Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Nebraska

Hoegh, P. (2007). Senator criticized over move to restrict alcohol in church. January 19, 2007. Available online:

The news is so incredible that I thought it was fake:

Democratic State Sen. Lowen Kruse has introduced a bill that would eliminate two provisions to Nebraska’s underage drinking law which allow in their own homes or at places of worship during religious ceremonies.

While saying the primary goal of the bill was admirable, Catholic League President Bill Donahue worries about the implication for Mass. Catholics and some Protestant denominations use wine in their communion services.

I immediately tried to check this out by going to Senator Kruse’s webpage.

Nebraska: Equality, except for Catholics (?)

Kruse provided a link to the , where I found the proposed law. The strikethrough (like so) is the part of the law that Senator Kruse wants to revoke:

53-180.02. Except as provided in section 53-168.06, no minor may sell, dispense, consume, or have in his or her possession or physical control any alcoholic liquor in any tavern or in any other place, including public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof, or inside any vehicle while in or on any other place, including, but not limited to, the public streets, alleys, roads, or highways, or upon property owned by the State of Nebraska or any subdivision thereof. , except that a minor may consume, possess, or have physical control of alcoholic liquor in his or her permanent place of residence or on the premises of a place of religious worship on which premises alcoholic liquor is consumed as a part of a religious rite, ritual, or ceremony.

It actually gets worse than this. Not that not only are the religious service excemption revoked, but other exemptions stay on the books.

53-168.06. No person shall manufacture, bottle, blend, sell, barter, transport, deliver, furnish, or possess any alcoholic liquor for beverage purposes except as specifically provided in the Nebraska Liquor Control Act. Nothing in the act shall prevent (1) the possession of alcoholic liquor legally obtained as provided in the act for the personal use of the possessor and his or her family and guests; (2) the making of wine, cider, or other alcoholic liquor by a person from fruits, vegetables, or grains, or the product thereof, by simple fermentation and without distillation, if made solely for the use of the maker and his or her family and guests; (3) any duly licensed practicing physician or dentist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the strict practice of his or her profession, any hospital or other institution caring for the sick and diseased persons from possessing and using alcoholic liquor for the treatment of bona fide patients of such hospital or other institution, or any drug store employing a licensed pharmacist from possessing or using alcoholic liquor in the compounding of prescriptions of licensed physicians; (4) the possession and dispensation of alcoholic liquor by an authorized representative of any religion on the premises of a place of worship, for the purpose of conducting any bona fide religious rite, ritual, or ceremony; (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from carrying alcoholic liquor from licensed establishments when they are accompanied by a person not a minor; (6) (5) persons who are sixteen years old or older from handling alcoholic liquor containers and alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment; (7) (6) persons who are sixteen years old or older from removing and disposing of alcoholic liquor containers for the convenience of the employer and customers in the course of their employment; or (8) (7) persons who are nineteen years old or older from serving or selling alcoholic liquor in the course of their employment.

This blog has a “health mullahs” to point out over-zealous health laws. However, this isn’t a health law. It keeps the exemption allowing 19 year olds to sell and serve alcohol, it keeps the exemption that allows 16 year olds to handle alchol, it keeps the provision for people making their own moonshine.

This is not a health law. This is hate speech in legislative form, designed to harrass Catholics and criminalize Catholocism. Senator Kruse, a Methodist minister, should be ashamed of himself. Like all other bigots.

14 thoughts on “Anti-Catholic Bigotry in Nebraska”

  1. Dan, you haven't heard? Nebraska has seen a vast increase in under-age DUI's and public intoxications on Sundays between 7:00 am and 12:00 pm.

    I hear the bane of burning incense (fire hazard and all) is next on his agenda.

  2. If he's smart about a harrassmant campaign, he would avoid a direct conflict but try to make life harder for Catholic Churches. For instance, if this leads to no arrests but to an increased in diocese insurance costs it might be a rational attack. 🙁

  3. It'd be interesting to interview some of Nebraskas law enforcement and get their take.

    “Sheriff Jones, what do you intend to do about this social plague of underage sipping?!”

