|Some dare call it|
“” A penny loaf to feed ol' Pope. A farthing cheese to choke him.
Anti-Catholicism refers to staunch opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, usually grounded in conspiracy theory, nativism, and misrepresentation of Catholic theology (and, often, copious amounts of tangentially related wingnuttery). Some brands of the anti-Catholic conspiracy theory paint the Catholic Church as a lone conspirator seeking world domination, though many depict the Church as being in bed with the Illuminati or Freemasons. (Ironically, the former were suppressed by the Church, and they have been staunchly opposed to the latter since the beginning). While anti-Catholic bigotry was once rampant among Protestants, recent political re-alignments have strengthened ties between conservative Protestants and the Catholic hierarchy. Increasingly, so-called "anti-Catholicism" is merely whining about criticism of the Church, coverage being insufficiently pro-Catholic, or disagreement Catholic positions on issues such a birth control, abortion, and gay rights.
 The Reformation and England
“”Anti-Catholicism has always been the pornography of the Puritan.
The idea of the pope as antichrist plays a central role in the anti-Catholic conspiracy theories. This idea dates back to the Protestant Reformation, when Martin Luther, whose complaints about financial and theological improprieties the Church had ignored, set off a schism within Western Christianity. Luther believed, following a popular conception of the day, that during the End Time Satan would work to corrupt the Church. Luther believed that the institution of the papacy was that corrupting influence, and, borrowing the term from the first and second letters of John, he called it "antichrist." Luther produced a series of woodcarvings with side-by-side depictions of the pope (labeled as "antichristus") and Jesus in which the pope was doing the opposite of Jesus (e.g., in one carving, Jesus is washing the feet of the poor while the pope is having his feet washed by the poor).
Conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church found especially fertile ground in England due to the English Reformation and creation of the Church of England. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605, an actual conspiracy by Catholics to assassinate King James I, also helped fuel anti-Catholicism in England. The most famous of these theories was probably the so-called "Popish Plot," a conspiracy theory cooked up by one Titus Oates that implicated the Catholic Church in a conspiracy to assassinate King Charles II. This led to a moral panic in the 1670s and 1680s that was used to justify the execution of at least fifteen alleged conspirators and the Exclusion Bill, which sought to de-legitimize James, Duke of York, as heir to the throne due to his Catholic faith. The idea that the Jesuits were foot-soldiers in the vast Catholic conspiracy, another common theme in anti-Catholicism, was also present in Popish Plot theories.
 America and Know Nothingism
 The US into the mid-19th century
Protestant settlers in America often took with them the anti-Catholic sentiment found in Europe. However, due to the overwhelmingly protestant religious make-up of the nascent United States, anti-Catholicism did not become a major political issue until the 19th century. Anti-Catholic sentiment in the 1800s arose in large part as a response to the large influx of Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Germany. One of the most popular early anti-Catholic tracts was written by none other than the inventor of the telegraph himself: Samuel Morse. In 1835, Morse published a book called Foreign Conspiracies Against the Liberties of the United States, which alleged the Catholics were part of a larger conspiracy based in Austria to install a member of the House of Habsburg as the imperial ruler of the US. During this period, anti-Catholicism began to become intertwined with early versions of the Freemason and Illuminati conspiracy theories, all of which played into nativist ideas about a European monarchical takeover of the US.
 Know Nothingism
In the mid-19th century up until the American Civil War, the nativist Know Nothing movement represented the high-watermark of anti-Catholicism in American politics. The Know Nothings believed in an imminent papal takeover of the US via the "political Romanism" of newly arrived immigrants and attempted to have Catholics banned from public office. They also managed to field Millard Fillmore as a candidate on the Know Nothing ticket in the election of 1856.
 Post-bellum America into the 20th century
Smaller Know Nothing-esque movements, however, persisted in American politics. The Panic of 1893 was latched onto by the newly formed American Protective Association as "proof" of a Catholic conspiracy to destroy the financial institutions of the US. This fringe political movement spawned a host of new conspiracy theories, including allegations that agents of the Church had assassinated Abraham Lincoln.
Anti-Catholic conspiracy theories continued to incubate on the fringe right until the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century. The KKK promoted Protestant white supremacism, leading them to target not just blacks, but basically all minorities. The Klan worked at the local level to shut down Roman Catholic churches and schools largely in the 1920s.
