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Catholics and Education

Catholic Patriotism on Trial: The Oregon School Case

exhibit imageIn the 1920s the Oregon Ku Klux Klan feared that Catholics were destroying America. Believing that abolishing the state's Catholic schools would reduce this supposed Catholic threat to the nation, the Klan helped put a bill on a referendum ballot that would force most school age children to attend public schools. In 1922 the state's voters approved the bill, which became known as the Oregon School Law, causing shocked Catholics organized locally and nationally to keep their children in Catholic schools. In 1925, the United States Supreme Court declared the Oregon School Law unconstitutional in a decision that that has been called “the Magna Carta of the parochial school system.”

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