I WROTE THIS ARTICLE IN 1998, BUT ITS STILL RELEVANT BECAUSE I JUST SAW THE SAME ARTICLE POSTED BY THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST IN USA TODAY, FRIDAY, APRIL 14, 2017. WHAT I WROTE IN 1998 ABOUT THE SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST STILL APPLIES TODAY.
The subject that I will write about is the blatant anti-Catholicism in America. Their are anti-Catholic Activist Organizations, anti-Catholicism in the arts, anti-Catholicism in the business, in the workplace, in education, in government, in television, in radio and in the press. I will specifically deal with anti-Catholicism in the press, using as evidence an article put out by the Daily News (in the San Fernando Valley) on Friday, May 8, 1998.
The full page article is one of those doomsday apocalyptic statements entitled “Earth’s Final Warning.” Its message is that were all doomed because Catholics have succeeded in enforcing a “NationalSunday Law” as the standard for Christianity. The article contains a picture of Pope John Paul II and President Clinton alleging that there is this spiritual and political alliance between them which fulfills their sensational apocalyptic interpretations of end time events. These two leaders (The Pope and President) have conspired to make ‘Sunday’ the day of Christian worship and in so doing they are bringing imminent judgement upon the world (talk about a juicy conspiracy theory). The fact that the Daily News would even consider publishing something so utterly shallow, dubious and lacking any serious scholarship really worries me and confirms my belief in this open anti-Catholicism in America.
I will share some information put out by Dr. William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for religious and civil rights regarding Anti-catholicism in America. I will share some journal articles on the reason for group prejudice and discrimination in America which will somewhat answer the hostility of certain people towards Catholicism.
Ultimately, I will try to make a conclusion as to why anti-Catholicism exists quoting the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. I will show that what people dislike about Catholicism is a strawman, simply phantasmic caricatures.
A“Harvard Professor Arthur Schlesinger Sr. once observed that prejudice against the Catholic Church was the deepest bias in the history of the American people” (Donohue, 1986). In addition, “in 1995, the National Conference of Christians and Jews did a major survey on prejudice against virtually every segment of the American population, and found out that the number one prejudice in the United States is Anti-Catholicism” (Romanowsky, 1997). Offenses against Catholicism tend to emanate from activist organizations, the artistic community, commercial establishments, government, media, the press, and even other Christian sects.
Just when I thought that we have entered the era of multiculturalism, ecumenism and religious pluralism in America, I ran across this ‘Earth’s Final Warning’ article in the Daily News page 15. I almost choked on my breakfast when I read the contents of this newspaper
article from this widely circulated reputable paper that enjoys a good reputation in suburban San
Their is potential to foster anti-Catholicism by such a spurious article containing the affectations of scholarship, yet lacking the substance thereof. Their are many bigoted people in our society against the Catholic religion who are looking for a conspiracy theory to justify their hatred. Not to mention the lives of many Catholics who are spiritually lukewarm, propaganda of this sort is enough to make shipwreck of their faith. Such outlandish conjecture written by some soothsayer, doomsday, self appointed prophet is on par with papers like the National Enquirer and the Globe, or about as sane as the Heaven’s Gate Cult near San Diego who took their lives to join a spacecraft they believed was following the Hale-Bopp comet. It is astounding that the Daily News would allow such a ludricous article in a city that probably has a good percentage of its Catholics who
Again, just when you thought the hostililty of the Protestant Reformation was over, here it is rearing its ugly head again. Now, the fundamental issue that provokes the antipathy of the Seventh Day Adventist Church to write this vitriolic article, is the fact that the Catholic Church instituted Sunday as the day of worship for Christians in the first century. The Seventh Day Adventist Church quarrels with any Christian who adheres to Sunday worship, but they pose their journalistic guns at the Catholic Church for designating Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. I have no problem with such theological disagreements, but I do object to the invidious caricatures that the SDA promotes. I say to the SDA that if you want to work on Sunday and observe Saturday as the Sabbath, do it. Just lay off my religion.
