Nearly everybody with even an high-school education has heard of Samuel Morse. He is famous for being the inventor of the first long distance electronic means of communication known to man, the telegraph. But how many people know he wrote a book, “Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States” in which he warned the country and then President, Abraham Lincoln, of the insidious influence of the Roman Catholic Church on American politics? He called the system of unpatriotic foreign influence as “popery.”
noun derogatory, archaic
the doctrines, practices, and ceremonies associated with the Pope or the papal system; Roman Catholicism.
“the Anglicans campaigned against popery”
Why has the word “popery” become archaic? It was a term well used by American Protestants in the 19th century. By the 20th century Jesuit infiltration had become so great in American Protestant churches that most Protestants no longer considered the Pope to be a threat to American democratic institutions.
The following are some key quotes from “Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States.”
Americans, if you depend on your daily press, you rely on a broken reed; it fails you in your need. It dare not, no, it dare not attack Popery. It dare not drag into the light the political enemies of your liberty, because they come in the name of religion.
At present they (the Jesuits) have but one aim in this country (America), which absorbs all others, and that is to make themselves popular. If they succeed in this we shall then learn, when too late to remedy the evil, that Popery abandons none of its divine rights. The leaders of this sect are disciplined and organized, and have their adherents entirely subservient to their will. Here then is a regular party, a religious sect, ready to throw the weight of its power, as circumstances may require, ready to favor any man, or set of men, who will engage to favor it. And to whom do these leaders look for their instructions? Is it to a citizen or body of citizens belonging to this country; is it to a body of men kept in check by the ever jealous eyes of other bodies around them, and by the immediate publicity which must be given to all their doings? No, they are men owning no law on this side of the ocean; they are the Pope and his Consistory of Cardinals, following the plans and instructions of the imperial cabinet of Austria,-plans formed in the secret councils of that cabinet, instructions delivered in secret, according to the modes of despotism, to their obedient officers, and distributed through the well disciplined ranks in this country, to be carried into effect in furtherance of any political designs the Austrian cabinet may think advantageous to its own interests. And will these designs be in favor of liberty? With a party thus formed and disciplined among us, who will venture to say that our elections will not be under the control of a Metternich, and that the appointment of a President of the United States will not be virtually made in the Imperial Cabinet of Vienna, or the Consistory of Cardinals at Rome? Will this be pronounced incredible? It will be the almost certain result of the dominion of Popery in this country.
If Popery is tolerant, let us see Italy, and Austria, and Spain, and Portugal, open their doors to the teachers of the Protestant faith; let these countries grant to Protestant missionaries, as freely as we grant to Catholics, leave to disseminate their doctrine through all classes in their dominions. Then may Popery speak of toleration, then may we believe that it has felt the influence of the spirit of the age and has reformed; but then it will not be Popery, for Popery never changes; it is infallibly the same, infallibly intolerant.
Popery supports the most high- handed despotism, lends its thunders to awe the people into the most abject obedience, and maintains at the top of its creed, the indissoluble union of church and state! while in this country, where it is yet feeling its way, (oh! how consistent!) it has allied itself with the democracy of the land, it is loudest in its denunciations of tyranny, the tyranny of American patriots! It is first to scent out oppression, sees afar off the machinations of the native American Protestants to unite church and state! and puts itself forth the most zealous guardian of civil and religious liberty!
The Jesuits are fully aware of the advantage they derive from this circumstance. They know that a body of men admitted to citizenship, unlearned in the true nature of American liberty, exercising the elective franchise, totally uninfluenced by the ordinary methods of reasoning, but passively obedient only to the commands of their priests, must give those priests great consequence in the eyes of the leaders of political parties; they know that these leaders must esteem it very important that the priests be propitiated. And how is a Catholic priest to be propitiated? How, but by stipulating for that which will increase his power or the power of the church, for be it always borne in mind, that they are identical. The Roman church is the body of priests and prelates; the laity have only to obey and to pay, not to exercise authority. The priest must be favored in his plans of destroying Protestantism, and building up Popery. He must have money from the public treasury to endow Catholic institutions; he must be allowed to have charters for these institutions which will confer extraordinary powers upon their Jesuit trustees;
Does it not show that Popery, with all its speciousness, is the same here as elsewhere; it manifests, when it has the opportunity, its genuine disposition to use spiritual power for the promotion of its temporal ambition. It uses its ecclesiastical weapons to control an election.
In Charleston, S. C., the Roman Catholic Bishop England is said to have boasted of the number of votes that he could control at an election. I have been informed, on authority which cannot be doubted that in New-York, a priest, in a late election for city officers, stopped his congregation after mass on Sunday and urged the electors not to vote for a particular candidate, on the ground of his being an anti-Catholic; the result was the election of the Catholic candidate.
They will see that Popery is now, what it has ever been, a system of the darkest political intrigue and despotism, cloaking itself to avoid attack under the sacred name of religion. They will be deeply impressed with the truth, that Popery is a political as well as a religious system; that in this respect it differs totally from all other sects, from all other forms of religion in the country? Popery embodies in itself THE CLOSEST UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE.
The food of Popery is ignorance. Ignorance is the mother of papal devotion. Ignorance is the legitimate prey of Popery.
Popery is the natural enemy of GENERAL education. Do you ask for proof? It is overwhelming. Look at the intellectual condition of all the countries where Popery is dominant. If Popery is in favor of general education, why are the great mass of the people, in the papal countries I have named, the most ill-informed, mentally degraded beings of all the civilized world, arbitrarily shut out by law from all knowledge but that which makes them slaves to the tyranny of their oppressors? No! look well to it! If Popery in this country is professing friendship to general knowledge, it is a feigned alliance. If it pretends to be in favor of educating the poor, it is a false pretence, it is only temporizing. It is conforming for the present, from policy to the spirit of Protestantism around it, that it may forge its chains with less suspicion. If it is establishing schools, it is to make them prisons of the youthful intellect of the country. If the Papists in Europe are really desirous of enlightening ignorant Americans, by establishing schools, let them make their first efforts among their brethren of the same faith in Canada and Mexico.
Popery is a political, a despotic system, which must be resisted by all true patriots.
Popery is a Political system, despotic in its organization, anti-demoocratic and anti-republican, and cannot therefore coexist with American republicanism.
The ratio of increase of Popery is the exact ratio of decrease of civil liberty.
The dominance of Popery in the United States is the certain destruction of our free institutions.
Popery, by its organization, is wholly under the control of a FOREIGN DESPOTIC SOVEREIGN.
Popery is a UNION OF CHURCH AND STATE, nor can Popery exist in this country in that plenitude of power which it claims as a divine right, and which, in the very nature of the system, it must continually strive to obtain, until such a union is consummated. Popery on this ground, therefore, is destructive to our religious as well as civil liberty.
Popery is more dangerous and more formidable than any power in the United States, on the ground that, through its despotic organization, it can concentrate its efforts for any purpose, with complete effect, and that organization being wholly under foreign control, it can have no real sympathy with any thing American. The funds and intellect, and intriguing experience of all Papal and Despotic Europe, by means of agents, at this moment organized throughout our land, can, at any time, be brought in aid of the enterprises of foreign powers in this country.