I have been known to make some pretty bold claims from time to time, and this will be one of them. However, I think I have some solid ground to stand on. Here’s the gist of it. The time period in which we are living, which began with the American Revolution that started in 1765, to our present day, is all one epoch of history, and it marks a very specific and defined trend in history. In short, we are living through the slow unraveling of Protestantism as it works its way toward extinction.
The Protestant Heresy
Let’s begin by reviewing what Protestantism really is. Protestantism is an ideology unique to Western Christendom. As Eastern Christendom struggled with various heresies (including Arianism) in the first millennium, so Western Christendom has struggled with Protestantism in the second millennium. Arianism, and similar heresies, struggled with the identity of Jesus Christ as God the Son. Arianism, in particular, denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. Therefore, those who subscribed to it ceased to be Christian, and instead became something else. Western Christendom, however, struggles with the identity and role of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Because this particular heresy doesn’t deal with the identity of Jesus Christ as God, those who subscribe to it remain Christian, but their place in the Church is now obfuscated. This is because understanding WHO the Holy Spirit is, and HIS role in the formation of the Church, is essential to understanding one’s own role in the Church and the Church itself. Once you misunderstand the Holy Spirit, you misunderstand the Church, and your own place in it.
Protestantism operates primarily on the principle of obfuscated authority and the role of the Holy Spirit in that authority. In short, the role of the Holy Spirit is limited, by restricting infallibility to Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura), and denying the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church’s threefold orders of deacon, presbyter (priest) and bishop. As an extension of this, the role of the papacy is completely undermined, if not denied entirely. (I explored how all this came about in Chapter 2 of my recent book The Last Days: A Catholic Analysis of the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.) Instead, the role of the Holy Spirit in the ecclesial acts of the pope and bishops is virtually eliminated. What it’s replaced with is a limited quasi-infallibility of the laity, wherein lay people (regular Christians) are misinformed to believe that their own private interpretations of Scripture can be semi-infallible, even if it means that this semi-infallibility only applies to one individual at a time. So what is “infallible” for one Protestant, might not be “infallible” for another. In this sense, the Holy Spirit becomes somewhat schizophrenic, in that His truth changes from one Christian to the next, depending on that Christian’s private interpretation of Scripture.
Most Protestant Christians, however, are unwilling to accept such semi-infallibility on their own. Most Protestants are content to delegate that semi-infallibility to a pastor instead, so that each pastor, of each Protestant Church, becomes his own semi-pope baring the charism of semi-infallibility from each member who delegated his/hers to him. Thus, the more members a church has, the more semi-infallible the pastor becomes. This is why most Protestants are content to assert “my pastors says…” when it comes to interpreting Scripture. They don’t want to do the work of studying the Scriptures themselves, so they just delegate their own semi-infallibility to their pastor, and go by what he says instead.
However, as is common in Protestant communities, should one particular member of that congregation decide that his pastor’s semi-infallibility is not good enough, or doesn’t meet his standards, he can retake his own semi-infallibility to either find a new church or start his own, with his own semi-infallible private interpretation of Scripture. This is how schisms take place within Protestantism. It’s also why there are so many different Protestant denominations, affiliations and sects.
The primary heresy of all Protestantism is as follows: “The Holy Spirit will guide any regular Christian (layman) into a semi-infallible interpretation of Scripture, without the aid of any ordination or apostolic succession.” Thus, for the Protestant, the only truly infallible source of divine revelation is the Bible Alone (Sola Scriptura), while regular Christians (laypeople) have a semi-infallible charism to interpret it, if they just ask the Holy Spirit for help through prayer.
The Protestant Revolution (Reformation) can be divided into two main groups: English and German. The German Reformation was started by Martin Luther and carried on by John Calvin, a French theologian who built on Martin Luther’s teachings, even though he disagreed with Luther on key points. The German Reformation was the main influence on the European continent, spawning many denominations and eventually having some influence on the English Reformation.
