President Barack Obama might have known better than to have picked a fight with Catholics. History would tell him that they rarely lose.

During the 1920s, Mexican President Plutarco Elías Calles found that out the hard way. As this year’s historical epic For Greater Glory shows, Catholics don’t give up without a long and bloody fight.

The film opens with Calles berating Mexico’s Catholics as “outcasts from Rome” and “fanatics of foreign interests.” He outlaws public worship and pledges to deport anyone who protests. Nonviolent activists regularly flooded the streets and petitioned others for support, but Calles and his government didn’t relent.

While chants and marches did little to move Calles, a boycott of Mexican businesses “as a sort of Lent” to bankrupt the government riled Calles to his core. He directed his military to enforce the anticlerical laws with deadly force. Churchgoers were shot up indiscriminately, Cathedrals destroyed, priests publicly executed — perhaps one priest too many.

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