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Roman Catholicism in the United StatesA Thematic History$
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Margaret M. McGuinness and James T. Fisher

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282760

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282760.001.0001

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Ambiguous Welcome: The Protestant Response to American Catholics

Ambiguous Welcome: The Protestant Response to American Catholics

(p.21) One Ambiguous Welcome: The Protestant Response to American Catholics
Roman Catholicism in the United States

Patrick Allitt

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines aspects of American Catholic history that lay outside the commonly told story of parishes and immigrants by surveying the efforts of American Protestants—from the colonial era to the present—to properly map that Catholic place in the life of their nation and their own religious sensibilities. It shows how the ambivalent greeting initially extended to Catholic immigrants by U.S. Protestants was shelved for outright hostility during the nativist era prior to the Civil War, when the mass emigration of impoverished, famine-stricken Irish Catholics greatly aggravated preexisting fears of “popish superstition.” At the same time a number of Protestants—often from elite backgrounds—found themselves powerfully drawn to Catholic art and ritual, and more than a few took the plunge into religious conversion.

Keywords:   American Catholic history, Catholicism, American Protestants, Catholics, religious conversion

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