Race Prejudice and Discrimination: Readings in Intergroup Relations in the United States

By Arnold M. Rose | Go to book overview

to swamp local living and working standards.

Nevertheless, the problem of union organization must be solved. The economic education of the Mexican worker is much more advanced than his cultural assimilation or his political experience. The union is his most vital point of contact with the larger community. . . .


The Conflict of the Dominant Religions

[ In recent years, there have been numerous signs of a new conflict between the Catholic Church and non-Catholics in the United States. The history of Catholic status in this country has been a variable one. The small Catholic settlement in Maryland in Colonial days met with violence and discrimination. But between the Revolutionary War and about 1840 anti-Catholic.discrimination and prejudice practically disappeared. Throughout this period small numbers of English, French, and German Catholics continued to come into the United States. In the 1840's, however, there was a large scale immigration of Irish Catholics. Their poverty and relatively backward standards of living as compared with those of most other Western Europeans, their anti-English attitudes based on centuries of unhappy domination of Ireland by England, and the belligerency with which they asserted their loyalty to the Catlrolic Church, seem to have been the main reasons for the very rapid rise of antagonism and violence toward them. For many years during the nineteenth century, the anti-Catholic movement was strongly connected with anti-Irish sentiment. Other Catholics--including the increasingly numerous immigrants from south Germany--were usually not involved. But hatred of the Irish went so far as to include desecration of churches, mob violence, and the formation of a political party whose main aim was to keep Catholics out of this country and out of public office. The Civil War drew attention away from the Irish as the main minority problem of the North, and by the time the war was over, a good deal of the antagonism had dissipated, and the Irish themselves were well on the way to becoming assimilated. But anti-Catholicism remained as an element in popular American beliefs. There were rumors about immorality practiced in the Church and encouraged by the Church. It was alleged that the Catholic Church was seeking to gain political control of the United States. It was believed that all Catholics have been enjoined to vote for Catholic candidates only, and that the Pope would have control of the country if ever a Catholic should be elected to the Presidency. These beliefs, strongest in the South and in the Middle West, were responsible for the defeat of Al Smith in the 1928 Presidential election. They were also partly the basis of the rise of the second Ku Klux Klan movement at the time of the First World War. But anti-Catholicism continued its gradual decline through the 1930's.

International developments and greater proselyting and political activity on the part of the Catholic Church in the United States created

-65-

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