Anti-Catholicism became a major issue once again during the presidential campaign of 1928, which pitted the Irish Catholic Governor of New York Al Smith, the first major-party Roman Catholic candidate in a presidential election, against Herbert Hoover. Smith's opponents coined the slogan "Rum and Romanism" (Smith was also a "wet" opposed to Prohibition) as a pejorative reference to his campaign. The so-called "Catholic Question" once again became an issue in the 1960 campaign of John F. Kennedy. In that campaign all the old anti-Catholic conspiracy theories (as well as a variety of other conspiracy theories) were attached to Kennedy's candidacy and subsequent presidential administration as he became the first Roman Catholic president of the US.
 Modern variants
Anti-Catholicism as a political movement has mostly dropped off the radar in the current American political landscape. Most major criticisms of the Church originate in more secular issues like the child sex abuse scandal and the Vatican establishment's social conservatism, and come from lay Catholics themselves as often as not. However, hardcore anti-Catholic wingnuttery still finds a home in many fringe movements and subcultures. The following conspiracy theories often cross-pollinate into unholy alliances of crankery as well, just like in the good old days.
 New World Order conspiracists
Conspiracy theorists pushing "New World Order" theories allege a vast global conspiracy made up of the (Illuminati/Freemasons/Insert your favored conspiratorial bogeyman here) will often throw anti-Catholicism into the mix, mining the conspiracist literature of yesteryear for ever more pseudohistory to shoehorn into the New World Order framework.
 Wingnut fundamentalist Protestants
The antichrist theory inevitably leads to a round of crankery every time a new pope is selected, i.e. "This time, he really is the antichrist and the end is surely nigh!" Wash, rinse, repeat. The next pope is due to be the very last according to some Predictions  so mass hysteria may follow.
Religious anti-Catholicism often merges into New World Order conspiracism. Pat Robertson's 1991 screed The New World Order is such an instance. That makes these theories a staple among the religious element of the hard right black helicopter set.
 The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown's publication of The Da Vinci Code in 2004 made anti-Catholic conspiracy theories cool again by popularizing and ripping off the pseudo-scholarship of the 1982 book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The ideas about a cover-up of Jesus' relationship with Mary Magdalene and the true nature of the Holy Grail are sometimes subsumed into the wider anti-Catholic conspiratorial framework or, alternately, open up those with the inclination toward crankery to a vast wealth of anti-Catholic pseudo-scholarship. The secretive Opus Dei sect of the Church often plays a big role in these theories.
- Tony Alamo
- Jack Chick
- Mark Dice
- Jesus Is Savior
- John Hagee
- Brannon Howse
- Alex Jones
- Texe Marrs
- George Orwell in his early work
- Alberto Rivera
 See also
- Anti-Catholicism on the Net (collection of links to anti-Catholic literature and responses)
- Is Anti-Catholicism Dead?, The New York Times
- Catholicism and Anti-Catholicism: Some Bibliographic Suggestions, Religion in American History
- The Right of a Catholic to be President, Jay Dolan, Notre Dame magazine
- Maria Monk's Awful Disclosures: A Classic American Conspiracy Theory, Robert Blaskiewicz, Skeptical Inquirer
- ↑ http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/does-the-post-hate-catholics/2012/05/18/gIQAsfyVZU_story.html
- ↑ http://www.ncregister.com/blog/matthew-archbold/the-most-anti-catholic-political-ad-youll-ever-see
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," in Harper’s Magazine, November 1964, pp. 77-86.
- ↑ The term "Antichrist" is found nowhere in the Book of Revelation.
- ↑ Apocalypticism Explained: Martin Luther, PBS
- ↑ Oates's Plot, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
- ↑ The Panic of 1893 and the APA in Connecticut, Connecticut's Heritage Gateway
- ↑ Michael D. Jacobs. Roman Catholic Response to the Ku Klux Klan in the Midwest, 1921-1928. Marquette University dissertations.
- ↑ The Ku Klux Klan and the Anti-Catholic School Bills of Washington and Oregon by Kristin Dimick, University of Washington
- ↑ "Warning Against the Roman Catholic Party," a 1928 speech by Sen. Thomas J. Heflin (hosted at History Matters)
- ↑ Gregory Campbell McDermott. "I am not the Catholic candidate": Local Issues and the Catholic Question in John F. Kennedy's 1960 Presidential Campaign.
- ↑ Transcript of JFK's "Houston Speech" at NPR
- ↑ Mama's Girls.
- ↑ In some cases, this is even claimed by Catholics themselves.
- ↑ Here's an example involving Joey Ratz himself: Cardinal's 'Antichrist' warnings raise eyebrows, The Times of London.
- ↑ Will the next pope be the last?