What exactly do you think it is that makes someone "anti-Rome" besides doctrine anyway? What else would their be?
In England alone: Guy Fawkes, "No Popery", Jesuit conspiracies, heck, even the early Anglo-Catholics were smeared as "papists" simply for wearing chasubles! In 1982 (!) Robert Runcie (then Archbishop of Canterbury) was verbally attacked by a mob of protesters outside of Canterbury Cathedral for stating that he would meet with Pope John Paul II during the Pontiff's pastoral visit to Britain that same year! The protesters were still dredging up centuries-old sectarian socio-cultural prejudice about Roman Catholicism (oh no! Popish plot!) and other absurdities. Abp. Runcie did indeed hear Vespers or similar with Pope John Paul II in Westminster Cathedral and knelt alongside the Pontiff, but did so at a palpable personal cost. It so happens that Abp. Runcie was an Anglo-Catholic and did not have any personal animus with Rome, but the evangelical wing of Anglicanism went berserk over his public advocacy of Pope John Paul's visit.
Pick up any one of Jack Chick's screeds against Catholicism (The Death Cookie is my personal favorite, as he shows his complete ignorance about Eucharistic theology both East and West.) The ignorance that some evangelicals harbor towards Catholicism is stunning. I remember hearing Fr. Peter Stravinskas (famous traditional Catholic priest-apologist) debate an evangelical preacher, the Rev. James White. To his credit, Rev. White was very professional, but the evangelicals in attendance were extremely obnoxious. During the middle of the conference I had to use the facilities. The restroom was littered (and I mean littered!) with Jack Chick tracts. The Catholics at the conference didn't leaflet the entire conference-hall: I and my companions were greatly pissed off, but I did not hear any Catholic pick a fight with an evangelical. Some of the evangelicals were quite livid, however. I cannot help but think that some of their prejudices are generations-old and based on facile distortions of Catholicism. It's all rather pathetic, as I have spoken to many evangelical "apologists" who do not even understand Reformation thought!
Evangelical apologists never really attack Orthodoxy, even though Orthodox theology is much closer to Roman Catholic theology than to the thousands of Protestant evangelical splinter groups. If evangelical Protestants were to be thoroughly methodical, they would attack both Orthodoxy and Catholicism equally on the doctrines that the two traditions both share. The fact that evangelicals often do not criticize the commonalities in Orthodoxy and Catholicism tells me that their prejudice towards Catholicism is not based on doctrine but rather culturally conditioned socio-economic, perhaps nativist, fears about the Roman church and its great influence in world affairs.
It's true that 18% of the entire world is nominally Catholic. Still, why haven't evangelical Protestants gone after Orthodoxy with the same ferocity?
I agree with you that the majority of Protestants are shockingly ignorant of what is taught in the Roman Catholic Church. Most simply repeat what has been whispered in their ear. I know this because I was once among them and would receive a chorus of "amens" whenever I would parrot some unsubstantiated criticism. And then....I met some wonderful people and became very close to them and they were...wait for it...that "C" word. *gasp* Suddenly, I started to imagine their faces when someone would criticize their Church. That hurt. I was already quite studied in Christian apologetics as it relates to other belief systems, so I did what I had been taught to do. I made an honest attempt to learn from the RCC perspective and apply some critical analysis. Yes, I struggled with agreement but I did, at the very least, understand! I also began to realize how misunderstood Roman Catholicism is in the Protestant/Evangelical world. My snotty attitude was melting away and I began correcting my protestant friends when they would criticize ignorantly and would explain what the actual teaching was in that area to the best of my ability. Conversion wasn't something that I considered at that point, but I was happy to loose the baggage of misplaced negativity. Additionally, my friends genuinely appreciated that the "Protestant" girl would make the effort.
To this day, I cringe when I hear such nasty exchanges and assumptions being hurled from various sides of the fences. In fairness, I have also read/heard some cruel untruths being parrotted regarding Protestants, also. Honestly, if it were not for the years I spent studying Christian apologetics and the uniqueness of Christ....I might have walked away from Christianity when I see or read the examples of people who claim Christianity and, yet, are so unnecessarily harsh and presumptive of others and the state of their mind, heart and salvation. I try very hard to think about that before I tell God who I think He has or has not a salvational relationship with. Thankfully, I was well taught that we don't judge a belief system based on those who claim it or abuse it, but on the fundamental truth claims of the belief system, itself. One can accurately discuss points of separation without being cruel.
So, after several years of study, why Orthodoxy instead of Rome? (I was Methodist and I'm 50 years old) I admit that becoming Roman Catholic would have been MUCH easier from a convenience standpoint. As I stated earlier, several of my friends are RC, my husband was raised RC, we have in-laws who are RC and we have several RCC's within a few miles of us. The idea of "returning to Rome" was not a problem for me at all. Let's face it...in the eyes of most Protestants, there is no difference because Church history prior to the 1500's isn't emphasized. I have a 200 mile round trip to the nearest Orthodox Church and a husband who has only 1 day off a week, and spends half of that day working our livestock...so I'll likely be going alone. The rest of my family still attends our conservative Methodist Church, as do most of my friends. This hasn't been an easy path, but I promised myself and God that I would follow where I was led.
In the end, I could not get past:
1) Immaculate Conception because it seemed to me to change the humanity of Christ. That's a HUGE thing and straying from 100% man and 100% God isn't to be taken lightly. Yes, I've had it explained to me but it simply comes up short.
2) I struggled with the practice of indulgences, particularly for "annulments." Which is closely related to my next point.
3) Although I understand and respect absolutely the sacrament of marriage, the RCC stand on divorce and the "unique" way that has been found to get out of the corner that I believe they have painted themselves into is...ummmm...odd. It seems to be the equivalent of the Protestant stand on homosexuality. Is the Church not supposed to be the Hospital of the Great Physician?
4) Liberalism and inconsistency of liturgies. I tried and tried to make sense out of the coastal Roman Catholic mindsets that seemed in direct opposition. Even my Roman Catholic friends are distressed.
5) Perhaps some could claim it was an overreaction on the part of the Protestant-raised woman, but the rationalization of the development of dogma which was spread over SUCH a vast amount of time.......how does a Roman Catholic then turn around and fault the Protestant churches for doing the same thing? "Do as I say but not as I do" doesn't cut it. Yes, I understand the argument/explanation. Truly, I do. In the end, it flirts with rationalization and I've rationalized enough to last a lifetime. I want NOTHING to do with the development of critical dogma past the 7 Ecumenical Councils. I'm sick of changes and additions.
Church history, IMO, held up the position of Orthodoxy. Comparing the histories of the RCC and Orthodox Church since the Schism is massive. I don't tend to think that money and membership #'s is exactly a good thing in this misguided, fallen world. If it is, then I should be reconsidering the mega churches of the evangelical world. The persecution of the Orthodox Church was very impactful.
To Her credit, Orthodoxy was vastly more consistent and more conservative. It took a couple of years for me to really begin to see the continuity and how each one woven together with the others created a strong, beautiful tapestry. I feel such a release of burden to know that I am home. I can stop looking over my shoulder and trying to find my own way through. Yesterday, today and tomorrow...Orthodoxy remains Orthodoxy. Change is overrated.