In the United States in the 1960s some of the most important movements were going on and with the help of the country’s first Catholic President running for office, the barriers seemed to be breaking even further. John F. Kennedy would’ve been incredibly shunned only 40 years prior due to his Catholic identity. While American Catholics were happy with JFK’s election bid, people practicing other religions weren’t. Retrospectively, we’re able to see that his speeches given to many different churches, including Protestant, helped win the Presidency. In a piece published in 1960, the American people were asked about their voting preferences and looking back at their reactions to a Catholic candidate is astounding and expected all at once. One of the first ideas that the article brings to light is that Kennedy’s Catholicism will make a difference in the upcoming election. Other worries included Kennedy’s “mushrooming” or the idea that he grew politically too fast. After looking through the article published by Stewart Alsop in the Saturday Evening Post, it’s clear that hostilities towards Catholics were still prevalent and still a deciding factor for many. While we like to agree that anti-Catholic sentient has somewhat come to a halt in American politics, Mitt Romney was the target in the 2012 Presidential election for his Mormon beliefs. While he gained quite a bit of momentum, he also received endless pushback from the American people for his religious affiliation. In conclusion, Alsop’s Saturday Evening Post publication, “Nixon or Kennedy?”, made clear that anti-Catholicism was a deciding factor in which person the American people were going to vote for.
During the Behind the Tweets event on Wednesday night, four panelists brought their ideas about the midterm into the light and Dr. Michael Murphy specifically discussed the Catholic vote. He began by attempting to understand the difficulty Catholics feel when it comes to politics because of the 50/50 split. Dr. Murphy explained the idea of humanism being attached to American liberalism which includes equality, rights, and virtue which then stands for the idea of tribalism that both Americans and Catholics feel. Catholics trying to decide if they should vote with their religion in mind, which may be supporting Trump, or identifying with their American identity and voting for what’s best for all people in the nation. Dr. Murphy ended with a list containing how Catholics should vote based on the teachings of the Bible. They were life and dignity, call to family and community, honoring of rights and responsibilities, preference to protect the poor and vulnerable, right of workers, solidarity over nationalism, and care of all of God’s creations. While I agreed with Dr. Murphy on the idea of Catholics having to choose between which identity to choose in the voting booth, I feel as if a lot of people don’t believe they need to choose and remain complicit in the horrors this administration is allowing. While 50% voted Democratically, another 49% still voted Republican, which in most states meant going against the 7 ideals that he presented so proudly. While it’s nice to accommodate both sides, in this political climate it’s nearly impossible to do so. If one side is attempting to dehumanize people seeking asylum, putting children in cages, and refuses to condemn Neo-Nazis marching through Charlottesville, and you, as a Catholic, are stuck in the middle, there needs to be some better reflection on the ideals that you practice and attempt to show to others.
In conclusion, while this was a short blog it was not a short election cycle, this election brought new, fresh faces into Congress who are eager to make changes throughout the country. NBC has stated that this year’s Congress reflects the American people more than it ever has in the past, which is a refreshing turn after the past two years under Trump. While we still have a long way to go this election was a reminder that the American people have not lost hope and are eager to fix what’s been broken in this country for so long. Even though the Catholic vote was 50/50, seeing the change from the 2010 and 2014 elections show progress within the church, which can be most noted by Ben Johnson at the Behind the Tweet event, where he credited Pope Francis for focusing on issues other than abortion and instead on the nativist politics that have stained the world.
The Catholic vote is one that is epically undefinable because of the historically ethnically diverse Catholic population. While contemporarily Catholics are believed to be rich white men due to Trump’s following, they have a past history of campaigning through their religious beliefs. In our readings, Samuel A. Mills and William Blake describe the importance of the Supreme Court and their religious affiliations and Patrick Allitt and Colleen Doody both bring insight to the beginnings of Catholic conservatism. After attending Milles Co-Op Bookstore event in Hyde Park, the idea of divides within the Catholic left and right became more prevalent.
