The Coming Perfect Storm
Five Reasons Why Freedom of Religion & Conscience Is in Peril
by Randall B. Smith
There have been periods in American history when the anti-Catholic forces in our society, always rumbling just beneath the surface, exploded and flowed out like molten lava down the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. What brings about these periodic eruptions, I would suggest, is a particular confluence of events: a sort of "perfect storm," so to speak (if you will allow me to shift metaphors).
One such confluence of forces occurred in the early part of the last century, when American Protestant distrust of Catholics came together with the nativist Anglo-American distrust of immigrants from places like Ireland, Italy, and Eastern Europe. To this already-potent brew was added the increasing distrust among America's mostly Protestant upper classes of the working classes and the sorts of socialist ideas they might be harboring and anarchical plots they might be hatching. The results were not pleasant.
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Randall B. Smith is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.
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