Thursday, September 26, 2013

In my post on John Cheever...

...and high school football the other day I completely forgot to mention the United States Supreme Court.  

In 2010, when President Obama appointed Elena Kagan to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens it made history. The court, now consisting of six Catholics and three Jews, didn't have a Protestant justice for the first time in American history. What's more, five of the six Catholics were appointed by Republican presidents in order to -- let's face it -- either uphold the status quo or, preferably, roll back progressive gains. (What could be more WASPish than that?)

To give you some perspective on this, an article at the time from Reuters noted (all emphasis mine):

Through at least the middle of the 20th century, there was one so-called Jewish seat and one Catholic seat on the court. These appointments were considered extremely important to reflect religious diversity on the court.

But now, according to SCOTUS-watcher Nina Totenberg:

Six of the nine justices on the current court are Roman Catholic. That's half of the 12 Catholics who have ever served on the court. Only seven Jews have ever served, and two of them are there now. Depending on the Stevens replacement, there may be no Protestants left on the court at all in a majority Protestant nation where, for decades and generations, ALL of the justices were Protestant.

Finally, Stephen Prothero, a CNN Belief Blog contributor wrote:

Shortly after President Obama nominated Elena Kagan (who is Jewish) to replace Justice John Paul Stevens (who is Protestant) on the Supreme Court, I was quoted as saying that her nomination represented one giant step away from the not-so-good-old-days of Protestant parochialism. "I don't think this means Protestant America is over,” I told the AP, “but I do think it means the old way of thinking about Protestant America is over."

So where are all the mainline Protestants that ran this country for over two hundred years? Are they all extinct? Or have they morphed into Evangelicals, Catholics and the unchurched? And if they're gone, does that mean Catholicism is the new religion of the establishment?

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