Mental shift

Manage your mind and you can manage your life

Anti-Catholicism and Anti-(whatever)

Posted by jytmkh on October 16, 2008

Steve Bogner

For quite a while now I’ve wanted to write about anti-Catholicism but just never got around to it. Then an article from the New York Times comes to my attention: Is Anti-Catholicism Dead?

The article describes a panel discussion held recently in New York; nothing really new to my ears but it provides some good background. Is anti-Catholicism dead? No, not even close, and probably never will be.

People have biases, stereotypes, prejudices, and simple misunderstandings about Catholicism, and also with various other groups of people. It’s human nature and I don’t see it going away any time soon. Life has become better for American Catholics, but prejudice is still out there, and probably closer than you think.

My inlaws were, and probably still are to a degree, anti-Catholic. Back in my small-town Kansas high school days, when my (future) father-in-law found out his daughter was casually dating a Catholic boy, well he was not pleased at all. But I thought I was a pretty good catch! Good grades, class president, headed to a good private college with a scholarship, school newspaper editor, voted most likely to succeed… I still impress myself! I would have been the perfect package had I been a Protestant fundamentalist/evangelical sort of guy. We’ve worked through all that now and I’m probably their favorite son-in-law (sorry Martin)… but prejudice is so deep-rooted in most folks that it may take generations for it to go away. After all, we’re taught to be anti-whatever by our parents and our community.

So as I sit here talking about feeling the sting of anti-Catholicism, I’ll admit that there is still a strain of ‘anti-Evangelical’ in my heart. It’s there, and I’d be lying to say it wasn’t. If we search our hearts, we’re likely to find some sort of prejudice at some level; we all have work to do there. And it’s tough work because it can be hard to forgive and difficult to swim upstream against our family’s influence and our peers’ influence. Awareness is a great first step, and then working to keep from messing our kids up with our own prejudice is a wonderful second step. It takes some conscious effort though, and a willingness to love our neighbor more than ourselves.

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