Anti-Protestantism

Anti-Protestantism is an institutional, ideological or emotional bias against Protestantism and its followers.

History

Anti-Protestantism originated in a reaction by the Catholic Church against the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Protestants were denounced as heretics and subject to persecution in those territories, such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, in which the Catholics were the dominant power. This movement was orchestrated by Popes and Princes as the Counter Reformation. This resulted in religious wars and eruptions of sectarian hatred such as the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

By contrast Eastern Orthodoxy initially viewed Protestantism as less of a threat. Fact|date=February 2007 The two had comparatively little contact for geographic, linguistic and historical reasons. Protestant attempts to reconcile with Eastern Orthodoxy proved problematic. In general, many Orthodox had the initial impression that Protestantism was a new heresy that arose from a previous heresy; the previous heresy being Latin Catholicism itself. By the nineteenth century some Eastern Orthodox thinkers believed that Northern Europe had become secular or virtually atheist due to its having been Protestant earlier. In recent eras Orthodox Anti-Protestantism has grown due to increasing nationalism and Protestant proselytization in predominantly Orthodox countries.

Hostility to Mainline Protestantism

In the U.S. hostility to mainline Protestantism comes from stereotypes of WASPs. This a mildly derogatory term describing people of "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" background, but can be applied to all Protestants of Western European descent. It can describe upper middle class Protestant people and their values in teasing or disparaging terms. WASPs tended to be portrayed as rigid and emotionally reserved. Pop-culture references to this occur in the discussions of the Mayor's background in "Spin City", the Jim Dial character in "Murphy Brown", and many characters in the film "Mona Lisa Smile".

Among conservative Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and many Pentecostal and evangelical Christians, mainline Protestant denominations are often characterized as being theologically liberal to the point where they are no longer true to the Bible or historical Christian tradition. These perceptions are often linked to highly publicized events, such as the ordination of gay bishop Gene Robinson by the Episcopal Church, or the decision to endorse gay marriage by the United Church of Christ. While theological liberalism is clearly present within most mainline denominations, surveys show that many within the mainline denominations consider themselves moderate or conservative, and hold traditional Christian theological views. [Smith, Christian. "American Evangelicalism: Embattled and Thriving." The University of Chicago Press. 1998] cite web |last=Lang |first=Andy |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year=2001 |month=April |url=http://www.ucc.org/ucnews/apr01/identity.htm |title=Denominational identity still important |format= |work= |pages= |publisher=ucc.org |language= |accessdate=2006-12-24 |accessyear= | curly=]

Hostility to Evangelicals

Some evangelical Christians claim to be members of America's most persecuted religious groups. Fact|date=April 2007This is sometimes because of laws prohibiting evangelical practices like allowing public figures, such as teachers, to share their faith while on duty, and religious displays on public property. Some people reject the claim by some evangelicals that anyone who does not share their denomination's interpretation of the Bible should be evangelized. The overt message that non-Protestants do not have sufficient knowledge of the Bible, or are not saved, is not well-received by members of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths. In part for such reasons, regions of Central America and the Andes have seen riots against evangelicals.

In Central and Eastern Europe the fall of Communism led to evangelization projects that have incited some resentment. The reaction has been perhaps the most intense in Belarus. Programs in Belarus imply that Pentecostalism is a destructive cult or cults that can be compared to Aum Shinrikyo. There are disputed claims that Baptists are also maligned in Belarusian textbooks. [http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=824]

In the Muslim world, hostility to evangelical Christians is widespread. This hostility focuses on evangelicals for a variety of reasons. In much of the Middle East and North Africa, Catholics and Orthodox Christians have lived in the region for centuries and have been successfully established trust and cooperation with Muslims in their societies. Evangelicals are seen as a destabilizing factor in these societies, in part owing to the close association of the evangelical religious agenda with the economic and political outlooks of the United States. Also, in nations governed by some form of Sharia Law, efforts to convert Muslims to Christianity would most certainly be deemed as encouraging apostasy and could have legal repercussions. The punishment can vary from censorship to death. Still it is more common in the Islamic world for anti-Christian feelings to be generalized. Hence Christianity in general is viewed unfavorably in Turkey and Pakistan according to a recent Pew Survey.

