church of being anti-sex (“the sour celibate myth”).

Finally, Schwartz compares the “demands” which the prejudiced make upon Jews, Catholics, and blacks. Since mythological fears of Jews are based on their assumed cleverness, cupidity, and power to control, and since Jews cannot undo their Jewishness, the preferred anti­-Semitic solution is extermination. Blacks, on the other hand, despised for stupidity and ani­malism, are nonetheless feared as sexually insatiable; their very athletic achievements often adduced as evidence of animality. What’s demanded of them is that they remain untermensch, vaguely dangerous but controllable, as a confirmation of the tenuously held superiority feelings of their detractors.

“Demands” on Catholics are of a different stripe. It is the Catholic Church which is feared as a repository of dark papal maneuverings and potentially inquisitorial suppression. Individual Catholics are simply despised for their superstitious adherence to idolatry and assumed anti-intellectualism. All that is demanded of them is that they renounce their Faith. As neutralized, harmless “Uncle Pats,” they then become acceptable members of the colorless majority. (Especially so if they actively denounce Romanism.)

But what has been the outcome of all this for American culture? The strange mésalliance of “liberal” relativists and Protestant fundamentalists in their attack on their only shared enemy, the Catholic Church, has resulted in the predictable rise of secular humanism, which in the end is destructive to all Christianity. The suppression of Christian schools and the erection of phony “constitutional barriers” act to eradicate any but the vaguest religious impulses, and enshrine a virulent irreligion as the absolute standard of public good.