In William Blake’s “God Save This Honorable Court: Religion as a Source of Judicial Policy Preferences,” he explains the importance of the Supreme Court’s religious preferences. Blake opens by explaining the role of the Supreme Court in the United State’s as being the worldview of the country, which is comparable to scripture in the Catholic church. (814) The data Blake collected shows that religion is important in judicial policy preferences, even when the justice is unaware of the side they’re choosing. (822) In Samuel A. Mills’ “Parochiaid and the Abortion Decisions: Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. versus the U.S. Catholic Hierarchy,” he puts a spotlight on the unique politics of Justice William J. Brennan, who chose between Constitutional relevancy and the leadership of Catholic clergymen. Mills focused on the two most relevant cases where Justice Brennan went against the Catholic Church, abortion and aid to parochial schools. (772) Mills compares Brennan’s ideals with New York Governor Mario Cuomo’s, where he personally doesn’t support abortion, but votes in the best interest of the people and therefore the legality of abortion carries on. Although, after his retirement in 1990 Brennan showed no remorse when asked if he would’ve voted differently stating “Hell no…I never thought I was wrong.” (773) Mills concluded with praising Brennan for standing up to the church and voting based on what the people of the United States would benefit the most from. After visiting the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore field trip to see Milles discuss his book “Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ Road from Roe to Trump,” the ideas presented by Mills and Doody came together even more. Milles discussed the division of the Catholic church and political activism caused by the Roe v. Wade decision. The cracks are seen due to the inability to separate political and religious beliefs, which led to a confusion among Catholic voters on which side is more “correct.”
In Colleen Doody’s, “Detroit’s Cold War: The Origins of Postwar Conservatism,” she presents the formation of Catholic participation in the conservative party. Doody explains that Detroit Polish Catholics came together to band against anti-communism in the United States during the Red Scare. While the Catholic church had support with their anti-communism when the Cold War began the church’s beliefs were better received, as they were seen as “true defenders of ‘Americanism.'” (92) Doody explains the idea of ‘Americanism’ as a “return to timeless values,” which meant turning against the New Deal and essentially the Democratic party, making them Republican. In Patrick Allitt’s, “American Catholics and the New Conservatism of the 1950s,” he showcases the origins of Catholic conservatism through Goldwater, who won the 1964 Republican ticket for president. The nomination is viewed as a victory because it was the first time conservative ideology was seen in an American political party. (36) Allitt explains that after Goldwater’s victory, even though he didn’t win the election, the conservative party gained momentum through the “Vietnam War, black militancy, and urban riots.” (37) Additionally, the importance of religion for “social stability and political resolution” was seen when the party attracted a larger following. Allitt concludes that the conservative party was majorly controlled by Catholics in the 1950s, but changed to evangelical Protestants by the 1970s and 80s.
To conclude, after visiting the Co-Op bookstore and reading the ideas presented by Mills, Milles, Doody, Blake, and Allitt it’s easy to understand where the confusion and frustration with overlapping of political and religious beliefs start. Ultimately, I agree with the explanations given by each scholars’ interpretations of the Catholic conservative struggle. As the midterms are coming up in only two days, it’s important for every person to vote and decide on which side they want to vote with: their religious beliefs or personal beliefs, which can easily be on opposite sides. While it’s a tough decision for many devoutly religious and politically active people in the United States, it’s absolutely necessary that each person votes to make their voice heard on November 6th!
This week our class was mixed with Chicago Open House, one of the best events the city offers. For this two day event, buildings around the city open up for visitors to freely walk through. All of the buildings are historically significant and represent a specific time in the city’s past. While exploring around Chicago with Spencer and Sydney, we started to notice a multitude of similarities and differences based on the area we were in, what kind of building we were looking at, and the time that it was built. Because I’m taking another class based on Chicago’s metropolitan architecture, looking at these seemingly mundane buildings from the outside was even more interesting.
The first place we went to was the Holy Name Cathedral in the Gold Coast. We were amazed by the entire structure of the building. The outside of the building was created using concrete from Elgin, a neighboring suburb an hour away, in 1874 when it was opened to the city after the original was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871. The church is meant to carry the motif of the “tree of life” in the building, seen with the heavy wood usage throughout the structure. The high arched ceiling was made to resemble the inside of a ship, the dark wood with the golden accents, the marble columns, and the stained glass all came together to give the church a “holy feel,” as as if anyone that came in through the doors would be blessed with the building’s beauty.
