Use of the Term Anti-Catholic in Protestant and Secular Scholarly Works of History and Sociology

Many Protestant polemicists (themselves not coincidentally also often anti-Catholic) have contended that the use of this term is completely arbitrary and essentially a defensive invention of Catholic apologists and polemicists, for their own ends. In fact, the term has a long pedigree in scholarly circles. I aim here to document its use amongst non-Catholic scholars and other social or historical or theological observers. Following that will be discussion with four Protestants and an Orthodox.

Recently on a public bulletin board, a Reformed individual who goes by the nickname "Romans45" has made several inflammatory remarks along these lines. See, for example, his post:

I cite them (in blue) in order to illustrate this line of thought, to which I will then respond with massive contrary documentation:

There is no standard definition of "anti" in reference to religious denominations. It is a made up term and therefore individuals make up their own definition . . . Two Catholics will use the same term and have two complelely different meanings. It's whatever rock[s] your boat.

Make no mistake about there is no standard definition. Every Catholic that uses it defines it according to their own whims.

. . . some even defined it so that it basically includes any and everyone who disagrees with them . . .

I think it is totally meaningless and only used as a prejudicial term . . .  Everybody uses it, but few agree on what it really means, few use it consistently, and few understand what the Joe Blow next to them mean by it.

I don’t accept the loaded definition that Catholics use and neither does any dictionary or any other objective reference work. It is only a prejudicial term invented by Catholic apologists.

Every Catholic does use it according to their own whim. If not, point me to an objective standard that defines it as any of them do? Protestants don’t use it to their whim, because Protestant almost never use it unless they are replying to Catholics who are throwing the term around.

They can define whatever they want, but that doesn’t make it the standard definition even when they disagree amongst themselves about what it means. Furthermore, no one has to accept their definition especially since it is only defined by a few apologists who have no real authority even over those in their own camp.

. . . anyone who arbitrarily makes up a prejudicial definition and then claim it is a standard definition.

. . .  it is an irrational position . . .

Anti-Catholics have never been defined by Catholicism and it is used to describe others instead of their beliefs . . . Do yourself a favor. Do a google search on “anti-Catholicism” and see what you come up with.

Now I shall cite many reputable Protestant and secular scholarly sources which blatantly contradict "Romans45"'s account of things:

1. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1985 ed., Micropedia, Vol. 6, 918, "Know-Nothing Party":

U.S. political party that flourished in the 1850s . . . an outgrowth of the strong anti-immigrant and especially anti-Catholic sentiment that started to manifest itself during the 1840s.

2. Dictionary of Christianity in America, ed. Daniel G. Reid, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990, "Nativism," 801:

. . . it's most powerful strain is anti-Catholicism . . . Although nativism and anti-Catholicism are not synonymous (indeed, Catholics have been nativists), the two are usually linked and anti-Catholicism has tended to dominate other nativist traditions.

Outbursts of anti-Catholic nativism have occurred in U.S. history whenever conditions of social and economic stress have conspired to arouse the deep-rooted suspicion that Catholicism is not compatible with American democratic institutions . . . After the colonial period, three main waves of anti-Catholic nativism surged through the land . . . .

Anti-Catholic propaganda during this period included bogus tales of sacerdotal lust and infanticide in Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in Montreal (1836) and W.C. Brownlee's biweekly American Protestant Vindicator (1834-1842).

. . . The rural Midwestern American Protective Association (APA) revived anti-Catholic feeling by blaming hard tomes on Irish Catholic labor leaders and claiming to have uncovered a secret papal plot for Catholic rebellion and the massacre of American Protestants . . .

. . . New York Governor Alfred E. Smith would still feel residues of anti-Catholicism in his 1924 and 1928 bids for the presidency, During the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy, himself a latter-day nativist, occasioned new manifestations of anti-Catholicism . . .

To say that the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 and his subsequent assassination had destroyed anti-Catholicism as a force in American life would probably be overly optimistic. The endurance of phenomena such as Jack Chick Publications suggests that, given sufficient stimuli, anti-Catholic nationalism might resurface.

[cites in bibliography:

R. Bellah and F. Greenspahn, Uncivil Religion: Interreligious Hostility in America (1986)

R.A. Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860, A Study of the Origins of American Nativism (1952: I have this book in my library) ]

3. Page Smith, The Rise of Industrial America, Vol. 6 of 8 of a series on American history, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1984; Index: "Catholic Church: anti-Catholic hostility": 533, 580-586, 604. Smith is one of the most highly-respected historians of America.

The American Protective Association, an anti-Catholic nativist organization,  . . . (p. 533)

. . . If non-Catholic Americans were bitterly divided on scores of issues . . . they were as one in their fear and hatred of the Catholic Church and, generally speaking, of Catholics in the abstract, if not always in the particular. Pious Protestants still thought of the Pope as the Antichrist, the enemy of the faith, the Beast of the Apocalypse. (p. 580)

The hostility of non-Catholic Americans toward their Catholic compatriots remained a conspicuous feature of American life. Typical of the anti-Catholic books that abounded was Romanism and the Republic by a Methodist minister and educator named Leroy Vernon . . . The situation, Vernon warned his readers, was desperate: . . . "in all its horrors, the beastly immorality of priests and people, of Popes, Cardinals and bishops, of men, women, and children, as the result of this wicked, ungodly, unscriptural, and unchristian system of auricular confession."

In the year of the Chicago Exposition [1893] anti-Catholic feeling manifested itself with startling ferocity . . . Anti-Catholic secret societies were formed . . .

The anti-Catholic societies used the forged "instructions" as the basis for a campaign to remove Catholics from private employment and public office. (pp. 583-585)

4. Will Herberg, Protestant Catholic Jew, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books, rev. ed., 1960; Herberg is Jewish, and this is a classic in the field of sociology of religion. Index: "Anti-Catholic prejudice: 140-142, 232-238.

. . . repeated outbursts of anti-Catholic rancor that punctuated the three decades before the Civil War, culminating in the Know-Nothing movement . . . Anti-Catholic agitation was renewed in the early 1850s . . . on "Bloody Monday" at Louisville, Kentucky [1855], nearly a hundred Catholics were slain and scores of houses burned to the ground [in the famous Detroit riots of 1967, 43 were killed]. By this time anti-Catholicism had become a leading principle of the so-called Know-Nothing Party . . . the anti-Catholic movement was resumed in the latter part of the century. The Anti-Catholic movement before the Civil War was essentially nativist. (pp. 140-142)

. . . militant secularist anti-Catholicism that is associated with the recent work of Paul Blanshard [American Freedom and Catholic Power, Beacon: 1949]. (p. 235)

 . . . theologically concerned Protestants find it difficult to go along with the kind of negative "anti-Romanism" current in many Protestant circles . . . (p. 238)

5. Kenneth Scott Latourette [one of the most respected Protestant historians (Baptist); professor at Yale and president of the American Historical Association], Christianity in a Revolutionary Age, Vol. 3 of 5: The 19th Century Outside Europe, New York: Harper & Row, 1961, rep. 1970 by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p. 101:

. . . the anti-Catholic agitation -- Nativism and the Know-Nothing movement-- . . .

6. Martin Marty [widely-respected Protestant Church historian, University of Chicago], Pilgrims in Their Own Land: 500 Years of Religion in America, New York: Penguin Books, 1984. Index: "anti-Catholicism: 40, 85, 141-143, 244, 273-276.

John Foxe's . . . The Book of Martyrs, was a New England best-seller. It fueled the anti-Catholic fires in many Protestant hearts during the Age of Exploration . . . [the illustration on the title page] shows God . . . receiving trumpeted praise from burning Protestant martyrs while the devils look down on a Roman Catholic priest saying Mass. (p. 40)

. . . in 1688, anti-Catholics in and around Maryland . . . (p. 85)

Anti-Catholicism was the sport of the mob as well as the device of leaders . . . enlightened public figures like Benjamin Franklin sounded much like Samuel Adams. Only George Washington was moderate. (p. 142)

Anti-Catholicism did not come to an end because of prudence and politeness to France, and it returned in full force sixty years later in the face of numerous Catholic immigrants. (p. 143)

. . . in 1844, America was in turmoil over anti-Catholic riots in Philadelphia . . . (p. 244)

Anti-Catholic memories were long and hatreds were deep . . . anti-Catholics in America conveniently portrayed the church as a juggernaut poised to crush the United States . . . the editor of the Protestant Home Missionary picked up the cry for the West, where was to be fought a great battle "between truth and error, between law and anarchy -- between Christianity . . . and the combined forces of Infidelity and Popery" . . . Samuel F.B. Morse, both the inventor of the telegraph and the noisiest anti-Catholic around . . . (p. 273)

. . . strands of old-style anti-Catholicism . . . (p. 275)

7. Martin Marty, Modern American Religion, Vol. 1: The Irony of it All: 1893-1919, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986. Index: "Anti-Catholicism: 131, 134-136, 140, 155, 277, 307.

