Yes, Bigotry Against Catholics Exists, and Ethno-Catholicism Is a Thing

Yes, Bigotry Against Catholics Exists, and Ethno-Catholicism Is a Thing
(AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)

I’m routinely surprised that I have to explain ethnicity like a broken record, but we do live in a world with ever-evolving definitions and progressive linguistic opportunism. I once explained how Hispanic (I am one) is not a race but an ethnicity, here.

RedState has previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club’s decision to give the “Community Hero” award in a capitulation to an LGBT group called Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The “Sisters” represent a sacrilegious mockery of Catholic nuns and other aspects of faith.

Read More:

Dear LA Dodgers Ownership: You Have Disrespected Generations of Fans, and Now You’re Going to Lose Them

No LA Pride in Mudville? Miffed Gay Group Ditches Dodgers Event

Abigail Shrier, the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters, had a succinct social media post, writing:

Anti-Catholic mockery is not “lifesaving work.” Stop dressing up bigotry as inclusion.

I found that last sentence to be powerful, but another social media user disregarded the word “bigotry” by claiming that Catholicism is an ideology, not an ethnicity. 

Well, I guess we are going to have to define words the conservative way by looking up actual rigid definitions. 

What do words even mean?

From Merriam-Webster:

Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

especiallyone who regards or treats the members of a group (such as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Ethnic (adjective)of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background

Ethnic: (noun): a member of an ethnic group

especiallya member of a minority group who retains the customs, language, or social views of the group

Catholicism is made up of ethno-religious groups. 

What’s in a name? 

I grew up in the Catholic Church, which can be explained by simply looking at my surname, Sheehan; Irish-Catholic. What does Irish-Catholic mean? It’s an ethno-religious group. The Irish-Catholic diaspora makes up about 20 million Americans.

When I use the phrase Irish-Catholic in my daily life, it explains the who, how, and why, of me being raised in the Church. Nobody has ever had a follow-up question because it’s a perfect historical, cultural, and generational answer. 

My family name adequately describes my race, national origins, and religious and cultural background. I bet you can guess the genetically ascribed hair color of my father, grandfather, and youngest child by looking at the name. And, I’ll let you guess at which Patron Saint the males are named after. It’s not just the surname, we’ve been running around with fully-Catholic names and flaming red hair for generations. 

But, you can surmise even more than that, Sheehan tells of the native linguistics of my lineage, as the name is anglicized from Gaelic. And, it’s a relic of something that was done to the Irish-Catholics. 

History time!

In 1537, King Henry VIII passed an Act for the English Order, Habit and Language which prohibited the use of the Irish Language, ordered education to be in English, and required religious preaching to be done in English. The English King connected the idea that language was tied to political loyalty and that speaking Irish (Gaeilge) was indicative of disloyalty. Most of the Irish People remained Catholic after the Protestant Reformation, thus the Irish language became tied to Catholicism. In this way, the Irish language was not only a symbol of political disloyalty to the throne but also rebellious religious disloyalty

For many Irish, being Catholic is not a matter of picking a congregation or church in the local community that seems like a good fit, or has a pastor that gives particularly enjoyable sermons. (I’m not saying this is how everyone ends up in their choice of church, but some do.) It’s a historical record of our people. It’s persecution, not unlike the Dodger’s choice to target the faith today. It’s the reason over a million Irish were starved to death by negligent British policies in the Potato Famine.

The Great Famine inevitably paved Irish-American history, too. It’s no myth that the Irish were less-than-welcome in America.

From the Embassy of Ireland, USA :

The Irish met with resistance from nativist movements in a country that had hitherto been populated primarily by people of British stock. Irish newcomers, with their poverty and their Catholicism, were seen as a threat to the established order. In 1844, there were deadly riots in Philadelphia during which lives were lost and Catholic Churches were burned. The Order of the Star-Spangled Banner was founded in 1850. It later became known as the ‘Know-Nothings’ and eventually the American Party, which was anti-Catholic and hostile to immigrants, especially the Irish. After some initial electoral success, this political movement fizzled out as divisions about race took centre stage. These lead to the Civil War in which Irish immigrants fought bravely and thus became part of the fabric of modern America, contributing to, and benefiting from, America’s economic transformation in the closing decades of the 19th century. 

Hostility towards post-Famine Irish immigrants probably helped give them a sense of cohesion as they sought to make their presence felt in American politics.


You don’t have to take my anecdote of Irish-Catholic lineage as gospel, because there has been interesting polling on cultural Catholicism. Pew Research Center reports that one in five Americans are of the Catholic faith, but an additional one in ten consider themselves to be culturally Catholic. This means that they consider themselves to be Catholic or partially Catholic in other ways, even though they do not self-identify as Catholic on the basis of religion. 

A majority of cultural Catholics (62 percent) say that being Catholic is mainly a matter of ancestry and/or culture, rather than religion.

So, to the commenter who proposed that Catholicism is an ideology, I find it laughable. It’s an identity: a concept these gender reformists claim to understand, but… there go your opportunistic leftist linguists. 

Other Groups

Of course, there are other ethno-religious groups with stories of their own. When I lived amongst Mormons in Utah as a kid, there was only one other family in the neighborhood that went to the Catholic Church, a Mexican family. I didn’t have knowledge of Spain’s global conquests at a young age, but I knew that like mine, Catholicism was part of their ethnic background. The neighborhood boy and I went to the same church and the reasons for that were simple: I was born into Irish lineage and he was born into a Mexican family. There is nothing fancy or mysterious about it, the religion was synonymous with our ethnic origin stories. If I wasn’t Irish, I likely wouldn’t have been at that church, and if he wasn’t Mexican, he wouldn’t be there, either. Pretty sure. 

Many other Latinos, Italians, and Filipinos similarly find Catholicism to be linked to their ethnic and cultural groups. 

While my mother’s side of the family is Cuban immigrants, the Hispanic lineage is not a path of Catholicism for me, as my Cuban grandfather was a Sephardic Jew. This ethno-religious group was expelled from the Iberian Peninsula by Spain in 1492. For some reason, when we describe Jewish people as an ethnic and/or religious group the public doesn’t have the same confusion as when applied to other groups, such as sects of Catholics. If Jews, including Sephardi, are ethno-religious groups, so are Irish-Catholics. I don’t see the difference. 

Progressives with cognitive dissonance want to redefine words to excuse their own behaviors. But, what the Dodgers are doing is textbook bigotry; not against an “ideology” but the religion of Catholicism which is made up of people: often, ethno-Catholic groups. 

Shrier said it best: Stop dressing up bigotry as inclusion.

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