May 6, 2007
As Protestant Christians and as Americans, we condemn the grotesque anti-Catholic bigotry that is now on display as a result of the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the constitutionality of the federal law prohibiting partial-birth abortion.
We denounce as particularly odious a cartoon published by the Philadelphia Inquirer depicting the five justices who formed the majority in the case wearing Catholic bishops' mitres. Scarcely less offensive were the comments of law professor, and former University of Chicago Law School Dean, Geoff Stone identifying the Catholic religious affiliation of the justices forming the majority and accusing these distinguished and honorable jurists of imposing their religion rather than faithfully interpreting the Constitution.
We believe it is our particular duty to condemn the bigotry we are now witnessing in view of the history of anti-Catholicism in our nation. It is a stain on the Protestant Christian conscience that at one time many of our people accepted the vile teachings of Paul Blanshard in his book American Freedom and Catholic Power, and supported the anti-Catholic agenda of the group founded by Blanshard and others that now styles itself "Americans United for Separation of Church and State" (formerly known as Protestants and other Americans united for Separation of Church and State).
Just as Pope John Paul II acknowledged past injustices committed by Catholics, or committed in the name of Catholicism, against Protestants, Jews, and others and pledged to work against any revival of these injustices, we acknowledge past Protestant prejudices against Catholics and pledge to fight against the anti-Catholic bigotry we are now witnessing. Our Catholic brothers and sisters will not have to wait to hear our voices forcefully raised against the bigotry now directed against them.
Because evil begets evil, we are not surprised that bigotry would emerge among those who have placed themselves in the service of the moral abomination known as partial-birth abortion. For our part, we praise any judge, statesman, or citizen-irrespective of religious affiliation-who steps forward to tell the truth about the injustice of this horrific practice, or to expose the lie that baby-killing is somehow protected by our Constitution.
We call on our fellow Protestant Christians of every denomination-including those denominations that do not share our view that the life of the child in the womb must be honored and protected by law-to join with us in condemning the new anti-Catholicism that has, in the aftermath of the partial-birth abortion decision, reared its ugly head. We hope that no Protestant Christian will bring shame on himself or herself and on the great tradition of Reformed Christianity by participating in this appalling bigotry or remaining mute in the face of it.
We also call on groups that present themselves as enemies of prejudice, including "Americans United for Separation of Church and State," to join with us in condemning the Philadelphia Inquirer cartoon and other manifestations of anti-Catholic bigotry. This is a time of testing for them. Are they selective opponents of prejudice? Do they regard anti-Catholicism as an acceptable form of bigotry? Are they content to see Catholics treated in ways that they would be the first to condemn if the victims were members of other religious traditions or minorities? By responding or failing to respond to our plea to them to join us in condemning the injustice being suffered by our Catholic fellow citizens, we will soon know whether their claim to oppose prejudice and bigotry is an honest one or mere hypocrisy.
The Philadelphia Inquirer published this cartoon by Tony Auth