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Show Notes.- Episode 109

April 24, 2022

 

 

https://www.ctinquiry.org/blog/2020/6/18/violence-in-early-christianity

https://apholt.com/2015/01/06/medieval-warfare-and-rape-lessons-for-the-present/

https://www.history.com/topics/religion/inquisition

https://www.splcenter.org/20170925/hate-god%E2%80%99s-name

https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/Ku-Klux-Klan-A-History-of-Racism.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Troubles

https://adst.org/2015/03/the-northern-ireland-conflict-peace-by-piece/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwpImTBhCmARIsAKr58cxRUHUnZE621s0Rzk3aGfbAkZlJ0jiaFV-JEHKOedRrUS85IjmVXsYaAuBzEALw_wcB

 

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Jesus, Mt. 10:34. I'm Spider...

 

...and tonight we are taking a brief look at the history of Christian violence and how this religion governed by the so-called Prince of Peace has managed to rack up a body count that puts almost every other act of religious aggression and extremism throughout history to absolute shame. We'll start with the Bible itself and work our way into the modern day showing the parallels that exist in the motivations behind religious aggression. But before we dive into that conversation...

 

 

Blessed Insurance, Canadian sensibilities and an actual nightmare at 30,000 feet. It's Christians Behaving Badly: Just plane infuriating (and momentarily encouraging) edition.

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/a-christian-health-insurance-ministry-left-families-with-millions-in-unpaid-bills/

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2022/april/health-care-sharing-ministries-bankrupt-sharity-trinity-unp.html

 

In the 'play stupid games, win stupid prizes' department we have: This “health insurance alternative” is not good for your health, nor does it insure anything. The Christian “health insurance alternatives” have scammed over 10,000 families, leaving them with over 50,000 dollars in unpaid health bills. One of these “ministries” called Sharity ministries, is currently filing for bankruptcy. An article in christianity Today says that they have so many outstanding claims that the chances of those claims being paid are either slim, or none.

 

From the CT article: “The organization had faced challenges, class-action lawsuits, and cease and desist orders in several states, where regulators said it had been operating as an unauthorized insurance provider. A 2022 lawsuit from the state of California alleges Sharity denied the majority of claims and spent as little as 16 cents on premiums. Even the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries called Sharity a “sham front group” for the for-profit health care management company Aliera.

When CT reported on the ministry in 2020, Sharity had blamed Aliera, its vendor, for acting in bad faith against the ministry and its members, and tried to distance itself from the company. At its highest point, Sharity had about 40,000 member households nationwide, but that number declined as news spread about unfulfilled requests and lawsuits against the company.

 

This is just one company, but all of these 'health sharing' companies work similarly: Groups “ask everyone in the system to pay a specific amount into the insurance pool every month… but the companies don’t collect all the cash or send it to health care providers. For a fee, the company simply tells individuals where to send their money (e.g. Bob from Nebraska) and how much to send. If you need something covered yourself, you make a request and the company will send your name to others in the pool.

That’s not really different from regular insurance, but it’s not regulated, not all services are covered, and the providers can cut you off at anytime if you become too expensive to insure. Even worse: If you do something they deem “immoral,” you won’t get any money at all. (Good luck getting that contraception. And you sure as hell can’t cover your same-sex partner.)”

It's not just Sharity Ministries that's in trouble. Regulators in New Hampshire, California, New York and several other states are investigating these so-called ministries. In many cases they are finding that people either “were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.”

 

The Christian insurance scammers defense: “ They’ve said they’re not providing health insurance at all… therefore it can’t be insurance fraud. They’ve also insisted that, since customers have to sign a contract that says it’s not health insurance, everything is on the up and up.”

 

So just like Christian music, Christian movies or Christian theme parks: they attempt a version of the real thing, but their versions are ALWAYS much, much worse.

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/canadians-evangelicals-hurt-society/

 

Next up: A new survey from Canada has discovered that many Canadians believe “Evangelical Christians hurt society.” This, of course, is not news to us. On the other hand, Canadians do seem to like atheists!

 

Here is a small list of bullet points from Hemant Mehta's article of other discoveries from the survey:

Muslims, Sikhs, and even mainstream Protestants believe most groups offer society a net benefit. Even when they dislike a group, it’s not by that much!

 

Mainstream Protestants believe evangelicals do more harm than good (-10%). (Infighting!)

Non-religious Canadians think the most dominant religions are bad for society but give positive marks to Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews.

