Religious Intolerance in America

Religious Intolerance in America: A Documentary History

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Religious Intolerance in America
    Book Description:

    American narratives often celebrate the nation's rich heritage of religious freedom. There is, however, a less told and often ignored part of the story: the ways that intolerance and cultures of hate have manifested themselves within American religious history and culture.In the first ever documentary survey of religious intolerance from the colonial era to the present, volume editors John Corrigan and Lynn S. Neal define religious intolerance and explore its history and manifestations, including hate speech, discrimination, incarceration, expulsion, and violence. Organized thematically, the volume combines the editors' discussion with more than 150 striking primary texts and pictures that document intolerance toward a variety of religious traditions. Moving from anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan propaganda to mob attacks on Mormons, the lynching of Leo Frank, the kidnapping of "cult" members, and many other episodes, the volume concludes with a chapter addressing the changing face of religious intolerance in the twenty-first century, with examples of how the problem continues to this day.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0409-1
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    JC and LSN
    (pp. 1-16)

    In March of 1942, the Jehovah’s Witnesses learned a difficult lesson in American history. Even though they were citizens with ties to Christianity, they were not welcome in the American religious landscape. In the midst of World War II, the Witnesses encountered hostility and suspicion, intolerance and violence, for their religiously based refusal to support the war and salute the flag. This perceived disloyalty to the United States combined with their very visible evangelistic techniques sparked intolerance in numerous towns and cities across the country, including Little Rock, Arkansas, Klamath Falls, Oregon, and West Jefferson, Ohio. Despite having won a...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Religious Intolerance in Colonial America
    (pp. 17-48)

    The Europeans who crossed the Atlantic and colonized the Americas, and who fashioned through their explorations and migrations an Atlantic World that interconnected Africa, the Americas, and Europe, were not tolerant. Much has been written, and much has been said in speeches and sermons, about how the earliest English settlers of North America came to the New World seeking refuge from religious intolerance in England. It is true that English Puritans had suffered misfortunes beginning with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and minority religious groups from the Continent — from German- and French- and Spanish-speaking lands, especially — likewise sought relief...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Anti-Catholicism
    (pp. 49-72)

    The roots of anti-Catholicism in America stretch back to late antique Europe. Religious movements born in Europe and the Mediterranean that challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic Church or its teachings were common in the first few centuries after the Emperor Constantine (d. 337). Gathering momentum in terms both of their numbers and their ability to attract followers, such movements increasingly emerged as permutations of Roman Catholicism, and especially as representations of altered Catholic doctrine. Because of that, they were considered heretical. Heretics and their followers, as apostates or traitors to the faith, posed a particular danger to Roman...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Anti-Mormonism
    (pp. 73-98)

    Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) have been known as Mormons since shortly after the publication of theBook of Mormonin 1830. The term “anti-Mormon” appeared at almost the same time, a sign of the conflict between Mormons and other Americans that has marked the history of Mormonism from its beginnings. Joseph Smith (1805–1844), the founder of Mormonism, grew up in the excited religious environment of early nineteenth-century New York. In an area that was experiencing growth and rapid social change — especially after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 — religious innovation...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Intolerance toward Nineteenth-Century Religious Groups
    (pp. 99-124)

    The early nineteenth century evidenced in its intellectual and religious life a broad familiarity with the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and freedom that had guided the nation’s founders and that had been shaping Protestantism in new ways since 1750. Religious freethinkers, called “infidels” by the orthodox and pious, formed loosely structured associations of “Deists,” publishing religious manifestoes that challenged Christian ritual, doctrine, and institutions. Deists such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Joel Barlow, representing three points on the wide spectrum of Deist belief, embraced the idea of a Supreme Being and an afterlife but cared more about religion as...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Intolerance toward Native American Religions
    (pp. 125-146)

    During the early modern Age of Discovery Europeans organized their thinking about indigenous peoples whom they encountered in the Americas and on other continents according to themes and categories drawn from their religious ideologies. The European experience of the Americas was one of enchantment. The New World was a place of wonders. Europeans discovered sublime landscapes, amazing populations of game, extraordinary creatures and plants, mysterious people, and wilderness that was both inviting and terrifying. Explorers and their parties of soldiers, missionaries, and colonists oriented themselves to the Americas and their indigenous peoples by drawing upon biblical images and stories. Adventurers...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Anti-Semitism
    (pp. 147-180)

    While New England and Pilgrims often dominate our vision of America’s settlement, if we shift our attention to the south and focus on New Amsterdam instead of Plymouth Rock, on Jewish refugees rather than Puritan settlers, different images of freedom and America emerge. Like the Puritans, the Jews of Europe fled persecution. They, too, came to America in search of religious freedom and civil liberty. Most historians agree that, in comparison with the virulent anti-Semitism of Western Europe, the United States provided unparalleled possibilities for Jewish freedom; and the United States has indeed been a more hospitable setting for Jews....

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Intolerance toward “New” Religions in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 181-214)

    After encountering the Movementarians at the local airport, Homer Simpson and several other residents of Springfield want to learn more about this intriguing new religion. They file into the information session and sit down to watch an introductory film. Soon, a few audience members decide to leave, but the penetrating glare of the Movementarians’ spotlight quickly makes them return to their seats. As the film ends six hours later, the audience, now captivated by the power and promises of the Leader, eagerly seeks to join the group. Unlike the other “brainwashed” residents of Springfield, Homer seems impervious to the film’s...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT The Branch Davidians and Waco The Culmination of Religious Intolerance
    (pp. 215-246)

    April 19, 1993, Mount Carmel, Texas. By late afternoon on this day, ten miles outside Waco, Texas, the standoff between the Branch Davidians and the federal government was over. After fifty-one days, the FBI, convinced that negotiations had reached an impasse, ended the siege. In the aftermath, David Koresh and over seventy of his followers (men, women, and children) were dead from the fire that engulfed their home. Only nine Branch Davidians escaped. They later testified that the fires, which began in three separate locations and eventually overtook the entire structure, occurred when FBI tanks knocked over lanterns inside the...

    (pp. 247-266)

    In 2004, a group of German “patriots” initiated “Project Schoolyard,” a program designed to distribute music CDS to school-age children. On the surface, the idea seems laudable — providing children with the gift of music. The problem, for the German government and others, rested in the lyrical content of the music, which promoted white power (an increasingly popular genre of music). This type of music advocates white supremacy and racial conflict, a common theme in groups such as Christian Identity and the Creativity Movement. For example, the song “Rahowa,” meaning RAcial HOly WAr, by the band of the same name, provides...

  14. APPENDIX: Web Resources for Combating Religious Intolerance
    (pp. 267-268)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 269-276)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 277-290)