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"Our great enemy is Roman Catholicism," wrote David Gregg, pastor of Boston's Park Street Church, in 1888. "This is a system thoroughly organized, and if we are to take it at its own word, it is root and branch, in toto, anti-American."

"The jihad is coming quietly to America by the intentional building of Muslim populations in small to medium American cities," blogger Pamela Geller wrote in 2007. "Islam is a political ideology and it is incompatible with democracy," she wrote in 2008.

Has Islam replaced Catholicism in American religious politics?

According to Jonathan Den Hartog, assistant professor of history at Northwestern College in Minnesota, the way many Christians react as American Muslims increase in numbers and prominence has a lot in common with the way many Protestants responded to early America's growing Catholic population.

"There was a long tradition of seeing Catholics as controlled by Rome, or controlled by their local parish priests, or manipulated by Jesuit agents," Den Hartog told CT. "Also, Americans remembered the persecution that Catholics had inflicted, whether under 'Bloody Mary' in England or in the French Wars of Religion or in the exile of the Huguenots."

A scholar of American religious history, Den Hartog is expanding his dissertation, Patriotism and Piety, into a book exploring religion in the Federalist Party.

What sort of rhetoric did one hear about Catholics in those days?

The biggest concern that lot of people have in that period is whether [Catholics] can actually be proper citizens of the United States in a democratic republic. They often [say] they're in bondage to a foreign power, by which they mean the Pope. So because these individuals are religiously bound to another entity they can't be ...

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