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Bad Religion

Let's Talk Religion

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1Jesse_wiedinmyer
Apr 19, 2012, 1:23pm Top

Mayhap not what the thread title makes you think...

Review Here.

2Jesse_wiedinmyer
Apr 19, 2012, 1:27pm Top

Rich people want to be told they deserve their success; poor people want a God who will make them rich.

Is this true?

3BruceCoulson
Apr 19, 2012, 1:38pm Top

Head and Heart: American Christianities

For some people, yes. But not for others.

I was hoping your thread was on the band...

4Jesse_wiedinmyer
Apr 19, 2012, 1:47pm Top

An interview with Douthat.

5BruceCoulson
Apr 19, 2012, 2:24pm Top

An interesting read; but on the whole, I prefer Wills' book on the history of the faith in America; and the fact that we've gone through cycles of extreme fervent belief ('heart') and times of intellectual consideration of Christianity ('head') before. Wills states that there has always been a conflict between the two viewpoints, and that's unlikely to change.

I also found some troubling quotes in that interview.

"The idea that America has some distinctive role to play in the unfolding of God's plan is compatible with orthodox Christianity."

In other words, we're still special people; as opposed to all those other people who might be God's children, but not his favored children.

"Evangelicals are less likely to look to a government program for help, but they are more likely to see the election of particular individuals as the key to fulfilling Christian purposes."

I haven't noticed any evangelical churches turning down any of the government benefits of being a church, or government protections either. They just want more power.

"America has more to gain from a more potent Protestantism and Catholicism than it does from even the most fruitful Protestant-Catholic dialogue."

I think this is dependent on how you view such things as being beneficial to the country. Others might heartily disagree with the idea that stronger churches lead to a stronger country.

6johnthefireman
Apr 19, 2012, 2:24pm Top

As I read the original link and the interview with Douthat, there were things I wanted to leap up and disagree with, but I had to keep reminding myself that this is all about the USA, so I'll try to bite my tongue and sit back and learn. But I do find it interesting to read a view of Christianity in the USA from a mainstream Christian perspective.

7richardbsmith
Edited: Apr 19, 2012, 7:46pm Top

Another of the NYTimes articles that you need to read closely the first time, because you cannot open it again.

One point that I took home from the first read of the article is the focus on self within the church - whether that is the Name It Claim Prosperity Gospel or the spiritual enlightenment self fulfillment gospel. (If I am wrong on the focus, forgive me, but I could not go back to double check my take home point.)

I posted a previous thread that counted the I's in the popular song "I Imagine". If memory serves my counting method was not well received.

For me Christianity frees the believer from the burden of sin to be able to open up and to serve the other - God and neighbor.

Justification is the starting point, not the ending point.

ETA
I found the topic I mentioned in this comment.
http://www.librarything.com/topic/76763

ETAA
Looking back on that topic - I miss geneg.

9paradoxosalpha
May 2, 2012, 3:38pm Top

> 6

Don't excuse Douthat because he's an American. He's still stupid and wrong.

Here is an excellent takedown of Douthat's book.

10timspalding
Edited: May 4, 2012, 2:40am Top

I find some elements of—not Douthat's book, which I haven't read, but the description of his book—appealing and true. Then again, the Esquire review concentrates—perhaps wrongly—on other aspects. Who knows which is right?(1)

A few topics emerge, some of which we've debated before:

1. Why has moderate or liberal religion fared so poorly in the numbers game?
2. How wrong (or not wrong) are various Biblical scholars like Pagels or Ehrman?

The one that interests me is simply that of division. I think religion here is just part of the larger sociological story—we are an increasingly divided society, and increasingly conscious (and obnoxious) about our divisions. The Big Sort is a good place to start here—demonstrating over and over again that Americans are sorting themselves by opinion (taste, politics, etc.) more than ever, and more consciously. To that add the end of consensus media, leading millions to only consume news and other media they agree with. It's not surprising that the middle—mainline religion—is getting squeezed out. So are moderate Republicans, pro-life Democrats, etc.


