“Zingcreed – a Christian/Atheist manifesto, thinking aloud about religion – a personal polemic by Peter Turner, M.Sc., M.A.”
Quote: “The history of Christianity is the best school for atheism.” (Franz Overbeck)
The Greek (New) Testament is full of vengeance, violent punishment and references to the coming day of judgement.
See what Jesus says in Mt 5:22 for example “…those who say to a companion, ‘You moron,’ will be subject to the sentence of the court. And whoever says ,’You idiot,’ deserves the fires of Gehenna.” Over-reacting or what! (i)
What we are seeing in Jesus’ teaching is a very primitive notion of justice. Everything is portrayed in terms of black and white / sheep and goats. The division depends on the relationship an individual has with Christ. “The king will say to those (sheep) at his right, ‘Come you who have the blessing of my Father, inherit the domain prepared for you…Next he will say to those at his left (the goats) ,’You, condemned to the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers, get away from me… The second group will then head for everlasting punishment, but the virtuous for everlasting life.” (Mt 25:31-46; Jesus’ words)
“Moreover,those who are ashamed of me and my message in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the son of Adam will likewise be ashamed when he comes in his father’s glory accompanied by holy angels.” (Mk 8:38; Jesus again).
It boils down to this: all non-Christians are considered inhuman.
Paul preaches that Big Brother (God) will take care of the enemies “Vengeance is mine. I shall repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)
“If anyone does not love the Lord – a curse be on him.” (1Cor. 16:22.)
The ius talionis or law of retaliation is fundamental to Paul’s theology. All sins and vices are projected onto non-believing pagans, just as all virtues are projected onto the divine – God or Jesus.
A sterotypical enemy theme underlies the crude division of mankind into good and evil cf Rom. 1:29ff Those in the wrong category (certainly me and possibly you!) will suffer eternal damnation as they deserve.
This is terrorism.
What’s more it is sadistic that no one knows when Judgement day will come. It hangs over everyone’s head like the proverbial sword of Damocles.
“(He) will show upon the day he least expects and at an hour he doesn’t suspect.” ( Mt 24:50)
“So stay alert because you don’t know either the day or the hour.” (Mt 25:13).
This is sadism.
All this would have been pretty harmless except that when Christians got state backing for their religion under Emperor Constantine in the 4th century, they did not hesitate to put their beliefs into practice. They did not hesitate to exterminate these enemies of God! After all they were only doing what the bible told them to do!
After about 380 CE making a pagan sacrifice or even just visiting a pagan temple was punishable by banishment or even death. Let’s use a capital P for Pagan; after all I use a capital C for Christian. Christians stormed and plundered Pagan temples, destroying many priceless and irreplaceable works of art. They set fire to books , indeed they burned whole libraries. In 529 CE the Christian Emperor Justinian closed the Pagan philosophy schools. All criticism of Christian doctrines had to go underground and it became a heresy, punishable by death, to question established teaching.
From the 6th century and for the next 1000 years all who did not owe their allegiance to the Pope were outlawed. This new totalitarian dispensation meant compulsory baptism for all. Of course there was an ulterior motive for this: when powerful Christians like the Emperor Charlemagne conquered their neighbours, the Saxons, he not only gained kudos with the Pope for compulsorily baptizing them all HE GAINED LAND!
The Catholic Encyclopedia narrates with pride how in 1230 the Order of the Teutonic Knights invaded Eastern Europe. “Their warlike and religious zeal was used against the Pagans of Prussia.” To avenge the many missionaries who had been killed a Crusade was declared. Polish Duke Conrad offered the territory of Colm to the Knights in return for their christianising the heathens, plus “whatever they could wrest from the infidels.” Their Grand Master, Hermann of Salza, was made a prince by pope Honorius III and the Emperor. There then ensued 25 years of mayhem and bloodshed as the colonisation and germanisation of a people of the letto-slavic race took place.(ii)
“It was a barbaric and large scale military dictatorship organised on capitalist lines, a ‘state within a state’, the main activity of which was to exterminate pagan nations. it is very difficult for us to visualize this clearly enough.” (iii)
Portugal and Spain
In the 1450s the Pope allocated the whole of the known world plus those parts of it that had not yet been discovered to the king of Portugal for all eternity. In return the native peoples of these territories had to be converted to catholicism at the king’s expense. The Pope had never of course seen these lands and they were plainly not his to give. In 1493 after Columbus had ‘discovered’ the Americas on behalf of the Spanish throne, the pope kindly drew a line down the middle of a world map and allocated one side to Spain and the other to Portugal. The missionaries sent to the New World were paid for by Ferdinand and Isabella.
The “Proclamation of the Conquistadores” read, in part “(submit to the church and the king or) we shall take your property away from you and make your women and children slaves. At the same time, we solemnly declare that only you will be blame for the bloodshed and the disaster that will overtake you.” So began the Golden Age of Spain and Portugal. 20,000 Indians were massacred and the rest died later in the gold mines, pearl fisheries and the plantations. There was an endless succession of the most horrifying crimes. Indians were impaled, hanged, or slowly burned alive, or had their hands, feet, ears and other parts of their bodies cut off.
The catholic priests who came with the colonists gave them absolution and the body of the Lord and assured them that He would bestow His grace and favour on them. (i)
The West Indies
Hans Koning in his book on Columbus (x) describes the sickening genocide committed by the Spanish against the gentle Arawak Indians who lived in Hispaniola (Haiti) and other islands of the Caribbean. On p. 116, he considers the role of religion in all this. “What sets the West apart is its persistence, its capacity to stop at nothing. No other race or religion or nonreligion ever quite matched the Christian West in that respect. Of course those others did not as a rule have the technology and the means to go on and on. The West did, and does-that same persistence has given it its power for good and for bad. We may end then by saying that Columbus was but one frightening example of the corruption of unchecked power, such as precisely the West used to wield.
