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2   Religion of Great Deeds...
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A MURDEROUS CHURCH

(Investigator 140, 2011 September)


Christianity as a religion and its leading Church fathers and Popes were the most murderous in the history of this world. To name a few: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Anthony, St. John Chrysostom, St. Jerome, St. Dominic, Canon Lactantius, Pope Gregory the Great, Pope Innocent 1V, Pope Innocent VI, Lactantius, Martin Luthor, and Pope Leo XII. Nearly all have been made saints by this corrupt Church.

Various Christian groups had no compunction in attacking and killing other Christian groups. Here are some examples:

In the 12th century a.d. the Church owned nearly half the feudal lands of Europe. The greed and corruption of the Church was at its height and those who criticized were attacked with a ruthlessness never seen in the history of civilization surpassing even the Nazi Holocaust of the 20th century. The Nazi Holocaust lasted about ten years, the Church’s version more than 500 years.

The Inquisition was ordered by Pope Innocent IV against the heretics with seizure of good and property, imprisonment, torture and death to those caught up in its net, often on the evidence of hearsay alone.

Catholic sources continue to falsify the great number of “legal murders” which are today estimated between 11,000,000 and 12,000,000.

Accused persons were tortured by the Inquisition to give up the names of “accomplices”. No accused person was ever found innocent.

 The riches brought into the Church by these methods encouraged further attacks on heretics throughout Europe.

Mass executions were commonplace. In one incident 180 were burnt at once — "Holocausts are great and pleasing to God." Pope Gregory XIII (I502-1585) sent congratulations on the slaughter of 10,000 French Protestants: "We rejoice that with the help of God, you have relieved the world of these wretched heretics."

Pope Martin V (I368-1431) ordered that a whole town, Magnalata, in Italy be leveled to the ground and every inhabitant to be slain. Pope John XXII issued a bull against heretics. The Pope had 114 Franciscans burned alive.

An order named The Apostolic Congregation preached against the worldly wealth of the Church. Three crusades were mounted against these heretics in 1307. They were trapped in a mountain hideout and were starved and slaughtered.

The Inquisition established the "Law of Property Seizure" which remained in force in most European countries till 1870. The use of torture was officially sanctioned in 1257 a.d. and remained for 5½ centuries until abolished in 1816 by Pope Pius VII. The Inquisition was active till 1834.
 
In India during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the Inquisition killed over 4,000 in Goa alone.

Pope Pius X defended the Inquisition, "the naked fact that the church, on her own authority, has tried heretics and condemned them…shows that she surely has the right of killing…"

Victims had to pay all expenses of their own imprisonment, even for the ropes, wood and stakes to kill them. Those without money could starve to death in prison.

Pope Gregory XI (I336-1378) said that too many were dying of starvation before being brought for execution, so the Pope offered indulgences to all who would donate food.

In 1209 Pope Innocent III led a crusade against the Albigensians in France. When the Papal Legate was asked how the crusaders might distinguish the heretics from the faithful, he answered "Kill them all, God will know his own." More than a million were slaughtered during this crusade.

Famous victims of the Inquisition include Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) burned in 1600 a.d. and Michael Servetus (who first recognized the circulation of blood) burned in 1553 a.d.

Pope Innocent VIII (1432-1492) declared war on witches, declaring witchcraft a heresy. Pope John XXII empowered the Inquisition to prosecute any woman who worked charms, spells or folk remedies. In Europe more than 9,000 were killed as witches.

One Bishop proudly claimed to have executed 1,900 in 5 years. A Lutheran Bishop Benedict Carpzov claimed to have condemned 20,000 by himself. In England over 30,000 witches were slaughtered. In one German city 900 were burned in one day. The Inquisition of Italy burned over 1,000 in a single year. These killings went on for over 500 years.

Prof. Brian de Kretser
Institute for Research into Religions
Darwin, N. T. Australia.







RELIGION OF GREAT DEEDS
Infiltrated by “Godless people”


Anonymous

(Investigator 141, 2011 November)


Jesus foretold that his followers would do greater deeds than he did: “Very truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact will do greater works than these… (John 14:12)

And Paul wrote: “For we are…created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” (Ephesians 2:10)

For example, Edward Chad Varah (1911-2007) was a British Anglican priest who founded The Samaritans in 1953, the world's first crisis hotline organization, to offer telephone support to people contemplating suicide. In 1935 he officiated at a church service for a girl who killed herself when she began to menstruate and feared she had a disease. Chad Verah, therefore, vowed to encourage sex education. This he did for 20 years as a board member of the British edition of Forum magazine, besides founding Men Against Genital Mutilation of Girls in 1992. The Samaritans are credited with saving thousands of lives.

Worldwide there are hundreds of noteworthy ministries by Christians for the public good. If we include all the little ministries by local churches the total would number millions.