  . . . anti-Catholicism as a revival of Nativism. (p. 131)

Anti-Catholicism and other anti's did not, of course, die out . . . anti-Catholicism was durable . . . Raw anti-Catholicism had to wait for the 1920s to gain its hearing . . .  . (p. 134)

. . . many non- and anti-Catholics . . . anti-Catholic prejudice . . . anti-Catholic publications in America . . . Anti-Catholicism  was on the wane . . . Few anticipated the anti-Catholicism of a revived Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. (pp. 135-136)

. . . Chancellor Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf, an anti-Catholic "battle for civilization." (p. 140)

Even Grose, however, the least anti-foreign and anti-Catholic among Protestant experts in this field, kept his reservations about Catholics who stayed Catholic. (p. 155)

The Southern Baptists . . . vehemently rejected the unity movement entirely . . . council leaders often sounded and were anti-Catholic . . . (p. 277)

The Christian and Missionary Alliance was one of scores of journals whose editors kept up the anti-Catholic theme. "God is stronger than either the Romish Church or the Catholic powers of Europe." (p. 307)

8. William G. McLoughlin [professor of history at Brown University], Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1978. Index: "Anti-Catholicism: 3-4, 146, 149. See also Know-Nothings."

9. Mark Noll [well-known evangelical writer and historian], "The History of an Encounter: Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals," in Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, editors: Evangelicals and Catholics: Toward a Common Mission, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995.

After the Second World War, evangelical publishing still maintained a steady beat of anti-Catholic polemic . . . Evangelical publishers also reissued classic anti-Catholic works from the previous century including Charles Chiniquy's Fifty Years in the Church of Rome [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1961] . . . These attitudes toward Catholicism, which evangelicals maintained with something close to unanimity into the 1960s, reached back to the middle decades of the sixteenth century. (pp. 84-85)

Protestant anti-Romanism was a staple of the American theological world . . . anti-Catholic literature was a well-entrenched theological genre. Ray Allen Billington's study [The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860, A Study of the Origins of American Nativism , 1952] of the six antebellum decades included a bibiography of nearly forty pages devoted exclusively to anti-Catholic periodicals, books, and pamphlets. (p. 87)

. . . conservative Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, brought down great wrath upon his head for defending the validity of Catholic baptism [as John Calvin himself had done], even though that defense fully maintained Protestant arguments about the deviance of Rome. (p. 88)

. . . evangelical anti-Catholicism was given new life by the rising current of Catholic immigration into the United States. Protestant writing against Catholicism retained the historical theological animus, but it was almost always a political expression as well. (p. 90)

In the two decades before the Civil War, anti-Catholicism was a staple in shaping the political actions of many Protestants in the North as well as some in the South. (p. 91)

. . . anti-Catholicism was sparked especially by the belief that the Catholic hierarchy discouraged, or even prohibited, the use of Scripture among the laity. (pp. 91-92)

10. Thomas A. Askew [professor of history and chairman of the department at Gordon College] and Peter W. Spellman, The Churches and the American Experience: Ideals and Institutions, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984, p. 113:

Anti-Catholicism in America was never purely religious, for social and economic factors aggravated suspicion of the stranger.

11. David O. Moberg [professor of sociology at Marquette University], The Church as a Social Institution: The Sociology of American Religion,  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2nd ed., 1984. Index: "Anti-Catholicism: 286, 300-316, 329, 331, 447-448, 455.

The strength of fundamentalism in the 1920s resulted partially from an unofficial, informal alliance with exploiters of anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic feelings. (p. 286)

Bigotry, especially by anti-Catholics, has been so common that any criticism of Catholicism is likely to be labeled by intellectuals as well as by pro-Catholics as intolerant and unfair . . . Historical accounts of American anti-Catholicism rarely recognize sufficiently the contemporary stimuli that contributed to its periodic outbreaks . . . Current interfaith quarrels indeed are partly a continuation of irrational past struggles, but the tensions have a continuing social, psychological, and ideological basis which must not be overlooked. (pp. 300-301)

In 1928 the Democratic candidate, Alfred E. Smith, was defeated partly because of anti-Catholicism. (p. 302)

Many anti-Catholics are convinced that long-range plans of the Catholic Church include repeal of the First Amendment . . . (p. 304)

Future sociologists may devote as much attention to anti-Protestantism as to anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism. (p. 311)

The Protestant Irish from Ulster were among the most fervent anti-Catholics a century ago. (p. 312)

Parochial schools and Catholic welfare initially were results of anti-Catholic prejudice . . . (p. 313)

Christian controversy with science has not involved Catholics alone, as anti-Catholics sometimes imply. (p. 331)

12. James Davison Hunter [one of the leading Protestant sociologists of religion of our time], Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, New York: HarperCollins, 1991.  Index: "Anti-Catholicism: 35-39, 69, 71, 87, 102.

Understanding the American experience evan as late as the nineteenth century requires an understanding of the critical role played by Anti-Catholicism in shaping the character of politics, public education, the media, and social reform . . . Catholics were regarded by Protestants as heretics who had perverted the true faith. (p. 35)

. . . anti-Catholicism in America reached something of an apex in the nineteenth century. For one, many of the major urban daily newspapers displayed a prominent anti-Catholic prejudice: the Chicago Tribune, for example, played a significant role in inciting anti-Catholic agitation throughout the 1840s and 1850s . . . Between 1800 and 1860 . . . American publishing houses published more than 200 anti-Catholic books . . . Anti-Catholicism also ignited the great school wars of the mid-nineteenth century . . . (p. 36)

Yet perhaps the most vociferous expression of anti-Catholicism came from anti-Catholic societies . . . and anti-Catholic political parties. (p. 37)

. . . anti-Semitism was never greatly politicized in the way that anti-Catholicism has been. (p. 38)

. . . although much of the anti-Catholic hostility was born out of economic rivalry and ethnic distrust, it took expression primarily as religious hostility -- as a quarrel over religious doctrine, practice, and authority. (p. 71)

13. Ray Allen Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860, A Study of the Origins of American Nativism, New York: Macmillan, 1938; rep. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1952. This entire book is about anti-Catholicism, and is often cited by scholars studying the subject as a classic. The author does not appear to be a Catholic. On the back cover, it is described as a "full account of the development of anti-Catholic, anti-foreign feelings in the United States." It would be futile to cite all the references to anti-Catholicism in it, so I will simply cite two of the chapter headings: "The Roots of Anti-Catholic Prejudice" (chapter one), and "The Literature of Anti-Catholicism" (chapter fourteen).

14. Paul Blanshard [prominent and influential secular anti-Catholic], American Freedom and Catholic Power, Boston: Beacon Press, 2nd ed., 1958, pp. 12-13:

Anti-Catholic fanatics in the forties and fifties of the last century caricatured priests, burned a few convents, and spread wild rumors that Catholics were plotting to capture the country by armed rebellion . . . Anti-Catholic political parties appeared in several states and even anti-Catholic candidates for President . . .

15. Charles L. Sewrey, "Historians and Anti-Catholicism," Christian Century, 73 (March 14, 1956), 333-335.

16. Robert McAfee Brown [Presbyterian], "Types of Anti-Catholicism," Commonweal, 63 (Nov. 25, 1955), 193-196.

17. Washington Gladden, "The Anti-Catholic Crusade," Century Magazine, XLVII (March, 1894), 789-795.

18. J.E. Graham, "Anti-Catholic prejudice, Ancient and Modern," Ecclesiastical Review, LIII (1915), 282-298.

19. E.R. Norman, Anti-Catholicism in Victorian England, New York: Barnes and Noble, 1968.

20. J.R. (Jim) Miller, "Anti-Catholic Thought in Victorian Canada," Canadian Historical Review, 66, 4, Dec. 1985, 474-94

21. Jim Miller, "Bigotry in the North Atlantic Triangle: Irish, British and American Influences on Canadian Anti-Catholicism, 1850-1900," Studies in Religion / Sciences Religieuses, 16, 3, 1987, 289-301.

22. Jim Miller, "Anti-Catholicism in Canada: From the British Conquest to the Great War," in T. Murphy and G. Stortz, eds., Creed and Culture: The Place of English-Speaking Catholics in the
Canadian Mosaic, 1750-1930, (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press 1993), 25-48.

23. Arthur F. Marotti, editor, Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism in Early Modern English Texts, Basingstoke, Hampshire and London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

24. Brown, Cedric C. "'This Island's Watchful Centinel': Anti-Catholicism and Proto-Whiggery in
Milton and Marvell," English Literature 1650-1740, ed. Steven N. Zwicker, Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 1998: 165-184.

