Anti Catholicism has a long history in the US, an inheritance from England, where the religious wars for and against the regency of Queen Elizabeth led to Catholics being demonized as evil. ( Elizabeth was inconveniently conceived before her mother married, and many folks said her mother never married the king at all, so this made her vulnerable to all sorts of plots that were “normal” in those days).

Right now, the face of Guy Fawkes is the face of the “occupy” movement, but ironically, that plot to bomb Parliament was actually not by the 99 percent but by some well educated and rich noblemen (or maybe it wasn’t a real plot, even this article from 1865 points out, it is hard to imagine  how could all those gentlemen have kept the plot quiet for so long?)

That essay was written after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and discusses the sorry history of various conspiracy theories in history. Of course, nowadays, conspiracy theories are the rage all over the internet. But there were quite a few conspiracies behind Lincoln’s assassination, including that his wife Mary did it, that the secretary of War did it, and that it was a Jesuit plot.
No one today (even Bill O’Reilly) believes or even notices the anti Catholic conspiracy theory that said the Jesuits were behind the assassination, but one wonders if the bigotry had something to do with the conviction of Mudd and Suratt…

I became aware of this when I belatedly listening to Professor Bob’s podcast on the Assassination of President Lincoln, and the podcast about John Wilkes Booth’s background (did you know he was a rich superstar actor, and was born out of wedlock?)  mentioned that he was a Catholic convert.

Hmm…I don’t remember reading about that in O’Reilly’s bestselling book.
I was aware that the owner of the boarding house where the plot was hatched, the conspirator’s landlady, Mrs. Surratt, was a Catholic, (but I didn’t know she was a convert, and from an old Southern family, not an Irish immigrant, which is what I always thought).

More suspiciously, her son fled to Catholic Montreal to avoid arrest, was given shelter by some Catholics there and in Europe, but years later was acquitted of the charge, since he was in upper New York state at the time of the crime.

I also learned that Dr. Mudd, who set Booth’s leg and sheltered  him when he fled, was also Catholic, and anti Catholic bigotry might have been one reason he was convicted:

In reviewing Samuel Mudd’s “military records,” the Army ought to have considered some issues which affected the fairness of Mudd’s trial, at least by modern standards. * Samuel Mudd was a Roman Catholic, a fact which was brought out during the trial. One of the members of the Hunter Commission was Brigadier General Thomas W. Harris. In 1897, Harris published a book entitled Rome’s Responsibility for the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The theme of this book was that President Lincoln’s assassination had been the result of a Catholic plot. It is open to question whether Brigadier General Harris was fully free from bias against Dr. Mudd, in view of Dr. Mudd’s religion and Harris’ later writings about that religion. Bias on the part of a judge is, of course, a good reason to set aside a trial verdict.

Finding conspiracies in crimes is nothing new, but when the conspiracy theories revolve against an unpopular religion/sect/race/ethnicity/group one’s paranoia detecting antenna should shoot up high.

True, one doubts that AlQaeda would be so potent if the Saudis weren’t sending their missionaries all over Asia to teach people their anti Semetic/anti gentile way of Islam, but even then, that doesn’t explain why 99.9 percent of the one billion Muslims aren’t eager to become suicide bombers.

So, the press is right to to criticize the anti Muslim sentiment among the hoi polloi.

Yet even this silencing can go to absurd lengths:

Divine Comedy is ‘offensive and discriminatory’, says Italian NGO

Human-rights organisation calls for Dante’s ‘racist, Islamophobic and antisemitic’ epic poem to be removed from classrooms

Hmm…wonder why that “Human rights organization” didn’t notice that Dante put a couple of Popes in hell too…

Which brings us back to the Catholics.

One only has to read some of the hate-filled anti religious comments on any Catholic news story to figure out that there is a lot of anti Catholic hatred out there. And it doesn’t take much for folks to figure out why: because the church refused to condone abortion or sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

How old fashioned.

In the Health Care bill, Obama’s minions have manipulated the news story about the “contraceptive” mandate into a Republican war against the ladies, never mind it’s all spin.

Yet the bishops insist that it is a war against the right of Catholic institutions to be Catholic.

This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive. . . . This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the bishops’ somehow ‘banning contraception,’ when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is, instead, about the federal government forcing the Church . . . to act against Church teachings.

This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding.

This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing.

Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.

It is a fight that the church has been in before…and this time what might make the bishops fight back is that many of the newer bishops are actually Catholic.

And don’t think this is only about requiring Catholics to pay for contraception:

The Anchoress notes:

The Mandated $1 Abortion Contribution of Obamacare: Reality or not? If the MSM ignores it, does it cease to go into effect?

So when Chris Matthews calls Catholics (and Mormons) “cultists”, and the NYTimes printes anti Catholic ads that seem to be inspired by Jack Chick, you know it’s going to be a long year.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.

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