Lund on The New Victims of the Old Anti-Catholicism

Christopher C. Lund (Wayne State University Law School) has posted The New Victims of the Old Anti-Catholicism.  The abstract follows. – ARH

This short piece examines four modern church-state cases which span the First Amendment spectrum. The plaintiffs are religiously diverse — one is a Wiccan, one is a Muslim, one is an evangelical Protestant, and one is an atheist. Unsurprisingly, their claims find support in very different political communities. But the plaintiffs in these cases all have certain things in common. They are all, in their own ways, religious minorities. All of their legal cases were ultimately lost. And most importantly for our purposes, each of their cases connects deeply with the nineteenth century history of anti-Catholicism in this country.

In various ways, Catholics of that century were mistreated by the Protestant majority. The injustices they faced were sanctioned by courts as well as legislatures, and legal rules were created to render their injuries both judicially noncognizable and socially invisible. Our four modern plaintiffs are, in some ways, latter-day Catholics. They suffer some of the same injustices; indeed, they are often inhibited by the some of the very same legal doctrines created to repress the Catholic minority over a century ago. We can think of these four plaintiffs as the new Catholics — or, to put it more accurately, as the new victims of the old anti-Catholicism. As we struggle with our twenty-first century challenges of religious pluralism, it helps to realize how much our struggles have in common with earlier ones. Perhaps, armed with this knowledge, we can do a bit better now than our forefathers did then.

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