1. That the Didache is deeply influenced by the Essenes is not convincing. That both have a concept of "two ways" may represent some influence, but the ideas involved are just plain different. Nor is the notion of "two ways" is hardly unique to the Essenes. It crops up any time you have a religious people in possession of feet, or who otherwise make choices. One might as well claim that Robert Frost or the Choice of Heracles were the source doctrine.

11Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 4, 2012, 3:31am Top

Douthat may be correct in that regards. But how good is a united society that (shared language, culture, etc.) that excludes?

12paradoxosalpha
Edited: May 4, 2012, 9:13am Top

Over time, religions and religious traditions tend to moderate themselves, which "weakens" them competitively, and creates openings for new groups and formations. As American religion has gotten less monolithic, religious participation in the US has actually increased. (See, e.g., The Churching of America.)

Douthat castigates such variety as "Bad" in his title. I agree with Pierce that he's nostalgic for a unity that a) was never as pervasive as he thinks, and b) was often coercive where it was pervasive. Perhaps its really the coercion he's got a jones for.

13timspalding
May 4, 2012, 9:39am Top

>11 Jesse_wiedinmyer:

Right. The comparandum here might be the period before the Civil War, when the Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians all split into northern and southern churches. Maybe that was a good thing. Then too the religious mirrored the political when, for example, the 1860 election saw the first and second vote-getters either not on the ballot of getting less than 10% in 12 and 15 states respectively. We're not quite as split by state now, but very few states are actually "up for grabs," , and when you look at the results county-by-county the division is even more clear. More than just a city/country divide, the percentage of Americans who live in "landslide counties" (counties that go 60/40 or more) has gone from 26% to 45% in the last 30 years. Someone should do a chart of "landslide counties" with the landslide being religious attendance. I suspect the same effect would be easily seen.

Maybe the Civil War's a good comparandum—after all, one side was right! Then again, the Civil War was also a big tragedy—some 750,000 people were killed. So it's perhaps fortunate we're not going to settle religious division with a war.

14modalursine
May 4, 2012, 1:04pm Top

ref 10

Why has moderate or liberal religion fared so poorly in the numbers game?

I think Tim is absolutely on the right track to connect that with other elements of "The Big Sort".

"The light that puts out our eyes is blindness to us". We who are "down" on religion can too easily slip into the lazy assumption that liberal religion is the "lemonade" that sympatico souls try to make from the lemons they are handed, or that liberal religion is an attempt to spin ethical gold from religious straw, confirming our prejudice that the "real" religion is the stuff that appeals to the yahoos, who are of course, god's favorites, on the evidence that he's made so many of them.

But it is probably more realistic to think of the religious "sorting" as Tim suggests as part of a larger sociological trend.

As to why that, why now, the only bit of information that I've stumbled across lately that might be relevant to answering that is the claim that there is a correlation between measurable political polarity in congress and the percentage of the economic pie controlled by the top tenth of a percent (or even the top one hundreth of one percent) of the population.

Growing income and wealth inequality, apparently correlates with growing political polarization.

Of course, correlation is not necessarily causality, but in this case the correlations are suggestive of something; but I'm not sure of just what.

15nathanielcampbell
May 4, 2012, 2:30pm Top

>14 modalursine:: Growing income and wealth inequality, apparently correlates with growing political polarization.

I wonder if you could unpack that a bit. On the one hand, you have the political stereotypes that Republicans are friends to the ultra-rich and Democrats are more concerned for the poor (or at least, for using government resources to help the poor, as opposed to private charity, which would be the favored method of Republicans).

On the other hand, if you look at a map of the "wealthiest" states per capita and the "poorest" states per capita (a google search quickly returns these data tables), you find that the wealthiest are on the west coast and in the northeast and are what we now call "blue" states (e.g. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York), while the poorest are in the rust belt / bible belt / south and are what we now call "red" states (e.g. Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky).

16Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 4, 2012, 3:09pm Top

It's the second time I've seen the Civil War offered as a comparison point in the past 24 hours.

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151522725/even-worse-than-it-looks-extremism-in-co...

17krolik
May 4, 2012, 5:02pm Top

>14 modalursine:

Your para 2 is spot on. Thanks for articulating this.

18modalursine
May 4, 2012, 6:50pm Top

ref 15
...I wonder if you could unpack that a bit.

It has nothing to do with Republicans and Democrats, directly, although of course in the end it has everything to do with that.

The percentage of total income going to the highest earners whether we're talking about the top 1%, top 0.1 % or top 0.01% is an objectively measurable number and has gone up significantly over the last thirty years or so. The "gini" coeficient, another objective measure of income inequality, has also gone up by a significant amount in the same period. I don't have the exact numbers in hand, but I don't think the general conclusion is in any kind of doubt. Whether its a good thing, a bad thing or a neutral thing, income inequality has increased over the last thirty years.

Divisiveness in congress is probably a bit trickier to quantify, and I'm not sure precisely which metric was used by those reporting the phenomenon.

I'm under the impression that its more than a subjective judgment, i.e. ratios of votes by party line figure into the calculation. That has nothing to do with assigning praise or blame. We don''t have to hold that one party or the other is the more obstructive to observe that voting is increasingly along party lines and compromises are increasingly rare.

Whether the two are causally related, and if so, which causes what, and by what mechanism is a different story, but that the two are correlated seems pretty clear.

Of course, it might not mean a thing, but thats a different conversation.

19timspalding
Edited: May 4, 2012, 8:30pm Top

Growing income and wealth inequality, apparently correlates with growing political polarization.

Maybe this is true in some sort of vague way that can't be falsified or attached to any causes. But I can't think of any convincing mechaniss. And I think you can identify a number of concrete causes that have nothing to do with growing income and wealth inequality.

For example, a major drivers of political polarization has come from a strong move toward cramming blacks and to a lesser extent other minorities into supermajority districts. The driver there were minorities, or at least their representatives, and the left generally. The result has actually gone to help the right, as the few very safe black districts are now surrounded by political oceans virtually devoid of blacks, and thus utterly unaccountable to them.

As for the 1%, has anyone actually done a study of their politics? My guess is that the 1% are hardly disproportionately Republican, and especially not conservative on social issues. The New York "Masters of the Universe" and tech titans in California are not standing up against gays.

On the other hand, if you look at a map of the "wealthiest" states per capita and the "poorest" states per capita (a google search quickly returns these data tables), you find that the wealthiest are on the west coast and in the northeast and are what we now call "blue" states (e.g. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York), while the poorest are in the rust belt / bible belt / south and are what we now call "red" states (e.g. Mississippi, Arkansas, and Kentucky).

Let the countdown to someone using the phrase "voting against their interests" begin!

20modalursine
Edited: May 4, 2012, 11:06pm Top

ref 19
Growing income and wealth inequality, apparently correlates with growing political polarization ...

Maybe this is true in some sort of vague way that can't be falsified ...


Well, the claim was that both rising income inequality and rising political polarization can be measured objectively, and when that is done, we find that both have been rising together (i.e. both are positively correlated) over the last 30 years.

So we're not talking about a vague unfalsifiable claim, but a concrete claim about what the numbers show about the relation between those two things.

Now clearly, the truth or falsity of the claim depends on the methodology for determining a numerical measure of income inequality and of political polarization, on the one hand, and the accuracy of the actual numerical series on the other.

I had thought (Silly me!) that both the growth of income inequality and the general growth of political polarization over the last thirty years or so were commonly accepted to be actual phenomena.

So before we have a conversation about whether thats good, bad or indifferent, and what, if anything besides pure coincidence, explains the correlation, I suppose we need to agree (or agree to disagree) about what is actually the case.

I'll try to overcome my source amnesia and dig up the names of those who are making the claim, and the documentation, or pointers to same, that they claim supports their case.

21modalursine
May 4, 2012, 11:19pm Top

Ref 19
As for the 1%, has anyone actually done a study of their politics? My guess is that the 1% are hardly disproportionately Republican, and especially not conservative on social issues.

That's probably true. But if we consider not the top 1%, but the top 0.1%
then we're getting into the realm consisting mostly of CEOs of big non financial firms, and high rolling finance types. There are others, but those account for a big hunk , a majority I think, but I might be off by a few percent, of the top 0.1%

I've seen a breakdown of what percent of that group are CEOs etc but I don't have it in front of me. If anybody is interested I suppose I could dig it out and display it or get a pointer to it.

Is there any real controversy about how the top 0.1% get their living?

Those are groups that usually make more of their income from the ownership of property than they do from "fees, salaries and wages". So, regardless of their personal politics, the actual policies that tend benefit that group or benefit that group more than other groups is usually an objective matter. The policies put more money in their pockets (or allow them to keep more of the money already in their pockets) or they don't.

22Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 5, 2012, 4:49am Top

60-40, Democrat vs. Republican for the top 20 Americans, methinks, if I recall correctly.

Though Republicans donate to campaigns more frequently.

24modalursine
May 5, 2012, 10:41am Top

ref 22
60-40, Democrat vs. Republican for the top 20 Americans, methinks, if I recall correctly.

Twenty is too few a sample to mean anything much, so I assume you really meant top twenty percent.

But the top quintile includes lots of highly educated professional types who basically work for a salary or professional fee. They may have some investments but their income,
if we stick say to the 80th through 99th percentile (leaving out the top
1% and above) then I don't suppose its surprising that the popular impression of that group tilting to the liberal end of the spectrum is borne out by actual stats.

25prosfilaes
May 5, 2012, 12:09pm Top

#24: Twenty is too few a sample to mean anything much, so I assume you really meant top twenty percent.

He gave the cite in 23; he meant 20, not 20%.

26timspalding
May 5, 2012, 1:03pm Top

both are positively correlated ... a concrete claim about what the numbers show about the relation between those two things

Do I have to say it? Correlation is not causation.

You will also note that year number has been rising too. It was 1950, now it's 2012. Maybe the year number causes income disparity!

27modalursine
May 5, 2012, 7:20pm Top

ref 26

Oh of course, you're 100% correct. Just because two things are correlated doesn't necessarily mean that there's any causal relation and it doesn't necessarily mean that it teaches us anything at all.

But the first bit of business, before we can speculate as to whether the alleged correlation means anything or not is to be clear that we at least agree that the surface correlation is there in the first place.

28timspalding
May 6, 2012, 8:31pm Top

What is the mechanism that ties political polarization to income inequality? One could imagine polarization happening along income lines—the lower end against the upper. But 99-to-one-percent talk doesn't seem to connect well with an ever-more polarized 50-50, does it?

29modalursine
Edited: May 6, 2012, 10:42pm Top

Government policy over the last thirty years or so seem to have favored finance, insurance, real estate and , I suppose, big pharma. Profits of the finance sector have increased dramatically as a percent of all profits over that period, according to my sources. The sheer amount of money that FIRE puts into lobbying is impressive, as is the relative share of all such money.

The Republican party has consciously tried (insofar as a collective entity can be said to "consciously" do anything) to forge alliances with conservative religion, and has in a large part succeeded in that effort.

Its hard to say how much of what happened next was planned or even forseen by the party, but the party certainly is not declining to benefit or refusing to associate itself with efforts to soften the separation between church and state, to introduce religious rhetoric into the political conversation (if "conversation is the right word, probably not), to oppose teaching evolutionary science, or to attack the scientific bona fides of climate science.