No one likes evangelical Christians… except evangelical Christians. Every other group says they do more harm than good. (A similar pattern emerges with Islam, but even Jews give Muslims a net favorable ranking!)

Overall, Hindus and Jews are beloved by all groups, getting blue boxes across the line. Sikhs come very close, dipping into red territory a couple of times, but only barely.

While evangelical Christians (-43%) and Muslims (-9%) dislike atheists, pretty much every other group believes atheists are good for society.

 

Keep in mind that Canada as a whole is less religious than ever. A different survey released in November found that fewer than 70% of citizens were religious at all.

 

A reporter asked one christian leader why he thinks that Evangelicals are so widely disliked and the answer was: “movies don't portray us well! People don't know us! PERSECUTION!” This leader says, “I watch Netflix like everybody else. And really when you see the perceptions of evangelicals or Christians or religious people, generally… devout religious people are usually presented as deviants,” 

 

I'm wondering what movies he's watching, what shows. Christians get the most undeserved good characterizations of any other group! The phrase “they're a good christian person” doesn't have an equivalent in any other religion.

 

Maybe it's that people see what you're “really” doing. Anti-science, anti-gay rights, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant...what is there to LIKE about all of that when the majority of people are far more accepting than they are. I mean, evangelicals just keep telling us who they are by their actions...and we believe them.

 

https://onlysky.media/hemant-mehta/questions-for-the-christians-who-loudly-sang-worship-music-on-a-plane/

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/ilhan-omar-right-christian-singing-plane-video-rcna24877

 

And now...we're gonna talk about the worship service on the plane because we just have to. It infuriates me when Christians of any stripe try to intrude on a space a person can't easily leave. Like an airplane at 30,000 feet. The video showing the impromptu 'worship service' was right to go viral and to have the backlash it did. The only people who don't think so are Evangelical Christians.

 

It's also infuriating that they asked the pilot before they did it, and the little 'service' was announced over the loudspeaker. Did they take a survey of the people onboard the flight before they did this?

 

No, and I can tell, because some of those people look like they wish they were ANYWHERE else but there. The thousand-yard stares say it all.

 

Hemant Mehta's clever article on the flight asks questions, several of which I will repeat here:

-why?

-who thought this would be a good idea?

-why can't ANY of you read the room?

-was this plane heading straight for hell or were you taking a detour?

-What would your reaction be if Muslims simply announced on any flight, “Hi, we’re Muslims”?

-Why did preacher Jack Jensz, Jr., who posted this video last week, caption it with “Jesus is taking over this Flight! ✈️?<plane emoji><fire emoji>”

 

(next question is “why would you EVER put a fire emoji next to a plane emoji?” and that is a really good question. Can you imagine if a person of color—any color except pasty-white—did that caption?)

(also, what is with Christians and alliterative names? Do they change them? Seriously.)

and

 

-What kind of discount will the airline offer passengers on a future flight? Because they better be getting something.

 

The blowback about this video is pretty harsh. Ilan Omar, the democratic representative from Minnesota, tweeted: “I think my family and I should have a prayer session next time I am on a plane. How do you think it will end?” of course, christians responded with vitriol to her question, especially OVER EASTER WEEKEND, OH Woe.

 

An NBC article concludes, “Christian identity politicians and activists love to complain about persecution. They label Omar or anyone else who questions them as prejudiced. But in reality, Christians have enormous social and political power in the U.S. They can sweep politicians into office. They can force pregnant people to give birth. They can even force you to listen to them sing 30,000 feet up in the air.”

 

PATREON

PROMO – Toxic Messaging in Christian Music (2 weeks from now)

 

 

So let's start out laying this one truth out on the table: in its earliest stages, Christianity was a hotly persecuted religion. While there have been embellishments and over-telling of some details, it was dangerous to be a Christian in the first century CE. Many followers of Christ were martyred and many more were tortured, imprisoned, forced into slavery, you name it. Bad things happened.

 

Then, a major shift happened. The persecuted became the persecutor and it started in the pre-Constantine days, long before the crusades, long before the Inquisitions, long before any of the things we see in movies and on TV.

 

But the history of Christian violence actually begins in the New Testament. Some theologians argue that the disparity that exists between Matthew's account of Judas' death and the one in Acts suggests that the writer of Acts wanted to convey a retributive death for Judas. He bought a potter's field with the blood money he got for betraying Jesus and the Holy Spirit wasn't happy about it. So... the ghost with the most popped him like an ecclesiastical balloon. You also have the case of Ananias and Sapphira who were executed by the Holy Spirit for hiding some of the money they had and not giving it all to the church.