25. Steve Bruce, No Pope of Rome; Anti-Catholicism in Modern Scotland, Edinburgh: Mainstream
Publishing Company, 1985.

26. Marius M. Carriere, Jr. "Anti-Catholicism, Nativism, and Louisiana Politics in the 1850s," Louisana History, 35(4), 1994, 455-474.

27. John D. Brewer and Gareth I. Higgins, Anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland, 1600-1998: The Mote and the Beam, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998.

28. Colin Haydon, Anti-Catholicism in Eighteenth-Century England, c.1714-80 : A Political and Social Study, Manchester: 1993.

29. Jeffrey K. Hadden, prominent Protestant sociologist of religion (author of more than twenty books on that general topic), from the University of Virginia, writes in an online summary of his course: SOCIOLOGY 257: New Religious Movements Lectures (

Anti-Catholicism in the 19th century was partially attributable to the fact that         Catholic leadership was not interested in assimilation.

30. Cedric C. Brown and Arthur Marotti, eds., Texts and Cultural Change in Early Modern England, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997; includes Marotti's chapter:  "Southwell's Remains: Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism in Early Modern England."

31. Catholic historian James Hitchcock wrote in Touchstone Magazine: July/August 2000 --

"The Real Anti-Catholics"

           A few weeks after national attention was focused on the anti-Catholicism of
           Bob Jones University, a Gallup poll shed interesting light on religious prejudice.
           It turns out that only 29 percent of such people-broadly called "Evangelical" or
           "Fundamentalist" -- hold a negative view of the Catholic Church.

           Surprisingly, liberal Protestants, who usually think of themselves
           as being very ecumenical (and are often misleadingly called
           "mainstream") are very slightly more likely to be anti-Catholic than
           are Evangelicals. But this should not be as surprising as it seems.
           Through a great deal of "grass roots" ecumenism, notably the
           pro-life movement, Catholics and Evangelicals have discovered that
           they share a commitment to traditional Christian moral teachings and
           to the authority of Scripture and the historic creeds. They perceive the
           same dangers besetting them, and sometimes conclude that what
           unites them is indeed stronger than what divides.

           Liberal Protestantism is almost by definition tolerant of other
           people's beliefs, but in practice it often tolerates only liberal beliefs. It
           changes rapidly in response to shifts in the culture and tends to
           become impatient with faiths that refuse to change. Thus, liberal
           anti-Catholicism arises over such issues as abortion and the ordination
           of women to the priesthood.

           In politics, 31 percent of "independents" have a negative view of
           Catholicism, compared with 23 percent of Republicans and 27 percent
           of Democrats. My unsystematic impression is that people who call
           themselves "independent" in politics are more likely to be liberal than
           conservative, which may explain why they are the most anti-Catholic
           of the three political groups — abortion yet again.

           This correlates with another kind of "independent," those who
           belong to no church. The Gallup organization [George Gallup is himself
           an Anglican] found that these are the most likely of all to be anti-Catholic -
           54 percent of those who never attend church.

           Being independent in politics and not belonging to any church are
           supposed to be signs of open-mindedness. But increasingly, being
           "open-minded" means being respectful only of other "open-minded"
           ideas, not of traditional beliefs. The Gallup organization noted that
           most of the independents who have an unfavorable view of
           Catholicism are if anything even more unfavorable to Evangelical

          The Gallup poll merely asked people whether they have a
           favorable or unfavorable view of the Church. Since people like to be
           thought tolerant, they may be less than candid in answering
           "unfavorable." This makes it all the more remarkable that those who
           have "liberated" themselves from religion admit to such an attitude.
           They can do so because they are, in my experience, people who think
           of themselves as incapable of prejudice, something that affects only
           church members.

           Recently there was an extreme manifestation of this bigotry, when
           a group of radical feminists invaded the cathedral in Montreal and
           systematically vandalized the church. The attack attracted little
           attention. For many "open-minded" people the Church is
           self-evidently an evil institution, and having an unfavorable view of it
           is not prejudice, merely the recognition of reality.

32. From the website of the American Academy of Religion:  "Founded in 1909, the AAR is the world's largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion
( In its course offering, RELIGION 280: "American Catholicism," taught by Winnifred Sullivan in the Winter 1998 term
( we find:

2/10 Anti-Catholicism and Nativism

Assignment: read nativism and anti-Catholicism selections (in course packet)

. . . In Class: Lecture by Dr.Stephanie Wilkinson

33. John C. Kerrigan, Assistant Professor, Director of the Writing Center, Department of English at  Fort Hays State University, writes in some notes for students, called "Labels and -Isms"

Another anti-ism which originated in the nineteenth century as a reaction against Catholic immigrants was anti-Catholicism.  During the Presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, anti-Catholic propaganda emerged again from a variety of conservative and fundamentalist quarters, warning Americans against the dangers of a Catholic in the White House who would, so they argued, naturally take directions from the Papacy.  For a full discussion of anti-Catholicism and nativism, see Chapter 4 in [Richard T.] Schaefer [of DePaul University], Racial and Ethnic Groups. [Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 2000]

34. David Montgomery (studied theology at Regent College, Vancouver, and is now the Assistant      minister in Stormont Presbyterian Church), article for the publication Lion and Lamb, "Sorting Out the Family: Is Evangelicalism a Purely Protestant Phenomenon?," (

Nevertheless, through looking at how evangelical leaders
in the past regarded Roman Catholics, and above all,
through personally encountering Roman Catholics who
have been converted to Christ and who have chosen to
live out their bible-based faith in the context of the
Roman Catholic church, I have been made aware of two
things. Firstly, the right of those Catholics who are
born-again and committed to the primary authority of
Scripture to be called 'Evangelicals' and to be accepted
as thus without qualification; and secondly, the
incompatibility of polemical anti-catholicism with a true
evangelical faith and spirit. It is the purpose of this short
article to develop both these strands of thought.

                                . . . Space does not permit a detailed look at how
                                evangelical leaders throughout history have regarded
                                Roman Catholics. However it is significant to note how,
                                in spite of a uniform rejection of Roman Catholic
                                theology, and living in a historical context where a
                                confrontational approach was much more
                                understandable, there was a willingness to accept
                                regenerate Roman Catholics as brothers or sisters in
                                Christ, regardless of whether or not they leave their

                                This was the case with Zinzendorf, Whitefield, Wesley,
                                Wilberforce, Irving, Spurgeon and reformed leaders such
                                as Machen and Warfield. Wesley's Letter to A Roman
                                Catholic is often quoted, and Spurgeon's diary records
                                this fascinating quote: "In Brussels I heard a good
                                sermon in a Romish church...the good priest - for I
                                believe he is a good man - preached the Lord Jesus with
                                all his might. He spoke of the love of Christ...and the
                                preciousness of His blood, and of His power to save the
                                chief of sinners.... He did not tell us we were saved by
                                grace, and not by our works; but he did say that all the
                                works of men were less than nothing when brought into
                                competition with the blood of Christ, and that the blood
                                of Jesus alone could save. True, there were
                                objectionable sentences...but I could have gone to the
                                preacher and have said to him, 'Brother, you have
                                spoken the truth;'...I was pleased to find my own opinion
                                verified, in his case, that there are, even in the apostate
                                church, some who cleave unto the Lord." (Autobiography
                                vol.ii. pp.21-2)

                                In recent years I have examined the writings of those
                                leaders mentioned above, on this issue, and I have
                                discerned six threads common to most, if not all: (a) a
                                uniform rejection of the Papacy, and an adherence to
                                Reformation theology; (b) a desire, almost a
                                determination, to qualify their judgments and accept
                                believers within the Catholic system; (c) a willingness to
                                accept light from any quarter and a refusal to lay claim
                                to a monopoly of the truth; (d) an openness to praising
                                the strengths within Catholicism and decrying the
                                weaknesses within Protestantism; (e) a condemnation
                                of self-righteous anti-catholicism; (f) a readiness to
                                attend Catholic services, correspond with the Catholic
                                leadership and engage in rational discussion.

                                . . . We move now to the issue of anti-catholicism within
                                Evangelicalism. Again, definition is crucial here. By
                                anti-catholic, I do not mean a rejection of Roman
                                Catholic theological positions. By that definition
                                everyone outside, (and not a few inside), the Roman
                                communion would be deemed anti-catholic! No, it is an
                                undeniable feature of both Reformation and historical
                                evangelical theology that sub-Biblical and extra-Biblical
                                doctrines such as the Infallibility of the Papacy,
                                Transubstantiation, and the decrees on the Immaculate
                                Conception and Assumption of Mary, must be rejected.
                                All of the Reformers and major evangelical leaders have
                                been utterly opposed theologically to Roman
                                Catholicism in these areas, many of them saying
                                (according to the spirit of their time) extremely harsh
                                things about the Papacy in particular. Does this mean
                                that they were anti-catholic? Not necessarily.
                                Theological disagreement need not involve suspicion or
                                hostility. For the purposes of this article I wish to
                                highlight four aspects of anti-catholicism which have
                                existed from time to time within Evangelicalism but
                                which I believe are foreign to its true spirit.