The well off, of course, have the rights that all citizens do to agitate for policies that help them and against policies that hurt them; but clearly, the better off have more discretionary income to spend in exercise of that
right, and in recent years, have accumulated such a preponderance of means that their voices can be in danger of becoming the only ones that get a hearing, all others being drowned out or marginalized by the sheer power of money.

The political ramifications of all that are probably best left to some other forum, but discussion of the effects, if any, of entanglement between political and religious world views and agendas probably does belong here.

30jburlinson
May 6, 2012, 11:41pm Top

The correlation breaks down even further when one looks at countries with relatively low gini index numbers but that are highly polarized politically. France is a good example, with a gini index a full 13 points lower than the USA, according to the CIA, but where political life is permanently wedged between the Right and the Left. Just today, Sarkozy got ousted by the first socialist to win the presidency in nearly 25 years.

Even Sweden, with probably the lowest gini index in the world (23 compared to the US' 45), declining unemployment, and the fastest growing economy in western Europe, is becoming more polarized, with the Social Democrats losing their long held dominance to a center-right coalition and the strong emergence of the nationalistic, far-right Sweden Democrats.

On the other hand, Mexico, with a gini index higher than any country outside sub-Saharan Africa, is moving back to hegemony by the PRI, with the ruling National Action Party polling at only 22%.

31timspalding
Edited: May 7, 2012, 12:43am Top

>29 modalursine:

I still don't see the mechanism. To the extent that the captains of industry invest in politics, they want reliable partners--they want people who win and can govern effectively. As such they tend to support center-right (and center-left) characters. It's not like Big Pharma is sending money to the Sarah Palins or Rick Santorums of the world. They are afraid of such people, because they don't play ball and they don't get elected. Besides, for all the talk about big pharma and the Republican party, was Obama who made the corrupt deal with them (see Frontline episode http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/obamasdeal/ ). Require everyone to have health insurance? What better could they ask for?

>30 jburlinson:

You think a trend toward polarization is a global phenomenon—or at least a first-world one? That's interesting. I have no real opinion there, except that we have to remember that the hard left used to be a really powerful force in European politics, and isn't now. I mean, Italy had a hard-left Communist party, funded lavishly by the Soviets and polling 35%! That world's gone, so polarization is relative.

32richardbsmith
May 7, 2012, 8:03am Top

My uninformed opinion is that we are polarized because that is the environment that makes for political success and sells media.

Need votes, create an enemy, preferably a communist or a nazi. No need to talk with that enemy because they do not think, will not reason.

Politics seems to thrive in a polarized electorate.

33nathanielcampbell
May 7, 2012, 8:57am Top

>32 richardbsmith:: "sells media"

I wonder if you haven't hit it on the head there. The last 30 years have seen a media revolution at least as great as the invention of the printing press 550 years ago, with the rise (first) of the 24-hour cable news cycle and then of the Internet. Now that we can bury ourselves forever in the minutiae of party politics, there's no need to ever surface for air, take a look around, and get a general survey of the land. We become so encased in our bubbles of media consumption that we don't care to look outside them.

34timspalding
May 7, 2012, 1:09pm Top

>32 richardbsmith:

Media was sold before. The difference is surely that in broadcast days you had only a few channels. They couldn't afford to lose anyone. With the rise of cable and then the internet, and the corresponding decline of broadcast and newspapers, you can live in a bubble of media you agree with, and never be exposed to moderating sources.

35modalursine
May 7, 2012, 4:51pm Top

ref 32, 33

There's got to be something to that, at least in the US where we don't usually conduct politics by chopping people's feet off.

Here. in order to prevail, a party needs to get elected.

By large, the mechanics of election, actually voting and having votes counted and such, has proceeded in a civilized and lawful manner, with a minimum of violence and outright fraud. The more egregious lapses seem to have been cleaned up, or at least we're working on it.

