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Taking the Cake

This Rock
Volume 5, Number 2
February 1994 

Every once in a while we come across an anti-Catholic publication so gratuitously hateful, so wholly divorced from reality, so insidiously creative in its lies and errors that we can only marvel at what sort of person could conceive it.

Such is our reaction on surveying The Protestant, a 16-page tabloid "independently published and distributed by dedicated laymen of the Adventist Movement." Translation: A splinter group of Seventh-Day Adventists has scraped together enough cash to mail anti-Catholic vitriol into communities across the country. This publication may already have come into yours.

These Adventists have a hook. They appeal to the reader's patriotism. Their arguments are based on the premise that America and the Constitution of the United States are in some sense divinely inspired. The attacks on the Catholic Church throughout the pages of The Protestant center in one way or another on how the Church is out to make America a Catholic state, abolish religious liberty and freedom of conscience, and establish a Catholic one-world government.

The Jesuits in particular intend to destroy any opposition; they take an oath which states, "I will . . . wage relentless war . . . against all heretics, Protestants, and Liberals. . . . I will hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics; rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women, and crush their infants' heads against the wall, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race."

This oath is nearly identical to the "Knights of Columbus oath" that was declared a fake in 1913 by a special committee of Congress. Despite the governmental condemnation, the spurious Knights oath has been used by anti-Catholics throughout this century. (Maybe they don't read the Congressional Record.) The Protestant has resurrected it, changing only its attribution (now it's taken by the Jesuits) and its focus (from "Protestants and Masons" to "Protestants and Liberals").

The writers for The Protestant take some creative liberties in referring to Pope Pius IX's 1864 Syllabus of Errors. This document lists erroneous ideas of the day. For instance, the first proposition states that "No supreme, all wise, and all-provident divine Godhead exists." Pio Nono condemned errors in theology, philosophy, government, and marriage simply by stating them.

In "quoting" the Syllabus, The Protestant fudges by taking a negative statement, drawing a (false) conclusion from it, adding a word here and there, and then printing the result as though it were a positive statement from the Pope's own hand.

Under the heading "Roman Dogma and Tradition--Freedoms [sic] Foe!", the Syllabus is quoted as saying, "The Church has the right to require that the Catholic religion shall be the religion of the State, to the exclusion of ALL OTHERS"

Aside from the fact that if this really were a quotation from the Syllabus it would undermine The Protestant's intent (since everything mentioned in the Syllabus is recognized as an error), the idea is nowhere found in the Syllabus. The closest thing we could find was error number 21, which reads, "The Church does not have the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion." Rephrased positively, this means that the Church can teach its members that the Catholic faith is the one true religion (something it does teach--see Vatican II's Dignitatis Humanae 1).

The Protestant takes other liberties with Catholic sources, quoting obscure nineteenth-century Catholic journals out of context and gluing scraps of the Catholic Encyclopedia into sentences contrary to what the writers of that work intended. The Protestant gets one thing right, though. It is the work of Adventists, after all, and no Adventist publication would be complete without mentioning the Church's transferral of corporate worship from Saturday to Sunday.

Here the publication challenges Protestantism and in a rare moment of perspicacity infers a bold truth: "There is only one authority for Sunday sacredness and that is the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore whoever observes Sunday acknowledges the authority of the papacy and pays it's [sic] homage to the Roman Church." This is underscored in an "open letter" to televangelist Paul Crouch, Jack Chick, who publishes anti-Catholic comic books. Chick invents a fanciful history in which "[o]ur nation was founded by those who had fled from persecution at the hands of the Roman Catholic Institution."

Check your facts, Jack: It was persecution by the Church of England that sent the Pilgrims fleeing to Plymouth Rock, and the first settlers in Maryland were Catholics who were seeking the religious freedom they couldn't find in England at the hands of the Protestant establishment. (Their religious freedom later was taken away by Protestants.)

In Chick's history books, "Our Constitution, drawn up by our Protestant forefathers, was carefully written to safeguard against Rome ever dominating this great land." Wrong again. The safeguard was against Congress establishing a particular church as the official church, and the First Amendment was conceived with the persecutions of the Established Church in England fresh in the minds of the Framers.

In styling the Jesuits as the catalysts and administrators of its imagined Romish plots, The Protestant says the Jesuits were responsible for starting the Civil War and assassinating five presidents; it is the Jesuits who will knock off those opposed to the Catholic takeover of America or of the "United Catholic States of Europe." Ironically, this bilge comes from a periodical published in St. Ignatius, Montana.

 

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