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August 19, 2017, 01:49:04 pm
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| | |-+  Why was being Catholic a bad trait for running for President?
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Author Topic: Why was being Catholic a bad trait for running for President?  (Read 36 times)
Jabe Shepherd
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« on: Today at 08:48:15 am »
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I was watching a video on the 1928 Election and noticed that the Upper South (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina) of the Democratic Solid South went to Herbert Hoover and I heard one of the reasons that Al Smith lost those states was because he was a Catholic. My question is Why was it a bad trait to be a Catholic running for President? Why was there a fear of a Catholic being President of the United States back then?
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Cath
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« Reply #1 on: Today at 09:49:42 am »
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Up until the mid-20th century, and perhaps even later, the American identity was not so much "white Christian" as it was "white Protestant Christian". This can be traced all the way back to the Puritans in the 17th century and the bad reaction to the liberties granted to the Catholic Quebecois by the British government in the 18th century. England was a Protestant country by the time it spawned the fathers of the Revolution, and many of the religious minorities were themselves radically moreso. Even for philosophical conservatives, there was a suspicion of the religious hierarchy that could be found in both the Catholic and Orthodox iterations of Christianity, and they equated it with European autocracy--after all, for the past 500 years or perhaps more, Protestant countries have been seen--at least by those identified as such--as more modern; they more easily developed economically and tended to become democratic sooner. In the Gospel of Americanism, Protestantism paved the way for both capitalism and democracy in a way that Papism would have never allowed.

Moreover, ethnic dimensions played easily into this; if you were English, German, or perhaps Danish or Dutch, what did you want to have to do with the Irish, the Italians, or the Poles? As far as you were concerned, these peoples were still gnawing at rocks and basking in illiteracy and ignorance (per what I've read, Protestantism also promoted mass literacy to a greater extent). France is perhaps the only exception to these stereotypes, and they, despite being as Hannah Arendt put it, "the nation state par excellence," became racked with rebellion and instability after 1789.
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Alabama_Indy10
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« Reply #2 on: Today at 11:39:42 am »
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People thought Catholics would get their orders from the Vatican and would have to obey them.
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Blue3
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« Reply #3 on: Today at 11:46:37 am »
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There was heavy anti-Catholic bias in general for centuries.

Until the time of the Depression/WWII, they were basically associated with "foreigner."
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