I’ve spent the past month reading the inimitable Garry Wills. His “Head and Heart: the History of Christianity in America” might be the most fascinating book I’ve ever read.
It’s riddled with fascinating facts and stories about the country’s history with regards to religion.
His main premise, that America alternates between an evangelical (heart) and enlightenment (head) look at religion, is fascinating. One of the secondary premises is how much James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and a few others really wanted a complete wall between religion and state.
I’m almost done, but I just got to the part where he talks about the rise of Catholicism in the United States politically. He points out that during World War I, the National Catholic War Council was a unifying force for the denomination. However, when the war ended, the group struck out politically.
“at the end of the war, the bishops felt they should continue the party as the National Catholic Welfare Council (NCWC), and father Ryan wrote their peacetime agenda in what became the Bishops Program of that year. It called for a minimum wage, the banning of child labor, government insurance for the elderly, and equal pay for women workers.
That last one stands out, doesn’t it?