Magazine July 12, 2021, Issue

How Catholics Shaped the American Tradition of Religious Liberty

An Easter Sunday service at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church, in Dallas, Tex., April 4, 2021 (Shelby Tauber/Reuters)
Our Dear-Bought Liberty: Catholics and Religious Toleration in Early America, by Michael D. Breidenbach (Harvard University Press, 368 pp., $45)

The United States has not always been welcoming to Catholics, who have been objects of mistrust and suspicion across the history of this Protestant-majority country. Yet when it comes to the history of early America (roughly 1600 to 1800), Michael Breidenbach’s new book argues, Cath­o­lics deserve a place alongside their better-known contemporaries, such as the Pilgrims in Massachusetts and the Quakers in Pennsylvania. Breiden­bach also argues that the experiences of Catholics in the British Empire deserve credit for shaping the American tradition of religious liberty. Our Dear-Bought Liberty is an impressive work of historical scholarship that makes a persuasive case

To Read the Full Story

This article appears as “Loyal Catholics” in the July 12, 2021, print edition of National Review.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content on the site including the digital magazine and archives, no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (through conference calls, social media groups, and more). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more premium content like this, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Become a Member

In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners



The Latest