Congress and the United Nations rolling out their red carpets – nuns working overtime to bake communion hosts – prison inmates carving a walnut throne – tickets for events snapped up in seconds: America is gearing up for pope-mania.Pope Francis is expected to be greeted with huge crowds and across-the-board reverence when he tours Washington New York and Philadelphia during his first visit as pontiff to the United States.
The rapture however will not change the awkward – and largely forgotten fact – that for centuries the US discriminated against Catholics.
The land of immigrants enshrined freedom of religion in the constitution yet spent much of its history despising harassing and marginalising Catholics.
From the first Puritan settlers to televangelists leading political business and religious figures lambasted followers of Rome as theological abominations and traitorous fifth columnists.
‘When you look back at the true hidden history of the United States this strand of anti-Catholicism is very powerful’ said Kenneth Davis a prominent historian and commentator.
‘We want to show this patriotic view that we were this melting pot of religious freedom. Nonsense. People wanted their own religious freedom not freedom for others.
There was a very very deep hatred of Catholics’.