The City of Brotherly Love and the Most Violent Religious Riots in America: Anti-Catholicism and Religious Violence in Philadelphia, 1820--1858

Kyle Edward Haden, Fordham University

Abstract

Numerous studies of anti-Catholicism in America have narrated a long dark prejudice that has plagued American society from the Colonial period to the present. A variety of interpretations for anti-Catholic sentiments and convictions have been offered, from theological to economic influences. Though many of these studies have offered invaluable insights in understanding anti-Catholic rhetoric and violence, each tends to neglect the larger anthropological realities which influence social tensions and group marginalization. By utilizing the theory of human identity needs as developed by Vern Neufeld Redekop, this study offers a means of interpreting anti-Catholicism from an anthropological perspective that allows for a multivalent approach to social, cultural, and communal disharmony and violence. Religion has played an important role in social and cultural tension in America. But by utilizing Redekop's human identity needs theory, it is possible to see religion's role in conjunction with other identity needs which help to form individual and communal identity. Human identity needs theory postulates that humans require a certain level of identity needs satisfaction in order to give an individual a sense of wellbeing in the world. These include, Redekop maintains, 1) meaning, 2) security, 3) connectedness, 4) recognition, and 5) action. By examining where these needs have been neglected or threatened, this study maintains one is better able to assess the variety of influences in the formation of identity, which in turn helps to foster animosity, marginalization, and possibly violence towards those individuals or groups defined as outsiders. Having been relegated as outsiders due to differing identity markers, the in group, or dominant social group, tend to perceive the outsiders as threatening if they are believed to be obstacles to the acquisition of one or more of the five identity needs categories. This study focuses on the bloody Bible Riots of 1844 as a case study for applying human identity needs theory in interpreting social violence in American history.^

Subject Area

Religion, History of|History, United States|Theology

Recommended Citation

Haden, Kyle Edward, "The City of Brotherly Love and the Most Violent Religious Riots in America: Anti-Catholicism and Religious Violence in Philadelphia, 1820--1858" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3563400.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3563400

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