In A Murderous Church (#140) De Kretser’s logic is similar to Christopher Hitchens in God Is Not Great (2007) in which Hitchens catalogues crimes of different religions through the ages and concludes “religion poisons everything”.

Such conclusion ignores the thousands of schools, hospitals and charities operated by religious institutions and the positive effect when religious principles that promote health and life are followed.  

The New Testament foretold that Christianity will attract multitudes of false Christians pretending to follow Christ for the material or social benefits.

Jude, for example, writes: “godless people have slipped in unnoticed among us, persons who distort the message…to excuse their immoral ways, and who reject Jesus Christ…” (Verse 4)

Jesus foretold that “people who belong to the Evil One” will mix with “people who belong to the kingdom” and the two categories will coexist and often be indistinguishable. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)

Paul the Apostle writes: “Many will hold to the outward form of our religion, but reject its real power.” (II Timothy 3:5; See also II Peter 2:1-22; Luke 21:8; Acts 20:20-30)

Statisticians who collate statistics of religious affiliation count as Christian everyone who so labels himself. Many of these, however, are “atheists” when it comes to following God and have only an “outward form of our religion”. Some attend church because they had Christian parents but have not made their own commitment.

Have ungodly atheists such as Marx, Stalin, Mao, Hitchins and Dawkins enunciated a similar doctrine distinguishing genuine atheists who are moral and law-abiding from pretend-atheists who are immoral and evil? If not, then atheism as a system is guilty and monstrous, with 100 million people deliberately killed under atheistic Communism. In Christianity it’s not the system that’s guilty but individuals who “reject its real power.”

Hitchens’ and De Kretser’s game of cataloguing the bad while omitting the good can be played using any category of people one chooses. One can pick on students, scientists, females, politicians or car drivers and catalogue all the bad and ignore all the good of that group, and create a totally misleading impression. (See #129 — Hitchens’ Erroneous Procedure)

Even the much-lambasted Medieval Catholic Church had redeeming features. It encouraged and sponsored ministries for the public good even while becoming increasingly corrupt. Monasticism, for example, provided islands of stability that preserved knowledge and learning as all Europe fell apart after the fall of Rome.

Europe was ringed by enemies perpetually, raiding, invading and plundering. The better known include Huns, Goths, Persians, Vikings, Muslims and Mongols. Muslim raids to kidnap people for slavery or ransom (aside from Muslim wars of conquest) may alone have averaged 10,000 victims per year. BBC History magazine quotes an eyewitness survivor of a raid on one of Iceland’s islands in 1627:
The pirates quartered the island, capturing people wherever they found them, young and old women and men and infants. They chased after people in their houses, across the mountain slopes, in caves and holes, and killed everybody who fought against them. The dead lay everywhere… Then they began to set fire to the houses. There was a woman there who could not walk, whom they had captured easily. Her they threw onto the fire, along with her two-year-old baby… (February 2011, pp 56-60)

This background of countless slave raids and invasions required unity for Europe to survive. In that context the Church became increasingly totalitarian as it enforced unity by destroying “heretics” in its midst.

Sean McGlyn in “Kill Them All!” (BBC History, August, 2009) argues: “mindless acts of savagery…in Medieval conflicts were employed as effective military and political weapons [and] religious motivations were not as strong as military ones.” Before the start of the Albigensian crusade against the Cathars in 1208:
“[the] nobles and high ranking clergy had already taken the decision to adopt a policy of no quarter…at every stronghold approached, a garrison that refused to surrender would be slaughtered wholesale, once it has been taken by storm. The purpose of such merciless strategy was…they would then meet with no resistance anywhere, as men would be so terrified at what had already happened.”(p. 46)

In my opinion followers of Christ should stay neutral in such conflicts and reflect the example of “the prince of peace”. (Isaiah 9:2-7)

The prophet Daniel foretold: “And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever.” (12:4) These “shining” ones the New Testament identifies as Christians who are genuine: “You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, as you offer them the message of life.” (Philippians 2:14-16)

To look at godless infiltrators and pretend they alone constitute biblical Christianity is self-deception — like sticking one’s face in mud to avoid seeing the stars and then claiming stars don’t exist.





 

Reply to “A Murderous Church” (#140)

Bruce Bennie

(Investigator 142, 2012 January)


In his article ‘A Murderous Church’ (#140), Brian de Kretser presents a list of religious atrocities carried out under the reign of several Popes and bishops throughout church history. What raises a sense of anger and indignation at such episodes in church history is that the church is expected to be people who reflect God’s love and compassion to the world around it. It is not expected to conduct a blood-letting swathe of violence against anyone they find guilty of disagreeing with their religiously imposed laws.

That said, it should be admitted that non Christian power structures have also used the ‘sword’ to either gain or maintain their own status of supremacy. Communism stands as one prime example of this in the 20th century.