Some evangelical groups that hold to a Dispensationalist interpretation of Biblical prophecy have been accused to supporting Zionism and providing material support for Jewish settlers who build communities within Palestinian territories. Critics contend that these evangelicals support Israel in order to expedite the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem, which Dispensationalists see as a requirement for the return of Jesus Christ. [The Doomsday Code, available online at http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2006/10/21/christian-zionism-the-doomsday-code/] Many evangelicals reject Dispensationalism and support peace efforts in the Middle East, however.

Some evangelical groups take the Bible as literal and exact truth, and so have been derided as "Bible thumpers". A few critics have even suggested that evangelicals are a kind of "fifth column" aimed at turning the United States or other nations into Christian theocracies. Robert A. Heinlein's "If This Goes On—", and many other science fiction works, project this fear into the future.

Catholic and Protestant disagreement

In several countries with a majority of the population identifying themselves as Catholic, there is a hostility to Protestantism as a wholeFact|date=February 2007 . This distaste with Protestantism is often religious in nature, but in some areas, such as Northern Ireland, it is the unfortunate result of a battle of the European religious wars having been fought there, which polarised the people on religious and political grounds.

In more modern times, with the growth in ecumenism among Protestants in the mid-twentieth century and with the advent of Vatican II, Catholic-Protestant relations have grown calmer. Nevertheless, in general the further a Protestant sect is from Catholicism in its doctrine, the more discomfort may arise among Catholic people. Anglicans and Lutherans are only sporadically viewed in a negative light in modern Catholic countries. However, a Zogby poll of American Catholics showed Catholics having a more hostile attitude toward Fundamentalist Evangelical Protestants than to any non-Christian religion. It is also the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that Protestant faiths do not contain the fullness of truth. Most modern Catholics would indicate this does not make them outright false or negative, but merely less true. There are, however, Catholics, especially Traditionalist Catholics who deem Protestantism to be a rejection of "the one true faith", and thus in a state of mortal sin. Although many Catholics in the United States and other developed nations are secularized (see Cultural Catholic), some still retain resentment toward Protestants due to past historical conflicts.

Recently, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification [http://www.elca.org/ecumenical/ecumenicaldialogue/romancatholic/jddj/declaration.html] , a document created by and agreed to by clerical representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation as a result of extensive ecumenical dialogue, substantially resolved the conflict over the nature of justification (dealing colloquially with the issue of faith and works) which was a major issue at the root of the Protestant Reformation. The churches acknowledged that the excommunications relating to the doctrine of justification set forth by the Roman Catholic Council of Trent do not apply to the teachings of the Lutheran churches set forth in the text; likewise, the churches acknowledged that the condemnations set forth in the Lutheran Confessions do not apply to the Catholic teachings on justification set forth in the document.

Anti-Protestantism in Ireland

In other cases, especially Northern Ireland or pre-Catholic Emancipation Ireland, the issue is more complex and has more to do with communal or nationalist sentiments than theological issues. During the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland by the Protestant state of England in the course of the 16th century, the Elizabethan state failed to convert the Catholic natives to Protestantism and there was also a vigorous campaign of proselytizing by Counter Reformation Catholic clergy. The result was that Catholicism came to be identified with sense of nativism and Protestantism came to be identified with the State.

The Penal Laws, first introduced in the early 17th century, were initially designed to force the native elite to conform to the state church by excluding non-Conformists and Roman Catholics from public office, but were later, starting under Queen Elizabeth, also used to confiscate virtually all Catholic owned land anl grant it to Protestant settlers from England anl Sotland. The Penal Laws had a lasting effect on the population, due to their severity (celebrating Catholicism in any form was punishable by death or enslavement under the laws), and the favouritism granted Irish Anglicans served to polarise the community in terms of religion. Anti-Protestantism in Early Modern Ireland 1536-1691 thus was also largely a form of hostility to the colonisation of Ireland. Irish poetry of this era shows a marked antipathy to Protestantism, one such poem reading, "The faith of Christ [Catholicism] with the faith of Luther is like ashes in the snow". The mixture of resistance to colonization and religious disagreements led to widespread massacres of Protestant settlers in the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Subsequent religious or sectarian antipathy was fueled by the atrocities committed by both sides in the Irish Confederate Wars, especially the repression of Catholicism during and after the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, when Irish Catholic land was confiscated en masse, clergy were executed and discriminatory legislation was passed against Catholics.