Our second location was City Hall, which I was extremely excited for. City Hall was finished in 1911 and the structure is reminiscent of the classical revival period the building was constructed in, to pay homage to the Columbian Exposition in 1893. When we first walked into the building the decorations had a vintage feel to them, which ended up being carried throughout the building. When we got up to the third floor there was a large mural showcasing the city’s past and present skyline. The mural is appropriately named Chicago Architecture by the artist, Richard Haas. There were then different plaques giving small historical background on City Hall, where Richard Daley was mentioned in almost every single one. After following through the rest of the floor, we were lead back to the City Council Chambers, where I lived my Leslie Knope dreams. I was actually surprised by the amount of excitement I felt when we walked into the Chambers. After walking back through the doors and out onto the street, I was overwhelmed by the amount of history that has taken place in that building, and perplexed by the amount of history that could be taking place in the future.
Our third stop was the Catholic Charities in the Gold Coast. The first thing I noticed was the bench, where there a sculpture of Jesus asleep, and I thought it was a person at first. When we walked inside the building it was much smaller than it looked from the outside, but as we walked up to the chapel it became clear that it was in fact very large. The building has an impressive history of being a maternity ward for single mothers, day care, a home for the sick, and a place for emergency food and housing. The chapel was on the fifth floor, which I didn’t think of the significance of until a woman leading the tour said it was because the chapel was meant for the people inside building. The chapel was small, but there was an obvious sense of community you could feel by just walking in. The interior was mostly red with gold accents, which was absolutely beautiful, and one of the first times I had seen red used throughout the entire chapel.
Our fourth stop was St. Stanislaus in West Town, when we finally arrived after a 45 minute bus ride, I realized I had never been to this area before, which made it even more exciting. After getting off the bus and walking a couple of blocks, we seemingly stumbled upon one of the most beautiful churches I had ever seen. After a quick Google search I found that St. Stanislaus and Holy Name Cathedral were both designed by Patrick Keely, and I was able to see similar motifs and integrated decorations throughout the church. The first thing we noticed when we walked in was the beautiful white and gold alter at the end of the aisle. The designs were extremely intricate and tied the entire room together. The stained glass was extremely impressive, which then drew your eyes to the ceiling where there were more green colored accents than there were in any other parish. Additionally, there’s a sign outside of the church with the mass schedule and shows that the masses are given in three different languages: English, Polish, and Spanish.
Our fifth and final stop took us back past City Hall and to St. Peter’s. The first thing we noticed was the giant sculpture of a crucified Jesus outside of the church. When we walked in the cathedral was smaller than the other’s we had seen, but it was still a relatively large area. When we walked into the chapel, there was white Jesus, which contrasted very nice with the amount of bronze and brown throughout the room. This was also the only church where the fountain of Holy Water was at the entrance of the parish.
After the day ended, I was surprised by the information I had learned and the amount of the city I was able to see in a single day. When we discussed our readings the next day in class it was seemingly difficult to pull the open house and the readings together, but it seems that politics remain local if a person’s roots are attached to something locally. For instance, if someone is very religious and their life takes place in a local parish, their politics are more likely to follow what their other local parish-goers agree with. When exploring Chicago’s politics, there are further distinctions because of the history the city has with churches and politics. While there are many ethnicities in the city, there is a large Irish population because they established Chicago. When the Irish got to New York and Boston, the cultures for those cities were already established, but because Chicago was a newer city, the culture was waiting to be universally formed by a large group.
