She's not Catholic....she's Christian.

Ok, so the title is paraphrased. The exact conversation was me asking my friend whether his fiancee was Catholic and he answered simply “No, she’s Christian”.

WTH? I admit, I haven’t been a practicing Catholic for 15-20 years, but it still bugged me. After thinking it over, I think (for me) it is more nitpicking a bad classification (like answering “Are you from Texas?” with “No, I’m American”) than feeling insulted, but it still strikes me as something that might get him into trouble if said in the wrong situation. “No, but she’s Christian” seems to me to be a more accurate response.

Would his statement bother a practicing Catholic? Should I point this out to him? Isn’t “protestant” a standard description for non-Catholic Christian denominations?

And just so you know, I don’t usually pry into a person’s religious practices. The only reason I asked is that the wedding morphed (at her request) from a civil ceremony to one held in a church, so I was trying to get a feel for what to expect. She is hispanic, which I believe generally has a larger Catholic population.

Sounds to me like maybe she meant “Protestant”, but couldn’t find the right word. Or maybe she meant to throw in the “but” you mentioned, but tripped over her tongue a bit.

If she didn’t say it in a tone of voice suggesting it was an insult towards Catholics, than I wouldn’t worry about it.

I would certainly be careful of using ‘Protestant’ as a catch-all for ‘non-Catholic Christian’, because it excludes all other denominations (take a look here to get a feel for just how many that includes)

i’m sure someone will come along and explain it , but many christians do not consider catholics to be christians.

it sounds to me as if your friend is one of these people.

It could have been a slip of the tongue, but it could have been intentional as well. A lot hard-core fundie types hold that Catholics are not Christians, some even think that the RC church is the anti-christ.

Related thread

Catholics not Christians?

Several possibilities, here.

  1. Among some folks, “Christian” was used as a code word among a number of American Protestant groups to indicate anyone who was not Catholic, (with the clear implication that Catholics were not “really” Christians).

  2. As a result of (1), a number of Catholics (particularly prior to the 1970s, but with some undefined number continuing to this day), identified themselves as “Catholic” instead of “Christian,” simply in acknowledgement of the prevailing language usage.
    2a) (Sometimes, as well, but more likely prior to Vatican II, Catholics would self identify as “Catholic” to show their membership in the (presumed) “One, True Church.” Such attitudes have pretty much faded with most of the Catholic community, but you can still encounter it from time to time.)

  3. While Catholicism remains the largest single denomination to which U.S. citizens of Hispanic (Latino, Chicano, Puertorriqueño, Filipino, whatever) ethnic identity belong, assertive missionary work by a number of groups (particularly Pentecostals) have made serious inroads into the Catholic hegemony of those groups. Among those groups, the earlier attitudes associated with point (1) are stronger (the “recent convert” phenomenon) and they are more likely to wish to distinguish themselves from an automatic association with Catholicism.
    3a) There is the additional point that a number of people (inside and outside) the Pentecostal movement do not view that movement as “Protestant” for various reasons, so when they identify people by religion, they tend to use “Christian” rather than “Protestant.”

Now, since the “Christian, not Catholic” remark was made by the fiance, and not by the Latina, I would guess that either point (1) holds true, or the fiance is associating with point (3) in trying to avoid the Hispanic=Catholic stereotype (with a possible connection to point (3a) if applicable).
Barring the occasional True Believer who feels that Catholicism must be viewed as “not Christian,” it is not generally a point to get worked up over, any more. There is not much point in getting upset over this terminology unless it is being used either as a deliberate insult or to make a (false) theological point.

Well, it was actually my friend who said it, not his fiancee. And he didn’t really come off in an insulting tone (it wasn’t a shocked “Oh No!”, just more of a corrective “nope”), although that kind of casual…prejudice (probably not the right word) tends to rub me the wrong way in a completely different manner.

GorillaMan, I guess I didn’t realize the setup of non-Catholic Christianity. As I said, I was raised Catholic, so I never got a good education on the denominational differences. Plus, I spent most of my childhood on air force bases, and the base chapel had services set up for “Catholic” and “Protestent”, so I assumed that was a standard nomenclature.

Meh, this probably was more of an MPSIMs post, I really just needed to toss my thoughts outside myself to put it behind me. I may bring up with with friend under a sufficiently “just wondering what your thoughts are” setting.

It is very common for certain types of Protestants to call themselves just plain Christian. Usually it really means that they’re some flavor of evangelical or fundamentalist, perhaps even Pentecostal. It bugs virtually everyone else, since it seems to imply that every other Christian denomination is not really Christian.

I am not sure if they really mean it to be exclusionary or if they just want to emphasize being followers of Christ (rather than, say, followers of Luther)–some do dislike denominational labels. But the same people will indeed frequently claim that Catholics, Mormons, or others are not Christians.

