Jihad probably preached here. Probably.
Jihad probably preached here. Probably.

What’s with all these boat people coming to Western Australia with their strange ways and strange religion? Setting up their own schools and places of worship. And wanting to force us all to convert to their weird… Roman Catholicism.

Wait. That can’t be right.

But it is. Throughout much of the 19th century, Catholics were treated—at least by hard-line Protestants—with great suspicion. Attempts were made to stop Catholic schools receiving decent funding, and there were occasional riots on the goldfields between the two major branches of Christianity.

In 1869, one writer had had enough of the Catholic immigrants, who were largely Irish. He accused them of a conspiracy to take over WA, and pointed out that most of them were criminals anyway. Weren’t British jails full of evil Catholics, he asked?

Our Protestant correspondent went on to extract some out-of-context notes from an RC Bible, to prove Catholics were commanded to slay good Christians, and they were teaching jihad in their schools. Every Protestant had reason to worry about the forthcoming terrorist campaign.

For some reason, this all sounds very familiar. But we can’t think why.