The English Reformation, on the other hand, while not as influential in continental Europe, turned out to be the most successful of the two, and this is for two main reasons. One, it retained enough Catholic polity, for a time, to prevent the immediate fragmentation of the movement. Two, it was headed by a strong monarch, who functioned as a pope-like figure in place of the actual pope. So we could say that the English Reformation mirrored the German Reformation in the misplacement of the Holy Spirit and infallibility, coupled with a hefty dose of caesaropapism (that is to say: “the king is pope”). The success of the English Reformation is owed primarily to the expansion of the British Empire around the globe, spreading Protestantism into the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia. Eventually, English Protestantism did fracture, and some of it was heavily influenced by the German Reformation, but nevertheless English imperialism insured that it would spread around the globe.
The denominations, affiliations and sects of the English Reformation include, but are not limited to: Anglican/Episcopalian, Methodist, Congregational, Baptist and Pentecostal.
The Decline of Protestantism
The seeds of Protestantism’s decline were planted within just two-hundred years after its beginning. It’s a common misunderstanding that the Enlightenment ended the age of Protestantism. This is categorically untrue. Protestantism flourished during the Enlightenment both in spite of it and because of it. Catholicism did too. What marked the beginning of the end for Protestantism was a little event in history that many of us in North America celebrate today — it’s called the American Revolution.
The American Revolution was a war of secession wherein the British colonists in North America (mostly Protestants) fought to be liberated from the rule of a Protestant king and his empire. Now this was not a religious war, by any stretch of the imagination, but nevertheless they needed the help of a Catholic monarch (King Louis XVI) to pull it off.
Let that sink in…
The American Revolution was a war of secession wherein British Protestants in North America, allied with a Catholic monarch and his kingdom, fought to be liberated from the rule of a Protestant monarch and his empire.
It was a war, where for the first time really, Protestants chose to ally with Catholics against other Protestants. We could say this happened on a small scale in some places, here and there, but the American Revolution turned into a global conflict, resulting in many Catholic kingdoms declaring war (or assisting in war) on the Protestant empire of England. After just 240 years, the most successful experiment in Protestantism, the English Empire, was beginning to crumble.
As a result of the colonists’ alliance with Catholic France, the Protestant colonists were forced to give up some of their most cherished celebrations, chief among them was Guy Fawkes Day wherein effigies of Guy Fawkes and the Pope were burned in public bonfires and merriment on November 5. These celebrations ended, by the order of General George Washington, during the American Revolution, so as not to upset their much-needed French allies. So absolute and complete was General Washington’s ban that there is scarcely any trace of such a celebration left in the United States to this very day. Let that sink in too. General George Washington, in order to save the United States, understood that alliance with Catholic France was absolutely necessary, and therefore American Protestants needed to be as accommodating to Catholics as possible. His ban on Guy Fawkes celebrations was taken by the colonists as if it came from the edict of a king. That’s the kind of influence Washington had on his troops, and the citizenry, of the United States. Echoes of that influence remain with us to this very day.
In spite of heavy influence from the Freemasons (Masonic Sect), and the rise of nativist parties that were heavily anti-Catholic, the trajectory of the United States has steadily moved away from Protestantism, and believe it or not, toward Catholicism. I predict that if the United States survives the twenty-first century (and that’s a big “if”) it will become a Catholic nation. If it does not survive the twenty-first century, the nations that result from America’s breakup will eventually become Catholic as well. In other words, all of North America will eventually be Catholic. I’ll explain more about this below.
However, this movement toward Catholicism is currently veiled by the collapse of Protestantism under Modernism, which is not a pretty sight to see. I’ll get to that later. Before I do, however, we must look deeper into the influence of Catholicism upon the United States.