But at least in the US, there seems to be a trend towards making elections, certainly presidential elections, less and less about rational discourse and the relative merits of this or that policy, and more like selling soap or some other fungible commodity than its like a serious conversation about things that matter.

Candidates estabilsh their "brands" and sell their brands with the sole goal of having the "customer" pull the lever in November. Any method of verbal jiu jitsu to get that to happen is considered fair game, and nobody is ashamed to attempt to manipulate the electorate's emotions or to appeal to cognitive illusions to sell their brand. The taller man, the man with a better chin or a preferred shape of eyebrow has the advantage.

If he doesn't have those things naturally, money can buy him the make up and camera angle to horn swoggle the public anyway.

Its quite a show, actually. Better than the circus and its all free (as in beer).


36BruceCoulson
May 7, 2012, 4:57pm Top

The Selling of the President 1968 chronicles the beginning of the first modern 'ad campaign' for the Presidency.

In some respects, it's been going on for a long time; but the union of modern marketing techniques is about 50 years old now.

37Artur
Edited: May 8, 2012, 5:02pm Top

Based soley on the review, because I haven't read the book, the author appears to be painting with far too big a brush. "American Christianity" is an empty term, as one doesn't exist. There are a very large number of different Christianities in America, formally organized in denominations and otherwise. The author's criticisms are directed at certain segments of American Christians, and even those do not contain the convenient homogeny of thought, doctrine, or polity ascribed to them. As I said, this is based only on the review, and I'd like to read the book to see how the ideas are actually presented.

38Arctic-Stranger
May 8, 2012, 6:25pm Top

I only read the review, not the book but here is my two cents.

Factually, the generation that was the most church going in this country was the people that came to age in the 1920s. My grandparents went to church more than their parents or grandparents, and more than there children and grandchildren. The momentum he describes from the 1950s was begun in the 1920s and early '30s, and was winding down by the 1950s. That momentum was easily destroyed in the 1960s when churches had built huge structures to affect society, then had to ask themselves if that were the right thing to do. Suddenly they had huge infrastructures, but mission that drove them to build them petered out.

Second, and this is more in with model's comment above, America is the first western nation not founded by Catholics. I say this, not as slam against Catholics, but as a recognition that we learned from the Thirty Years War in Europe, and when we were founded we had to deal with Protestants and Catholics from the get go, and the notion of doing harm to to people who believed differently from you was muted at worst in this country, and not tolerated at best.

39jburlinson
May 8, 2012, 7:59pm Top

> 38. the notion of doing harm to to people who believed differently from you was muted at worst in this country, and not tolerated at best.

When you say "this country," do you mean the official United States of America or do you mean the American colonies? Because the latter had absolutely no problem in doing harm to people who believed differently.

40Arctic-Stranger
May 8, 2012, 8:31pm Top

Well, first of all that while there were instances of intolerance, especially in the New England area, other areas were pretty tolerant. Second, I am speaking mostly of the US beyond the initial settlement of New England.

41johnthefireman
May 9, 2012, 7:08am Top

>40 Arctic-Stranger: So are you including Native Americans in the category of people who believed differently but to whom immigrant Americans meant no harm? Seems to me that part of the history of the foundation of the USA is based very much on doing harm to rather a lot of people.

42johnthefireman
May 9, 2012, 7:15am Top

Can't get the edit function to work today, so let me add that that's not intended to single out the USA - many countries were founded on violence. But it is worth challenging the notion that the USA was founded on tolerance and non-violence.

43lawecon
Edited: May 9, 2012, 8:14am Top

~42

I agree that this presentation of US history is way too Pollyannish, even if one ignores the Native Americans completely. The fact of the matter is that Pennsylvania was the only one of the original colonies that had a policy of toleration. (The Quakers also got along pretty well with the Native Americans.) The rest of what would be and then was the US practiced a policy of "Well, there is a lot of empty land to the West, why don't you move there and away from here, because we don't like your sort around here."