The Penal Laws against Catholics (and also Presbyterians) were renewed in the late 17th and early 18th centuries due to fear of Catholic support for Jacobitism after the Williamite war in Ireland and were slowly repealed in 1771-1829. Penal Laws against Presbyterians were relaxed by the Toleration Act of 1719, due to their siding with the Jacobites in a 1715 rebellion. At the time the Penal Laws were in effect, Presbyterians and other non-Conformist Protestants left Ireland and settled in other countries. Some 250,000 left for the New World alone between the years 1717 and 1774, most of them arriving there from Ulster.

Sectarian conflict was continued in the late 18th century in the form of communal violence between rival Catholic and Protestant factions over land and trading rights (see Defenders (Ireland), Peep O'Day Boys and Orange Institution). The 1820s and 1830s in Ireland saw a major attempt by Protestant evangelists to convert Catholics, a campaign which caused great resentment among Catholics.

In modern Irish nationalism, anti-Protestantism is usually more nationalist than religious in tone. The main reason for this is the identification of Protestants with unionism - i.e. the support for the maintenance of the union with the United Kingdom, and opposition to Home Rule or Irish independence. In Northern Ireland, since the foundation of the Free State in 1921, Catholics, who are mainly nationalists, allege systematic discrimination against them by the Protestant unionist community. The mixture of religious and national identities on both sides reinforces both anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant sectarian prejudice in the province.

More specifically religious anti-Protestantism in Ireland was evidenced by the acceptance of the Ne Temere decrees in the early 20th century, whereby the Catholic Church decreed that all children born into mixed Catholic-Protestant marriages had to be brought up as Catholics. Protestants in Northern Ireland had long held that their religious liberty would be threatened under a 32-county Irish Republic, due to that country's Constitutional support of a "special place" in government for the Roman Catholic Church. This was amended in the Republic of Ireland in 1970 however.

Protestant decline in the Republic of Ireland

In 1991, the population of the Republic of Ireland was approximately 3% Protestant, but the figure was over 10% in 1891, indicating a fall of 70% in the relative Protestant population over the past century.

The effect of Protestant depopulation in the Republic of Ireland is dramatic. In 1861 only the west coast and Kilkenny had less than 6% Protestant. Dublin and 2 of the border counties had over 20% Protestant. In 1991, however, all but 4 counties have less than 6% Protestant, the rest having less than 11%. There are no counties in the Irish Republic which have experienced a rise in the relative Protestant population over the period 1861 to 1991. Often, the counties which have managed to retain the highest proportion of Protestants are the ones which started off with a large proportion. In Northern Ireland, only counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Armagh have experienced a significant loss of relative Protestant population - and in these cases the change is not as dramatic as in the Republic.

Future Protestant recovery in the Irish Republic

If the current trend were to continue at the same rate, there would be no Protestants in the Republic of Ireland by 2042. However there is evidence from the decade following the last census in 1991 that Protestantism in the Irish Republic may finally be making a recovery. This is based on several observations:

The Catholic church recently dropped the requirement that the children of Catholic-Protestant marriages be brought up Catholic. Since much of the Protestant decline has been attributed to this rule, this abolition may well stem the Protestant decline.

The Republic of Ireland is becoming much more liberal, and has recently been removing the Catholic church from the special position it once enjoyed in the country. This will inevitably reduce discrimination against Protestants, helping to stem the flow of Irish Protestants out of the Republic to the United Kingdom.

In the past decade, the Methodist church [a Protestant denomination] has reported that its membership in county Dublin has increased for the first time in over a century. This is apparently due mainly to Catholics converting to Protestantism.

The Irish Catholic church has recently been plagued by scandals involving the abuse of children, and this caused a significant backlash against the church by some of its members who either stopped attending church or began attending Protestant churches. This has been a catalyst to the recent growth of Protestantism in the Dublin area.

See also

* Anti-Christian prejudice
* Black Legend
* Martin Luther and the Jews
* List of people burned as heretics
* Anti-Catholicism
* Hate crime

References

External links

* [http://www.religioustolerance.org/rcc_poll.htm Poll of Catholics]
* [http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=811 Islamic nations views of other religions]
* [http://www.freedomhouse.org/religion/country/index.htm#nigeria Center For Religious Freedom Country Profiles]


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