Catholicism’s Influence on American Government
Following the American Revolution, it was determined that the Articles of Confederation were inadequate to govern the former colonies (now states). So the Constitutional Convention was convened to reorganize the government. The basic premise of the United States Constitution is Catholic. Everything from the division of powers between three separate branches, checks and balances, to the concept of federalism (called “subsidiarity” in the catechism), to the Bill of Rights minus just one clause, it’s all Catholic.
Philosopher and legal expert, Timothy Gordon, explains the details in his book Catholic Republic: Why America Will Perish Without Rome. To summarize, the Founding Fathers had nowhere to look for a republican model that would work in the modern world, aside from Catholic philosophers and theologians. So, instead of coming up with something totally new, they just ripped off the Catholic ideas, and relabelled them as Masonic, to make them more palatable to the Protestant population of the former colonies. I strongly recommend reading the details in Gordon’s book.
The biggest exception to this comes in the Article I of the Bill of Rights, commonly known as the First Amendment. It’s called the “Establishment Clause” which prohibits the federal government from establishing a national church or religion. That is not a Catholic approach, obviously, and it’s designed to be so. It’s part of the relabelling (or whitewashing) that went on to make sure the Protestant majority in the colonies would not vomit on the Constitution once they saw it. In order to make sure the Protestant colonists would accept the Constitution, the promise of the Bill of Rights would make sure that they could rest assured that no national church would ever be forced upon them. This, in spite of the fact, that many states had state churches (all Protestant), and would keep them for decades to come. While all Protestants feared the Catholic Church, they were at the time more concerned about one Protestant church, in one state, asserting dominance over another Protestant church in another state. The Establishment Clause to the First Amendment basically codified Protestantism in state law, but in order to do this, it meant there could be no religion in federal law. This stopped one Protestant state church from dominating another. The irony to Protestantism is that it’s so divided, it needs Secularism to protect it from itself. In the end, that very same Secularism would become its undoing, starting in the latter half of the twentieth century.
In time, Catholics would be elected to Congress and ultimately the presidency. Though the quality, or legitimacy, of their Catholicism can sometimes be questioned, it nevertheless demonstrates that Catholics can be elected to the federal government. They can, and have, been appointed to the Supreme Court as well, currently making up a basic majority.
The influence of Catholicism on American law is only just beginning though. It began with the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and is beginning to take shape on the issue of abortion, as well as a few other social issues. There is a long way to go, of course, and we can expect setbacks along the way, but the trend toward Catholicism in American government is undeniable.
Catholicism’s Influence on American Culture
During the colonial period, and for over a century following the American Revolution, Catholicism was repressed in America’s Protestant culture. It was not openly persecuted per se, but certain social practices were in place to insure that Catholic culture wouldn’t get a foothold in American society. It was a form of social persecution rather than legal persecution. This became increasingly more difficult to accomplish following the Louisiana Purchase, the acquisition of Mexican territories as spoils of war, and the massive wave of Irish, Italian and German Catholic immigrants during the nineteenth century. All of which brought a large number of Catholics into the United States.
As time passed, Protestant nativists (another word for Protestant anti-Catholics) enacted more brutal techniques to keep Catholics in poverty. Assisted by the Masonic Fraternities, Protestant men were assured better jobs and business opportunities, while Catholic men were forced to work in sweatshops and coal mines, reducing the life expectancy of Catholic men into their thirties. Widowed Catholic mothers, unable to afford their large families, were forced (by law) to adopt their children out to wealthier Protestant parents who would raise their children as Protestants. By the end of the nineteenth century, the situation was so dire that the Knights of Columbus was formed to bring an end to it.
By the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries, the Knights of Columbus were doing great things to turn the tide in favor of Catholicism in the United States. The Knights played a key role bringing an end to the Christero War in Mexico, and rose the standing of Catholics in the United States so much, that a Catholic governor from New York, Al Smith, was able to launch a credible campaign for the presidency in 1928. The Protestant nativists freaked out, so much so, that the Ku Klux Klan ran an unsuccessful smear campaign against the Knights of Columbus by publishing a bogus oath that claimed the Knights swore to kill Protestants upon command from the pope. The oath was later proved to be a hoax in Congressional hearings.
