By Sharon M. Leon
Within the first half the 20th century, supporters of the eugenics move provided a picture of a racially remodeled the United States by way of curbing the copy of "unfit" participants of society. via institutionalization, obligatory sterilization, the limit of immigration and marriages, and different equipment, eugenicists promised to enhance the inhabitants - a coverage schedule that used to be embraced by way of many top intellectuals and public figures. yet Catholic activists and thinkers around the usa adverse lots of those measures, announcing that "every guy, even a lunatic, is a picture of God, now not an insignificant animal." In "An photograph of God", Sharon M. Leon examines the efforts of yankee Catholics to thwart eugenic regulations, illuminating the ways that Catholic inspiration reworked the general public dialog approximately person rights, the position of the kingdom, and the intersections of race, group, and relations. via an exam of the wider questions raised during this debate, Leon casts new gentle on significant matters that stay significant in American political existence 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 background of faith, technology, politics, and human rights.
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Additional info for An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics
While teaching moral theology at the Catholic University of America in 1916, Ryan published an article, also entitled “Family Limitation,” in the AER. The article set out the objections of the church to artiﬁcial means for limiting the number of births and provided the clergy with the justiﬁcations for those objections. Ryan laid out the main natural law argument against artiﬁcial contraception: “The generative faculty has as its speciﬁc and essential end the procreation of offspring. That is the object which explains and rationalizes this particular faculty.
Ryan and Cooper frequently engaged eugenicists on the terrain of science itself, questioning the theories, methods, and conclusions of the movement, all of which relied heavily on biological determinism. ” One of a number of rhetorical strategies by which minority targets of scientiﬁc racism resisted that discourse, “recontextualization” involves two processes: “First, the tools of science were used either to prove that the supposed factual data upon which the stereotypes of racial inferiority were based were wrong, or to generate new ‘facts’ on which different claims could be made.
Signiﬁcantly, Goddard’s formulations suggested that degenerate traits were dominant, and extremely dangerous for the well-being of future generations. In 1916, the Reverend Thomas Verner Moore (1877–1969), a Catholic psychiatrist, used his address to the annual National Conference of Catholic Charities meeting to question Goddard’s methodology in the Kallikak study. Criticizing the assumption by Goddard and his ﬁeldworkers that the mental abilities of their subjects was easily discernible through general observation and questioning, Moore explained to his audience, “It seems to me Dr.
An Image of God: The Catholic Struggle with Eugenics by Sharon M. Leon