Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Killing in the Name of Religion

I saw the TV show, "The Labyrinth," a story about the Cathars. In all honesty, I had to look up this word and only then did I realize the Cathars were the Albingensians. The latter is not a common word either, but from a religion class in the past, I recalled that the Albingensians were heretics. They believed in two gods, one good, the other evil.

The movie, The Labyrinth, was set in Carcasonne, France, a place I've visited, so it was nice to remember the lovely mountaintop medieval place.

I had not known until I saw the movie that the Albingensians/Cathars had lived there and were annihilated after Pope Innocent III declared a crusade against them. The Cathars were around in the late 11th century, and they were extinguished in the 14th century.

The movie was mildly interesting, not great, but it got me thinking about how religions can kill in the name of God. The genocide of the Cathars is an example. The Inquistion was another case where the Catholic church sanctioned,and in fact, organized the torture and killing of so-called heretics.

I've come to realize that underlying the religious motive for persecuting non-Catholics was an economic reason. The officials could take away land and properties of those who were judged guilty of heresy. I quote from Sanderson Beck's article on Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517 -- note the cruelty of this organized persecution:

"On November 1, 1478 Pope Sixtus IV issued the Exigit sincere devotionis bull appointing two or three priests as inquisitors in Seville. The inquisitors arrived in 1480, and in the first eight years they condemned about seven hundred Conversos and burned them. Many more were given lesser punishments. Their property was confiscated as soon as they were arrested, financing the tribunals. Professional defense lawyers were appointed by the inquisitors. A majority of the tribunal had to vote that the person was probably guilty before torture could be applied to get a confession. Contradictory witnesses might be tortured to try to determine who was being truthful. Those who repented of their “sins,” were reconciled to the Church but might only be killed by a sword rather than burned alive. Those released who relapsed into heresy were burned. The first six men and one woman convicted of heresy were burned on February 6, 1481, and seventeen more converts were burned on March 26 and even more in April. By November in the city of Seville 298 people had been killed at the stake, and 79 had been sentenced to life in prison."

Religious intolerance in France and England in the 16th and 17th centuries drove away the English Puritans and French Huguenots from their countries.

Persecution in the name of God is happening right now -- just turn your gaze toward Africa and the Middle East.

So now I'm wondering if God really wants us to persecute and kill in the name of religion.

I think not.

This kind of persecution is not about God, but about Power. Underneath the "good" intentions and justifications, it's one group dominating others for control, for wealth.

To kill, harm, persecute, steal seems anti-religion, anti-God. The God in my mind does not want the destruction of man in His name. My God wants people to have peace, happiness, health, all the good things that can be had. My God wants all of us to help one another so each person can attain a decent level of dignity. My God wants us to become the best that we can be as human beings, to blossom as it were in our humanity.
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia
Read also
Muslims Condemn ISIS
Syria War: A Layperson's View of Assad's Comeback
Pre-colonial Gold in Cebu, Philippines

Tags: religion, Christianity, Cathars, Albingensians, heresy, Inquisition, Catholics, genocide, crusades

This is all for now,

No comments: