Thursday, October 21, 2010

Murdering in the Name of Christ

In my Hispanic Civilization course, we talk about the crimes perpetrated by Spanish Christians in the name of Jesus. The extermination of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the crimes of the Inquisition, the fascist Catholic dictatorship of Franco (1939-75). My students look horrified (one was actually in tears when we read Bartolome de Las Casas's account of the destruction of the Indies.) How could they do that in the name of such a peaceful, charitable religion? they ask. How is it even possible?

I came home after this kind of discussion today and I watched recordings from the trial of Scott Roeder, the murderer of Dr. Tiller. He talks about his "conversion" to Christianity in a way that would make Torquemada listen up and take notes. This makes me want to bring these recordings to my students and ask them: "What have you done to stop this insanity? Nothing? Then keep your crocodile tears about the victims of Spain's militant Christianity to yourselves."


Richard said...

Actually the religious wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants from the16th through 17th Centuries principally, but not exclusively, in France and Germany were just as brutal as the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors in the New World. It was a brutal age. The collective memory of the wars of religion is one of the reasons that secularism is so widespread both countries. Unfortunately in this country, the Thirty Years War is not a vivid memory as it is in Germany and the number of religious fanatics who believe that invoking the name of Jesus makes any act acceptable is growing by leaps and bounds. Personally I would be a lot more comfortable if secularism were more of a force in this country.

Canukistani said...

”How could they do that in the name of such a peaceful, charitable religion? They ask. How is it even possible? “

This is an interesting question. My first thought is that these actions are taken by taking passages of the bible out of context. A good example is Mathew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Muslims beat Christians over the head with this passage all the time. Most people are not aware of how soon there were attempts to transform Jesus from a peaceful quietist person into a more aggressive individual. Take the non-canonical infancy gospel of Thomas which was written in the mid second century. Jesus gathers pools of water which the son of Annas moves with a stick. “You insolent, godless ignoramus! What harm did the pools and the water do to you? Behold, now you also shall wither like a tree and shall bear neither leaves nor root nor fruit!” (Infancy Gospel of Thomas 3:2) Annas’ son keels over dead. Jesus then zaps every kid in sight. The basic message of the story is that anybody who messes with Baby Jesus is toast. They needed a rabbinical juvenile court.

Instead of bring recordings to your students why don’t you take them on a field trip to the Leningrad Museum of the History
of Religion and Atheism which is in the former Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, St. Petersburg that served as a shrine for the famous icon of the Virgin of Kazan. A whole institution devoted to exposing the dark underside of Christianity!

One last comment. Teachers trying to instruct Jesus in the gospel of Thomas don’t do very well. One teacher slaps Jesus and is struck dead – a warning for future academics aspiring to instruct born again Christian students. 

Clarissa said...

I prefer that my students draw their own conclusions based on the material presented in class. This is why I bring these rants here, to the blog, instead of saying these things in the classroom. I know that there will always be a few students who are too brainwashed at this point to be salvaged even by the best of efforts. Still, the majority is capable of thinking for themselves at least to some extent.

Pagan Topologist said...

Except for the amish and the Quakers, the idea that Christianity is in any way a religion of peace is just wrong, as far as i am concerned.

Pagan Topologist said...

Sorry. i don't suppose many of them are reading this, but I meant no offense. I should have written 'Amish.'

Spanish prof said...

Once I had a student writing in an exam for my Latin American civilization class that "of course, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 wasn't a good idea, but it's understandable that the Spaniards wanted to purify themselves after 700 years of Muslim domination".