Collective Amnesia: Religious Wars

what are you doing to make things betterBy Trace A. DeMeyer

Back in 1985, I sat quietly with a Catholic priest after my adoptive father’s funeral and asked, “can you tell me, what are the exact differences between the various religions?” He answered something very vague.

And it still needs an answer.

The first priest I’d asked was in junior high school; to answer he said I needed to read a few books.  What he gave me was no help at all.  It seems if you want a straight answer, you don’t ask a religious leader like a priest. Maybe they can’t answer because you are not supposed to question them or their dogma?

Or even worse, bring up something like the Inquisition.

(Google search) While the positive suppression of heresy by ecclesiastical and civil authority in Christian society is as old as the Church, the Inquisition as a distinct ecclesiastical tribunal is of much later origin:

No one is sure exactly how many were killed by the Catholics Inquisition but it’s millions, and mostly women!

Raised Catholic, I was not exactly encouraged to question anything; rather I was expected to blindly believe everything they told me as their Gods honest truth. It really bothered me at mass when their readings would refer to prophecy but never give us a way to read it ourselves. No one I knew questioned anything told to us at mass.

I used to read a lot about martyrs and saints.  Millions died brutally because of their religious beliefs. Some still die for beliefs today, like tribal conflicts in Iraq.  Churches today remind us to be martyrs, and live like saints. Belief was/is worth the sacrifice.  In the 20th Century, 160 million murders were committed in wars, often over differences in religious belief.

The martyrdom of St. Alban, from a 13th-century manuscript, now in the Trinity College Library, Dublin. Note the executioner’s eyes falling out of his head.

Religion casts a wide net, right? It has caused witch hunts, genocidal massacres and created some pretty horrific homicidal maniacs like Adolph Hitler and Christopher Columbus.  Tribal conflicts erupted at first contact with Puritans then conquest and religious belief spread like disease, killing millions of North American Indians.

Religion can also cause a collective blindness and amnesia. It manages to create a judgment of “others.”  Enough judgment can certainly cause war.  Asking about a certain religion and questioning their belief can get you dispelled from a church, excommunicated or accused of blasphemy and heresy, even killed.

In recent times, churches would simply whisk their pedophile priests out of view, move them to a new parish and bury the evidence.  Leaders of religions will often subtly excuse or elude facts, not allowing or teaching their actual history.

Religion, to me, is about practicing exclusion. They exclude other beliefs and other religious views to make theirs better, best, most favorable. And by not teaching about other chapters of history where religions were responsible for murdering others, like the Mormons for example, this makes their followers pretty ignorant of the truth, right?  You don’t see many Mormons revealing the tenets of their “faith” or history and they actually exclude others from looking at it.

September 11, 1857: Mormon militia, some dressed as Indians, and Paiute tribesmen killed and plundered unarmed members of the Baker-Fancher emigrant wagon train. [*Bagley, Will (2002). Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3426-7.]

I always felt it was my job as a journalist to look at history and religion with a lens of accuracy, not faith. It’s my job as a writer to find the truth where it exists, if it exists.

Blind Faith? I don’t think we are aware of our collective amnesia as a whole. I think most organized religions push first for forgiveness and faith while their elite peddle tidy versions of history so the masses won’t wake up, can’t wake up.  If the majority of people were exposed to a timeline of religious massacres, they’d question their reliance on faith in their religions and leaders. (Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_events_named_massacres)

We are at a time of awakening.  I only ask that you ask questions to be awake.

(to be continued)

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