Practically since the founding of the first colonies in New World, Americans have had a sort of anti-Catholic bias.
Allow me to explain.
Many of the first immigrants to America were staunch Calvinist Presbyterians, nicknamed "Puritans" by their fellows in England; others included Anglicans and Quakers, Anabaptists and Lutherans - none of whom had much use for the Pope of Rome and Catholics in general. The reasoning behind this goes back to the religious wars in the wake of the Reformation and the feeling that Catholics took their orders from a "foreign potentate" - i.e., the Pope.
When the KKK was in its heyday in the 1920s, Catholics were Number Three on their Most-Hated List, right behind African-Americans and Jews.
Senator John F. Kennedy, campaigning for President, had to go off the trail and deliver a speech explaining that he would be his own man and would not truckle to any foreign ruler (even one shorn of his temporal power, as the Pope was).
But now we come to the present day, Pope Benedict XVI, and this little piece of yummy goodness:
Pope says Catholics in politics must follow faith
The Associated Press
Saturday, November 15, 2008; 1:01 PM
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging Catholics who get involved in politics to stay true to their church's teaching.
Benedict says it is necessary that a new generation of Catholics in politics be "coherent" with the faith they profess.
He also recommends that they act with moral rigor and work passionately for the common good.
The pope urged Vatican officials in a speech Saturday to be vigilant about the evangelical education of Catholics who get so involved in society.
Benedict recently said religion and politics should be "open to each other."
The Vatican is particularly attentive to political action about abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.
© 2008 The Associated Press
"Open to each other." If you yoke religion and politics together in the same cart you create a vehicle that basically destroys everything in its path, leaving hurt feelings and victims of everything from excommunication to physical violence in its wake. We've already seen Catholic bishops and priests in this country mixing politics with the pulpit - saying that citizens who vote Democratic shouldn't be eligible to receive Communion; and we've seen the Mormon Church get so heavily involved in depriving an entire segment of the population the right to marry that I seriously believe that the LDS lose their tax-exempt status.
There are reasons the Founders decried the establishment of a state religion, and now we have actual Americans wanting to turn their backs on that dictum. If you vote for a progressive candidate or support reproductive choice, that is a matter between you and whatever deity you worship.
It should not be a matter for tired old men in an increasingly ossified Church.
Here endeth the lesson.