I had another a massive debate on Twitter last night about Christianity.
I often get asked, as I was last night by Marketing_Queen: “You seem really, really bitter about the whole Christianity thing. Any reason?”
I explain that I”m not bitter about Christians at all. I don’t hate Christians. Some of my closest friends are Christians. What I am fighting against the is philosophy of Christianity, the belief system, that tells people it is okay to believe in mythological beings, ignore scientific evidence and that anyone who disagrees with you deserves an eternity of punishment and torture.
Don’t you find it terrifying that in the 21st century, the overwhelming majority of people living in Western countries, who have had access to education and science for hundreds of years, still believe in invisible mythical beings? Should it not worry us that, instead of looking for rational explanations of the creation and functioning of the universe, they still cling blindly to ancient and primitive concepts?
I also often asked why I’m picking on Christianity and not going after Islam or Scientology. The answer is simple – Christianity is the largest religion on the planet. It is also the dominant religion in the Western countries, the so-called “civilized” world. We should know better! If the educated, civilized people of the world still believe in invisible beings, what hope do we have?
I’m often told that I’m just as bad as Christians, that I am an “evangelical atheist” and that I am just as intolerant of Christianity as some Christians are of non-Christians. To these charges I happily confess. Yes – I am intolerant of delusional thinking. Yes – I believe that rational thinking and the search for facts based on the scientific method, is far superior to belief in mythical beings. Yes – I am happily “evangelical” about this position.
I am often scolded and told that being intolerant of someone’s beliefs is disrespectful. I usually respond that I see no good reason to respect someone’s beliefs if they are dangerous and destructive beliefs.
If someone believes in child pornography, should I be tolerant of that belief?
If someone believes in human sacrifice, should I be tolerant of that belief?
If someone believes in slavery, should I be tolerant of that belief?
I think we will all agree that not all beliefs are worthy of respect or tolerance. I happen to include Christianity in that list of beliefs.
Of course, it is quite ironic to hear someone saying Christians, of all people, should be provided with a level of tolerance towards their beliefs.
From the time the Christian church aligned itself with the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early 4th Century, right through to modern times, Christianity has been guilty of more intolerance and violence than any other belief system in human history.
It started in earnest in 312 CE, when Constantine issued edicts to crush all “idolatry” – the Christian term for non-Christian beliefs. (Source: The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine, Eusebius of Caesarea – CHAPTER XLVIII). From that moment on, the Christian church had the basis for their attempted destruction of all competitive belief systems across the Roman Empire and, over the course of the next 1500 years, the world.
Let’s start by looking at their track record in their first century alone:
* 326 Constantine orders destruction of temples of Greek love goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem and Phoenicia.
* 335 Constantine orders death by crucifixion of magicians and soothsayers in Asia Minor and Palestine.
* 341 Emperor Flavius Julius Constantius orders execution or imprisonment of soothsayers.
* 354 Constantius orders closure of all pagan temples in Christendom and that some are profaned by being turned into brothels.
* 356 Constantius orders death penalty for all forms of worship involving idolatry or sacrifices.
* 357 Constantius bans all forms of divination, excluding astrology.
* 359 Christianity’s first death camp is established at Skythopolis, Syria; 1000s of gentiles are exterminated over 30 year period.
* 363 Council of Laodicea names 26 New Testament books as “inspired word of God”; Book of Revelation is excluded.
* 364 Council of Laodicea decrees death for Christians who keep seventh day Sabbath.
* 364 Emperor Flavius Jovianus orders burning of Library of Antioch.
* 364 Three Imperial edicts order confiscation of all pagan temple properties and punishment by death for participation in any form of pagan ritual.
* 372-444 Emperor Valens orders extermination of Manichaean Christian sect for preaching non-Nicean doctrines; numerous thousands persecuted over 70 year period.
* 389 Great library of Alexandria, described as centre of Western Culture, is destroyed by Christian mobs; 700,000 ancient rolls are burned.
* 395 Theodosius introduces law making paganism criminal offence and orders banning of pagan events including Olympic Games.
* 397-399 Emperor Arcadius orders destruction of almost all pagan temples.
* 398 Fourth Council of Carthage forbids bishops from reading pagan books.
Not a bad start.
We don’t have room for a blow-by-blow account, but you can read either the “Christian Crimeline” site (http://www.buckcash.com/opinions/temp/Christian_Crimeline.htm) or the excellent book “The Faith; A History of Christianity” by Brian Moynahan more a detailed list.
Let’s just touch for the moment on the highlights. Here are “Christianity’s Greatest Hits”:
* 529 Justinian the Great closes Athens’ famous 1000-year-old School of Philosophy, declaring it paganistic and threatening to Christian thought.
* c590 Gregory condemns education for all but clergy resulting in society remaining illiterate for almost 1000 years.
* c590 Gregory forbids laypeople from reading Bible and orders burning of Palatine Apollo library so its secular literature would not distract religious.
* 640 Christians destroy Gnostic Basilades, Porphyry’s 36 volumes, writings of 27 mystery schools and 270,000 documents collected by Ptolemy Philadelphus.
* 694 Fifth council of Toledo orders enslavement of Jews, their property confiscated and children forcibly baptised.
* 777 Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne beheads 4500 Saxon rebels in one morning for refusing to convert to Christianity.
* 1095-9 Urban II (1088-99) calls for European knights to march on Jerusalem under Christian umbrella to wrest Holy Land from Turkish Muslims. Jews and dark-skinned Christians also targets. 4,000,000 to 7,000,000 Muslims and 12,000 Jews die.