                                Blind Prejudice

                                At the simplest and most sinister level, anti-catholicism
                                bears many of the marks of racism, anti-semitism, or
                                other prejudices aimed at cultural or ethnic groupings.
                                These feed on stereo-types and ignorance, and look for
                                evidence to support their preconceived ideas.

                                Conspiracy Theories

                                Blind prejudice leads to a second characteristic, the
                                means by which these prejudices are often rationalised
                                or justified. The Roman Catholic church, it is argued, is
                                undemocratic and authoritarian, and it has at heart an
                                anti-Protestant agenda which it would ruthlessly employ
                                given half a chance. In the past these conspiracy
                                theories were expressed through popular 19th century
                               anti-catholic lectures in Britain, the writings of Paul
                                Blanshard and the comics of Jack Chick in the USA, nor
                                are they difficult to find in N.I. today. It is worth noting
                                that the writings of Chick have since been exposed as
                                lies by Christianity Today and Blanshard himself
                                retracted many of his statements later in life when he
                                gave up professing the Christian faith altogether.

                                Lies, Half-truths & Innuendoes

                                These tendencies can be seen in the delight with which
                                the exaggerated or blatantly false depictions of the worst
                                aspects of the Catholic tradition are unfavourably
                                compared with the best aspects of the Protestant
                                tradition. The most famous example of this is the
                                regularly reprinted tale of "Maria Monk," first published in
                                1836 and telling of enforced convent prostitution and
                                strangling of babies. Monk was later discredited along
                                with several ex-priests who had been popular on the
                                'anti-catholic lecture' circuit.

                                Confrontational Methodology

                                So far, the correct response to these anti-catholic
                                tendencies should be fairly clear. Such tendencies while
                                not uncommon, are extreme, unevangelical and can
                                rightly be denounced as sinful. Prejudice,
                                rabble-rousing, inducing fear, lying and
                                rumour-mongering are never right. Scripture is clear
                                about that. However the fourth characteristic cannot be
                                so easily dismissed. While I have made it clear above
                                that all Evangelicals will reject aspects of Roman
                                Catholic theology, how we deal with those differences,
                                and the importance we attach to them, are matters of
                                dispute. Some Evangelicals will choose to discuss the
                                issues as they arise in the context of friendship and
                                dialogue, while others will view the Catholic church as
                                the enemy and will see the public renunciation of Roman
                                dogma as an integral part of promoting the evangelical
                                faith. It is this confrontational methodology which I see
                                as the fourth characteristic of anti-catholicism. Not, let
                                me stress, because doctrine is unimportant, but
                                because such a methodology attributes to Roman
                                Catholicism a status it does not merit and a power it
                                has long since lost. Furthermore, confrontational
                                methodology can prove harmful to perpetrator, listener
                                and opponent alike.

                                . . . continual exposure to anti-catholic teaching can confirm
                                prejudices and even inflame bigotry, . . .

                                The Opponents

                                Few Catholics can differentiate between an attack on
                                their church and an attack on them. When they hear
                                anti-Roman polemics they feel attacked as people,
                                whether that was intended or not. Therefore an
                                opportunity to communicate has been lost and further
                                alienation has taken place. So, even if the motivation of
                                the speaker has been to present 'the gospel' to Roman
                                Catholics, this too has failed since rather than
                                facilitating communication, their polemical style has in
                                fact hindered it.


                                Historian John Wolffe recognises that anti-catholicism
                                is more evident at times of crisis and conflict, but he
                                argues that it runs too deeply within the veins of
                                Evangelicalism to be limited to these periods alone. In
                                fact, he says it "has been an inescapable part of the
                                historical landscape of Evangelicalism." Be that as it
                                may, from a historical perspective, the question still
                                needs to be asked: 'Should it be so? To what extent are
                             anti-catholic attitudes and behaviour consistent with the
                                spirit and ethos of true Evangelicalism?' I believe they
                                are consistent with neither the defining characteristics of
                                Evangelicalism, nor with the views of significant
                                evangelical leaders throughout history, nor with the spirit
                                of the Gospel which Evangelicals seek to embody.

                                On the contrary, the prejudice of anti-catholicism offends
                                the Christ in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, its
                                political motivation offends the Christ who demands our
                                sole allegiance, its half-truths and innuendoes offend the
                                Christ who commands us not to bear false witness, and
                                its confrontational nature offends the Christ who
                                commands us to speak the truth in love.

                                We cannot be prisoners to our history, even evangelical
                                history. Rather, I suggest it is time for the evangelical
                                family to take two bold but related steps forward. Firstly,
                                to affirm as fellow members those Catholics who are
                                prepared to stand with us on Scripture, the Cross,
                                Conversion and the Great Commission, and to be
                                Christians first, Evangelicals second, and Catholics
                                third. Secondly, to disown those who deal in division,
                                court controversy, revel in rumour-mongering and
                                perpetuate prejudice; reminding them that regardless of
                                the theology they espouse or the constituency from
                                which they emerge their credibility as gospel people lies
                                in how they live, and how they love. For without love we
                                are all but "sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal".

35. Robert Orsi, Charles Warren Professor of the History of Religion in America, at Harvard Divinity School, "Women and 20th Century Protestantism" conference, held in 1998 at the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center, with sixteen selected scholars. Keynote address, "The Gender of Religious Otherness"

My thinking about anti-Catholicism has been profoundly influenced by
Jenny Franchot’s Roads to Rome: The Antebellum Protestant Encounter with Catholicism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

36. Deborah Keith Doolittle, The Nun and Anti-Catholicism in Antebellum America, 1990

37. David Bebbington, Department of History, University of Stirling (Scotland), "Scottish Cultural Influences on Evangelism," Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, Issue 14.1 (

Anti-Catholicism in Scotland

According to many media presentations, the second most important feature of Scottish religion after Calvinism is sectarianism. By that is usually meant the rivalry between Protestants and Catholics that leads to violence at football matches. The point here is that anti-Catholicism, a deep-seated feeling among Evangelicals, has been a distasteful attitude in Scotland. Anti-Catholicism has certainly remained strong, not just in the nineteenth century, but also in the twentieth century; in the 1920s some extraordinary reports to the General Assembly of the Kirk urged racial purity by the deportation of Irish Catholic paupers and criminals from the country.

Although it has to be conceded that Evangelicals have sometimes expressed unpleasant attitudes, prejudice was not universal among Evangelicals. Many supported Roman Catholic emancipation in 1829. Although they disagreed with Roman Catholics theologically, they supported their civil rights. The great upsurge in anti-Catholic feeling amongst Evangelicals came in the 1840s because of the huge Irish immigration following the appalling famine in Ireland of that decade. A lot of it at grass-roots level can be recognised as a symptom of fear about competition for scarce jobs. There was an economic explanation of this prejudice which was at least as strong for many people as the theological. Furthermore, this anti-Catholic feeling has now quite properly been diagnosed by Linda Colley in her notable book Britons, as part of the nation-building process whereby British identity was cultivated by Protestantism and war against the French. British nationalism was a strongly anti-Catholic force that could not help but affect Evangelicals. It was not just evangelical Protestantism that was responsible for anti-Catholic attitudes, for they were also encouraged by the secular context and by the state itself. This instance of anti-Catholicism in the ambience of Evangelicalism shows the risk of accepting cultural attitudes because they seem to mesh with evangelical theology. Catholicism appeared to be a bad thing because it was wrong about the way of salvation, and hence many Evangelicals inferred that Catholics were a bad lot. The result of that prejudice has been the virtual impossibility for Protestants to spread the gospel amongst Irish immigrants to Scotland and their descendants ever since the 1840s. The Christian faith in Scotland has suffered in consequence.

38. Philip Jenkins, Hating the Church: Anti-Catholicism in Modern America, ISBN: 0195154800; (May 2003).

39. D. G. Paz, Popular Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Victorian England, Stanford University Press,  1992.

40.  Francis D. Cogliano, No King, No Popery: Anti-Catholicism in Revolutionary New England, Greenwood Publishing Group 1996.

41. Jody M. Roy, Rhetorical Campaigns of the 19th Century Anti-Catholics and Catholics in America, Edwin Mellen Press, 1999.

