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As we come to the end of this short series on anti-Catholic polemic, coincidentally, a Twitter follower retweeted this post from 2014 on Dagon fish hats and other nonsense.

It reminded me of the enduring power of sensationalist writing, as well as of the enduring influence of anything which reinforces peoples’ prejudices. The original piece dated to January 2014, and despite reading it then, Bosco continues to tell us that ‘dagon fish hats’ are proof that the Catholic Church is really some sort of pagan Babylonizn cult. When challenged on his sources, Bosco says he’s never read Hislop and gets it all from archaeology. He cannot, of course, cite on reputable archaeological source, which is not surprising because there is not one. Hislop had a vivid imagination, and a detestation of the Catholic Church, not, of course, that he had any knowledge of it in real life. One example of the depth of his ignorance will do. He wrote that:

 “In the Litany of the Mass, the worshippers are taught thus to pray:God Hidden, and my Saviour, have mercy upon us.” Whence can this invocation of the “God Hidden” have come, but from the ancient worship of Saturn, the “Hidden God”? 

In the first place, no such words form part of any Mass. But, and here is how this whole thing works, Hislop had read (just like Bosco has read) the work of one William M’Gavin, another Scotsman with an anti-Papist bent who produced a series of tracts which had wide circulation in the virulently anti-Catholic atmosphere of early nineteenth century Scotland. Hislop, like Bosco and others, had read something somewhere which confirmed his prejudice; why sully the purity of pure ignorance by accessing some real facts.

The anti-Catholic has an implicit and firm faith in his prejudice. Generations of anti-Catholic propaganda have left a deep sediment of rubbish in which otherwise intelligent people can genuinely argue heatedly that fellow Christians are really worshipping ‘Semiramis’ and bowing to ‘idols’ as an act of worship. As with McGavin’s nonsense about the Mass, a few moments study could show them the error of their ways, but they do not want to be shown the error of their ways, theor prejudice comforts them, it stops them having to think about the reasons why some of us joined the Catholic Church; it stops them, dread horror, from having a real explanation as to why they do not join it.

Fulton Sheen was right when he commented that: ‘There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.’ Many, such as Bosco, do not even know where they got their prejudice from. They sometimes say they have it from ex-Catholics, not for a moment stopping to consider whether they would, for example, trust an ex-Republican to offer an accurate assessment of the Republican Party/ The modern dealer in this mind-rotting nonsense is Jack Chick, whose tracts are simple enough to be taken at one sitting by the simple-minded, and the credulous. He simple repeddles the bigotry of M’Gavin and Hislop. The whole thing is a circular operation.

Whose purpose does this serve? Lies are always at the service of the Father of Lies, who loves nothing better than to sow hatred and dissent among Christians. He has been doing it from the moment there were Christians, and he will continue to exploit our weakness until the Good Lord comes again. Heaven knows there are plenty of things to be said against the conduct of the Catholic Church down the years, as there are against any organisation run by members of a fallen race, without the need to resort to obvious twaddle. But if it is perfection we seek in a Church, then we shall have to await the Second Coming. We are sinners all, and that we do as well as we do is only because with God’s help we can fight the good fight and spread the good news.

It genuinely saddens me to see Christian men and women spreading lies that can so easily be seen to be lies by those lacking the need for confirmation bias. It is a sign that the Father of Lies can penetrate even the best defences. For those who continue to peddle this stuff, I pray; but I also ask them to do some serious thinking and praying of their own, because they are in a trap and suffering from a delusion.