The Sins of Christianity

The ugliest chapters in history are those that recount the religious intolerance of the civil and ecclesiastical rulers of the Old World and their puppets during the generations preceding the framing and ratifying of the First Amendment.

These chapters of history reveal the casting of the Christians to the lions in the Coliseum at Rome; the bloody Crusades of the Christians against the Saracens for possession of the shrines hallowed by the footsteps of the Prince of Peace; the use by the papacy of the dungeon and the rack to coerce conformity and of the fiery faggot to exterminate heresy; the unspeakable cruelties of the Spanish Inquisition; the slaughter of the Waldenses in alpine Italy; the jailing and hanging by Protestant kings of English Catholics for abiding with the faith of their fathers; the jailing and hanging by a Catholic queen of English Protestants for reading English Scriptures and praying Protestant prayers; the hunting down and slaying of the Covenanters upon the crags and moors of Scotland for worshipping God according to the dictates of their own consciences; the decimating of the people of the German states in the Thirty Years War between Catholics and Protestants; the massacre of the Huguenots in France; the pogroms and persecutions of the Jews in many lands; the banishing of Baptists and other dissenters by Puritan Massachusetts; the persecution and imprisonment of Quakers by England for refusing to pay tithes to the established church and to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance; the banishing, branding, imprisoning, and whipping of Quakers, and the hanging of the alleged witches at Salem in Puritan Massachusetts, and the hundreds of other atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion.

It is not surprising that Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and philosopher, was moved more than three hundred years ago to proclaim this tragic truth: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction” (quoted by Peter McWilliams, 1996, p. 125).

                                                              -Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr. of South Carolina, famous for heading the Senate committee that investigated Watergate

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