Missionaries of Republicanism: A Religious History of the Mexican-American War
by John C. Pinheiro
Oxford University Press, 2014
(252 pages, $45.00, hardcover)
reviewed by James A. Altena
The subtitle of John C. Pinheiro's Missionaries of Republicanism is slightly misleading. The book is not a "religious history" of the Mexican-American War, but rather a study of a religious-cultural dimension underlying one side of that conflict: the strong anti-Catholic attitudes and beliefs of the vast majority of white male Americans, the rationales this outlook created for both proponents and opponents of the conflict, and how U.S. military and political policies were shaped as a result. By examining "how anti-Catholicism emerged as integral to nineteenth-century American identity as a white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant republic," Pinheiro seeks to show that "a peculiarly American anti-Catholicism that heretofore most Americans had unreflectively relegated to an evangelical Protestant subculture . . . proved to be the most important means of extracting transcendent meaning from the experience of war" (p. 1).
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James A. Altena is the associate editor of Fanfare magazine, a comprehensive bimonthly periodical for reviews of classical music recordings. He is a member of St. Mark's Reformed Episcopal Church in Rydal, Pennsylvania, and is working toward a Ph.D. in church history at Westminster Theological Seminary.
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