The earliest phase of the Christian Right movement didn’t bridge the Protestant-Catholic divide. But when Protestant Christian Right leaders such as Jerry Falwell Sr. followed the advice of Catholic political activist Paul Weyrich to include opposition to abortion as a leading issue for the nascent movement in the late 1970s – as white Protestants were increasingly fleeing the Democratic Party over its support for civil rights – old antipathies quickly gave way to the promise of new political alliances.
By the closing decades of the twentieth century, young white Protestants could read the shifting attitudes about Catholics in the generational differences among their relatives. Grandparents thought of Catholicism as a dangerous foreign import, a papist cult that was unchristian and incompatible with democracy. Parents thought of Catholics as an outmoded but tolerable offshoot of the Christian family tree. And the youngest generation came to see them as just another “denomination” of white Christians – and one that was an important source of political reinforcement for battles being waged on two fronts: resistance to demands for black equality and opposition to the women’s movement and the gay rights movement.
From “White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity” by Robert P. Jones