Is he Episcopalian? No he’s a Christian.

When I first met my husband, I had the opposite experience. He seemed to think that Catholic was synonymous with Christian. He used to refer to the non-Jewish part of town as “the Catholic side of town” and refer to people, not just ones he knew, as being either Jewish or Catholic. He was 29 when we met and had never met a Protestant till me. It was an absolutely infuriating habit that I worked VERY hard to break because, yes, the implication was that only Catholics were Christians.

Must… resist… bashing… my own… church…

There, that passed. Carry on.

Many churches born of the Restoration Movement of the early 1800s do not hold to any particular denomination. A sort of “slogan” which I heard a lot growing up in the church was “Christians only, but not the only Christians,” which was always explained to me as meaning that we don’t get involved in any of the denominational disputes other churches sometimes have, we just try to do what we think is right, but those other churches aren’t necessarily wrong for doing what they’re doing. See Wikipedia’s Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ article for an example of this.

That is not a valid example of cause and effect. I was raised Catholic, too, and managed to learn enough about other denominations to know that Christianity is not comprised of only Protestants and Catholics. In fact, most of my exposure to other types of Christianity (and other religions in general) came via my Catholic high school – and then via my Catholic college.

You say that your friend’s kind of casual prejudice rubs you the wrong way; your kind of casual “I was raised Catholic, so my ignorance is understandable” bullshit rubs me the wrong way. You get more latitude for the AFB upbringing, but even that becomes a weak excuse in adulthood.

(I know this sounds harsh coming from someone you probably weren’t even aware of until now: I have nothing against you personally, sciguy, this is just a pet peeve of mine and it’s something I see on the SDMB pretty often.)

Uh Oh a Jesuit!

Isn’t it possible that some Catholic High Schools don’t get into doctrinal differentiations?

I’m kinda hate to say this on the Dope for fear that I’ll be run out on a rail, but here I go: I self-identify as just plain Christian. :eek:

I can’t speak for the great horde of Just Plain Christians, but when I say that I’m just Christian, I’m not intending to imply that others aren’t Christians, be they Lutheran, Catholic, United Holiness Freewill Apostolic Oneness, or Presbyterian. I tend to think there are true believers in every church, and people who don’t really give a rip in every church.

Personally, I believe the way I do mostly because of the background out of which I came. I was raised in small uber-conservative denomination which has in recent years become much more focused on codifying appropriate clothing, activities, etc. (ex: school music programs are okay, while school sports are not; only certain very sober colors of ties are acceptable for men) than on seeking God. I am convinced that this is the wrong approach (please note that I’m not calling them heathens or saying they can’t be Christians), and went elsewhere to church. I’m also pretty uncomfortable with the way denominationalism tends to divide Christians rather than uniting them. (“We only have communion once a month, not once a week.” “Oh, no! That is wrong! How can you be so DECEIVED?!?!?!”)

So, I attend the TownName Christian Church, and call myself just Christian. I’m not convinced this is the perfect solution, since my brother the slavering heathen Lutheran* contends that “just Christian” has morphed into simply another denomination, and I think maybe he’s right. It is, however, the best option available for me, so I take it.

*Just in case you didn’t read the rest of my post, that’s a joke, people.

My father-in-law, a Methodist, doesn’t like being described as a Protestant because he doesn’t feel like he’s protesting anything. I have no idea how common that sentiment is among other Christians from ostensibly Protestant denominations.

Misnomer, I didn’t mean to imply that was the sole reason for my ignorance, and if it came off that way I do apologize. I admit that my knowlege of religions in general is lacking, and I was mainly just trying to convey the limits of what I do and don’t happen to know. Why I don’t know things have a wider set of reasons than what I ended up posting. Obviously, some wrong assumptions and fuzzy wording slipped through my “try to stick to what you know” filter. My poor religious education should definitely not be blamed on the Catholic church or Catholics in general, I take full personal responsibility. :slight_smile:

And looking back at what I wrote, saying I was “raised Catholic” probably has the wrong connotations anyway. My immediate family was never that devout (went to church every couple of weeks, made sure to go for the big holidays, etc), I never attended a parochial school, and around the time of my early teens we sort of fell into a passive non-religious attitude. Since then, I’ve never felt much need or desire to learn more in-depth about various religions.

It’s certainly not difficult to find Anglicans with similar views - the Church of England doesn’t comfortably fit most definitions of ‘Protestant’, and regards itself as a catholic (but not Catholic) church.

My girlfriend was raised catholic, and has been told she is “Catholic” first and “Christian” second.

Some christians I know use the following passage:

So some don’t like to say they are a particular “brand” of christian… just “christian” (although the passage would suggest that this shouldn’t be done in the smug way one can sometimes here).