By Sharon M. Leon
Within the first half the 20th century, supporters of the eugenics stream provided a picture of a racially remodeled the US through curbing the replica of "unfit" individuals 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 via many top 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, no longer a trifling animal." In "An snapshot of God", Sharon M. Leon examines the efforts of yank Catholics to thwart eugenic regulations, illuminating the ways that Catholic idea reworked the general public dialog approximately person rights, the position of the nation, and the intersections of race, neighborhood, and family members. via an exam of the wider questions raised during this debate, Leon casts new gentle on significant concerns that stay imperative in American political lifestyles this present day: the establishment of marriage, the position of presidency, and the separation of church and nation. this can be crucial examining within the historical past of faith, technological know-how, politics, and human rights.
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Extra info for An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics
Paul’s teaching that Christians are the “adopted sons of God,” Gerrard argued that they were free to exercise their powers of reason under the guidance of divine grace and the Holy Spirit. ” Gerrard explained that “from the theological virtues . . ”32 Here we see the preeminence of individual reason and decision making in Gerrard’s understanding of the path to improvement for a community. For Gerrard, For the Welfare of the Race / 27 the principles of Christian morality would lead to a moral regeneration of society that would achieve the ill-articulated goals of eugenicists without resorting to invasive measures.
This coverage brought together questions about scientiﬁc evidence and authority with concerns about racial and class prejudice. While sterilization statutes applied negative eugenic measures to inmates of public institutions, the larger notion of promoting the reproduction of some persons and discouraging the reproduction of others required answering a knottier question—how to differentiate the ﬁt from the unﬁt. Most eugenics propaganda pointed to the small but growing number of eugenics experts as the appropriate persons 20 / Chapter One to make these distinctions.
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. While the Catholic members of the CCC tended to concur with the pronatalist elements of positive eugenics, as discussed earlier, they parted company with the movement on negative eugenics policies, such as the dissemination of birth control for the poor, immigration restriction based on national origin, and sterilization of the “unﬁt,” that forcibly discouraged the reproduction of certain groups.
An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics by Sharon M. Leon