42.  Les Wallace, The Rhetoric of Anti-Catholicism: The American Protective Association, 1887-1911 (European Immigrants and American Society), Garland Pub., 1990.

43. Donald L. Kinzer, Episode in Anti-Catholicism: The American Protective Association, University of Washington Press, 1964.

44. Frank H. Wallis, Popular Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Victorian Britain, Edwin Mellen Press, 1993.

45. John Wolffe, The Protestant Crusade in Great Britain 1829-1860 (Oxford Historical Monographs), Clarendon Press, 1995. book description (complete):

In this meticulously researched book, Wolffe examines the anti-Catholic
societies which played an important part in the shaping of public opinion,
and which exercised significant leverage on politics, notably in
1834-1835 and between 1845 and 1855. He explores the cultural and
social dimensions of anti-Catholicism, relating them to the values and
impact of evangelicalism at a variety of social levels. This book makes an
important contribution to our understanding of Victorian religion,
particularly in terms of the interaction between England, Ireland, and
Scotland. Wolffe demonstrates that, while the Protestant crusade failed
in terms of most of its specific objectives, its impact on the life of the
nation was nevertheless far-reaching.

46. Robert J. Klaus, The Pope, the Protestants, and the Irish: Papal Aggression and Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Nineteenth Century England,  Garland Pub., 1988.

47. Gary DeMar (well-known Reformed writer); discussed in Rev. Marvin D. Merrill, "Who Wants to be a Historicist? A Biblical Response to Gary DeMar." September, 2000 issue of the Trumpet, the newsletter of the Historicism Reasearch Foundation. It was published in response to . . . "Who Wants to be an Historian," [by] Gary Demar, appearing in Biblical Worldview, September, 2000.

. . . Gary DeMar’s recent essay “Who Wants to be a Historian?” . . .  claims that a study of history explains why most fundamentalists have moved away from the idea that the papacy is the antichrist . . . Incorrectly, he implies that only a “fundamentalist” would subscribe to this view.

DeMar acknowledges that the Reformers were historicists, and mentioned such great men as “Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, Melanchton, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, Tyndale, Bradford, Hooper, Latimer,  Cranmer, Wesley, Newton, Bengel, and nearly all Protestant denominations tagged the papacy as the antichrist, the Man of Sin, and the Beast of Revelation 13.” Yet he does not hesitate to attribute error to each of these godly men, and to nearly all of the faithful of Protestantism who have gone before us.

In making his case against the Reformers, and against others today who share their convictions, he writes that there is “A Modern Antichrist Revival” and mentions contemporary evangelicals, Dave Hunt and Ian Paisley, and says, “Hunt’s language is as strident as Ian Paisley’s, a frequent anti-Catholic speaker at Bob Jones University.” Regrettably, DeMar uses the term “anti-Catholic” rather than “historicist” to describe Paisley’s theological convictions and thereby implies motives of partisan bigotry and intolerance.

DeMar writes that Hunt and Paisley are in good company with the great Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century, Charles H. Spurgeon.  Sounding surprisingly politically correct, he says, “Spurgeon would be shunned by today’s Protestants because of his anti-Catholic rhetoric” . . .

DeMar infers that modern Protestants are enlightened and have risen above the ignorance that would espouse the papal antichrist view.  Clearly revealing his prejudice toward historicists throughout the centuries, he continues with a brief synopsis of the roots of anti-Catholicism in American history.  Starting with the Revolutionary War and ending in the twentieth century, he suggests that suspicions and mistrust of Catholicism had less to do with religious doctrine than it had with a fear of foreign power and political control, and that partisan prejudice against Catholics  was pervasive in our history until 1960 when we elected our first Catholic president, John F. Kennedy.

. . . So what does DeMar’s interpretation of anti-Catholicism in American history have to do with historicism?  Absolutely nothing at all, since no Reformer has ever held that Roman Catholicism and/or Roman Catholics are antichrist(ians).   They all held instead that the Pope of Rome is that antichrist which sits in the Church, and that those who support him are supporters of that antichrist.

48. J. R. Wolffe, "Change and Continuity in British Anti-Catholicism, 1829-1982," in F. Tallett and N. Atkin, editors, Catholicism in Britain and France since 1789, 1993.

49. Christian Research Institute, founded by Protestant anti-cult researcher Dr. Walter Martin; review of Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism, in the Christian Research Journal, by Kenneth R. Samples (current President of CRI is Hank Hanegraaff, the "Bible Answer Man")

How should evangelicals view Roman Catholicism? This is an extremely controversial question, and often emotionally charged. The spectrum of opinion among conservative Protestants generally ranges from those who see the Catholic church as foundationally Christian (but with many doctrinal deviations), to those who dismiss Catholicism outright as an inherently evil institution. It would seem, however, that those of the latter persuasion ("anti-Catholics") are in the ascendancy. Chick Publications, Alberto Rivera's Antichrist Information Center, and the Alamo Christian Foundation are three rabidly anti-Catholic organizations which accuse the Roman church not only of promoting false doctrine but of causing many of the social and political ills of our time.

In the midst of this growing anti-Catholic sentiment, a strong Catholic response has come forth in Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating, a lay Catholic apologist. Keating's book is an extensive apologetic work (360 pages) which attempts to answer basic challenges to Catholicism leveled by anti-Catholic fundamentalists. In a broader scope, it attempts to present and defend those distinctive Catholic doctrines which fundamentalists most commonly object to. Keating writes from an orthodox Catholic position, accepting both the authority of the church and the integrity and inspiration of the sacred text.

In his preface, Keating clarifies that his book is not a thorough evaluation of Protestant fundamentalism per se, but is rather focused on that subset of fundamentalism which is anti-Catholic, particularly the anti-Catholic organizations.

. . . he does a good job of defining Catholic doctrine and giving thoughtful answers to the often simplistic anti-Catholic objections . . .

An additional criticism is that the book does not always distinguish carefully enough between anti-Catholics and those who are merely critical of Catholic doctrine. If this distinction is not made, then all Protestants become anti-Catholic. By the same reasoning, all Catholics become anti-Protestant. In Keating's defense, however, I do believe he normally makes this distinction . . .

50. Alan Cooperman, "Anti-Catholic Views Common, Poll Shows," Washington Post, Friday, May 24, 2002; Page A13 (

                      Anti-Catholic attitudes, including a belief that Roman Catholics are not
                   permitted to think for themselves,  are common in the United States,
                   according to a survey released today by the Rev. Andrew Greeley,
                   a priest, sociologist and bestselling author.

                   Greeley said the survey was planned long ago and was not inspired by the sex
                   abuse scandal that has rocked the church this year. However, he said, the scandal
                   "certainly plays into the hands of anti-Catholics."

                   The survey of 550 non-Catholic Americans, conducted in March, found that
                   73 percent believed that Catholics "do what the pope and the bishops tell
                   them to do," with 52 percent saying that Catholics "really are not permitted to
                   think for themselves."

                   Moreover, 83 percent said that instead of worshiping only God, Catholics
                   also worship Mary and the saints, while 57 percent believed the statues and
                   images in Catholic churches are idols.

                   Greeley, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and the
                   University of Arizona, said the last major testing of anti-Catholic prejudices in
                   America was by pollster Lewis Harris two decades ago.

                   Although he had not expected those stereotypes to disappear in the interim,
                   Greeley said, he was "staggered" by the extent of their persistence.

                   The survey did reveal some positive views about Catholics. Ninety-three
                   percent of the respondents said Catholics can be good Americans, with 85
                   percent acknowledging that Catholic schools make an important contribution
                   to education in big cities. Younger and more educated respondents were less
                   likely to be anti-Catholic.

                   Greeley said the survey did not measure changes in attitudes resulting from the
                   sex abuse scandal. "All I have is a hunch, and my hunch is that [the scandal]
                   doesn't increase the extent of anti-Catholicism -- it only increases the intensity
                   of such views among those who already hold them," he said.

                   At the same time, Greeley disagreed with the notion that the scandal has been
                   drummed up by enemies of the church.

                   "It wasn't anti-Catholics who reassigned these priests in Boston or in
                   Bridgeport. It was two cardinals," he said. "Anti-Catholics may make a feast
                   out of the scandal, but they didn't create it."

 "Romans 45" responded to the above and I counter-replied:

you have not proven that it is not arbitrarily and defensively used by Catholics,

That wasn't my aim. I was replying to your claim that the phrase itself was some sort of arbitrary, "irrational" invention of Catholic apologists, in their rush to polemicize against Protestantism. That is now shown to be completely untrue. People certainly misuse the phrase all the time, of course, and I am in total agreement with you that this is wrong, but I would assert that Catholic apologists (people who really are trained apologists, not every person who frequents an Internet Board) do not use it in the subjective, arbitrary way you and I both decry, and that the improper, corrupt use of it -- while objectionable -- can never determine its meaning (as with any other word).

even though you documented the word  was used before. What was the standard definition used by all the sources you documented?