 

Then there's Herod Agrippa who, in Acts 12 conveniently refrains from admonishing the people to not refer to him as a god. The Holy Hitman AGAIN smites someone and the report of this particular murder is particularly heinous.

 

21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

 

24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” - Acts 12:21-24 NIV

 

What a relief!

 

One author even speculated that the whole business of receiving communion in an unworthy manner and dying was another example of ecclesiastical retribution. More on that in 1 Cor. 11.

 

Then there's the whole vengeful returning Jesus smiting his enemies and all the calamity that befalls the unbeliever in the book of Revelation. We hear nonsensical reports of blood running so deep that it almost drowns the horses, forgiving the fact that all the blood in all the people on earth NOW wouldn't come close to filling the space where this “battle” is supposed to take place.

 

So as time goes by, we see the early church suffering its persecution, but by the the fourth century CE, the political powers that be (or were) started recognizing the power that exists in religious zeal, especially religious zeal spurred on by followers of a god whose knee-jerk response to any and all conflict or idle insubordination is “KILL THEM!!!!”

 

 

So what happens? The emperors all start converting to Christianity. These people did NOT have a spiritual epiphany. They saw opportunity in befriending these people and making allies of them. Then “Saint” Augustine comes up with his theory of “Just War” which we've covered in the past. To give the reader's digest version, he basically concluded that violence with righteous intent is morally neutral. It's not right, it's not wrong, it's just... necessary.

 

And this is the foundation for which any and all holy wars going forward would be laid. It was at the heart of the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and much, much, much more.

 

And what makes this all exponetially worse is the convoluted logic upon which most arguments for it was based. Take this example from Augustine himself, for example:

 

Suppose a man has gangrene in the leg. Left untreated, it will kill him. The only way to save him is by amputating the leg. Against the man’s will, a surgeon straps him to a table and saws off the leg. That is an act of extreme violence.

 

No, it's a medical procedure that was done without the person's consent. From a certain point of view, it's an act of violence, but we're talking about saving someone's life, not strapping cuts of meat to him and marching him into an arena to dodge hungry lions. But, the lack of consent here does reflect the conversion tactics used by early Christians in instances like the crusades. Conversion by force is fine even if blood is shed. The ones who remain (the weaker and most impressionable ones) will give in and confess their faith. This is OK because if they didn't they'd go to Hell (spiritual death). Cutting off the leg of a protesting patient / lobbing off the head of an infidel. Both actions serve the greater good so they're both fine.

 

Then there's the Augustinian notion that if you can find one point of argumentation that shows violence to be somehow moral, that removes the intrinsic characteristic of evil from the entire violence equation. Now it's all fine. Whatever....

 

It's then the intention of the perpetrator of violence that determines whether or not it's evil. Cain's intent was self-serving so killing Abel was evil. Crushing the head of a Moor who doesn't want to follow Jesus isn't evil because the purpose was to spread the “good news” of the Gospel. This is not self-serving. It's a 5x over biblical mandate. Only one problem: Jesus never advocated violence as a means of spreading his message. In fact, he told his disciples to write off anyone who chose not to listen or convert.

 

“And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” - Mt. 10:14 KJV

 

Nothing there about smashing heads with flails.

 

But it was Augustinian influence that would carry the concept of holy war forward well into the seventeenth century, most notably through the Crusades (and there were many – eight to be exact) and many modern Christians, particularly White Evangelicals still embrace the idea that violence in the name of the Gospel is just par for the course.

 

Now, to be fair, among the various reasons Christians have exacted violence on people over the centuries, the crusades were about the only ones that had (at least initially) even the remotest tinge of moral influence. As Islam spread throughout the east, the crusades were organized to hold it back and reclaim “holy lands” from the clutches of Islam. Many who fought in the crusades considered what they were doing acts of redemption and expiation for sins. Basically, a not-small quorum of those who fought in the crusades considered it penance for their own sins or the sins of the societies that were growing more secular and less rooted in Christianity. They considered dying for the cause of Christ a one-way ticket to Heaven, which, ironically, mirrors the views of some Muslims that dying in battle also wins them favor with Allah.

