“The Scarlet Whore, the Dogs of Hell, the Second Beast, the Anti-Christ, ‘these have disgraced humanity and crimsoned a great part of the world with innocent blood. And soon riding triumphant over the heads of true Protestants, making multitudes drunk with the wine of her fornications…The need to swap the best religion in the world for all the barbarity, trumpery and superstition of popery; or burn at the stake, or submit to the tortures of the inquisition…English lawmakers were being controlled by the devil in passing the Quebec Act which first sprang from that original wicked politician” (How Anti-Catholicism Helped Fuel the American Revolution, Steven Waldman)
The 1774 Pope Day in Boston was one of the grandest in years and in Newport, Rhode Island two large effigies of the pope were paraded. In New York, a group marched to the financial Exchange carrying a huge flag inscribed, “George III Rex, and the Liberties of America. No Popery.”
Later that day, a pamphlet that had been distributed urging tolerance toward the Catholics of Canada was smeared with tar and feathers and nailed to the pillory. To add to the ferment, John Adams and his cousin Samuel, both publically and in Congress stated that the Quebec Act was “a frightful system, as would have terrified any people, who did not prefer liberty to life.”
Samuel Adams said, “I did verily believe, as I do still, that much more is to be dreaded from the growth of popery in America, than from the Stamp Act, or any other acts destructive of civil rights.”
A mere sampling of the epitaphs and reactions of our founding fathers and ministers on Parliament’s passage of the Quebec Act of 1774. This one decision united and bound with ferocity the colonies as no other Act, the depth of betrayal brought to bear the deep seeded fear and hatred of papists for over two centuries. Their secular belief preferred the lies rather than the truth and in convenience, paid little heed of its own Protestant history of far worse crimes in the name of religion.
The Quebec Act
On October 21, 1774, Congress issued the following, its first official pronouncement ever: the Quebec Act was passed by Parliament to place “in the hands of power, to reduce the ancient, free Protestant colonies” to slavery.
“Nor,” it stated, “can we suppress our astonishment that a British parliament should ever consent to establish in that country [Canada] a religion that has deluged your island with blood, and superseded impiety, bigotry, persecution, murder and rebellions through every part of the world.” The address further stated that this will encourage Canadians to ‘act with hostility against free Protestant colonies whenever a wicked ministry shall choose to direct them.’
The silversmith and engraver Paul Revere created a cartoon for the Royal American Magazine called “The Mitred Minuet.” It depicted four contented-looking Mitred Anglican Bishops, dancing a minuet around a copy of the Quebec Act to show their “approbation and countenance of the Roman religion.” Standing nearby are the authors of the Quebec Act, while a Devil with bat ears and spiky wings hovers behind them, whispering instructions.
Within this atmosphere of emotional superstition, General Washington called out the Continental Congress on their foolish condemnation without first realizing the necessity of requesting support from France, a predominately-Catholic country. While Boston was glorifying in their ‘Pope Day’ in excess, Canada was receiving a delegation from the fledgling colonies for an appeal for neutrality. Among the representatives joining Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Chase on their unsuccessful attempt were Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his cousin John Carroll, a Jesuit prior to the suppression of the order who continued to be one of the colonies few priests (in 1789, he became the first American Bishop). Canada was not thrilled of the written protestations to England nor of the colonies’ request of maintaining neutrality in the coming conflict.
A Manmade God, not God Made Man
In part was the persuasiveness of the Age of Reason, for it qualified its premise and its reasoned reaction for anti-Catholicism. In the advent of rapid discovery, the submission of man’s will to God’s gave excuse for weakness, while the Protestant work ethic gave rise to the secular viewpoint, religious observance was relegated for Sundays only, unnecessary in the six and a half day work week.
The decree was to have God manmade and dictated to rather than a practiced submission to the will of God. The transformation of man’s control over life than God’s generosity of it was dismissed as irrelevant in overseeing man’s affairs. The blame was laid squarely at Catholicism’s door for employing their bigoted view based on the biased conclusion of a manmade religion rather than the scholar’s mind seeking the truth without the impediments of their sloppy, slipshod thought process, consumed with verifying skewered results instead of the fact-based truth of true research.
The manufactured excuses explained the reasons for the need to sever the bridge between God and man, departing from the Son’s message of love and no greater love to the venged-filled seeking God. The free will to turn away gained prominence to keep the pleasures of life as the immediate reward, retribution reserved for those papists refusing to submit and heed the sanctimonious of the hedonists and the heretical life; however, their contradiction is not the loss of God but rather the loss of the God-honored life — God first in all things, the Pope being the visible of Christ on earth. For Christ himself set the lifeline of a thread by using the tangible of the human use of hierarchy to climb to Heaven through a narrow gate, guarded by a frail thread, yet the greater strength given by the giver.
Little has changed, now, as that which was not understood then is rarely recognized today. True Catholics never wear their faith like an overcoat and take it off when the atmosphere turns too warm, whereas the divisive sects that were born out of defiance and separation carry the overcoat and leave it on only when necessary.