State vs. Church: Bad Gov’t Hates Catholicism

We know that American officials often promote immorality abroad, and we know that America also has a severe strain of anti-Catholicism, but governments often find that they need religion for legitimacy, and Protestantism has proven to be quite amenable. People in power preach that Protestant theology “creates responsible individuals who are the ideal citizens of a democracy, while the Catholic sacramental-sacerdotal system fails precisely at this point”. [1] Though he had a connection to Orthodoxy, John Quincy Adams prayed “that the Lord will deliver this country from the curses of slavery, Catholicism, and intemperance”, and he put “the advancement of religious liberty” up against the “exclusive church” in South America. [2]

America has long sent more Protestant missionaries than any other country, and this has been a concern of foreign officials who feared that American influence necessarily followed them. [3]

An ambassador from the U.S. to Guatemala gave this wishy-washy answer in a 2005 interview: “The Church, Catholic Church, the established religion, was under some pressure because the [P]rotestant sects were so active and were proselytizing, and people in the United States were sending money to them, and they were able to offer social services and so forth. And then you had earlier on Rios Montt, who was the general who had earlier run the country, who had a church which was the Church of the Word, one of these Protestant organizations. This caused a little bit of a problem for me and for the embassy because the bishop kind of suspected that the U.S. government was encouraging these Protestant efforts because some prominent people in politics were active supporters of some of these organizations. I don’t remember anybody in the executive branch; some congressman, for example, sort of thing [sic], ‘Well, ahhh. Well, now we see. This is all Washington’s effort to weaken the [C]hurch.’ So that was something. I went and I visited with the bishop, and he was never quite convinced that there wasn’t some plot here to undermine the [C]hurch. But there was certainly a growing activism and a growing attraction to these Protestant religions and the evangelical movement.” [4]

Our government, while it has also had decent men, has a bad track record which must be addressed. Back in 1893, Protestants (especially those from the United Church of Christ) worked with the American military to overthrow the queen of Hawaii. (It took one hundred years for the Congress to pass an apologetic resolution.) [5] Things have not changed much since then. We were on the wrong side in El Salvador. [6] The first president of Equatorial Guinea’s U.S.-backed democracy declared himself a god, closed Catholic churches, and fined, imprisoned, and expelled clergy. [7] Corrupt Protestant presidents of Liberia were condemned by the Church but had support from Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Pat Robertson. [8] Another friend of ours, the president of Zaire, while a “believing Catholic”, favored a kind of Gallicanism. [9] Maybe most brazenly, a Supreme Court Justice tried to manipulate the Second Vatican Council. [10] One could go on and on.

Britain spread Protestantism, too, of course. (One Orthodox archbishop there noted “that conversions to Roman Catholicism were forbidden, but that the authorities put no obstacles in the way of possible converts to Orthodoxy”. [11]) It sent ambassadors like Lord Stratford Canning de Redcliffe, whose “efforts brought about the building of the first Protestant church in Jerusalem, the recognition of the independence of the Protestant community in Turkey, and the permission for the open sale of the Bible in the Turkish bazaars” and who made “a decisive and successful appeal” for the Nestorians. [12]

In Brazil, Protestants teamed up with the military dictatorship, and both received benefits. [13] In Cuba, the Church has decreased in influence and been denied access to media, while Protestants have been given radio programming and seats in parliament. Dr. Jill Goldenziel concluded in 2009 that its efforts allow “the Cuban government to reinforce the appearance of religious liberty while also promoting beliefs that undermine the hold of Catholicism”. [14] And Protestant missions are still increasing in number, despite the known security risks that they bring. [15]

Why do governments so often oppose the Church?

Bl. Pope Pius IX said the following in Nostis et Nobiscum (8 December 1849): “You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings. But these enemies realize that they cannot hope for any agreement with the Catholic Church, which allows neither tampering with truths proposed by faith, nor adding any new human fictions to them. This is why they try to draw the Italian people over to Protestantism, which in their deceit they repeatedly declare to be only another form of the same true religion of Christ, thereby just as pleasing to God. Meanwhile they know full well that the chief principle of the Protestant tenets, i.e., that the holy scriptures are to be understood by the personal judgment of the individual, will greatly assist their impious cause. They are confident that they can first misuse the holy scriptures by wrong interpretation to spread their errors and claim God’s authority while doing it. Then they can cause men to call into doubt the common principles of justice and honor.” [16]