 

Of course, they also had other people groups in their crosshairs, including the pagans. But the conquering of pagan areas was more of a personal gripe and more than a few villages were razed for no grander purpose than having “neutral” areas to establish military presences that would further fortify the landscape and ensure that Islamic forces couldn't continue advancing. It's interesting to note that, at least in the beginning, crusaders found common wartime practices like rape and murder of civilians abhorrent, citing that you don't conquer sin by sinning. Sexual immorality and harming civilians would weaken their ability to accomplish their goals. This wouldn't always be the case, of course, because the crusades became more political over time, making them less about protecting Christianity and more about expanding western control over the East.

 

Did it work? No, it really didn't. Here's a quote from Encyclopedia Britannica:

 

Approximately two-thirds of the ancient Christian world had been conquered by Muslims by the end of the 11th century, including the important regions of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Anatolia. The Crusades, attempting to check this advance, initially enjoyed success, founding a Christian state in Palestine and Syria, but the continued growth of Islamic states ultimately reversed those gains. By the 14th century the Ottoman Turks had established themselves in the Balkans and would penetrate deeper into Europe despite repeated efforts to repulse them.”

 

So lots of people died and Islam kept spreading anyway. In the grand scheme of things, the Crusades were pretty tame when compared to things like the Inquisitions and they had the least evil undercurrent among acts of Christian aggression over time. It still amounted to a lot of bloodshed in the name of “just” intent.

 

So how did all this start? Well, it started with the effective, if maybe not a little accidental, charisma on the part of Pope Urban II.

 

The Council of Clermont convoked by Urban on November 18, 1095, was attended largely by bishops of southern France as well as a few representatives from northern France and elsewhere. Much important ecclesiastical business was transacted, which resulted in a series of canons, among them one that renewed the Peace of God and another that granted a plenary indulgence (the remission of all penance for sin) to those who undertook to aid Christians in the East.”

 

Now THAT is how you convince people who don't want to go to hell but like the idea of fucking shit up to fight for you!

 

So Urban assembles a huge crowd and spun a heart-rending tale of the plight of Christians in the east being persecuted by muslims. Their religion was under attack as were their holy places. Harrowing tales of raping, pillaging, and plundering were told. Emotions were churned. And then there was this: He urged those who were guilty of disturbing the peace to turn their warlike energies toward a holy cause. He emphasized the need for penance along with the acceptance of suffering and taught that no one should undertake this pilgrimage for any but the most exalted of motives.

 

Well... they bought it. Cries of “Deus le volt” or “God wills it!” rose from the crowds and people donned their crosses and set out for battle. The rabble did, however, have the help of plenty of legit military types. Warrior knights who knew what they were doing would head up the fray and then the less savory types who were just there to kill people and break shit would play clean-up. Either that or they would be used as pawns to thin out Muslim armies to make lighter work for the real warriors.

 

The last word I'm going to offer on the Crusades involves an interesting parallel between the HRCC and our misguided, hapless, White Evangelical friends: eschatology (or the end times). Jerusalem has been the focal point of lots of eschatological themes, rumors, stories, and more since the Book of Revelation has been a thing. So many who fought in the crusades either thought they were either staving off or bringing about the events in Revelation and both sides were equally happy to be involved in the process. The end of the world and the final conquering of evil remains a huge motivator (and the source of all kinds of conspiracy) among militant conservative Christians to this day.

 

You know, anytime people die over religion it's ugly, but when your focus shifts from “just war” to just fuck anybody we feel poses a threat, real or imagined, it gets really, really, really ugly. So let's take a few minutes and talk about the Inquisitions. Yes, it's plural. And we have touched on this in past episodes, so I'm going to narrow the focus a bit for this one.

 

The Inquisition was not militaristic in nature. It was a lot more sinister than any war.

 

“The Inquisition was a powerful office set up within the Catholic Church to root out and punish heresy throughout Europe and the Americas.”

 

It was a series of initiatives that began in the 12th century and continued for hundreds of years with varying degrees of nastiness tied to them. Its emphasis on torture to force confessions of anything the church considered “heresy” was, in a word, disturbing. It also targeted primarily Jews and Muslims. The Spanish Inquisition was particularly grisly and oppressive, having been responsible for at least 32,000 executions over 200 years. Some historians estimate the numbers to be much higher and evidence exists to suggest that all the Inquisitions together could have been responsible for body counts in the seven figure category.

 

So what did all of this entail? Well, it centered around the actions of church-sanctioned inquisitors.

 

So with no warning or announcement, these guys would just show up in a town, announce their presence, and almost immediately start pointing fingers at the townsfolk. They were sporting about what they did; they were nice enough to give the citizens the opportunity to admit to acts and thoughts of heresy. Some did out of fear and received punishments that involved things like a simple whipping or other more involved acts of penance.