In John D. Buenker’s Dynamics of Chicago Ethnic Politics, he explains the importance of the Irish as a large ethnic group in the formation of Chicago politics. Buenker emphasizes on the importance of coalitions for ethnic minorities to find a voice in a upcoming metropolitan area. The example he gives focuses around the anti-prohibition coalition, which was lead by the Irish and followed by German, Slavic, Italian, Polish, etc. groups to come together as a group of over 200,000 people. Because the Irish were seen as the ideal/average immigrant, their persuasion over newer immigrants was pivotal in the formation of a new political machine. These ideas show that politics remain local because of the influence based on who’s around to promote the ideas, but it’s important to note that it’s easier to keep politics local when there’s no social media, or easy access to a plethora of information. Additionally, it’s important to note that the politics in Chicago remained neighborhood-ized because ethnic minorities lived in the same area and were taught to believe the same things. In Patrick D. Kennedy’s Chicago Irish Americans, he includes the difficulty of Irish American Democrats on whether or not to endorse Roosevelt because of his anti-machine beliefs, which directly contrasted the politics in Chicago.
In modern day, it’s more difficult to keep political beliefs local because of our ability to find any piece of information with a couple Google searches and a spare ten seconds. Additionally, after growing up in Illinois my entire life in a post Daley, Blagojevich, and Rauner state there’s a general mistrust of politicians. Also it’s difficult to get the rest of the state to vote in presidential elections because we’re aware that Chicago will always vote Democrat, and therefore we end up being a blue state (which isn’t a bad thing, go Obama!) When it comes to voting in local elections it’s difficult, especially for younger people who are in college and aren’t in their home state. While there are some young people who care for their local politics, it’s difficult to get them to vote for smaller positions because they don’t believe it will have an affect on them, whereas in national or state-wide elections it’s easier to be able to see the direct outcome of having different politically affiliated candidates in office (ie: the jump from President Obama to Trump).
This week we discussed the importance of Catholicism intertwined with immigration to the United States. Gonzalez and Dumenil’s pieces come together to make the reader look retrospectively into speeches from Senator Ellison DuRant Smith and Representative Robert Clancy in 1924 in response to discussions surrounding the upcoming vote on the Immigration Act of 1924. These speeches from Smith and Clancy are both great resources to understand the division within the United States over immigration, which typically also involved race, ethnicity, and religion, and continues to plague the country today.
To begin, Gonzalez writes about Mexican Catholic immigrants attempting to assimilate into American society with comparisons to European Catholics ability to assimilate into the same society in Milwaukee. Because of similar difficulties in dealing with anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment from hate groups, like the Ku Klux Klan, the two groups were able to come together to establish “a Catholic mission chapel attuned to the needs of the Mexican community, [which] served as a bridge between Milwaukee’s Mexican and European-origin communities in the late 1920s.” Gonzalez continues to maintain that the Mexican Catholics refused to assimilate to an extent by encouraging churches to remain as a place to enhance and continue to educate the younger generation in Mexican culture and traditions. Although, Gonzalez does mention the importance of the YMCA (Youth Men’s Christian Association) and the YWCA (Youth Women’s Christian Association) in immigrants’ ability to assimilate into American society. While Gonzalez’s article explains the struggles of Mexican and European Catholic immigrants to the United States, it’s important to note that not all politicians in the Midwest, where the KKK, racist, and religious discriminatory issues were boiling over, weren’t anti-immigrant in this era. Congressman, Robert H. Clancy, explains in his speech on April 8, 1924, a little over a month before the Immigration Act of 1924 was passed, that spoke out against the act because of it’s discriminatory nature. Clancy, a congressman from Michigan, references the growing Jewish population in Detroit, with an important reflection on a post World War I country, where a little over one hundred thousand men died fighting for the United States, immigrants or not. Clancy powerfully states: “They showed themselves as patriotic as the native born in offering the supreme sacrifice,” and essentially implies that immigrants are deserving of rights, regardless of status, race, ethnicity, or religion because they fought for the country as a sacrifice. Clancy then pulls on the idea of the United States being a melting pot by sharing his family’s involvement with the American Revolution and the Civil War, which is an idea of America we presently attempt to understand. While most people who are in the country today are here because of some form of immigration, there needs to be an important distinction of what kind of immigrant each person is. Because the idea of illegal immigration is such a hot button issue, it’s important to note that no human is illegal. It’s unfair for, specifically, white people to be proud of their ancestors from Europe coming without documentation, but feel the need to prevent other’s, specifically, Mexican and Middle Eastern immigrants from doing the same thing. Additionally, this country cannot pride themselves on being a “melting pot” while allowing Trump to be president and without voting in local and state elections when they directly effect the way states deal with undocumented citizens, and putting their children in cages.