In 1960, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president was elected. In 2020, Joe Biden was the second. Though admittedly, neither men exemplified the moral character of Catholicism, and the validity of the 2020 election is still in question. In 2024 or 2028, depending on how circumstances work out, a Catholic will most likely be on the top of the Republican ticket for president.
The Knights of Columbus also secured the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, in order to make sure that Catholic children (and all Christian children) would not be forced to pledge their allegiance to any flag or government without pledging to God first.
During the middle twentieth century, Archbishop Fulton Sheen raised the public profile of American Catholicism exponentially with his radio and television broadcasts.
Demographic changes are coming to America as well. America’s Latino population (mostly Catholic) is on the rise and will continue to rise for decades to come. While at the same time, a growing number of Protestant Anglos are gradually turning toward Catholicism. (I’ll discuss this more below.)
The creation of Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans insures the long-term growth of the Anglo (English) Patrimony within the Catholic Church for generations to come. It also insures a distinctively Anglo (English) character to Catholicism in the United States and the Anglosphere.
The Modernist Tsunami
Modernism has a long history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Pope Pius X’s 1907 encyclical Pascendi Dominici gregis condemned Modernism as “the synthesis of all heresies,” though it is neither a specific heresy nor ideology in itself. In actuality, it’s a mindset, wherein an attempt is made to reconcile Christianity with the modern world, usually done in a way that compromises Christianity as opposed to modernity. In other words, modernity reigns supreme, and wherever Christianity does not conform, it is simply tossed aside. As a result, Modernism usually reduces Christianity to a social organization with no authority or influence outside of works of public charity. Consequently, Christian morality (particularly on sexual matters) is often ignored entirely, or “reimagined,” so as to conform to modernity.
Some Catholics make the mistake of thinking that Modernism is just a Catholic problem. They are wrong. Modernism hit both the Catholic and Protestant worlds simultaneously during the twentieth century, and while Catholicism has been severely damaged, and must be repaired, Protestantism was literally crushed. I sometimes compare Modernism to a tsunami that hit a coastal city. Those buildings made of steel and stone represent the Catholic Church. They were severely damaged, but at least remain standing. In contrast, Protestant churches can be compared to buildings made of wood, clay and straw. Little remains of them after the tsunami washes through. The mainstream Protestant denominations have been decimated. Most of them are no longer Christian, in a moral sense, embracing all forms of sexual deviancy and even abortion on demand. In size, they are just a fraction of what they once were. Some of these mainstream Protestant denominations (Anglican and Methodist for example) have fractured, with the conservative Protestants leaving to start their own similar denominations. The vast majority of Protestants, however, left their mainstream denominations entirely, congregating in Evangelical mega-churches today, following a cult of personality from one charismatic pastor to the next. Many conservative Protestants remain of course, but they are far less organized than in generations past, and just one generation away from complete collapse under the right circumstances.
The dire situation in Protestantism is often masked by the dire situation in Catholicism. The Catholic Church has problems today, big problems, so big that one can easily get caught up in the politics of it all and miss what’s going on in the Protestant world. I assure you, however, that whatever the Catholic Church is dealing with, the situation is ten times worse in the Protestant world. The situation is not limited to the United States and North America. It is transcontinental. It’s worse in Europe and Oceania. Some Protestants are quick to point out the problems with the current pope, the Vatican, or certain scandals with bishops and priests. Not to deny the reality of these problems. They are real, and very serious. Yet they distract from what is going on in the Protestant world, which is total devastation.
