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Roman Catholicism and American Politics during the Cold War

Roman Catholicism entered the mainstream of American national life the morning following the November 8, 1960 election when John F. Kennedy won and became the president. While it may seem strange to people who did not grow up in the era, Protestant voters were wary of a Roman Catholic potentially serving as president of the United States. Yet the Vatican may have been even more wary of “Americanism.” While it did not necessarily inhibit Catholics from being Catholic it also was a form of exceptionalism that potentially risked the expansion of Christendom as understood by Catholics.

In this episode, D. G. Hart revisits the arguments of his book, American Catholic: The Politics of Faith during the Cold War, explaining the historical reasons why the relationship between Roman Catholicism and Americanism changed in the 1960s and how it continued to develop in subsequent decades.

Darryl G. Hart is Distinguished Associate Professor of History at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. He is a host of the Paleo Protestant Pudcast with Korey Maas and Miles Smith as well as the Religious Nationalism podcast with Crawford Gribben.


  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:04:47 Roman Catholicism and Politics in 2021
  • 00:07:34 Religion in the Public Square
  • 00:11:14 The Literature on American Politics and Catholicism
  • 00:16:07 Writing on Roman Catholicism as a Protestant
  • 00:20:55 Catholicism and the Conservative Movement
  • 00:27:19 Protestant Fears about a Catholic President in 1960
  • 00:33:02 Catholic Antipathy toward Americanism
  • 00:45:49 John Courtney Murray and Catholic Thinking on Church and State
  • 00:56:29 Catholic American Public Intellectuals
  • 01:01:56 The Limits of Americanism
  • 01:08:56 Neo-Americanists and a Modern Faith
  • 01:18:21 Conclusion

Participants: ,

Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.


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