Sounds like the opening line of a stand-up joke, doesn’t it?
The fact that a Mormon candidate for President and his Roman Catholic running mate seem to be attracting very little attention over their respective religions is almost news in itself. And good news. After all, the Constitution says,
but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Article VI)
But in 1844, a Mormon and a Catholic certainly wouldn’t be running together for the top two offices in America. And if they walked into a bar in Philadelphia, they might get their teeth knocked out. Or worse.
That is the story I tell in this video about the anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant “Bible Riots” of 1844 in the City of Brotherly Love.
We’d like to believe in that old “melting pot” myth of American religious freedom. But in fact, the nation’s history is riddled with religious intolerance –and it often reared its head in presidential politics. The “Christian Nation” fallacy is a subject I addressed in the article “Why US Is Not a Christian Nation,” published on July 4, 2011 –but as timely as ever.
A Nation Rising (Harper)
The story of the “Bible Riots” is told in greater detail in A NATION RISING.
The subject of religion and the presidency is also explored in my forthcoming book Don ‘t Know Much About® the American Presidents, available on September 18.
Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents
(September 18, 2012-Hyperion Books)
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