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Moments in Time Incentive to vote

By Gary Macy

As the November elections approach, it might be well to recall how difficult was the struggle of many people in the United States to be fully accepted citizens. Catholics were subject to the prejudice that haunted (and still haunts) so many groups. Here, for example, is part of the secret oath taken by members of the American Protective Association in 1893: “I furthermore promise and swear that I will not countenance the nomination, in any caucus or convention, of a Roman Catholic for any office in the gift of the American people, and that I will not vote for, or counsel others to vote for, any Roman Catholic, but will vote only for a Protestant, so far as may lie in my power. Should there be two Roman Catholics on opposite tickets, I will erase the name on the ticket I vote; that I will at all times endeavor to place the political positions of this government in the hands of Protestants, to the entire exclusion of the Roman Catholic church, of its members thereof, and the mandate of the pope.” Oh, and for good measure, the oath also declares, “I will not employ a Roman Catholic in any capacity if I can procure the services of a Protestant.” There is a real incentive here to vote, if only to justify the fight of our predecessors against such venom.

Gary Macy is a theology professor at the University of San Diego. His e-mail address is macy@pwa.acusd.edu

National Catholic Reporter, November 3, 2000