People use it in somewhat different ways, according to what their purpose is. The sociologists and historians (virtually all the folks I cite) are not primarily interested (often not at all) in Christian doctrinal controversies, but in human behavior, and how that affects societies, culture, or history (taking a long view). Thus, they would emphasize the hostilities, prejudices, propandistic and conspiratorial elements, fears of the unknown, economic and social agitators, class, religious, and ethnic rivalries, cultural assimilation, political ramifications and trends, etc.

However, some of the sociologists and historians who better understand Christian doctrine and history, have also acknowledged the doctrinal component which comprises my sole working definition ("those who deny that the Catholic Church is a Christian institution"). Almost always, the people who are writing anti-Catholic literature or spouting it in some other fashion, are also anti-Catholic in this sense.

And I think it is implicit in the use of the term in virtually all these scholars, and is seen in the examples they mention. Here are a few examples I would cite (all perfectly consistent with my definition). Note that -- not unexpectedly at all -- the last two writers come the closest to my definition precisely because they are a pastor and an apologist, respectively, rather than a sociologist or historian, as the others are:

#3 Page Smith: "Pious Protestants still thought of the Pope as the Antichrist, the enemy of the faith, the Beast of the Apocalypse."

#6 Martin Marty: ". . . the editor of the Protestant Home Missionary picked up the cry for the West, where was to be fought a great battle 'between truth and error, between law
and anarchy -- between Christianity . . . and the combined forces of Infidelity and Popery.' "

#9 Mark Noll  "Protestant anti-Romanism was a staple of the American theological world . . ."

  ". . . conservative Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, brought down great wrath upon his head for defending the validity of Catholic baptism [as John Calvin himself had done], even though that defense fully maintained Protestant arguments about the deviance of Rome."

  "Protestant writing against Catholicism retained the historical theological animus, but it was almost always a political expression as well."

#11 David O. Moberg: "the tensions have a continuing social, psychological, and ideological basis which must not be overlooked."

#12 James Davison Hunter:  Catholics were regarded by Protestants as heretics who had perverted the true faith."

  ". . . anti-Catholic hostility . . . took expression primarily as religious hostility -- as a quarrel over religious doctrine, practice, and authority.

#34 David Montgomery (Presbyterian pastor):

  "definition is crucial here. By anti-catholic, I do not mean a rejection of Roman Catholic theological positions. By that definition everyone outside, (and not a few inside), the Roman communion would be deemed anti-catholic! . . . Theological disagreement need not involve suspicion or hostility.

  "Some Evangelicals will choose to discuss the issues as they arise in the context of friendship and dialogue, while others will view the Catholic church as the enemy and will see the public renunciation of Roman dogma as an integral part of promoting the evangelical faith. It is this confrontational methodology which I see as the fourth characteristic of anti-catholicism. Not, let    me stress, because doctrine is unimportant, but because such a methodology attributes to Roman Catholicism a status it does not merit . . . "

#49 Kenneth R. Samples (apologist at the Christian Research Institute):

  "The spectrum of opinion among conservative Protestants generally ranges from those who see the Catholic church as foundationally Christian (but with many doctrinal deviations), to those who dismiss Catholicism outright as an inherently evil institution. It would seem, however, that those of the latter persuasion ("anti-Catholics") are in the ascendancy.

  "An additional criticism is that the book does not always distinguish carefully enough between anti-Catholics and those who are merely critical of Catholic doctrine. If this distinction is not made, then all Protestants become anti-Catholic. By the same reasoning, all Catholics become anti-Protestant. In Keating's defense, however, I do believe he normally makes this distinction . . ."

OK, can you please tell us the standard definition of “anti” in reference to religious denominations in all of your massive contrary documentation?

I did above: a non-Christian group, organization, or institution.

OK, please document the standard Catholic definition?

It's the same as the historical or sociological one, but emphasizing more the doctrinal, as we would fully expect. My own working definition is actually a lot narrower and more specific than that of the Protestant or secular scholars I cite. So if you are upset about my usage, you should be all the more upset with your fellow Protestants, using it in such a "sweeping" manner.

I know it is not there, because I asked on a Catholic board, what do you all mean by “anti-Catholic” and everyone gave me their personal definitions with much variation.

That gets back to people who are merely beginners in apologetics or not even claiming to be apologists at all. Go ask the same of a bunch of Catholic apologists who actually are published, or who have large websites and many online writings, and see what you find. I have never noted any significant disagreement on this.

Check out this definition from a Catholic site:

Anti-Catholic themes may be loosely categorized as follows:

1. attacking Catholicism as being un-Christian or a cult (in the pejorative and not the sociological sense);

Yes, and this is the primary sense. Note how he distinguishes  this from a "sociological sense." I majored in sociology, so I know a little bit about that field.

2. ridiculing or misinterpreting Catholic doctrine or practice;

This often accompanies the first aspect.

3. ascribing to the Catholic church a sinister role in an anti-Christian or anti-American conspiracy;

I think this is merely a variant of #1; a more specific application of it.

4. distorting or taking out of context illegal or scandalous behavior (especially sexual misconduct) by Catholic clergy or laity.

This goes more with #2: the prejudicial, hostile, conspiratorial animus and impulse.

Look at number 2. “Ridiculing and misinterpreting Catholic doctrine or practice”.

If someone respects other groups of Christians and regards them as brothers in Christ, then that would tend to minimize or eliminate this kind of practice and approach, wouldn't it? That's why it is almost always associated with anti-Catholicism, because the lack of respect and denial of Christian status brings on the mockery, ridicule and lack of concern for accurate portrayal. All benefit of the doubt is thrown out the window.

I guess if we used that definition that makes almost everyone on this board anti-Protestant. What about number 4? I guess it is the author's sole opinion about what constitutes distortion.

He is mixing the sociological and doctrinal elements. For myself, I prefer to stick to doctrine, but that would be expected from me, as I am an apologist, concerned with doctrine, and not so much with social conditions and trends (i.e., as my emphasis or type of work). On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with pointing out the prevalence of these behaviors and attitudes. They are part and parcel of anti-Catholicism, and always have been, because human nature is to condescend to people who are thought to be fools, dupes of Satan, inveterate enemies and haters of God, truth, apple pie, goodness and decency, mom, etc.

I bet by his analysis of what constitutes distortion even some Catholics turn out to be anti-Catholics.

Yes; there are many so-called "traditionalists" who now say that the Church is no longer the Church, and the pope isn't the pope, etc. Many liberals redefine the Church so that heterodoxy is orthodoxy, and that what actually is, isn't "really" the Church (that they have wishfully constructed in their minds: a Church that accepts, e.g., fornication, feminism, homosexuality, abortion, contraception, etc.).

If you would have read some work from the Catholic author above and he was using the term “anti-Catholic” according to definition #4 would you have known that?

Yes; easily so. It depends on context. If, e.g., Catholic sociologists or legal advocacy groups which fight anti-Catholic discrimination used it, it would usually be in a sociological, behavioral sense. When an apologist or theologian does (as in my own usage), it is doctrinal. Both are correct, because "anti" means "against." One type of anti-Catholicism is against the Church or individuals in it, in a personal, social, or legal sense. The other type opposes it theologically as the Great non-Christian Beast, Whore of Babylon, Antichrist, etc., etc.

Or if he was reading your work would he substitute the wrong definition when you use the term?

He would know what I meant. I make it very clear.

OK, maybe the term is not invented by Catholic apologists,

I admire your retraction, and thank you for it; however, I don't think that gets you off the hook as easily as you would hope. What the mere statement by you earlier proves to me is that you are woefully ignorant (almost beyond belief) of both the history of Christianity in the United States (and post-"Reformation" for that matter), and also of sociology of religion. You have to know very little or nothing about those fields to make such an outrageous statement at all.

but the prejudicial way in which they use it is a novelty.

Apologists don't use the term in this way. The person you cited was more of a social observer than an apologist. If you wish to document several Catholic apologists using arbitrary, self-serving, inconsistent definitions of "anti-Catholic," feel free. I'd love to see it.

They used it as a rallying cry. It immediately discredits the opposing voice and that is why every Joe Blow uses it at his whim. They don’t have to know anything about you except [that] you have just disagreed with Catholic teaching and [so] you are labeled “anti-Catholic”.

I agree with you that this is utterly wrong and unethical. I disagree that legitimate apologists are the ones doing this.

If the above is not true then I challenge you to present me with the official standard Catholic definition of “anti-Catholic” and then show an objective source that agrees with you?

