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

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

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