As it stands right now, the United States of America is currently the powerhouse driving the Protestant world. It’s been that way since the middle nineteenth century. While Evangelical Protestants exist all throughout the world, the big money driving their missionary influence is in the United States. If the United States goes down economically in the near future, it will take Evangelical missionary work down with it. In the long-term, however, Protestantism will decline on it’s own in America, and this includes the Evangelical brand. Currently, Catholics (both practicing and non-practicing) account for about 70 million Americans, roughly about one-fifth of the US population. Protestants still outnumber Catholics by 2 to 1. However, when you consider how few Catholics there were in the United States when it was founded, the growth of Catholicism in America is nothing short of monumental.
While Catholics are currently a minority when all Protestants are lumped together as a single group, that all changes once you divide them according to denominations. Upon doing that, the US Catholic Church is the largest Christian body in America at 70 million or about 21% of the US population. Southern Baptists come in at a distant second place with 14 million members, or approximately 5% of the US population. If you put all Baptists together (Southern, American, Independent and National) they still amount to only 15% of the US population, second placed behind Catholic by at least six percent. All the other Protestant denominations equate to single-digit percentages. Even the supposedly vast number of “nondenominational” Evangelicals account for only 6% of the US population. Yes, together Protestants currently outnumber Catholics two to one. Divided up among their denominations, however, the Catholic Church reigns supreme as the largest Christian Church in the United States.
That said, while all Christian denominations in the United States are experiencing a decline, the rate of that decline is minimal in the Catholic Church, compared to that in the Protestant world. At present, it’s not so much that Catholicism is growing fast in America. It’s not. Rather, it appears to be declining the slowest. The number of Catholics is actually increasing, but so is the US population. So even though the absolute number of Catholics is increasing in the US, the relative number of Catholics per capita is actually decreasing. That, however, is not the real story.
The real story here is that the same thing is happening in the Protestant world too, but at a much faster rate. In fact, not only is the number of Protestants per capita declining in the United States, but so is the absolute number as well. What we are living through right now is the collapse of Protestantism, as a growing number of Protestants exit Christianity entirely to become the “religiously unaffiliated,” commonly referred to as the “nones” on religious questionaries and surveys. Protestants are leaving Protestantism, and Christianity in general, in exchange for — nothing. They’re becoming non-religious. This very issue was studied thoroughly by the Vienna Institute of Demography in a paper published in 2012. At this current rate, Catholics will outnumber Protestants in the US by the end of the century — Towards a Catholic North America: Projections of religion in Canada and the US beyond the mid 21st century.
In other words, if the United States survives the twenty-first Century, it will eventually become a Catholic nation before this century is over. There is no avoiding that now. The same goes for Canada. Even if the United States does not survive the century, the nations that arise from it will likewise become Catholic. Because you see, this is a demographics thing, not a political thing. All of North America will become a Catholic majority by the end of the twenty-first century, no matter what. This will happen alongside a great rise in non-religious people, whose parents and grandparents used to be Protestants. Comparatively, however, these people will likely be more receptive to Catholic evangelization, as they will no longer have the anti-Catholic inhibitions of their Protestant lineage. This is the one thing nobody is talking about right now. Basically, it’s over. Based on demographic numbers alone, if things continue along their current trajectory, and they probably will, Protestantism will essentially be dead in North America around the turn of the century. It will be reduced to a demographic minority, fractured into countless denominations, affiliations and sects. It will still exist, but it will be the minority religion in North America, including the United States, or whatever is left of the United States. The bottom line is this. The transition of the United States, and North America in general, from Protestantism to Catholicism is underway and should be complete by the end of this century.
What is needed right now in the Catholic Church, more than anything, is an attitude adjustment. Since the 1970s, Catholic dioceses in North America have been operating with the defeatist attitude of “managed decline” and “conformity with Protestant culture.” Some would say that Modernism has played a big role in this. That’s probably true in many cases. However, I think in the United States, the problem is a little deeper than that. Catholics are used to being the minority religion in the United States, and there is a long cultural history of forced compliance. The attitude has long been “don’t rock the boat” with our Protestant neighbors. We’ve learned to be grateful for good jobs and the promise of a seat at the table of the American dream, just so long as we are “Americans first” and put our Catholicism behind our Americanism, into a second-place position. Nowhere is this more evident than in the National Democratic Party, where Catholics who actually believe and practice the moral teachings of the Church “need not apply” for political office. The Democratic Party is more than happy to accommodate, and even promote to the highest office, any Catholic who is willing to compromise his faith on key moral issues. In other words, as far as the Democratic Party is concerned, the only good Catholic is a bad Catholic.
