• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Birmingham: Attack on Immigrants’ Religion Leads to Riot

From the European Times:

ON Sunday, the 16th June, Mr. W. Murphy, a lecturer against Romanism, commenced a series of lectures ia a wooden building erected for the purpose in the centre of the town of Birmingham; a large mob collected outside, and stones were thrown at the building, and three of the ticket takers were seriously wounded. There were only three or four policemen at hand at the time, but a large force was afterwards brought to the spot, and armed with cutlasses…It appears from the Birmingham papers that the disturbances were of a very serious character. Twenty-six persons, men and women, were to be brought before the magistrates.

…Mr. Murphy’s addresses, as reported, are of an extremely fanatical charactor. Before he had finished his lecture, he said he would prove to the people of Birmingham that every Popish priest was a murderer, a cannibal, a liar, and a pickpocket…and if ever there was a rag and bone gatherer in the universe it was the Pope himself.

…A continual shower of stones, brick-ends, tiles, and other such missiles was kept up, so that it was dangerous to the life of any person to enter the street ; and when the rioters were at a loss for a causus belli, they would get up a row amongst themselves, attacking each other indiscriminately.

According to further details on this site:

Murphy only acted more defiantly and provocatively by saying that he was willing to risk his life for the cause of truth and liberty and that “Popish stones would let him see what Popery was”… The Catholic district of Birmingham was invaded by his supporters who, to the tune of “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” and “John Brown’s Body,” attacked a Catholic chapel and looted houses.

…He [stressed] that Catholicism appealed mostly to young women, while his lectures on the confessional served to increase the sales of a sensational and pornographic pamphlet, The Confessional Unmasked.

..Matthew Arnold…took the right of Murphy to speak as a clear example of “a very strong belief [in England] in freedom, and a very weak belief in right reason”.

Supporters of Murphy – who had been born a Catholic but whose father converted to Protestantism – complained about the government and the police pandering to a minority:

 Englishmen are being deprived by a Military Despotism at the dictation of ROMISH PRIESTS. Such is the tyranny and cruelty to which Loyal Protestants are exposed under the il-Liberal Government of our Popish Premier.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun – Ecclesiastes 1:9