God, Church, and Flag: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the Catholic Church, 1950-1957

God, Church, and Flag: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the Catholic Church, 1950-1957

God, Church, and Flag: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the Catholic Church, 1950-1957

God, Church, and Flag: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and the Catholic Church, 1950-1957

Synopsis

Crosby examines Catholic thought of McCarthy, the relationship between Catholics and Protestants, and the political ramifications of the Catholic vote" for McCarthy. Catholics were nearly as divided over McCarthy as the rest of the country, and the senator's Catholic strength was not as great as it often seemed as reflected in the vociferous pro-McCarthy Catholic press. The study also details the senator's religious beliefs and his attitudes toward fellow Catholics."

Originally published in 1978.

Excerpt

I suppose it is a sign of the changing times that hardly anyone noticed how Catholics voted in the presidential election of 1972. Yet it was an epochal event in American religious history, for it signaled the first time that Catholics had voted for a Republican candidate for president. That no one seemed to care how Catholics voted is also of great moment, especially when one contrasts it to the intensive scrutiny given to the Catholic vote for Senator Joe McCarthy. Although no one takes more than a passing interest in what Catholics thought in 1972 of Richard Nixon, many political commentators in the fifties seemed obsessed with the question of what Catholics thought about McCarthy.

Between 1952 (the year of McCarthy's reelection to the Senate) and 1972 most observers stopped thinking about the Catholic vote as a solid bloc. Rather, they began to believe that Catholics vote according to their social status, their occupation, their region, their suburb, their background, their prejudices, or any of the other factors that motivate the typical American voter.

But in times past Catholics formed their own monolithic entity —standing apart, living apart, and voting apart (or at least that is the way the conventional wisdom usually had it). To be sure, one could find solid reasons for thinking that Catholics were somehow "different" from the rest of American society. Many Catholics did in fact view themselves as an embattled minority, struggling to maintain the purity of their religion and striving above all to prove their patriotism. in days gone by, it took little imagination to see Catholics as a society unto themselves, protecting peculiar beliefs and acting in a manner that seemed more "foreign" than truly "American." Above all, Catholics seemed to be one of the most combative sectors . . .

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