* 1146-8 Pope Eugenius III (1145-53) calls for holy war on Muslims at Edessa; St Bernard of Clairvaux declares: “The Christian glories in the death of the pagan because thereby Christ himself is glorified”.
* 1187-92 Pope Gregory VIII (1187) declares holy war on Muslims in Jerusalem as well as on pagans, Cathars and Jews in Europe and England; many communities sacked and destroyed. One million people die.
* 1198-1216 Innocent III declares “anyone who attempts to construe a personal view of God which conflicts with church dogma must be burned without pity”.
* c1204 Innocent III orders Jews to wear distinctive clothing for easy identification; during Passion Week Jews are refused sale of food in hope of starving them.
* 1208-38 1,000,000 Albigensians (Cathars) perish in south of France after Innocent III launches holy war described as one of history’s most terrible campaigns.
* 1215 Lateran Council decides on death penalty becoming Canon Law for all cases of heresy.
* 1231 Gregory IX issues papal bull decreeing burning of heretics and other church enemies as standard penalty.
* 1231 Holy Inquisition denies right of counsel and replaces common law tradition of “innocent until proven guilty” with “guilty until proven innocent”.
* 1232 The Holy Inquisition starts which over 500 years see 35,534 individuals burned during Inquisition; 18,637 more are burned in effigy while 293,533 receive other Inquisitional punishments.
* 1234 Church orders massacre of between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children at Altenesch, Germany, for refusing to pay suffocating church taxes.
* 1272 Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) publishes Summa Theologica which lays foundations for witchcraft trials by claiming men and women can have sexual intercourse with demons. Estimated 9,000,000 witches, mostly women, are burned by Catholics and Protestants until 1894 when last European witch is executed.
* 1431-67 Vlad “The Impaler” Dracula, described as Eastern Europe’s greatest Christian defender, slaughters 200,000 Muslims, many by impalement, during 3 reigns.
* 1472 1000s of Jews, Muslims and Protestants are cruelly murdered after Sixtus IV establishes Spanish Inquisition in 1472.
* 1481-1517 13,000 are burned in 36 years during Spanish Inquisition; 17,000 are burned in effigy and 290,000 tortured, imprisoned or bankrupted.
* 1482 White traders begin transporting black slaves from Africa to Christian world.
* 1492 150,000 Spanish Jews receive orders to either convert to Christianity or face expulsion from fear of “contaminating society”.
* 1492 150,000,000 North American Indians are enslaved, exported or killed in name of Christ over centuries at hands of Spanish and English explorers and pilgrims.
* 1493 Papal bull declares church under king Ferdinand is entitled to all land in South America: “If the Indians refuse, he may quite legally fight them, kill them and enslave them, just as Joshua enslaved the inhabitants of Canaan.
* 1493 30,000,000 Aztecs and Mayans die over years as Spanish conquistadors proselytise Christian faith.
* c1534 Henry VIII crowns himself King of Ireland, thereby starting centuries of civil unrest after imposing Church of England on Irish Catholics.
* 1618-48 War lasting 30 years erupts between Catholics and Protestants in Germany, France, England, Sweden and Denmark. 14,000,000 people die in Germany alone.
* 1619-1860 4,000,000 African slaves are shipped by Christians to North America aboard “the good ship Jesus Christ” between 1619 and 1860.
* 1623-44 Urban VIII imprisons Galileo after ordering him to retract “damnable heresy” that earth revolves around sun.
* 1648 200,000 Jews are slain during Christian massacres at Chmielnitzki, Poland.
* 1715 100,000s of French Huguenots (Protestants) flee France after Catholic King Louis XIV bans Protestant faith in France.
* c1720 100,000 Polish Jews are slaughtered in 300 communities before Ukraine is wrested from Catholics by Orthodox Russians.
* 1770 Christians arrive in Australia and proceed to steal the land from the natives.
* 1796 – 1815 The Christians rulers of England, Russia, Prussia and Austria wage a series of wars against France in an attempt to return Christian rule after the French Revolution abolishes the power and corruption of the church in France. Millions die.
* c1840 Explorer Paul Strzlecki claims 1000s of Australian aborigines are slaughtered for refusing to embrace Christianity.
* 1844 Australia introduces Protection of Children Act permitting church missionaries to “steal” aboriginal children for placement in white Christian homes.
* c1890 200,000 people die after Protestant forces move into Armenia causing civil unrest between Catholic and Orthodox Christians.
* 1914-18 Bertrand Russell denounces WWI as wholly Christian in origin as “the three Emperors were devout, and so were the more warlike of the British Cabinet”.
* 1922 Hitler reveals true religious beliefs in 1922 speech when he says: “My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter”.
* 1939-45 Pius XII (1939-58), “Hitler’s Pope”, turns blind eye to religious atrocities committed by Nazis against Jews during WWII. 6,000,000 Jews die under Hitler’s orders in human catastrophe allegedly inspired by Martin Luther’s pamphlet, Jews and Their Lies.
* 1941-5 60,000 Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims are massacred by fanatical Catholic “Ustashi” soldiers under Croatian leader Ante Pavelic (1889-1959).
* 1951 Witchcraft as crime is finally removed from English statute books by British Parliament.
* 1991 – 2008 Christian countries, lead by the US, invade Muslim Iraq. Violence, both militaristic and economic, continue through 2008. Millions die.
* 2000 Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey criticizes Western society for worshiping wealth just weeks before media reveals UK Anglican Church earned Â£4.4 billion in 1999. Media reports UK Anglican Church owned shares totaling over Â£20 million in military tank and helicopter manufacturer, GKN.
Welcome, everybody, to the religion of love and peace.