 

If you didn't want to confess, it was likely you'd be accused. And those accused of were forced to testify against themselves in the star chamber hells they called courts. With little to no evidence, pretty much anyone the inquisitors decided were guilty paid hefty prices that most typically involved grisly torture and execution. And they didn't like clean methods like beheading. Oh no... you could be burned at the stake. You could be drawn and quartered. You could be dismembered, flayed alive, even crucified. The more horrific and ghastly the better. And if you had enemies in your town, you could almost count on being accused of heresy under false pretenses.

 

If this sounds familiar, it should. It's almost precisely how the Salem Colony dealt with accusations of witchcraft. History does repeat itself, especially when it involves killing people in the name of a god who only knows how to deal with conflict by killing people.

 

And since an inquisitor typically fit various psychological and personality profiles, they had these jobs because they liked them. They took sadistic pleasure in accusing and punishing the innocent and I have no doubt they knew how few of these accusations of “heresy” were actually legit even by idiotic doctrinal standards.

 

Count Raymond VII of Toulouse, for example, had a reputation for forcing confessions and then burning the confessor at the stake anyway. He then confiscated the lands of the people he killed and got rich off of his inquisatorial “duties.”

 

Two words: Giles Corey

 

Then, “In 1307, Inquisitors were involved in the mass arrest and tortures of 15,000 Knights Templar in France, resulting in dozens of executions. Joan of Arc, burned at the stake in 1431, is the most famous victim of this wing of the Inquisition.”

 

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The crusades were (at least initially) about maintaining a specific religious heritage and freeing people from religious persecution. The Inquisition was supposed to be about eradicating “sin” and enforcing a stringent church-ordained moral code but both eventually spiraled into things that were way less about faith and more about opportunism and feeding certain unsavory individuals' sadistic natures. But one thing that these events teach us is that much of the violence perpetrated by Christians over time has had much more to do with three key things above anything else: power, bigotry, and fear.

 

So let's talk for a few minutes about a little thing called the Maleus Maleficarum. Because it encapsulates all three quite nicely.

 

Before the 15th century, witch hunts and prosecuting people for witchcraft was very rare, but the Inquisition went a long way in normalizing the idea and also laid a solid foundation for punishing perceived heresies. Over the course of the Inquisition, it became clear that the liklihood of eradicating every form of perceived heresy that ruffled the church's feathers was somewhere between unlikely and impossible.

 

Failure to wrangle in all the various types of heresy that the church identified made some people think that maybe narrowing the focus and zeroing in on one thing (and instilling fear of what the church and its representatives were able to accomplish) would be more effective. It was the failures of the Inquisition that led to even nastier, more aggressive measures to curtail heresy, particularly things they considered “witchcraft.”

 

Enter Heinrich Kramer. If I believed in Hell I'd also believe that there's an entire circle there established solely for this asshole and everyone who followed his lead.

 

And, surprise surprise! Kramer was a catholic priest. His Latinized name was Henricus Institor. He published his treatise in 1486. According to the Wikipedia entry, “It has been described as the compendium of literature in demonology in the 15th century.” It also says...

 

The top theologians of the Inquisition at the Faculty of Cologne condemned the book as recommending unethical and illegal procedures, as well as being inconsistent with Catholic doctrines of demonology.”

 

“Kramer wrote the Malleus following his expulsion from Innsbruck by the local bishop, due to charges of illegal behavior against Kramer himself, and because of Kramer's obsession with the sexual habits of one of the accused, Helena Scheuberin, which led the other tribunal members to suspend the trial.”

 

Even people who thought like him and even followed his lead a certain distance understood that this dude was deranged and that they shouldn't trust him.

 

The book urges secular courts to prosecute witchcraft as it would the most violent and heinous of offenses and punish it with grisly torture and death. It goes as far as to encourage torture to obtain confessions and then enact the death penalty as the only certain way of remedying the practice and propagation of witchcraft. And this “encouragement” was willed into nightmarish reality and used to kill countless people, most of whom were flatly innocent or suffered from various mental illnesses that could only be evidence that the person was a witch or operating under the influence of demons.

 

And just to give you an idea of just how fucked up this thing actually is, here are a couple small excerpts...

 

The method of beginning an examination by torture is as follows: First, the jailers prepare the implements of torture, then they strip the prisoner (if it be a woman, she has already been stripped by other women, upright and of good report).

