chapter  3
35 Pages

Anti-popery: the Structure of a Prejudice

WithPeter Lake

Kevin Sharpe can only explain the extreme reaction of many Englishmen to the activities of William Laud by seeing it as a function of the irrational anti-popery of the period. The capacity of the clergy to extract a profit from the vicious cycle of hypocrisy and guilt which beliefs produced provided the Protestants with a convincing sociological explanation for the rise of Popery. Protestants assumed that once the clear light of the gospel had been revealed to the people via the press and the pulpit it would inevitably cut a swathe through the clouds of ignorance and superstition left behind by popery. That popular disturbances included both Puritan leadership and non-Puritan support illustrates rather neatly the relationship between Puritanism and anti-popery. For while anti-popery had never been anything like a Puritan monopoly, Puritanism had always enjoyed a peculiarly symbiotic relationship with popery.