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Download An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics by Sharon M. Leon PDF

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By Sharon M. Leon

Within the first 1/2 the 20th century, supporters of the eugenics stream provided a picture of a racially reworked the USA by means of curbing the replica of "unfit" individuals of society. via institutionalization, obligatory sterilization, the restrict of immigration and marriages, and different equipment, eugenicists promised to enhance the inhabitants - a coverage time table that was once embraced via many best intellectuals and public figures. yet Catholic activists and thinkers around the usa hostile lots of those measures, announcing that "every guy, even a lunatic, is a picture of God, now not an insignificant animal." In "An snapshot of God", Sharon M. Leon examines the efforts of yankee Catholics to thwart eugenic guidelines, illuminating the ways that Catholic proposal reworked the general public dialog approximately person rights, the function of the country, and the intersections of race, group, and relations. via an exam of the wider questions raised during this debate, Leon casts new mild on significant concerns that stay valuable in American political existence this day: the establishment of marriage, the position of presidency, and the separation of church and kingdom. this is often crucial examining within the heritage of faith, technology, politics, and human rights.

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Extra info for An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics

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The interactions reveal the degree to which the Catholics involved with the movement embraced the goals of positive eugenics, promoting the marriage and reproduction of superior types through popular education and state-sponsored welfare programs. Though they disagreed with eugenicists’ methods of distinguishing between superior and inferior persons, they wholeheartedly endorsed measures that echoed the church’s teaching on the centrality of the stable Cooperative Clergy? / 39 nuclear family and the importance of virtue and sound morality to the survival of that unit.

Also, the rationalism of the Enlightenment led to “higher criticism” of the Bible that no longer treated the scripture as if it were literally true. Combined with discoveries in geology that undermined the veracity of the creation story, these intellectual trends caused the Vatican to react with great distress to the erosion of its traditional base of authority. 16 In 1878, Pope Leo XIII began a twenty-five-year reign that had profound effects on the way that the institutional church responded to a rapidly modernizing and industrializing world.

First, the code would provide a host of positive eugenic measures for individual families by instituting laws related to marriage and divorce, illegitimacy, and mothers’ pensions, as well as laws encouraging parenthood among those with the best hereditary traits, laws encouraging differential salaries based on family size, and laws concerning the registration of family pedigrees. Conversely, the code would limit the number of defectives by providing laws for their segregation and/ or sterilization, as well as laws regulating immigration and amending the 38 / Chapter Two existing immigration statutes to add mental and physical requirements to the current literacy tests, plus the establishment of state bureaus of eugenics.

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