Many anti-Catholic sentiments were evident in the United States during the nineteenth century. These feelings persisted into the early twentieth century. Even the Klan was active in intimidating Catholics. The attacks ranging from deadly riots to the burning of Catholic churches and schools continued. While Protestants argued that they were causing these problems, critics of Catholicism pointed out that Catholics in other countries were not harmed by similar laws. These claims of animus did little to calm the minds of non-Catholics.
Protestants tended to be very anti-Catholic, especially toward the French and Spanish Catholics. They worried that the new Catholic immigrants were not suitable for the country and feared that they would colonize it for the pope. However, the Protestant churches did little to combat the prejudice that Catholic immigrants faced in mainstream America. Neighborhoods would call them names, employers refused to promote them, landlords rented out the worst apartments, and newspapers blamed the rising crime rate on the presence of Catholics.
In response to the persecution, some Catholic immigrants turned to the Catholic Church for help. Through acts of charity and urban missions, Catholics were able to survive a hostile environment. The response of the church to this persecution is a good example of this. In the early 1800s, there were many acts of kindness by the Catholics. These actions helped the newcomers to integrate and build their lives in the United States.
In the nineteenth century, the tensions among Catholics in America became particularly intense. Evangelical Protestant revivals encouraged a “No Popery” movement. Leading northern clergy accused the Catholic church of conspiring to subjugate the United States to papal despotism and overthrow democracy. Mob riots and the burning of churches and convents accompanied this anti-Catholic sentiment. In Charlestown, Mass., a nun’s convent was burned due to an anti-Catholic sermon. In Philadelphia, riots erupted after the school board opted to use Protestant Bibles alongside the Catholic Bible.
The nineteenth century was a difficult time for Catholics in the United States. They faced severe discrimination, and some Protestants were hostile. Some refused to welcome the Catholics in the United States, while others supported their religion. The Church responded by establishing urban missions and starting religious revivals. It also launched its own school system. In the late nineteenth century, some catholics organized labor unions, created separate hospitals, and even started parochial schools.
In the United States, there was a religious and demographic shift. Although there were some Catholics living in America at this time, they were not welcomed. During this time, the Catholic population grew rapidly. They were assimilated and integrated into society, and many Catholic immigrants embraced the new religion. In the United States, the newcomers were given access to public services and became productive citizens.
Some Protestants were deeply prejudiced against Catholics, and some refused to accept them. Their actions reflected both their religious convictions and their political beliefs. Some even refused to let the Catholics attend church. A few Protestants voted against their marriage. While they were not discriminated against, they were deemed to be intolerant. If the majority of Catholics had been treated with respect, they would have welcomed the newcomers and the Church.
Some Protestants were enraged with Catholics’ resistance to the newcomers. Some of them expressed naked prejudice against their fellow Christians by refusing to live in the West. While others were sympathetic to their religious convictions, some Protestants showed a willingness to tolerate their faith by destroying a church. Some Protestants also resorted to violence against Catholics. But this type of persecution was not tolerated in the United States.
Aside from the persecutions experienced in Mexico, some Catholics in the United States responded to this religious discrimination in various ways. They started urban missions and religious revivals. They even started schools and hospitals to serve poor people. But they still had to face the prejudice. In 1850, Catholics were more likely to support political parties that opposed them. While they remained Catholic, the new law was more likely to make them feel more equal.