I did that, above. Our definition agrees with the Protestant and secular scholarly ones utilized in historiography and sociology. All we do is narrow their broader definition down to doctrine alone. I've thought about this sort of thing for more than twenty years because I was a cult researcher as an evangelical in the early 80s and we were always very careful to define what we meant by "cult." We had these same problems to work through, and I have not had to change my methodology one bit since I converted. No need to: evangelical Protestant scholars and clergy and other theological writers agree with me on the definition. This is the whole point of my documentation. We are doing nothing that isn't fully recognized in the fields of Church history and sociology of religion. That's why this entire discussion is so utterly silly and unnecessary. You continue to affirm your earlier views that our definition is "prejudicial" and "irrational." You have learned nothing.

To contradict my account of things you must do the following from your massive documentation.

1. Show Catholics have a standard definition
2. Show the sources are using the same standard definition

Have at it.

I believe I have done so. Catholic apologists are doing nothing other than reflecting Protestant scholars and evangelical Protestant cult researchers (a group I used to be in myself). In the old days we would say that, e.g., "a cult is a group which claims to be Christian but in fact is not" (due to denying the Trinity or the Nicene Creed, etc.). So Mormons, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other such groups qualified. Therefore, I was "anti-Mormon" or "anti-Jehovah's Witnesses" in that sense, and remain so to this day.

Why is it, then, that when we Catholic apologists simply call a spade a spade and use "anti-Catholic" in an exactly parallel sense (i.e., "an anti-Catholic is one who considers the Catholic Church a 'cult': a group which claims to be Christian but in fact is not"), somehow this is improper, irrational, and arbitrary, and a so-called example of prejudice?

I've never understood this (probably because I worked through these issues 20 years ago when I was doing cult research and evangelization). Why is it that [published or Internet anti-Catholics] James White, Eric Svendsen, William Webster, Jason Engwer and all the others who precisely believe that the Catholic Church is not a Christian organization or institution, and fight against it as part of their apologetic work, are so dead-opposed to being called "anti-Catholics" (once it is clearly understood how the term is being used)? I have never objected to being called "anti-abortion." Strange, odd . . .

Seraphim Reeves, an Orthodox Christian, joined in on the discussion, on the same discussion board (his words will be in purple):

If I understand Dave's position correctly, it is the denying of "Christian status" to a "Trinitarian" body which constitutes "anti-" such and such...thus, you're "anti-Catholic" if you in any shape imply there is something deeply unsavory about the Roman Catholic Church.

If you claim that Catholicism is not Christian, yes. Many of the separatist, exclusivist-type Orthodox (a minority position within Orthodoxy, to be sure) merely assume from the outset that they are the only true Christians. Everyone else is excluded, even (in the most extreme cases), other Orthodox. Hence, Fr. Seraphim Rose's nonchalant passing remark, "we, the last Christians . . . " This is the same mentality as Protestant fundamentalism, but with much less excuse, given the glorious fullness of Orthodox apostolic Tradition. "To whom much is given, much is required."

This raises a few questions, however...

1) Does Dave (and those who share his opinions) deny the "Christian status" of the Mormons?

Of course; always have, as soon as I knew anything about Christianity and their counterfeit version of it. They are Gnostic-influenced polytheists who believe God was once man and that every male Mormon can become a god. Even the NCC and WCC deny the Christian status of Mormons: they can't be members.

They believe in Jesus, don't they?

Not the Jesus of the Bible and history.

What about the Jehovah's Witnesses?

Same thing, except that they are Arian polytheists. Jesus is "a god."

While I can agree with Dave that the Holy Trinity is the center of true Christian faith,

How, then, can you deny that Catholics are Christians?

if one keeps this but perverts practically everything else, should they still be considered to maintain some kind of "Christian status"?

If they got the doctrine of salvation wrong, they could hardly be Christians. They would be Pelagians.

2) Stating that denying the "Christian status" of such-and-such a group = being "anti-such-and-such a group" is purely arbitrary on Dave's part.

Nope; it is entirely in accord with standard scholarly usage in sociology and historiography, as I have documented beyond all doubt, and also in line with theological and apologetic usage.

. . . Why does . . . believing this about another group = being "anti-such-and such a group"?

3) Perhaps most significantly, why does the designation "anti" mean anything anyway? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it means (when used as a preposition) "against". A more complete definition would be...

A person who is opposed to something, such as a group, policy, proposal, or practice.

I have no problem with that.

Well, is not Dave "against" Sola Fide, and other key tenets of the Protestant religions?

Yes, I am "anti-faith alone." Absolutely. So is our Lord Jesus and St. Paul and St. James. :-)

. . . obviously, Dave is against any number of things, making the whole name game, right down to the core, absolutely arbitrary -

If it is, then refute my scholarly documentation [above], or do you wish to eschew all historiography, sociology, and standard usage of terms, and make up your own vocabulary and methodology?

A second Protestant who goes by "Julie" responded also. Her words will be in green:

I prefer using the term  exclusively  in it's sociological~historical content. No surprise there. History was my major.

That's fine. But don't you have an opinion on the doctrinal criterion as applied to Catholicism (since you like to chat about theology here)?

So I am a little confused (and this is honestly, with no intent toward nastiness). Do you personally prefer to use the terms Anti-Catholic/Anti-Protestant in the sense of one who is;

a) in disagreement with the theology of said organizations, or

b) opposed to the sociological-political impact of said organizations and their theologies, or

c) holding an irrational and/or categorical bias against said organizations.

I use it almost always in the sense of (a) - but understood only in the sense of disagreeing to the point where the Christian status of the group is denied, not disagreement on this or that, per se (see the "CRI definition" above). Occasionally I will mention (c) in passing, usually as an attempt to understand instances of seemingly inveterate and inexplicable opposition, no matter how much contrary evidence is presented.

Are you trying to say that you are not anti-orthodox, because anti-orthodoxy like anti-catholicism, is in the common parlance definition c?

No; rather, because I consider Orthodox Christians. Likewise, I am not anti-Protestant, because I consider Protestants Christians. Catholics who adhere to Vatican II and the Catechism and papal encyclicals have no other choice. And this is nothing new, either.

The only way I see that the term anti-Catholic is objectionable at all is when it is used as a ploy to put someone down or shut down dialogue simply because they disagree with various Catholic doctrines, while still considering it Christian. I am adamantly opposed to that and will always defend any ecumenical-type Protestant who is being caricatured by the term, wrongly-used. In fact, I did so yesterday, with two Protestant friends of mine, on another board. I know one friend is personally very troubled by such name-calling, and I completely agree with her that it is wrong.

A third Protestant, E.L. Hamilton, chimed in. His words will be in red:

After reading this, the question of whether or not the term is a pure neologism may be adequately closed,

Two folks [above] strongly disagree with you. :-) They won't give it up.

but I still don't feel any closer to being able to resolve the question of whether "anti-Catholic" is used consistently and fairly in the Catholic apologetics community.

I completely, wholeheartedly agree that the term is often abused and used to refer to someone who simply disagrees, and that this is very wrong and unfair. But I think that is done by non-apologists or beginners, not legitimate apologists. I haven't observed them do that, and I am part of that community.

In fact, I'd argue that the general trend, based on this body of literature references, has been for the term to evolve into a more aggressively polemical function, and away from a more neutral sociological one.

It's used sociologically and doctrinally, and the two shouldn't be mixed, because that causes confusion. One should stick with one or the other. I choose the doctrinal definition.

   In that sense, I interpret much of this data as supporting a general discontinuity
   between the historical usage and the modern usage. Historical (19th century and
   early 20th century) anti-Catholicism correlated strongly with nativist prejudices
   (including anti-Semitism and racism), had strong political overtones, and
   occasionally boiled over into actual violence and property destruction. My guess is
   that very few instances of what is today alleged as "anti-Catholicism" share those

Yes, I agree again. I pointed out, however, that the sociologists and historians most acquainted with Christian doctrinal disputes and theology, mentioned that the theological component was intrinsic to the anti-Catholicism. That is what has remained the same, even though the rabble-rousing and violence is now considered uncouth and rather unfashionable.

I think it ought to be recognized that someone like James White, whatever his faults, belongs in a rather different category than KKK members in the 1920s.

Absolutely. Yet, even though he will not burn my house down (or even burn a cross on my lawn), he still will not even eat with the likes of me, and he has inherited in some sense the whole heritage of vitriol, misrepresentation, and condescension that has been passed down all the way from Martin Luther. I don't think that can be dismissed lightly. The interior attitudes of sheer derision and opposition (on fallacious, utterly mistaken grounds) affect anti-Catholics today, I believe, though I don't get into analyzing individuals and attributing to them various nefarious motives. White refusing to eat with someone is an outward behavior, so it can be analyzed objectively to some extent. I think we can safely conclude that he views that roughly like a Jew would view the "defilement" issue under the Law. That's pretty serious -- shall we say -- "opposition" to Catholics on a personal level.

