Narratives of American history are often centered around the idea of oppression and liberation, with groups such as ethnic minorities, women, and workers struggling...

Narratives of American history are often centered around the idea of oppression and liberation, with groups such as ethnic minorities, women, and workers struggling with, and (at least to some degree) overcoming prejudice. Perhaps because of American understandings of their country as a shining beacon of religious liberty, ideas of people facing prejudice because of their religion often recede to the background. In her book, The Nativist Movement in America: Religious Conflict in the Nineteenth Century (Routledge, 2013), Dr. Katie Oxx shows, through an exploration of anti-Catholic, Protestant nativism, how religion could play a key role in marking a community as “dangerous” and leading another community to oppose it, even with violent means. Oxx, in a careful exploration of three such moments, the burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, the Philadelphia Bible Riots, and the destruction of a stone that Pope Pius IX donated for the construction of the Washington Monument, foregrounds religion as an important cause behind these historical events, while also showing how class and gender could play roles as well. In addition to her fascinating treatment of these issues, Oxx also includes a number of primary sources, making this work not only interesting in its own right, but also ideal for inclusion in a course on American religious history. (As an aside, Dr. Oxx is also working on a documentary on Philadelphia Catholic history that will screen before Pope Francis’s visit: http://urbantrinityfilm.com/)

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