SDA's are the most anti-Catholic denomination I have ever dealt with. Lets see what the Bible says in the book of Exodus about worshipping God on the Sabbath. Seventh-Day Adventists take heed:
Exodus 31:16 “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant.“
Exodus 31:17 “It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.'"
This undermines their entire argument. From now on, ask every militant SDA that contacts you if he or she is a Jew, since GOD said the sabbath is for the Jews! I have not found any verse where GOD says the sabbath applies specifically to Gentiles. If that is true then the SDA's do not have a leg to stand on. St Paul spoke against those Christians that were influenced by the legalism of the Jews (like modern day SDA’s). Already in the Old Testament, God expresses disappointment over the Hebrew Sabbath (Isaiah 1:13ff). St Paul taught: "Let no one pass judgement on you in matters of food or drink or with regard to a festival of new moon or Sabbath" (Colossians 2:16). As Our Lord says, “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Matthew 11:15). The SDA’s sect should take the wax out of their ears.
Having said all of the above, their may be some factors that make the SDA Church susceptible to group prejudice. In order to understand the psychological motivation for this thriving denomination of zealots you have to go to their origin.
From the beginning, the Adventist’s were regarded with grave suspicion by the great majority of evangelical Christians, principally because the Seventh-day Adventist were premillennial in their eschatology. That is, they believed that Christ would come before the millenium and so placed themselves squarely in opposition to the predominant postmillennial and amillenial schools of thought of that era(Martin, p.420). The Great Disappointment of 1844 (that Jesus did not come back) and the collapse of the Millerite movement naturally brought the original pioneers of the SDA Church into disrepute and they were viewed as peculiar by other mainline Protestants sects.
Thus the Adventist started out with two great pyschological handicaps: They had incurred disapproval of the group by the mainstream of Christianity and. . . .they had been
publicly humiliated by the failure of their chronological calculations (as to the second coming of Christ). These two factors. . . . and the constant jeering by opposing schools of eschatology united the Seventh Day Adventist in a closely knit group, habitually on the defensive and suspicious of the motives and intentions of other Christians. Moreover the Adventist were drawn by this special truth of the Advent Message (the second coming of Christ). The Adventists considered themselves a “special remnant” of people ordained by God to revive certain neglected truths of the Christian message. Engaged in open conflict with Christians of virtually all denomimations, the Adventist retreated into an “exclusivistic shell” (Ibid). Filled with this burning zeal to fulfill this mission, they laid themselves open to serious misunderstandings by Christians of other denominations who do not agree with them about the proper day of Christian worship, and publicly enemy number one for them is the Catholic Church. Why? because the Catholic Church is blamed for having changed Sabbath worship to Sunday worship, and led the rest of Protestanism to follow suit. Here is one of many quotes from their article relative to the Sabbath / Sunday issue and whose to blame for this,”Of course I know quite well that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of PAGANISM, and christened with the name of the SUN-GOD, adopted amd sanctified by the PAPAL apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestanism” (Daily News 5-8-98).
Within Christianity you have scholars who believe the SDA is a cult because of their exclusivity and ravenous fixation with the end of the world. You have another divided group of Christian scholars that claim that the SDA are Christians with some aberrant teachings. Nonetheless, whatever side of the fence you are on, it is quite evident that since the birth of the SDA they have maintained a sustained aversion towards the Catholic Church.
Based on current pundits in the area of group prejudice and discrimination I will try to explain with some rationality the reasons for the SDA loathing of the Catholic Church. And I would like to add an important element to this analysis. The Catholic Church is typically identified either positively or negatively by the office of the Pope. When non-Catholics think about Catholicism they conjure up images of the Pope or the Vatican and rightfully so, since this is the hub of Catholicism.