Dumenil writes about the Ku Klux Klan and focuses on their anti-Catholic, immigrant, and integration views that plague the country’s views on these issues. By sighting the end of World War I as a reason for such strong anti-Catholic sentiment from the KKK, extends to the idea of isolationism that was practiced by the US until they entered World War II in response to Pearl Harbor. This isolationist viewpoint is found most prevalently in Senator Ellison DuRant Smith’s “Shut the Door” speech given on April 9, 1924, just a little over a month before the Immigration Act of 1924 is passed, which only allowed a specific number of immigrants into the country based on ethnic background. In his speech, Smith uses the idea that America has enough immigrants and needs to close the door on the ones coming in, in order to “let us breed pure American citizens and develop our own American resources.” He references World War I as a reason to halt immigration because of the issues the United States got into when they left their isolationist standpoint. Essentially Smith sees immigrants as bringing more issues to the country after a physically and economically destructive international conflict. Smith believes that by setting a quota, there’s a better chance for the country to remain strong and, essentially, white. Additionally, Smith is one of the first politicians of the time to use science to rationalize his racism by referencing The Passing of a Great Race by Grant Madison, which explains his goal for a fully Nordic society and his reasoning against integration of races, ethnicities, and religions. While Smith’s views are absolutely repulsive at any time in the United States, they’re also reflective of the time. Smith was a Senator from 1909 to his death in 1944, which means that was obviously supported in his beliefs. This support for anti-Catholic, immigration, and integration can be perfectly exemplified in a photo of the KKK marching on Pennsylvania Ave. in DC in 1925. The photo shows forty thousand white hooded men, women, and children marching to showcase their power and prominence in daily life in American society, especially in the law forming city of Washington DC.
To conclude, Gonzalez and Dumenil showcase two different cases of immigration to the United States and are supported in their modern writings by sources from times of which they’re writing about. In my lifetime, I believe there has been three large shifts on immigration, the first being after the September 11 terrorist attacks, where there was extreme backlash towards all people of color. As a way to mask the fear people felt about the threat to national security and they took it out on the easiest, and most innocent, aka: those who weren’t involved and were simply here for a better life. The second was in 2012 when President Barack Obama passed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) with a lot of backlash from the older generation, but more support from millennial age people, like myself. The third was in 2016 when Trump became president and promised to build a wall at the US-Mexico border, which then caused the greatest political divide the country has seen, aside from the Civil War and the Civil Rights Era. Although, it’s difficult to know whether Catholicism was a main point in these pivotal points in immigration reform that I’ve seen in my lifetime because the main divide is by political party affiliation rather than religion. Ultimately, it’s important that our generation recognize the issues that previous ones refused to acknowledge. By understanding these previous problems, future generations can be have equal opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, class, religion, or gender identity.
This week brought a new light to the ongoing citizen debate in the United States. After examining how Irish Catholics were perceived to be a threat to American society in the 19th century, while also becoming role models to the new immigrants coming to the United States, made the debate even more difficult to understand. Until John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential election victory when he became the first and only Roman Catholic president the country has seen, Catholics were considered to be on the outside of society. The 1960s brought several monumental acts of equality, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was passed to protect the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1957 attempted to enforce the idea of racial equality following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was meant to end any loopholes found the in the Act passed in 1957 and enforce the 15th amendment in states where voter disenfranchisement was rampant. The Civil Rights of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Because religion was involved in the case, Catholics were unable to be discriminated against legally, although if we’ve learned anything, just because something is put on paper, doesn’t mean it works in practice.
While Catholics were heavily discriminated against in the 19th and early to mid 20th centuries, they were given access to full citizenship, meaning they could participate in government, the economy, and obtained the benefits of the Constitution including the laws given in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Statistically the Catholic community is older and more diverse, rather than the perceived notion that it’s just white people, therefore it’s hard to define the community as being treated as full citizens. While white Catholics were, and still are, privileged because of their skin color, up until 1964 they were able to be discriminated against because of their religion. Looking at white Catholics in 2018, they’re in a place of higher privilege because of their skin color and the general lack of interest from society in religion. Therefore they’re put on a higher pedestal because of their skin color, rather than their religious identity. Whereas Catholics who are people of color, which is 42% of the Catholic population, are discriminated against because of their skin color and ethnic identity, rather than their religious one.