The nice thing was that the central government was weak enough that if you took this advice, you were likely to be left alone. That too changed in the post Civil War period, particularly if you were a Mormon or had other "heathen practices." (The "slant eyes" comes to mind as another example.) As the program ramped up to full righteousness by the 1880s this also became the Age of Imperialism, where the federal government of the US decided to remake the world and Christianize the heathen everywhere a navy could be effectively used to do so. So at least the dominate US clique was consistent about how to "do good" at home and abroad.

44BruceCoulson
May 9, 2012, 11:09am Top

I would say the true start of the American Age of Imperialism was the Spanish-American War. Although certainly the trend towards imperialism was there prior to that conflict, the war formalized what had simply been accepted practice. (It also was the culmination of phony justifications for imperialism; prior to the war, 'Christianizing' the natives was used as a justification for many acts of violence. But it wasn't until the Spanish-American War that America leapt into the arrogance of 'Christianizing' Catholics.)

45Arctic-Stranger
May 9, 2012, 1:30pm Top

The westward expansion was a brutal event in many, many ways, and I do not take issue with you on this. I was writing more in the context of the New World vs. the Old, and comparing Catholic and Protestant behavior.

In Europe both behaved miserable toward the Anabaptists, and in America all sorts of people were discriminated against (and in the case of Africans and Native Americans, brutally oppressed or killed), but not because they were of a different religion. "Savages" had the distinct disadvantage of being non-modern Europeans, and modernity requires conformity. Their religion was only a small part of why they were almost exterminated. The same is true of Africans.

46johnthefireman
May 10, 2012, 3:48am Top

>45 Arctic-Stranger: When I was visiting Maryland 18 months ago someone told me that the reason for the foundation of that state was so that Catholics would have somewhere in the new country where they would not be disadvantaged. Of course since it was a Catholic who told me that, there may be a touch of bias there!

47Jesse_wiedinmyer
May 10, 2012, 4:47am Top

Bias? I'm not sure that's a situation where bias comes into play.

48Hyginus
Edited: May 10, 2012, 5:01am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

49jburlinson
May 10, 2012, 3:59pm Top

> 45. Catholics always had something of an advantage in Florida, if they were looking for friendly territory in the new world. For example, in 1565 a French Huguenot settlement called Fort Caroline, somewhere near present day Jacksonville, was destroyed with all inhabitants either killed or enslaved. Above the gibbets, the Spanish commander, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, hung a tablet proclaiming, “Hung not as Frenchmen, but as Lutherans.”

50timspalding
Edited: May 10, 2012, 4:34pm Top

>46 johnthefireman:

Right. But Florida was owned by Spain, not Britain or the early States.

The Catholic history of America has Maryland as the only colony with a significant Catholic presence early on. Otherwise it was the edges—Maine, which has a part—Acadia—that changed back and forth between French and English such that it, or rather Massachusetts, which claimed Maine, had some Catholics in it when the nation started, and others in Florida and Louisiana, which entered later. The 25–33% of Americans who are Catholic is largely a phenomenon of late 19th and early 20th century immigration—Irish, Italian, German, Polish, etc.

51BruceCoulson
May 10, 2012, 5:13pm Top

Which is why there was so much prejudice against Catholics, both in the early 19th Centuries (the 'Know-Nothings') and the early 20th Century (the KKK). They were a minority, and in many places (e.g the Midwest) lacked political power/protection.

As late as Kennedy's campaign, there was 'concern' about where JFK's loyalties might lie.

52nathanielcampbell
May 10, 2012, 8:12pm Top

>51 BruceCoulson:: Thus the irony of Santorum supporters using anti-immigration rhetoric.

53Artur
May 11, 2012, 6:18am Top

>50 timspalding:

Just for clarification, The World Almanac and American Religion Survey put the Roman Catholic population in the U.S. at 60 to 68 million, which is roughly 20-23% of the population. Do you have another source that claims as high as 33%?

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