To understand the ethos of the SDA Church I quote the following, “prejudice is a group based phenomenon related to the social identities of the group members. According to social identity theory, social groups provide their members with an identification that defines their social identity” (Verkuyten et al., p.99). This is totally consistent with the SDA Church, they believe they are God’s remnant people, they believe they are to pronounce judgement day upon the earth and they feel that every Christian body led by the Catholic Church has broken the fourth commandment. The same researchers state, ”group beliefs and standards will determine prejudice when group or social identity is salient” (Ibid p.101). The SDA is salient about their belief that the Catholic Church is the great whore mentioned in the bible that will lead all kingdoms to a fiery grave. They are open about this in their preaching from the pulpit and their publications. “the concept of social distance has been central in the study of prejudice, and social distance can be considered as a measure of prejudice” (Ibid p.102). This is key in maintaining aversion to Catholics, the fact that we agree on so many social issues with the SDA Church that are causing moral rot in our society. Yet in the Catholic Church in which I attend, the local SDA Church does not want to join our ecumenical efforts in the social/urban issues that affects our mutual neighborhood. The Pastor at the SDA Church told my Priest that he wouldn’t align himself with the Church of the BEAST of Revelation. Experts also state that “authoritarianism is related to prejudice” (ibid p.106). The exclusivity of this Church is exhorted by the Pastors in authority, and all their social and personal lives revolve around other like-minded Church members. Socializing with non SDA members is discouraged.
The SDA Church feels more or less comfortable with other WASP members in society but they certainly view the Catholic Church as persona non grata. A Harvard expert on prejudice states, “the perception by the dominant group that an outside group threatens their groups prerogatives” (Quillan p.586). My point exactly, the SDA Church that is part of main stream WASP looks at the rest of Protestanism as abandoning biblical principles by the influence of immigrant Catholics. It is Catholics that stand in the way of the SDA’s goal of instituting the Sabbath as the day of Christian worship. According to the SDA it is the Catholic Church that is making the rest of Christainity drink from her waters of harlotry and rebellion to Sabbath day worship. The same expert states “I expand on Blumer’s observations to develop a theory of prejudice toward out groups based on collective threat” (ibid). Yes indeed, the SDA Church consistently identifies her enemy in her publications, the Catholic Church. Why? because the SDA contends that it is this insidious Church that is the agent of the devil. Quillan again states, “prejudice against a group is antipathy by a FAULTY generalization” (ibid p.587). This is a statement that certainly indicts the SDA Church, the average member has had their mind and thoughts poisoned against the Catholic Church. Case in point, about two years ago two SDA missionaries came to my house to evangelize me. I invited them in, I gave them some cold water, I prayed with them and I began showing them evidence of the Catholic Church’s track record in terms of its outreach to humanity and I dealt with other misconceptions they had. After
three hours of dialoguing with these missionaries, they told me that I was personally a very nice man, but that I was slated for hell because I was serving the devil by remaining a Catholic. All the evidence of the Catholic Church’s social record for humanity and its historical continuity that I showed them apparently fell on deaf ears.
Another area that is manifested by the SDA Church is this feeling of superiority, everybody is going to die and fry except for them, since they have kept the fourth commandment to the very letter. Quillan affirms this when he writes, ”among members of the group that lead to prejudice: (1) a feeling of superiority” (Ibid p.588). He also states “that the subordinate group is a real threat to. . . accepted practices of the dominant group” (Ibid). The SDA Church is threatened by the practices (Sunday worship) of the Catholic Church, since they believe this rebellious practice is going to usher in the end of the world.
Another expert that has contributed to my understanding of group prejudice is John Duckitt. He writes, “A variety of psychodynamic processes were implicated in prejudice. These include projection, frustration, scapegoating, and the displacement of hostility” (p.1186). The SDA Church in this article, projects hatred, shows frustration, makes the Church scapegoat of their problems, and displaces hostility towards the Catholic Church. This article is a classic example containing all these symptoms of prejudices. He further states that, “prejudice was therefore seen as the expression of an inner need generated by basically pathological personality structures” (ibid). The founders of the SDA movement were so fixed on end time prophecy that this has altered their ability to be socially ecumenical and more concerned with the plight of man here and now. Or as Professor Randal Cummings is fond of saying, “Your so heavenly minded your no earthly good” (August 15, 1998). This describes the SDA Church’s social record.
