Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jablonsky, Thomas J.


On 6 October 1995 the annual meeting of the Knights of Columbus, attended by 75,000 delegates, confirmed the centuries old fear of democracy loving American Protestants. At a Mass in Brooklyn celebrated by the Pope, Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant assured the Columbians' fealty to the Pope, "My message to you today is very simple: The Knights of Columbus is of one heart and one mind with Pope John Paul." An official body of lay American Catholics had openly declared a commitment to follow Roman Pontiff directives. For centuries, perception of this group solidarity with the potential to vote and thereby determine otherwise even contests, has been viewed by many as a threat to the American political process. This subversive influence was seen as having roots not in the United States but inspired by a foreign authority -- an authority without a democratic tradition and with a history not convincingly in favor of democracy. This perceived "threat to democracy" accounts for only a fraction of the historically anti-Catholic sentiment of many Americans but served as a cornerstone of the 1920s Ku Klux Klan doctrine during what proved to be the final consequential surge of anti-Catholicism in American history...



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