To me, what would be far more helpful than a laundry list of citations would a single, clear definition of what falls under the umbrella of "anti-Catholicism", such that it would not become further degraded by increasingly casual use.

I use strictly a doctrinal definition, and it is identical to the one used by the evangelical Protestant Christian Research Institute, which I cited above

   To me, general features of "anti-[religion X]" would include the use of inflammatory
   language, continued assertion of objectively false claims after refutation by an
   unbiased source, disrespect toward holy objects, persons and ritual practices, and
   persistent uninvited antagonism of those who do not wish to participate in
   debate. I'd generally prefer to see those standards set fairly high, too.

This is a behavioral criterion, or a more sociological one. I don't use that in my analyses and papers, but on the other hand, I readily recognize that many of these sorts of behaviors will often, in fact accompany doctrinal anti-Catholicism. Not all anti-Catholics will do this stuff, of course, but those who do do it will almost invariably be doctrinally anti-Catholics.

   Saying "Catholics worship the Virgin Mary" is not necessarily objectively false, since a case
   could be made that the theological distinction between veneration and worship is
   invalid. Saying "Catholics worship the Virgin Mary because they think she is on the
   same level of God" is objectively false, however, since Catholics uniformly deny
   thinking this.

Very interesting and stimulating point. This is where theological presuppositions make it difficult to have a constructive and amiable conversation, for most folks. Personally, I think a Protestant could legitimately (and non-offensively) say, "I believe Catholics are worshiping Mary because I don't accept the category of veneration, but I recognize that they themselves do make such a distinction, so that this is not a self-conscious act of blasphemy or idolatry on their part, as unsavory and offensive as it is to me, and the Bible [etc.]." I would have no problem whatever with this, and would recognize it as sincere disagreement from a Protestant, according to their own differing premises and overall Christian paradigm.

What the anti-Catholic often does, though (speaking socio-psychologically for a moment) is refuse to grant the Catholic any good faith or sincerity from within their own premises whatsoever. To them, it is rank idolatry, period, and probably consciously, deliberately so. End of sentence. They don't care about the self-report of the Catholic, or any possible apologetic, biblical justification. That is far too subtle for them, and they never get to that point, precisely because their animus is so great that they would never grant Catholicism enough respect to ever get to a place where it would occur to them that the contrary Catholic belief should be given any hearing at all. This is the mentality of pure prejudice. But I digress. I hasten to add that I don't think all anti-Catholics would have this attitude, of course, but I know many do, from reading their rants (in, e.g., nasty, pathetic little letters I get in my mailbox), and I know that virtually anyone who has that attitude is an anti-Catholic in my doctrinal sense.

Whatever standards we use to define "anti-Catholic" need to be consistently applied to the inverse category of "anti-Protestant".

Mine easily applies to Protestants and Orthodox. If someone denies they are Christians, they are anti-Protestant or anti-Orthodox. And I am consistent in this. The term anti-Protestant, in fact, was used by Kenneth Samples (#49), David Montgomery (#34), and sociologist David Moberg (#11), as seen above.

If we do decide that "Catholics worship the Virgin Mary" ought to be viewed as sufficient cause to trigger an accusation of anti-Catholicism,

According to my criteria, only if said person claims Catholicism isn't Christian at all, and think it is sub-Christian as a overall belief-system.

then "Protestants worship their own intellect" (an accusation I saw on [Steve] Ray's board a few months back) should be deemed comparably anti-Protestant.

Nope. One would have to say Protestants aren't Christians. Orthodox Catholics simply cannot say that. Only the so-called "traditionalists" talk like that.

Words can evolve in meaning, but should do so in ways that don't prejudice existing debate. In particular, one should not lower the bar for anti-Catholicism, then claim that "anti-Catholicism is on the rise lately," when really all that has happened is that the definition has changed.

I would say it is decreasing, but those who still adhere to it are just as vehement in opposition as ever.

My own opinion, by the way, is that anti-Catholicism does exist and is an ongoing problem in American society, but that its locus of origin has largely shifted away from evangelicalism and toward secular liberalism.

Well, a Gallup poll said that only 29% of evangelicals took a negative view of Catholicism, whereas liberal types who never went to church were at 54%. That doesn't surprise me at all. It fits well with my experience and observation of the media and academia, lo these many years. So I agree with you.

A culture in which some segment of the public considers it amusing to desecrate a cathedral with a radio sex stunt is worthy of criticism. But I don't think that the vast majority of Protestants were anything but appalled to see that happen, do you?

I agree. Anti-Protestantism is now rampant among the media and the academic and politically liberal elite, almost as much as anti-Catholicism. I think that is one of many very good reasons to stop our scandalous in-fighting and self-destruction and close ranks to fight the pagans and infidels. The more we fight, the more they take over culture, to everyone's detriment.

Finally, I had an exchange with yet another Protestant (with whom I have often dialogued in the past) who claimed that anti-Catholicism was a "prejudice-invoking" title. This was my response:

I'm just wondering: does that mean that the 50 scholars I cited, who use the term frequently, are invoking prejudice, too? If not, is it not conceivable in your mind that a Catholic apologist like myself might also use the term with no intent whatsover of "invoking prejudice," but simply as an accurate description of a certain mindset?

If scholars can use the term without invoking such ridiculous paranoia, why cannot Catholic apologists? Secondly, would a black person in the American south in, say, 1890, possess this "underdog-being-besieged-by-bigots mentality"? Would he be justified in doing so? That's not to say I think Catholics should be paranoid. Most Catholics I know don't lose a moment's sleep over anti-Catholicism. They simply know that it is a fact of life, and point it out where necessary. It's not that big of a deal to us. But when its very existence is denied, we will put up a big fuss, because it is indeed a reality.

My present point is that it looks like you have a huge problem of consistency if you wish to claim that use of the term is inherently "paranoid" or some such, when it has been a standard term in religious sociology and Church history for many decades. And my citations were mostly from Protestants. Are all the scholars I cite "name-calling," or do you acknowledge any legitimate use of anti-Catholicism for anyone? Or can only Protestants use it without psychological paranoia and persecution complexes? As soon as a Catholic does, that is proof positive of his psychological deficiencies, prejudice, and glaring linguistic shortcomings?

As soon as you admit (if you do) that a Catholic can use the term in a non-judgmental, non-prejudicial, sociological sense (as I do), then its use can only be judged on a case-by-case basis. If that is so, then you will have to restrict your assailing of the term in a broad-based manner, and confine yourself to critiquing individuals who distort and abuse the term. Your critique has been broad and sweeping, and it is its indefensible scope (as if all use of the word is inherently dishonest, misleading, or prejudice-inducing) which is my primary beef here.

You have your complaints about terminology? So do I. The difference, now, though, is that I have gone and done the work and produced 50 scholars or authors who use the term, thus showing that there is nothing inherently objectionable at all in its use. Nothing like some objective standard to bring clarity into an oftentimes irrationally emotional discussion . . .

All of this was to no avail. My friend didn't care whether 200 scholars used the term; it made no difference, because they, too, can have a "stinky agenda" which blinds them to reality. Catholics whine too often and try to portray themselves as victims, and should rejoice in the fact that Jesus predicted persecution for all of His followers, rather than utilizing "stupid power games." Many Catholic converts have an outlook not unlike Protestant Fundamentalists. The term anti-Catholic is "prejudicial, emotional, and useless" in Protestant-Catholic discussion.

See related papers:

Is ALL Opposition to Catholicism Properly Called "Anti-Catholicism"?

Dialogue: Does the Term Anti-Catholic Employ an Unreasonable Double Standard?
(Dave Armstrong vs. Matt Perman)

Did Martin Luther Regard the (Roman) Catholic Church as a Non-Christian, Apostate Institution?: Featuring dozens of citations from Luther's own writings; particularly On the Councils and the Churches (1539) and Against Hans Wurst (1541)

Newman on Anti-Catholicism

How Anti-Catholics Can be Catholics' Brothers in Christ (Truth
Wherever it is Found, Ignorance, and Invincible Ignorance)

Calvinist Confusion and Contradictions Concerning Election, Valid Baptism, and Whether
Catholics are "Brothers in Christ" or  Slaves to Satan

Interacting With Sophists: Reflections on "Debates" With Anti-Catholic Polemicists

Is Catholicism Christian?: My Debate With Dr. James White

Critique of Ankerberg and Weldon's Protestants and Catholics: Do They Now Agree?

Anti-Catholicism: The Curse of "Papists"

"Roman Catholic" vs. "Catholic" (Proper Titles) (with James Akin)

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Uploaded on 7 October 2002 by Dave Armstrong.