Duckit goes on to say, “the dominant image of prejudice therefore came to be that it was an inevitable outcome of cognitive categorization” (Ibid p.1189). Upon reading that, I would assert that the article put out by the SDA stereotypes the Catholic Church by categorizing the Church as this evil institution. The SDA has determined from their pool of knowledge that Sunday is not fit for worship. Duckitt writes, “a number of theories have focused that . . . .might determine susceptibility to prejudice. Examples are authoritarianism, self-esteem, frustration, intelligence, dogmatism, rigidity or intolerance” (Ibid p.1191). This article shows that the SDA Church suffers from several of these symptoms. Self-esteem and frustration come to mind since they had egg all over their face when they predicted the end of the world in 1844 and obviously they were wrong, we are still here. They have been labeled by other denominations as having veered off the orthodox path. This has made them exclusive, unsocial, cultic and intolerant of
anybody who doesn’t hold their views, most especially Catholics who started this whole Sunday worship in the first place.
A solution to all this prejudice on the part of the SDA leadership is simply to meet the Pope and talk to him. It is easy to demonize somebody you don’t know. Another group of experts in the field of prejudice lend credence to my argument with the following statements, “The intergroup contact hypothesis proposes that under a given set of circumstances contact between members of different groups reduces existing negative intergroup attitudes” (Wright et al p.73). They further state,”some research has shown that personalized contact can result in positive generalizations to the out-group” (ibid p.74). Further evidence which rings true to me is stated, “Through direct communication with the observer, the in-group member could provide information about the out-group. Ignorance of the out-groups subjective culture cam lead to misperception, misrepresentations, misattribution, as well as fear of interacting with the out-group” (ibid p.75). I married into a SDA family where that was the predominant religion. At first my wife’s family was standoffish and utterly rejected me. Through the passing of time, armed with the virtue of respect, showing good manners, being courteous, being respectful and humble I gained the respect of my in-laws and the rest of the family. They actually have changed their views on Catholicism because of my demeanor and witness to them. They are now open to dialogue and discuss misconceptions that they were brought up with. I quote the experts once again, “Respondents who perceive an in-group member to have a friend in a particular out-group will express less prejudice toward that out-group. Thus it appears that the observation of a cross-group friendship successfully removes the bias against the out-group found in neutral and hostile conditions and this is accomplished not by reducing the evaluations of the in-group but by improving the evaluation of the out-group” (ibid p.86). I do see one problem here, although I believe this can work out in a micro-scale like it did in my life, I don’t know how this can work-out in a macro-scale. That remains to me an enigma.
I close with the words of the late-great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church-which is, of course, quite a different thing. It follows then that the hatred of the millions is directed against error and not against the truth. As a matter of a fact, if we Catholics believed all of the untruths and lies which were said against the Church, we would probably hate the Church a thousand times more than they do. If then, the hatred of the Church is founded on erroneous beliefs, it follows that the basic need for the day is instruction.”
A wise old Saint once stated that truth and love go together, The SDA Church would be wise to heed those words since their article fails on both counts. It is neither true nor loving.
For additionaly reading on Anti-Catholic bigotry I recommend:
The New Anti-Catholicism (Book): The Last Acceptable Prejudice is a book written by Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious studies at Pennsylvania State University, dealing with contemporary anti-Catholic bigotry, particularly in the United States. First published: Apr 17, 2003.
‘Bearing False Witness’ Great book debunking anti-Catholic misconceptions & debunking centuries of anti-Catholic history by author Rodney Stark – templetonpress.org
The ‘New Anti-Catholicism’ en.wikipedia.org
The Sabbath or the Lord's Day - http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/resources/apologetics/catholic-doctrin...