Former atheist Alistair McGrath notes that “Soviet atheism is the true religious philosophy of modernity – a totalizing worldview which demanded that all else give way to its claims. As the history of the atheist state makes clear, this inevitably sets the agenda for repression and oppression. A worldview that was once acclaimed as a liberator thus became an oppressor” (McGrath, 2004, p. 232).

Journalist and television presenter, John Humphrys, echoes that view in claiming “the greatest horrors inflicted on humanity in the last century were inspired not by religion but by communism” (Humphrys in Gumbel, 2008, pg 50). Political philosopher, John Gray, acknowledging the 21st century has been a time of terror, nevertheless asserts that the terror that was “practiced in the last century on a scale unequalled at any other time of history, but unlike the terror that is most feared today much of it was done in the service of secular hopes” (Gray 2007, p. 36). Gumbel writes that it is “estimated that in the USSR that the total number of people killed by communist governments through extermination of their own population and carrying out explicitly anti-religious policies is somewhere between 85 and 100 million” (Gumbel 2008, p. 50). Gumbel quotes John Cornwell, author of Darwin’s Angels, as saying: “Stalin’s atheism, moreover, was a crucial feature of his entire ideology. He oppressed, imprisoned, murdered (Christians), destroying their…churches, throughout the length and breadth of Russia” (Cornwell in Gumbel 2008, p. 50, 51).

While Richard Dawkins acknowledges that Stalin was an atheist, he asserts that “there is no evidence that his atheism motivated his brutality” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 273). Such a view caused McGrath to respond: “the facts are otherwise. In their efforts to enforce their atheist ideology, the Soviet authorities systematically destroyed and eliminated the vast majority of churches and priests during the period 1918-41…This violence and oppression was undertaken in pursuit of an atheist agenda – the elimination of religion” (McGrath 2007, p. 48).


British journalist and broadcaster, Peter Hitchens, brother of Christopher, acknowledges “intelligent Christians must – if they are candid – accept that faith has often led to cruel violence and intolerant persecution. They may say, as I would, that this was because humans often misunderstand or misuse the teachings of the religions they follow. This is not because they are religious, but because Man is not great” (2010, p. 153). Hitchens notes that atheists should also “equally concede that Godless regimes and movements have given birth to terrible persecutions and massacres. …in these cases the slaughter is not the result of a misunderstanding or excessive zeal. Utopia can only ever be approached across a sea of blood. This is a far greater problem for the atheist than it is for the Christian, because the atheist uses this argument to try to demonstrate that religion specifically makes things worse” (2010, p.153, 154). Yet, Hitchens asserts, it is “difficult to claim that Christianity has learned nothing from its past cruelty or that such cruelty is written in its laws or prescribed by its beliefs. When did Christians last burn, strangle, or imprison each other for alleged errors of faith? By contrast, those who reject God’s absolute authority, preferring their own, are far more ready to persecute than Christians have been” (2010, p. 154).

Gray notes that the “machinery of terror – show trials, mass imprisonment and state control…existed in every communist regime” (Gray 2007, p. 37). He writes that this kind of repression was also experienced in Mongolia and East Germany, Cuba and Bulgaria, Romania and North Korea, Eastern Germany and Soviet Central Asia. Yet he notes that the strength of the church in Poland may have prevented the imposition of full scale totalitarianism there (Gray 2007, p. 37). Even Richard Dawkins, cited by Ruth Gledhill in The Times 2nd April 2010, reflected: “There are no Christians, as far as I know, blowing up buildings. I am not aware of any Christian suicide bombers. I am not aware of any major Christian denomination that believes the penalty for apostasy is death. I have mixed feelings about the demise of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse” (Dawkins’ quote in Lennox 2011, p. 91).

While Brian highlights a tragic time in the church’s history, the following centuries have shown a church that, for all its weakness and imperfections, nevertheless esteems human beings as being fashioned in the image of God, and accords them a dignity and intrinsic value that is worth preserving. To disregard the image of God in other human beings is often to open the door that allows a totalitarian mind-set to crush all opposing views to allow their own vision of utopia to exert its rule. The church may not be perfect, but as Dawkins ponders, what else might it be saving us from?


Bibliography

Dawkins, Richard 2006, The God Delusion, Bantam Press, London, Sydney.

Gumbel, Nicky 2008, Is God a Delusion? What is the evidence? Alpha publishers, London.

Gray, John 2007, Black Mass Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, Allen Lane,
London.

Hitchens, Peter 2010, The Rage Against God – how atheism led me to faith, Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

Lennox, John C. 2011, Gunning For God – Why the New Atheists are Missing the Mark, Lion publishers, Oxford.

McGrath, Alistair 2004, The Twilight of Atheism, the Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World, Rider, London, Sydney.

McGrath, Alistair 2007, The Dawkins Delusion? - Atheist Fundamentalism and the denial of the divine, SPCK, London.


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