Religion has often been used to excuse violence and intolerance throughout history. Today, even I have to argue that things are much better than they were during the Crusades, Inquisition or Holocaust as far as violence in the name of “God.” However, such violence still exists and will continue as long as religions remain exclusionary – believing that anyone who does not believe the way they believe is “damned” to some sort of eternal rot. Throughout history, such exclusionary views have caused:
- The Crusades (Beginning 1095): As a religious driven military movement, the Crusades, fought mainly against Muslims, were efforts to recapture the “Holy Land” which lead to irrational claims of “crosses” appearing on chests of leaders, demoralization of non-Christians and mass murders of innocent men, women and children.
- The Inquisition (Beginning 1184): The purpose of the Inquisition was stated in a 1578 handbook for inquisitors as, “… for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit.” Such as statement makes it clear that the goal was to inspire fear amongst a people in order to rule and conquer them. During the Inquisitions church leaders often supported the enslavement and/or murder of “heretics”.
- Reformation (circa 1518): The intent of the Reformation was to restore Christianity to a more “pure” form. In order to do so, millions upon millions of Europeans were murdered as Catholics murdered Protestants and Protestants murdered Catholics. In some instances, those that “opposed” the church authority were murdered and hung in cages as a reminder to all what happens to such persons.
- Witch Hunts (beginning circa 1480 in Europe): The witch hunts in the United States were short lived and resulted in very few deaths compared to the witch hunts in Europe where countless people were wrongfully murdered after bogus trials.
- The Holocaust (beginning circa 1933): Christian Fundamentalism was a primary cause of the Holocaust. Jewish persons had been murdered and enslaved throughout Europe’s violent Christian history and the Nazi’s continued this long tradition of murder – claiming it to be for the betterment of God and God’s wish. Although the Jewish people took the largest number of casualties, other groups were murdered including, homosexuals, Soviet citizens, political prisoners and the disabled.
- The Christian Identity Movement (circa 1915): Crimes Against the Jewish, African Americans and Homosexuals continued in the name of “God” with the advent of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) during the Christian Identity Movement. These groups again made claims of their intentions to purify the Christian religion and use violence, intimidation and other horrifying methods to make their case. Other groups which are considered part of the Christian Identity Movement include: the American Nazi Party; Aryan Nations; Church of Jesus Christ Christian; Jubilee, National Association for the Advancement of White People; The Order; Scriptures for America; White Aryan Resistance (WAR); and White Separatist Banner.
Modern times have changed in that government sanctioning of such murders and methods no longer exists. Fewer people are being murdered in the name of “God”; however, the longstanding use of “God” to cause fear remains by way of group such as “Focus on Family” which forgets that homosexuals are members of families and websites such as godhatesfags.com (non-linking intentional). Each of the above listed examples show an embarrassing time in our world history. As we look back in time, we label these groups as radicals, extremists, egotists and murderers, not as the righteous. If we have learned nothing else from the above examples, let us learn that history will again repeat itself and the supposed “Christian Groups” of today will be known in the future as enemies of freedom and goodwill.