It had been decided, in the middle of the semester, that all Catholic children in the one-room schools were to attend parochial schools in the towns. There was now school-bus service to Fayetteville and we wouldn't have to walk as the older girls had, but I still hated to leave Quinn's.
My throat felt tight as the derisive farewell shouts followed us down the road, "So long, Catlickers!" and "There go the stuck-up crossbacks!" They were the friends that had shared my lunch and crayons, my good times and bad, the very same ones, I told Mother.
"It's just because they don't understand," she said.
-- from The Lark's on the Wing, by Mary Carlier, 1955
It is a word that was occasionally used to refer to Catholics. The countryside to the east of Cincinnati was originally settled by Methodists, and the town in that area where I was raised is dominated by them to this day. By the time I was starting school in the early 1960s, the term wasn't heard much, but I know I heard it at least once, at my expense. Where a local businessman was expected to join the local Masons lodge to gain respectability on Main Street, the occasional snide at the expense of some of your neighbors would have been understood. The way it was handled was quintessentially Midwestern; you didn't toot your horn too loud on certain matters. Like the time Mom called the three of us to the dinner table to admonish us on two particular matters; one was talking to strangers, the other was talking about religion to our non-Catholic friends.
Yep, right up there with getting kidnapped.
Members of the so-called "religious right" like to tout America as a "Christian nation," or when they're in an open-minded mood, a "Judeo-Christian nation." To the extent that any sectarian beliefs played a role in its formation, the plain fact is that the USA is more accurately known as a Protestant nation.*
This is an important consideration, as it should surprise no one that a campaign worker for Democratic candidate John Edwards would publish the following screed against a belief system held by twenty-one percent of the American population:
"Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
"A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology."
It gets worse.
"I suspect Pope Ratz will give into the urge eventually to come out and say there’s no limbo and unbaptized babies go straight to hell. He can’t help it; he’s just a dictator like that. Hey, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, the Pope’s gotta tell women who give birth to stillborns that their babies are cast into Satan’s maw. The alternative is to let Catholic women who get abortions feel that it’ll all work out in the end, which is just not doable, due to that Jesus-like compassion the Pope is so fond of. Still, it’s going to be bad PR for the church, so you can sort of see why the Pope is dragging ass."
My fellow "St Blog's parishioners" are outraged, as well they should be. But they should not be astounded that such outrage is downplayed by the candidate. Edwards is not the fool we take him to be, at least not here. He knows that prominent Catholics of similar political slant will bend over backwards to ignore this gaff. They will not defend their purported convictions, but will sacrifice them on the altar that is the status quo, leaving such identification for the mere lip service while the cameras are rolling at public events, the "grips and grins" photo ops between prelates and politicos that grace the more tepid segments of the Catholic press. If they would consign the innocent unborn to a horrible death sentence, how much easier to dismiss such vile insults as mere "campaign rhetoric."
After all, it's not as if we were insulting Muslims, right?
* This is not to be confused with the original settlement of the land that is now "America," which was mostly the work of the Spaniards, who brought the True Faith to the new world before the English had a chance to bring much else. Gary Potter elaborates in a piece entitled "When America Was Catholic." This inclusion should not be construed to mean that this writer is an apologist for the group that posts the article, or their founder.