By Sharon M. Leon
Within the first 1/2 the 20 th century, supporters of the eugenics flow provided a picture of a racially reworked the USA by means of curbing the replica of "unfit" contributors 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 by way of many best intellectuals and public figures. yet Catholic activists and thinkers around the usa hostile a lot of those measures, saying that "every guy, even a lunatic, is a picture of God, now not a trifling animal." In "An photograph of God", Sharon M. Leon examines the efforts of yank Catholics to thwart eugenic rules, illuminating the ways that Catholic concept remodeled the general public dialog approximately person rights, the function of the nation, and the intersections of race, neighborhood, and kinfolk. via an exam of the wider questions raised during this debate, Leon casts new gentle on significant matters that stay imperative 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 interpreting within the background of faith, technological know-how, politics, and human rights.
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Within the first 1/2 the 20 th century, supporters of the eugenics flow provided a picture of a racially reworked the United States via curbing the replica of "unfit" contributors of society. via institutionalization, obligatory sterilization, the limit of immigration and marriages, and different equipment, eugenicists promised to enhance the inhabitants - a coverage time table that used to be embraced by means of many top intellectuals and public figures.
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Additional info for An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics
He questioned the ambiguities of eugenic claims that “subnormal” persons endangered the social welfare. 46 Where birth control advocates suggested that access to contraceptive devices would ease the burdens of the working classes, resulting in an improved standard of living, Ryan saw a shortcut to economic relief that relied upon a willingness to transgress fundamental laws of nature rather than demanding that employers adequately provide for their workers. Where eugenicists saw an answer to the growing population of degenerates that they saw as a drain on resources, Ryan saw an unwillingness to respect the intrinsic value of every human being, regardless of his or her productivity.
Part of the effort to win converts to their agenda, and to soothe the fears of those opposed to eugenics, involved the establishment of the Committee on Cooperation with Clergymen (CCC). The group contained two Catholic members, the Reverend John A. Ryan and the Reverend John Montgomery Cooper. Though eugenicists experienced growing resistance from Catholics on the local and national levels to their efforts to pass and implement sterilization statutes during the 1920s, as we shall see, representatives of the movement speciﬁcally and directly engaged Ryan, Cooper, and others in conversation about the eugenics agenda through the CCC and the eugenics press.
It is a crime of individuals for which, eventually, the nation must suffer. ”53 Together, these statements on the proper role of the state and its duty to protect the nuclear family, and For the Welfare of the Race / 35 on the duty of those families to welcome children, set the tone for much of the subsequent Catholic response to eugenics policy initiatives. Also, the text’s reference to “bettering the species,” rather than “the race,” provides further conﬁrmation that the hierarchy rejected the racialist assumptions embodied by the eugenics movement.
An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics by Sharon M. Leon