This week we were sent on a scavenger hunt around the city to take a look at Chicago’s Catholic and union history. I went on the adventure with my fellow classmate, Spencer. We first went to Union Park and saw a statue of James Connolly, an Irish Catholic Marxist that established the Industrial Workers of the World organization that worked against the American Federation of Labor, which denied unskilled workers to join craft unions and accepted capitalism. Because we arrived at the park when it was already dark outside, the park seemed oddly placed. On one side there was a church, it turned oddly residential, and then farther up Ogden there were official union meeting places. While the park seemed oddly placed, it made sense why it’s a memorial as the unions would meet and protest/discuss their expectations from their employers. As we went farther down Ogden, we saw the Pipefitters Local Union, the Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union, and finally the Plumbers Local Union and Training Center.
We found the sign for the union, which was a pipe wrench with an electronic screen that read out “The Plumber Protects the Health of the Nation,” which is admittedly true, where would we be without plumbers? This tactic enforces the idea that skilled trade workers are the backbone of the nation and need to protected by their employers. While on the way to the Haymarket Memorial on the other side of the river, we stumbled upon some of the Chicago night-life that most wouldn’t associate with union workers. The apartments for rent were huge high-rises with balconies and came with gyms on the bottom floor. We passed a number of yoga studios, Starbucks, and expensive restaurants where young professionals came pouring out of the renovated inside of what would’ve been tenement housing only one hundred years ago. There were breweries, the largest Free People store I have ever seen, an Anthropologie storefront, and we had dinner at Nando’s. It was weird walking around in a pricey neighborhood knowing that unions were there first and the complete contrast of the population there now. Because unions were formed as a way to protect the common man from the evils of an employer in a capitalistic society, it’s interesting to see that the residents of the past wouldn’t approve of the high end lifestyle residents of the West Loop encompass. The Haymarket Memorial once again reflected the obvious differences of the West Loop today and the residents from a century before. The memorial was almost hidden among the skyscrapers and more high end restaurants that filled the spaces of people who suffered in poverty before.
The next day we went to the Chicago Art Institute to see the Chicago Board of Trade’s original home. We were shocked by the size of the room, it seemed so small for something as large as trade. It was hard to imagine the amount of people that worked together to make Chicago the economic hub that it is today. Because we passed the newer Chicago Board of Trade the night before, we were able to appreciate the power that came from the small room that now serves as a reminder of how unions drove the economy by becoming the backbone of the country.
I believe the most important political issues that face the United States today are abortion, gun control, and immigration reform. These political issues are ones that are popular issues among millennials, and due to the lack of organized religion found in this age group, the issues are farther away from the traditional Catholic community. Abortion has been a polarizing issue among Catholics since the verdict of Roe v. Wade, and as abortion providing services have become fully functional sexual health clinics, the verdict of the case has been stretched across different meanings. As Catholicism continues to be seen as more conservative and the interpretation of the Second Amendment has come under more scrutiny as mass shootings have become more frequent, Catholicism is seen as a force that’s in support of the right to bear arms. Finally, immigration reform is yet again another hot button issue running through the country with child separation at the border and Trump’s call to deport undocumented immigrants. Because Trump’s fanbase has been majorly white Catholics, they’ve been seen as anti-immigration. While it’s difficult to understand why these once oppressed people would want to disenfranchise minorities and their current struggle, the Catholic community since Ronald Reagan’s era have been characterized as upholding traditional gender and societal roles with his infamous slogan “Make America Great Again.” In this turn of events, the way Catholics vote has changed indefinitely, whereas before the Reagan era they would’ve voted more liberal and presently they vote in a conservative fashion. Throughout this year, I look forward to understanding the Catholic community’s politics, the way they vote and why. Because have very little experience within the church, I’m curious to see how their politics relay into societal and governmental changes.