And there was nothing to check the Spaniards, whose steel, horses, and gunpowder made them invulnerable. Any check on their power would have had to come from inside themselves. Inside themselves was lust for gain and the Christian faith. The two did not appear to be in conflict.
Undoubtedly the Spaniards were Christians. But that manifested itself in surprising ways. They made low, wide gallows on which they strung up the Arawaks , their feet almost touching the ground. Then they put burning green wood at their feet. These executions took place in lots of thirteen Arawaks at a time. Why? “In memory of our redeemer and his twelve apostles.” Pieces of Arawak flesh were sold as dog food. An etching made at the time shows those faces under the pointed helmets, with little triangular beards, looking on coldly as the Indians are strangled, burned and cut down. They are the stuff of nightmares.”
As they say in the english speaking Caribbean: “Thank you, Jesus.”
The predominantly Protestant Christians – mainly Congregationalists – who brought the faith to North America were no less cruel. (iv) “The conquest of New England and the extermination of its Indian inhabitants was accomplished according to the pattern of the occupation of idolatrous Canaan by the Israelites. At that time, Yahweh (Jehovah) spoke through Solomon to King Saul, telling him
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. ” (1 Sam. 15:3) i.e. God orders the Jews to commit genocide. (See Zingcreed blog ‘OMG!’ April 2013).
“This was the will of the Father of Jesus Christ and those who clung stubbornly to the worship of the false Indian god, Manito, had to experience it. The English colonists were, in this, the instruments of the Father’s will and, true to the tireless preaching of their Anglican and later Puritan theologians, they behaved in North America as though they were the chosen people, the successors of Israel.”
Under the heading “Felling Trees and Indians” , Noam Chomsky (v) tells us “The English colonists in North America pursued the course laid out by their forerunners in the home country. (i.e. when Ireland was part of Britain). Virginia was a centre….to exterminate the ‘devil worshippers’ and ‘cruel beasts’ whose generosity had enabled the settlers to survive, hunting them down with savage dogs, massacring women and children, destroying crops, spreading smallpox with infected blankets, and other measures that rapidly came to the minds of barbarians fresh from their Irish exploits.” He outlines key dates in this genocide that the Founding Fathers practised.
1637 The slaughter of the Pequot Indians in New England by Puritans. They did the Lord’s work, fulfilling their “divine mission” in a dawn raid on the main Pequot village while most of the men were away, slaughtering women children and old men in true Biblical style. In their own words, the Puritans turned the huts into a “Fiery oven” in which the victims of “the most terrible death that may be” were left “frying in the fire and the streams of blood quenching the same,” while the servants of the Lord “gave the praise thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them.” The remaining few Pequots were sold into slavery. and the colonial authorities outlawed even the designation Pequot “so the name of the Pequots (as of Amalek) is blotted out from under heaven, there being not one that is, or at least dare call himself a Pequot.” (vi)
1643 Massacre of Algonquin Indians in Lower Manhattan. Dutch soldiers, wrote David de Vries, cleared New York of the native scourge in a truly Christian fashion. “Considering they had done a deed of Roman valour in murdering so many in their sleep; where infants were torn from their mothers’ breasts, and hacked to pieces in the presence of the parents, and the pieces being thrown into the fire and in the water, and other sucklings, being bound to small cradle boards, were cut, stuck and pierced, and miserably massacred in a manner to move a heart of stone. Some were thrown into the river, and when the fathers and mothers endeavoured to save them, the soldiers would not let them come on land but made both parents and children drown.” (vii) Welcome to America! Land of the Free and home of the Brave! (viii)
The Opium War in China (1840-1842) (ix)
Under the ‘Peace of Nanking’ Britain forced Chinese ports to open to opium and missionaries. Opium, from which Heroin is made, was banned in both China and Britain, and Britain’s motives were blatantly economic. She grew the opium in India and hoped to make the Chinese into addicts. for financial gain. Just as with the sale of alcohol to Indians in North America, no clergy protested about the crime of the opium war. On the contrary, the missionaries rejoiced – their God, who was not averse to using crooked ways was clearly opening a door to admit the gospel into pagan China. As the protestant pastor Karl Gützlaff wrote , ‘Now that the way to China lies open, my heart has begun to beat with joy.’
Traders, following or preceding the missionaries, fleeced newly won converts mercilessly, all over the world. Political subjection usually followed. The missionaries preached humility and obedience and directed the minds of the people they were converting to an imaginary hereafter. Any protest by the converts was stigmatised as ‘worldly preoccupation’.
A Maori commented “While we were looking up to heaven, your ( that is, the missionaries’) brothers came and took away our land from us.”
South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said “When the white man came to Africa, we had the land and he had the Bible. He said ‘Hands together and eyes closed’ When we opened our eyes, we had the Bible and he had the land!”
In the European colonies, missionaries held their tongues at the horrors being perpetuated and took advantage of the military protection afforded. They were not interested in humanity, but in making the greatest possible number of baptisms.
TO BE CONTINUED
(i) Kahl, J “The Misery of Christianity” Penguin (1971)
(ii) Catholic Encyclopedia. Teutonic Order (online)
(iii) Kühner, H. “Tabus der Kirchengeschichte” Nuremberg (1965)
(iv) Kahl, op. cit. p.49
(v) Chomsky, Noam “Year 501. The conquest continues” Verso (1993) p.21
(vi) op. cit . p.262
(vii) op. cit. p.263
(viii) Standard, David “American holocaust. Columbus and the conquest of the New world”
(ix) Kahl, op. cit. p.50
(x) Koning, Hans “Columbus: His enterprise” Latin America Bureau (1976)