The End of the Religious Question
In the early 1930s, the Callista revolutionary project used sep schools and
anticlerical legislation to defanaticize, provoking widespread Catholic resis-
tance. Clerical guidance, Catholic discourse, and the Church’s organizational
matrix enabled school boycotts to undermine federal schooling and in the
process to imperil other, key aspects of the revolutionary project as well.
Informal networks motivated by Catholic values, sanctioned by Rome’s ra-
dial strategy, and loosely centered on hubs of clergy and lay activists extended
into much of civil society, filling the gap between the weakened institutional
Church and the fragile revolutionary state even in less levitical areas.
Instead of marginalizing Catholics politically, the renewed anticlerical
campaign of the early 1930s antagonized and ultimately empowered them.
Catholic electoral brokers drew on formal and informal Church organiza-
tions, ideology, and symbols to influence balloting. Ironically, governors
closely identified with Calles such as Guevara and Ortega owed their elec-
tions to the voto morado.∞ Remarkably, the Catholic presence in revolution-
ary politics actually grew from the Arreglos to the end of the Maximato in
mid-1935 as a dense but fragile web of alliances linked nominally to revolu-
tionary o≈cials and Catholic mediators in middle politics. Such clandestine
pacts failed to decisively dull revolutionary defanaticization because regional
politicos remained vulnerable to pressure from Mexico City and could not
restrain determined anticlericals like Superintendent Tomás Cuervo and
General Francisco Múgica who had federal authority. In this environment,
some moderate revolutionary o≈cials like Inspector Ruben Rodríguez
Lozano became radicalized.
While regional and local alliances with politicos allowed the Church to
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