    The whole thing is utterly ridiculous. Kruse is a political hack. The one silver lining is his own Methodist leanings. Were he a fundamentalist athiest I'd be a bit worried.

  4. “Don't give the drooling boob any ideas, CG. Next he'll pursue a law banning “faux-canabalistic ritual.””

    Or they could just criminalize theophagy!

    More seriously, a sickening aspect of Kruse's defense is that the police just would not enforce the laws. In other words, Kruse wants to hold prosecution over every Catholic church while making it only a tool to go after Catholic churches the police of whatever town dislike.

    This is a terrible story of not just religious bigotry but also openly planning for arbitrary enforcement. Just sickening.

  5. True story. My father in law tells this. He grew up in rural Iowa. In his town, the Catholics were a majority, but not in the county. When prohibition went into effect, the rural locals were ecstatic, since they thought they were going to be able to shut down the Catholic Church in town. The sheriff went to see the priest, and told him that, while he was sorry to have to do it, he was going to have insist that the priest not have any wine in his church. The priest told him, first, I will have wine on the altar at mass on Sunday. Two, I am going to tell my parishoners to bring their guns to church on Sunday. Do whatever you want, sheriff. Nothing happened.

    Probably a tall tale. But maybe not. The anti-Catholic bigotry in the Heartland is very, very strong and deeply rooted. Four years in Indiana was an eye-opener.

  6. Lexington,

    I believe the story. Here's an excerpt from South Dakota Magazine, on Klan harrassment of a Catholic community and subsequent Catholic harrassment of the Klan:

    “There were 3,000 KKK members in S.D. in the 1920s, with chapters (klaverns) across the state. It wasn’t the violent, terrorizing klan of the post-war South. Historians think it gained a foothold here and in other rural areas because it offered a social group in young and unorganized towns …, “a way for the good old boys to gather, gossip and drink a sip of moonshine,” wrote Stoel and Collins.

    Few Jews or blacks lived here at the time. In some communities, Catholics felt they were the targets. At Sturgis, local klansmen lit crosses up to 25 feet tall with oil-soaked gunny sacks, on a hill within view of St. Martin’s Academy. The Catholics responded by burning a circle on an opposing hill, inspired by the Klan’s name, derived from the Greek world “klukos,” meaning circle.” [1]

    We laugh at these stories now, but the nativist v. immigrant theme is pretty constant. In South Dakota, it was (Episcopalian) English v. (Catholic) German. In the movie “Gangs of New York” it was (Episcopalian) English v. (Catholic) Irish. Now in Los Angeles its (Baptist) Black v. (Catholic) Latin. Same dynamics, same process, different days.


  7. An interesting aspect of this turn of the screw is the politically convenient change in rhetoric. The same dynamic that was once caused white flight [1,2] (immigration into established neighborhoods leads to emigration by the establishment) is now referred to as ethnic cleansing [3,4].

    This problem would still exist without religion (the wars between the Catholic English and the Catholic Irish were immediately followed by the wars between the Anglican English and the Catholic Irish), but religion is an obvious organizing principle once hostilities begin.


  8. dear sir, it does not matter what the senator from neb. does or says., it is only a matter of time before the catholics take over the whole country. Isn't that ironic after everything the protestants did to stop the catholics and the hurt they inflicted on them that in the end the Roman Catholic's will be running the United States without any problems. The Catholics are already running the supreme court and the military., get with the winning team,tomm

  9. Wasn't Kennedy the last (and only) Catholic President we had? If the Catholics are making a run at hegemony they're doing a terrible job of it.

    Which reminds me, how will Mitt Romney's Mormon adherence weigh in the primaries? Should be interesting.

  10. From Vatican Hill
    A Romish Conspiracy
    Omnis Sub Papa!

    (Oops, wrong thread! [1,2] :-p )

    More seriously, I think the best writing on Romney, Mormonism, and the Presidency has beeon from (the atheist Bengali-American conservative) Razib of gnxp [3,4].


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