 

And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely; but, if he will not confess, he bids attendants make the prisoner fast to the strappado or some other implement of torture.

 

The attendants obey forthwith, yet with feigned agitation. Then, at the prayer of some of those present, the prisoner is loosed again and is taken aside and once more persuaded to confess, being led to believe that he will in that case not be put to death.

 

Here it may be asked whether the judge, in the case of a prisoner much defamed, convicted both by witnesses and by proofs, nothing being lacking but his own confession, can properly lead him to hope that his life will be spared--when, even if he confess his crime, he will be punished with death.

 

That's one. Then there's this:

 

the judge may safely promise witches to spare their lives, if only he will later excuse himself from pronouncing the sentence and will let another do this in his place. . . .”

 

So once you were accused, you were done. But it was never simple. They dragged things out as far as they could and would torture the accused until they confessed or died. So much for seventy times seven... my question is: what degree of brainwashing is necessary to get people to agree with this shit and go along with it?

 

So, not surprisingly, the MM was the thing that almost singlehandedly led witchcraft from being perceived as a petty offense to being a serious criminal act punishable by death.

 

And just like heretics were burned at the stake during the inquisition, it became one of a few standard methods of dispatching accused witches following the lead of the MM. A lot of people think this is how they dealt with things in Salem, but Salem was tame in comparison to this. Lots of hangings, no burnings.

 

Prior to the release of the MM, penalties for witchcraft involved things like spending a day in the stocks or other innocuous forms of public penance. But once Kramer published this nefarious volume, witchcraft became elevated in the minds of many to something far beyond idle tomfoolery or some petty infraction. Now, it was something to be looked at as imminently dangerous and threatening (bandwagon effect, anyone?).

 

The worst of the persecutions and punishments for witchcraft fueled by the MM took place between 1560 and 1630. The momentum died down considerably in Europe around 1780. Remember 1692? Yeah, there were reasons behind the timing of that. People had been taught to think in a very alarmist and reactionary way about witchcraft and much of that alarmism came from this one source.

 

Between the Inquisition and the prosecutions that happened as a direct result of the MM, it is estimated that the body count for all forms of heresy could be anywhere from 600,000 to 9 MILLION, depending on how one interprets the carrying out of death sentences that could relate to matters of heresy and witchcraft. It's appalling either way and likely closer to the higher number than the lower.

 

Now let's look at some more modern examples of Christian violence and how they relate to all the things we've talked about so far.

 

White Supremacy –

 

There are several groups that fall under this cover and many, many smaller groups that adhere to similar ideologies. The two main players here are The Christian Identity Movement, and the Ku Klux Klan.

 

The SPLC explains Klan ideology this way:

 

“According to their propaganda, KKK members and Christian Identity adherents believe the Bible is the family history of the white race. They believe that white Christians are morally and spiritually superior to other races and that the Old Testament’s Twelve Tribes of Israel represent the origins of the white race (including the Anglo-Saxons, Celts, and more). Their beliefs advocate that God created other races as “mud people” who have beast-like roles and lower standing to white men. They condemn race-mixing and Jews, who they perceive as enemies to God. They further believe whites are the only race that continually followed Jesus Christ. Such religious interpretation de-humanizes non-whites and provides spiritual justification — and perhaps motivation — to attack their enemies.”

 

And here are just a few examples of the hate crimes the Klan has perpetrated over time, according to Essence magazine:

 

source: https://www.essence.com/culture/horrific-kkk-crimes/

 

Christian Identity is probably more familiar than it sounds. Just look at the organizations that fall under its cover:

 

Aryan Nations

Aryan Republican Army (ARA)

Assembly of Christian Soldiers

Kingdom Identity Ministries, Harrison, Arkansas

LaPorte Church of Christ, Fort Collins, Colorado

The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord

Church of Israel, Schell City, Missouri[34][35]

Church of Jesus Christ–Christian

Elohim City, Oklahoma

Mission To Israel

Patriots Council

Phineas Priesthood.

Posse Comitatus (organization)

The Shepherd's Chapel

 

White supremacy, neo-naziism... these concepts play heavily into the ideologies of the Christian Identity movement. Here's just a little bit from the Wikipedia entry about them:

 

Christian Identity (also known as Identity Christianity)[1] is an interpretation of Christianity which advocates the belief that only Celtic and Germanic peoples, such as the Anglo-Saxon, Nordic nations, and/or Aryan people and people of kindred blood are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and are therefore the descendants of the ancient Israelites.

 

Independently practiced by individuals, independent congregations, and some prison gangs, it is not an organized religion, nor is it affiliated with specific Christian denominations. Its theology is a racial interpretation of Christianity.

 

Christian Identity promotes the idea that all non-whites (people who are not of wholly European descent) will either be exterminated or enslaved in order to serve the white race in the new Heavenly Kingdom on Earth under the reign of Jesus Christ. Its doctrine states that only "Adamic" (white) people can achieve salvation and enter paradise.

 

Where do they get this shit? because it's not in the Bible.

 

Catholics vs. Protestants – The Troubles

 

The Troubles (Irish: Na Trioblóidí) were an ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland that lasted about 30 years from the late 1960s to 1998. The conflict began in the late 1960s and is usually deemed to have ended with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Although the Troubles mostly took place in Northern Ireland, at times violence spilled over into parts of the Republic of Ireland, England and mainland Europe.

 

More than 3,500 people were killed in the conflict, of whom 52% were civilians, 32% were members of the British security forces and 16% were members of paramilitary groups.

 

Discrimination against Catholics and lack of solutions led an increase in violence and terrorism from both the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Ulster Defense Association, which led to a death toll of more than 3,600 and maiming of tens of thousands.”

 

While the motivations behind The Troubles were primarily political, there was plenty of violence among the opposing Catholic and protestant factions. People were persecuted and killed for their religious affiliations and for crossing lines between Catholic and protestant lines in an attempt to establish or extend amity to the opposing side. It was more personal than some sources like to admit and the simple fact that the opposing factions were identified by their religious affiliations make the religious motivations of The Troubles very difficult to refute or ignore. It's worth noting that much of the motivation behind the crusades was also political but in both cases, religious convictions and affiliations were cited as reasons for the conflicts as well as personal reasons for getting involved in the first place.

 

Bottom line: if you don't want your religion criticized over your actions, keep it secular. Both the Crusades and The Troubles were largely secular in their objectives, but both hid under the cover of religion as key identifiers for who they were and what they were doing.

 

Anti-Abortion Violence

 

Acts of violence against abortion clinics and providers dates back to 1977. Since then, there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons targeted at abortion clinics and providers across the United States. Some clinics have been targeted multiple times, mostly in Florida.

 

American Family Planning of Pensacola was attacked a total of five times between 1984 and 2012. The clinic was the target of TWO bomb attacks six months apart in 1984.

 

Similarly, the Everett, Washington, branch of The Feminist Women's Health Center of Everett, WA was the target of three arson attacks between 1983 and 1984. They were forced to close their doors after just over a year because the the financial losses over the extensive needed repairs were too much for the company to bear.

 

In 2015, a Planned Parenthood center in the greater Los Angeles area was attacked twice in two months.

 

Doctors, health care providers , and administrative staff are also targeted repeatedly. Dr. George Tiller, known for his roles in late-term abortions suffered two attempts on his life, one in 1993 and another in 2009. The latter resulted in his death. Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion extremist was the killer. When interviewed about the incident, he had the nerve to say, "I did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children. I shot him." Not only did he claim to not feel remorse, he actually stated that he felt relieved.

 

Militias – we're going to save this one for later. It is worthy of its own episode.

 

End-Times Insanity

 

One of the most notable examples of this is the Jim Jones Cult: The People's Temple. Jones identified Guyana as the safest place on earth to survive nuclear armageddon, so he persuaded 900 people to follow him there... then made them drink fla-vor-aid laced with cyanide and killed them. It was the largest instance of international civilian death in American history until 9/11. Now, that's a 2-line synopsis of a much larger, much more intricate and sinister situation and I will once again defer to Last Podcast on the Left for a decidedly much more comprehensive look at the goings on there.

 

Then there was the Branch Davidians with David Koresh at the helm. What many people don't know is that this fringe evangelical cult was around for decades before Koresh and his overactive imagination and libido led to 86 deaths over two separate conflicts in 1993.

 

On February 28, 1993, at 4:20 am, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms attempted to execute a search warrant relating to alleged sexual abuse charges and illegal weapons violations. The ATF attempted to breach the compound for approximately two hours until their ammunition ran low. Four ATF agents were killed and another 16 agents were wounded during the raid. Five Branch Davidians were also killed.

 

After the raid, ATF agents established contact with Koresh and others inside of the compound. The FBI took command after the deaths of federal agents, and managed to facilitate the release of 19 children (without their parents) relatively early into the negotiations.