I propose that this kind of treatment of Catholics is both bigoted and insulting. I propose that it’s a leftover persecution from the old days, when America was a staunchly Protestant nation, and demanded that Catholics never get a foothold in society. It is a compromise, so to speak, from that mindset, wherein the Democratic Party will “allow” Catholics to succeed in the party, just so long as they’re not “too Catholic.” I see in this echoes from the past. It reminds me of the mindset most Protestant Americans had when the Know Nothing Party and the Ku Klux Klan practically ran this nation. Within today’s Democratic Party, traitors to the Catholic Church are rewarded with political success, and elevation to the highest offices of the land, while Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Church “need not apply.”
Catholic Americans need an attitude adjustment, in that we need to see how our current political and social arrangement in the United States is one of religious cuckoldry. We are told that we cannot be “true Americans” unless we compromise our faith. Unless we allow our members to be adulterated by elements of modernism, Protestantism, and moral relativism, we can never make it in American society. Our bishops, our priests and in many cases our faithful laymen, are being cuckold every day in American society, and this needs to stop!
Catholic laypeople can end this religious cuckoldry by taking the time to learn our Catholic faith, by reading the Catechism, and practicing it to the best of our ability. Catholic clergy can end the religious cuckoldry by preaching Catholic moral teaching from the pulpit on a regular basis, and denying communion to well-known Catholics (politicians and celebrities) who cause scandal by clearly opposing Catholic teaching in their words or actions. Catholic bishops would go a long way toward encouraging their priests to deny communion to these offenders by formally excommunicating some of the most egregious examples among them.
Returning to traditional practices during Mass will help to rebuild our Catholic identity, and prepare our members for the inevitable ascension of Catholicism to a majority religion in North America by the end of the century. I’ve outlined how we should go about this in a previous essay. The age of compromise must come to an end, and just as Catholics should never have to fear for our safety or livelihood in America, so we should never have to give in to religious cuckoldry just to fit in. In tomorrow’s America, we will be the majority. So we need to start acting like it now.
Evangelization is key, as it is necessary to our faith to begin with, and it will help to make the transition to a Catholic America happen more smoothly and quickly. We can’t evangelize our fellow Americans to Catholicism when we ourselves are not acting like Catholics. Just saying you’re a Catholic isn’t good enough. Just going to Mass, or wearing a Rosary as jewelry is not good enough. We actually have to BE Catholic in our actions, not just our words. That means we must scorn the religious cuckoldry the Democratic Party and Mainstream Media demand of us. We do this by actually believing what the Church teaches, about such things as the Transubstantiation of the Holy Eucharist, Purgatory and Indulgences, the truthfulness of Scripture, and the sexual morality of the Church. Every Catholic should be intimately familiar with the New Testament of the Bible. The Old Testament is good to read, but it’s the New Testament that chronicles the birth of our religion. So it’s the New Testament we should be intimately familiar with, along with the Catechism. We should pray the Rosary regularly, and perhaps even consider becoming regular devotees of the Divine Office as well. When we do these things, our Protestant neighbors will notice. So when you invite them to Mass, one day, curiosity will get the best of them. They will eventually come to Mass with you, and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
In all things, our attitude about our Catholic Christian Faith must change. We must become militantly Catholic, and enjoy it. For in doing so, we are not only giving a great big middle finger to the religious cuckoldry of our age, but we are building a future for our children and their progeny. The future of America is Catholic. That is inevitable. The only question now is this. Will you do your share to become part of it?
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.