A reader writes:
Just a slight quibble with the following paragraph in this post:
This, of course, is exactly the argument that was made about Catholicism in England (and by Locke in his famous Letter!) in the sixteen and seventeenth centuries - particularly after the Gunpowder Plot (England's foiled 9/11 of 1605). The argument was that because Catholics owed obedience to a foreign ruler, the Pope, they were not so much a religion as a cult allied to a foreign force. For the Vatican, read the House of Saud.
It wasn't just because Catholics owed allegiance to the Pope; it was also because various popes had funded or encouraged plots to overthrow the English monarchs, and expressly forbade English Catholics from affirming even the watered down oath offered by King James that they would not seek to overthrow the English monarchy. John Donne, whose brother Henry perished in an English prison, finally abandoned the Catholicism of his family over this last issue. Which is not to condone the harsh treatment of English Catholics, but at least to recognize that it took the Vatican a long time to accept with anything like equanimity the loss of religious dominion over England, especially among Protestant nations, and that it was not above active intermeddling in English governance.