With the rise of Protestantism comes secularism, loss of culture, and dehumanizing economics. Ultimately, because it is not rooted in truth, Protestantism is pliable and excessively permissive. (Case-in-point: while Pope Francis sent the boy a globus cruciger, the Archbishop of Canterbury said that he would accept it if Prince George were to convert to Buddhism. [17]) It can be used to justify anything; in South Africa, it was used to justify racism. [18]

The Church has done marvelous work – recently, Catholics opposed the dictatorship in the Philippines, played a very significant role in the struggle against the racist regime in Rhodesia, and fought repression in Malawi. [19] The Church has huge charity operations. Any government which opposes us or colludes with our enemies must have something wrong about it.

1. Freedom’s Distant Shores (edited by R. Drew Smith; ISBN 978-1-932792-37-9), p. 19

2. Nicholas Chapman, “An Orthodox Baptism in the home of John Quincy Adams – and much more besides”, 24 January 2012 (; Journal of the House of Representatives, Wednesday, 3 January 1838 (; “Message Regarding the Congress of American Nations”, 6 December 1825 (

3. Daniel Lovering, “In 200-year tradition, most Christian missionaries are American”, 21 February 2012 (; Charles Keith, Catholic Vietnam (ISBN 978-0-520-27247-7), p. 76

4. Interview with Ambassador James H. Michel, The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project (

5. Another World is Possible (edited by Dwight N. Hopkins and Marjorie Lewis; Routledge, 2014), p. 82-84

6. Kevin C. Molloy, “On the Wrong Side of God: U.S. Policy and the Legacy of Romero”, 20 February 2015 (

7.; Amnesty International Report 1979 (, p. 17-18; Amnesty International Newsletter, Vol. 9, No. 11, November 1979 (, p. 2; Oscar Scafidi, Equatorial Guinea (ISBN 978-1-84162-925-4), p. 29

8. “Liberia” (by Modupe G. Labode), Encyclopedia of Protestantism (edited by Hans J. Hillerbrand; Routledge, 2014); Mary H. Moran, Liberia: The Violence of Democracy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), p. 35; Paul Gifford, Christianity and Politics in Doe’s Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 71-72; Robert Anthony Waters Jr., Historical Dictionary of United States-Africa Relations (ISBN 978-0-8108-6291-3), p. 279; Freedom’s Distant Shores, p. 144

9. “Mobutu Wants Zaire Control of Roman Catholic Church”, Jet, Vol. 44, No. 11 (7 June 1973), p. 12; Leadership in Postcolonial Africa (edited by Baba G. Jallow; ISBN 978-1-137-47812-2), ch. 5

10. Joseph Roddy, “How the Jews Changed Catholic Thinking”, 1966 (

11. H.W. Langford, “The Non-Jurors and the Eastern Orthodox”, 26 June 1965 (

12. Richard Davey, The Sultan and His Subjects (Chatto & Windus, 1907; revised edition), p. 388-389; Rufus Anderson, History of the Missions, Vol. 1 (Congregational Publishing Society, 1872), p. 360

13. Handbook of Contemporary Religions in Brazil (edited by Bettina Schmidt and Steven Engler; ISBN 978-90-04-32213-4), p. 109

14. “Sanctioning Faith” (Journal of Law and Politics, Vol. 25, 2009;, p. 188-190, 203

15. Agenzia Fides, “Bishops support the safety rules to enter the country ‘for religious reasons'”, 8 September 2016 (


17. Robert Hardman, “The Queen meets Pope Francis for the first time”, 3 April 2014 (; Rebecca English, “Prince George can be Buddhist if he wants, says Archbishop after royal christening”, 24 October 2013 (

18. Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft (edited by Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson; ISBN 0-19-510280-0), p. 185-188

19. Religion, the Missing Dimension of Statecraft, p. 171, 220; Amnesty International, “Fear of Extrajudicial Execution”, 16 March 1992 (; Hilary B.P. Mijoga, “The Lenten Pastoral Letter” (Journal of Humanities, Vol. 10-11, No. 1, 1997, p. 55-67;; Robert Calderisi, Earthly Mission (ISBN 978-0-300-17512-7), p. 110-111

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