Luther as the Devil's Bagpipes by Eduard Schoen, circa 1535.

Anti-Protestantism is bias, hatred or distrust against some or all branches of Protestantism and its followers.

Anti-protestantism dates back to before the Protestant Reformation itself, as various pre-Protestant groups such as Arnoldists, Waldensians, Hussites and Lollards were persecuted in Roman Catholic Europe. Protestants were not tolerated throughout most of Europe until the Peace of Augsburg of 1555 approved Lutheranism as an alternative for Roman Catholicism as a state religion of various states within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Calvinism was not recognized until the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. Other states, such as France, made similar agreements in the early stages of the Reformation. Poland–Lithuania had a long history of religious tolerance. However, the tolerance stopped after the Thirty Years' War in Germany, the persecution of Huguenots and the French Wars of Religion in France, the change in power between Protestant and Roman Catholic rulers after the death of Henry VIII of England in England, and the launch of the Counter-Reformation in Italy, Spain, Habsburg Austria and Poland-Lithuania. Anabaptism arose as a part of the Radical Reformation, lacking support of the state Lutheranism and Calvinism enjoyed, and thus was persecuted. Theological disagreement initially led to a Lutheran-Reformed rivalry in the Reformation.

Protestants in Latin America were largely ostracized until the abolition of certain restrictions in the 20th century. Protestantism spread with Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism gaining the majority of followers. North America became a shelter for Protestants who were fleeing Europe after the persecution increased.

Persecution of Protestants in Asia can be put under a common shield of the persecution Christians face in the Middle East and northern Africa, where Islam is the dominant religion.


Anti-Protestantism originated in a reaction by militant societies connected to the Roman Catholic Church alarmed at the spread of Protestantism following the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Martin Luther's Proclamation occurred in 1517. By 1540, Pope Paul III had sanctioned the first society pledged to extinguish Protestantism.[1] Christian Protestantism was denounced as heresy, and those supporting these doctrines were excommunicated as heretics. Thus by canon law and the practice and policies of the Holy Roman Empire of the time, Protestants were subject to persecution in those territories, such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, in which the Catholic rulers were then the dominant power. This movement was started by the reigning Pope and various political rulers with a more political stake in the controversy then a religious one. These princes instituted policies as part of the Spanish Inquisition[2], abuses of that crusade originally authorized for other reasons such as the Reconquista, and Morisco conversions, which ultimately led to the Counter Reformation and the edicts of the Council of Trent. Therefore, the political repercussions of various European rulers supporting Roman Catholicism for their own political reasons over the new Protestant groups, only subsequently branded as heretical after rejection by the adherents of these doctrines of the Edicts of the Council of Trent, resulted in religious wars and outbreaks of sectarian violence.

The Protestants from the Tyrolean Zillertal valley who had to leave their home in 1837

Eastern Orthodoxy had comparatively little contact with Protestantism for geographic, linguistic and historical reasons. Protestant attempts to ally with Eastern Orthodoxy proved problematic. In general, most Orthodox had the impression that Protestantism was a new heresy that arose from various previous heresies.[citation needed]

In 1771, Bishop Charles Walmesley published his General History of the Christian Church from her birth to her Final Triumphant States in Heaven chiefly deduced from the Apocalypse of St. John the Apostle, written under the pseudonym of Signor Pastorini. The book forecast the end of Protestantism by 1825 and was published in at least 15 editions and several languages.[3]

By the 19th century and later, some Eastern Orthodox thinkers, such as Berdyaev, Seraphim Rose, and John Romanides believed that Northern Europe had become secular or virtually atheist due to its having been Protestant earlier. In recent eras Orthodox anti-Protestantism has grown due to aggressive Protestant proselytization in predominantly Orthodox countries.


Auto-da-fé of Valladolid, Spain, in which fourteen Protestants were burned at the stake for their Lutheran faith, on 21 May 1559[4]
The Bartholomew's Day massacre
Piedmontese Children Forced from their parents (October 1853, X, p.108)[5]

The Protestant Reformation led to a long period of warfare and communal violence between Catholic and Protestant factions, sometimes leading to massacres and forced suppression of the alternative views by the dominant faction in much of Europe.

Anti-Protestantism originated in a reaction by the Catholic Church against the Reformation of the 16th century. Protestants were denounced as heretics and subject to persecution in those territories, such as Spain, Italy and the Netherlands in which the Catholics were the dominant power. This movement was orchestrated by popes and princes as the Counter Reformation. There were religious wars and eruptions of sectarian hatred such as the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre of 1572, part of the French Wars of Religion in some countries, though not in others.

Fascist Italy

Mussolini (far right) signing the Lateran Treaty (Vatican City, 11 February 1929)

In 1870 the newly formed Kingdom of Italy annexed the remaining Papal States, depriving the Pope of his temporal power. However, Papal rule over Italy was later restored by the Italian Fascist régime[6] (albeit on a greatly diminished scale) in 1929 as head of the Vatican City state;[6] under Mussolini's dictatorship, Catholicism became the State religion of Fascist Italy.[6][7]

In 1938, the Italian Racial Laws and Manifesto of Race were promulgated by the Fascist régime to both outlaw and persecute Italian Jews[8] and Protestants,[7][9][10][11] especially Evangelicals and Pentecostals.[9][10][11] Thousands of Italian Jews and a small number of Protestants died in the Nazi concentration camps.[8][11]

Francoist Spain

In Franco's authoritarian Spanish State (1936–1975), Protestantism was deliberately marginalized and persecuted. During the Civil War, Franco's regime persecuted the country's 30,000[12] Protestants, and forced many Protestant pastors to leave the country. Once authoritarian rule was established, non-Catholic Bibles were confiscated by police and Protestant schools were closed.[13] Although the 1945 Spanish Bill of Rights granted freedom of private worship, Protestants suffered legal discrimination and non-Catholic religious services were not permitted publicly, to the extent that they could not be in buildings which had exterior signs indicating it was a house of worship and that public activities were prohibited.[12][14]