Discuss the meaning of Stephen Prothero's observation that "Catholicism threatened the whole American project?"

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Catholicism has often been seen as a religion that is fundamentally opposed to American values.  There have been times in American history when there were political parties that had anti-Catholicism as important parts of their platforms.  The mid-1800s was one of these times as the "Know-Nothings" warned of the dangers of Catholicism.

The reason for this was the fact that Catholicism was such a hierarchical religion with a strong authority at the top.  Know-Nothings felt that Catholics would be obedient to the Pope, a foreign authority.  They also felt that Catholics were not properly democratic because they gave their allegiance to a figure who was essentially like a king.

Because of this, many Americans felt that Catholics threatened the American "project."  They threatened it because they were obedient to a "king" who was not American.