New York Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan wrote an op-ed this week in the Daily News that was critical of Donald Trump’s remarks on immigration. He called attention to the history of anti-Catholic nativism, mentioning the role played by Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State (POAU); it is now known as Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Barry Lynn, who heads Americans United, is offended that Dolan lumped his organization in with “the violent and hateful actions of groups like the KKK.” He makes it clear he is also defending POAU.
Dolan is right about his history and Lynn is in denial. POAU was founded after World War II, and no one played a bigger role in ideologically launching it than Paul Blanshard, the most notorious anti-Catholic bigot in the nation. His screed, American Freedom and Catholic Power, is known to this day for its unrelenting bigotry. He warned that “the Menace” was about to take over America, turning it into a theocracy. “The Menace” was the Catholic Church.
POAU’s first president, Glenn Archer, drew on Blanshard’s ideology when he labeled the Catholic Church “more dangerous and clever than communism.” He wrote this after Stalin starved millions of Ukrainians in the world’s first man-made famine.
Archer also petitioned the FCC to deny TV licenses to the Jesuits, claiming they were an “alien organization.” If that isn’t nativism, the word has no meaning. Here’s another example: Archer asked the House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate “the intentions, scope and achievements of Vatican espionage here,” charging that the Catholic clergy had learned “American secrets hardly anyone except the president knows.” The paranoia of these bigots was classic nativism.
The KKK was violent and POAU was non-violent—that’s the only difference. Americans United is still blatantly anti-Catholic, making Lynn’s case against Cardinal Dolan positively ignorant.