Over the last two years there have been at least 170 attacks on Catholic churches across the U.S. In 38 states and the District of Columbia, week after week churches have had services disrupted, windows broken out, bullets shot through doors, or have been spray-painted or set afire.
In October alone four churches were damaged, including by a fire set at St. Patrick’s Parish in Watsonville, California; pro-abortion messages spray-painted on the Church of the Resurrection in Lansing, Michigan; and at Our Lady of Lourdes, in Colusa, California, a vandal did $10,000 worth of damage, including carving obscenities onto the altar.
Anti-Catholic bigotry has a long history in the United States. Catholics were a central target of the Ku Klux Klan in the Midwest and other parts of the country in the 1920s. The Klan had over 5 million members at its high point.
Thirty-seven states today have some form of the anti-Catholic “Blaine Amendment” on their books. These have their origin in 19th century campaigns against the rapidly growing Irish Catholic population. They bar any state funding for religious schools, but were only enforced against Catholics.
In a victory for constitutional rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 21 that Maine couldn’t exclude religious schools from a state program that pays tuition fees for children to attend private schools in areas where there are no public schools. The state had refused to pay these fees for religious private schools.
Anti-Catholic bigotry challenges the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Defense of constitutional freedoms like this, including free speech, the right to assemble and more, are crucial for working people who use them to fight boss and government attacks.
Today anti-Catholic prejudice is being whipped up by Democrats and the middle-class left, who argue the “main threat to democracy” comes from “semi-fascists” and the far right, including Catholics who they smear as reactionary.
“The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade at a time when it has an unprecedented Catholic supermajority,” The Associated Press complained June 30 in an article entitled “Anti-Roe justices a part of Catholicism’s conservative wing.”
While acknowledging that the 71 million Catholics in the U.S. have a wide range of opinions on abortion, the article pounds away at the six justices who “were raised Catholic.”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a special target of leftists, who insist she seeks to impose her religious and moral agenda through her votes in court cases.
Nowhere in the AP article does it explain that the Dobbs ruling is based on a reading of the Constitution, not on religious belief. Or that the decision neither bars nor restricts abortions, but turns this decision over to the people in each state and their elected officials.
Illinois Democratic State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz jumped on the anti-Catholic bandwagon in June, changing her Facebook profile to an image of a Catholic pope or bishop holding a gun to the head of a pregnant Statue of Liberty.
These prejudices lead to far-reaching attacks against Catholic churches and the right of Catholics to worship as they please.
There are 600 Catholic hospitals in the U.S. and more than 1,500 Catholic-affiliated long-term health facilities, many of them in rural and inner-city communities the capitalists’ profit-driven health system largely ignores. Some of these have been hit with graffiti or worse.
President Joseph Biden appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services are seeking to add provisions to the Affordable Care Act that would bar health care workers from opting out of performing procedures such as abortions or gender-change surgeries that violate their beliefs.
Defending the right to worship freely — and fighting anti-Catholic bigotry, as well as Jew-hatred, attacks against Muslims and other assaults on religious freedom — is a crucial part of unifying the working class.