 

On April 19, 1993, the FBI moved for a final siege of the compound using large weaponry such as .50 caliber (12.7 mm) rifles and armored Combat Engineering Vehicles (CEV) to combat the heavily armed Branch Davidians. The FBI attempted to use tear gas to flush out the Branch Davidians. Officially, FBI agents were only permitted to return any incoming fire, not to actively assault the compound. When several Branch Davidians opened fire, the FBI's response was to increase the amount of gas being used. Around noon, three fires broke out simultaneously in different parts of the building. The government maintains that the fires were deliberately started by Branch Davidians. Some Branch Davidian survivors maintain that the fires were started either accidentally or deliberately by the assault.

 

Of the 85 Branch Davidians in the compound when the final siege began, 76 died on April 19 in various ways, from falling rubble to suffocating effects of the fire, or by gunshot from fellow Branch Davidians.

 

In all, four ATF agents were killed, 16 were wounded, and six Branch Davidians died in the initial raid on February 28. 76 more died in the final assault on April 19.

 

The events at Waco spurred criminal prosecution and civil litigation. A federal grand jury indicted 12 of the surviving Branch Davidians charging them with aiding and abetting in murder of federal officers, and unlawful possession and use of various firearms. Eight Branch Davidians were convicted on firearms charges, five convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and four were acquitted of all charges.

 

And yes, we're talking about extremist cults in both cases, but both were rooted and built up on convoluted interpretations of Christian doctrine, just like the Christian Identity Movement, the Klan, and ultra right-wing white evangelicals. All of these things borrowed preferred parts of Christian doctrine and used them as the foundation for committing all sorts of atrocities wherein people were harmed or lost their lives. And let's not forget the motivations behind January 6. Many of the insurrectionists proudly displayed christian imagery and considered their cause righteous as the result of some very skewed interpretations (and outright inventions) of evangelical doctrine.

 

Make no mistake about it: violence is a running thread through the entire history of Christianity. The concept of “just war” is applied to everything from burning people at the stake to bombing abortion clinics to committing acts of insurrection that destroy life and property. When you're part of a religion that perpetuates a militaristic mindset about what faith is, violence is inevitable. From Hymns like Onward Christian Solders to worship anthems like “The Battle Belongs to the Lord” the concept of violence and aggression is seeded into the minds of believers. And while most see the metaphorical and philosophical nature of this messaging, every religion breeds extremists. And Christian extremists have a long history of justifications for the damage they do. The concept of “just war” is alive and well and breed attitudes that result in “relief” that you killed someone.

 

The overlying gripe I have with all of this is the dishonesty of it. The crusades and The Troubles both advanced political agendas while hiding under the cover of Christianity. The Inquisition and the carrying out of various objectives in the MM had nothing to do with building a more righteous society. They had everything to do with hate and exacting hate in violent ways with impunity while also hiding behind the cross as their actual motivation. These sentiments and behaviors are mirrored by white supremacist organizations worldwide, the most prominent of which ALL claim degrees of loyalty to what they interpret as Christian values.

 

So here is the real question: is Christianity to blame for all of this? Well... when a religion stamps its name on something that causes harm, inflicts pain, and contributes to loss of life, it's at least guilty by association. And when that religion is headed up by a deity who deals with literally every human conflict by commissioning war and committing and sanctioning murder around every turn, that association becomes clearer and more direct.

 

And while the local church is typically populated by people who champion principles like loving thy neighbor, Christianity continuously propagates thoughts that are clearly racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and more. In short, they perpetuate thought on subjects that are often the root cause of conflict between people. And while that keeps happening, so will violence in the name of Christianity.

 

If you're still in this religion, I will leave you with this challenge: keep your eyes and ears open. Take note of the messaging that comes from the pulpit and from popular Christian media. So much of it glorifies themes of violence and interpersonal conflict and it's likely you've never even noticed. But you will now, because I told you you would. And unlike things like backward masking, it won't just be perception. The literal words and images will fly out at you. And when they do, I challenge you to be honest with yourself. I challenge you to not make any more excuses. I challenge you to not sit there and convince yourself that anything that encourages division among people is somehow OK in the context of your religion.

 

Lastly, I challenge you to do something about it when you figure out that what I'm saying is true by way of the evidence they've been slipping in under your radar for years. Because the more you recognize what this religion is really all about – what it's always been about – it's a lot harder to go on making excuses for it. And when you stop making excuses and just say no to letting that kind of messaging inside your head without examination, you've taken one more step toward getting and staying unbound.