Popular Anti-Catholicism in Mid-Victorian Britain

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Unlike other approaches to this problem, this study recognizes the value of psychological insights on bias and stereotyping. It posits the idea that religion-based conflicts can be examined and understood like any other prejudice. Evidence is extensive: parliamentary debates, select committee reports, petitions, secular periodicals, religious journals, and the reports and tracts of ultra-Protestant organizations. Anti-Catholic prejudice is traced along its major avenues of hostility: the obsession with "watchfulness"; the "Papal Aggression" episode; massive opposition to state funding of St. Patrick's College; the battle over the notion of a Protestant constitution; the campaign against convents; and the impact of Irish immigration.


"By successfully integrating social science theory and documentary evidence, Wallis offers a valuable piece of scholarship on religious prejudice in mid-Victorian England. . . . Wallis's attention to detail and his adroit handling of the scapegoat and conflict models avert simplistic and reductionist interpretations of the religious prejudice operative in Britain's social fabric. . . . On a larger scale, Wallis ably demonstrates how prejudice, religion, culture, and history interact in a society." - Victorian Studies

". . . highly readable and is based on a wealth of primary sources. . . . He provides a clear, commonsensical discussion to various alternative theories while ultimately choosing to utilize scapegoat theory and real conflict theory. Both here and throughout the text, it should be added, his prose is largely free from the jargon that infects many of the social sciences. . . . Wallis's bibliography contains not only the wide array of primary sources that comprise the foundation of his work but also a comprehensive and up-to-date listing of secondary books and scholarly articles. It thus provides a useful guide for those wishing to undertake further research in this field." -- Robert Glenew

"The book adds more detail to our knowledge of Victorian anti-Catholicism and is an interesting case-study in the application of social scientific theory to the history of religion." -- The Catholic Historical Review

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