If someone is prejudiced against a person because they are Jewish, we call them an Antisemite. It has been marketed to the world as a negative term. Antisemitism has grown into a label that nobody wants to be called; it is a hater label, something the mainstream slaps next to someone’s name when it wants to berate or put them down publicly. There is a derogatory term for every kind of prejudice except for someone who hates Christians, Catholics in particular. As one of the largest and most disliked religions, why is there no label for the scores of people who hate Christian Catholics?
Since the dawn of the new world the only long-held tolerable prejudice in the United States has been against Catholics. It only takes a few simple searches to find loads of personal attacks against Catholics online. It is, in fact, quite popular to Catholic Bash in the secular media. This is despite the first hospital (Our Lady of Solitude 1592 St Augustine, FL), orphanage (Ursuline nuns Natchez, Mississippi 1792), and schools were all founded by Catholics. In politics there was mass fear that Kennedy (our only Catholic President) would take orders straight from the Pope. The KKK was: white, protestant, & male; meaning they didn’t like non-white races, Jews, Catholics, and did not allow women in their meetings. Today we have blown away all those prejudices in almost all secular channels. It is acceptable to be a woman, Jewish, and of any race; but it really is not acceptable to be a practicing Catholic.
My question: The Jewish people have this derogatory term for their prejudice, why don’t Catholics?
My first thought is because Catholics do not defend themselves; we are asked by Christ to lay down our lives. We embrace persecution, suffering, and strife, offering it up to be one with the Lord. It is in the nature of our religion to not fight back with violence, instead to lay our lives down for the Church. Maybe this is the reason why we don’t invent a bad word with which to label our persecutors.
In light of what I see going on with my Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, I am deeply upset by images and reports in the media. Yet I am also very proud to see them stand in lines and be shot; proud to die for what they believe, beheaded to join with the Godhead and wear a crown of martyrdom. There are many people calling for an end to the violence and displacement. This is the Church’s call to notice the dignity of all humans in the world. Not because we are all as unique as snowflakes, but because we are created in the image of the Creator. I just can’t see us labeling the ISIS with a derogatory Christian-hater title. I believe this term does not exist because Catholics will always be persecuted; after all, Christ came to bring the sword not peace. Christians will always be struck down by the sword.
But what about the Cristero’s in the Cristero Civil War of Mexico 1926-1929? There are some terms that come from this war: Cristero and Anti-clericalism that are worth looking into. Cristero is a term we may see pop up more in the USA culture as more Catholics come into the country as immigrants. I am doubtful, though, since the secularization of immigrants is very rapid. I don’t think many coming over the boarder stay religious very long once they get a taste of McDonald’s and Mickey Mouse. Also because Cristero means sort of a Catholic guerrilla fighter, and I don’t think that is what Catholics really want to be labeled. Anti-clericalism isn’t very valid either because Catholics themselves don’t really connect ‘clerics’ with being lay-Catholic.
The natural term is Antichrist. Yet, in English we generally use this term to refer to people: people like Adolf Hitler or the Emperor Nero. Modern Fundamentalism and Protestantism also paints pictures of the Antichrist who is to come, who will be seen as equal to Jesus, only evil and one with Satan. There is a lot to be said though in this title. One could really see the person mowing down a line of Christians with an assault rifle as an Antichrist. In every way they are acting against Christ; they are hurting others, they are angry, and they are physically trying to kill the Body of Christ. Despite this, Catholics really see them as the Roman soldiers to whom Christ said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
In conclusion: Catholics do not have a bad name for their persecutors. I ponder if this is pleasing to the Lord? Yet a quote does comes to mind, that of St. Thomas More in the movie “A Man for All Seasons”, I wonder if he actually said it in real life to his executioner:
I forgive you right readily. Be not afraid of your office; you send me to God.
My final thought on the lack of a name of such a person; to invent a hater title for our persecutors would in fact make us no better than them. To do so would be very similar to that self-defeating reasoning: we will not tolerate intolerance. To be hateful to someone who hates just makes you as bad as them, and in fact turns you into what you despise – a hater. The Church in her Christian philosophy and wisdom continues to discourages the creation of hateful speech.