In Ireland, the Protestants and Catholics did not get along. The Irish Catholics felt with good reason that the Ascendant Protestants sought to convert every Catholic to the Anglican faith. So, in Ireland, when some Protestant school would attempt to teach the Protestant bible at school, the Catholics would rebel. How did that play out in the new world?
In Savannah, Georgia, the Irish Catholic community and the Irish Protestant community worked out a compromise. In 1824, the president of the Savannah Hibernian Society, John Hunter, a Protestant, brokered an agreement between the Catholics and the Savannah Free School regarding compulsory reading of the Protestant Bible. This was a time when the Bible was considered required reading. Mr. Hunter essentially helped bring an end to the required reading of a Bible at the Free School. By 1870, the Savannah population in this majority Protestant city accepted the “Savannah plan,” in which the Catholic church accepted city funds to operate a religious school. In situations like this, the Irish protestants sometimes acted as a bridge between the majority Protestant population and the new Irish Catholic immigrants.
Yet, at the same time, back in 1820’s era Ireland, if a free school had required reading from a Protestant Bible, violence would have resulted.
In America, the laity had more influence over the church than they would have back in Ireland. In Charleston, South Carolina, the esteemed Catholic Bishop England, Irish born, allowed the creation of a church constitution which provided power to lay members. Bishop John England was a great admirer of George Washington and the founding of the United States.
David T. Gleeson, The Irish in the South, 1815-1877 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: Univ. of North Carolina Press 1995), p. 88-89.