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The Crusades: Urban Legends and Truth

Crusades

Although many college students today are ignorant concerning the Holocaust from only a generation ago, many seem to think they know enough about the Crusades to use them as an argument for the evil of religion. Like the tired refrain that religion is “anti-science” even though only one example is usually offered (and it is mistaken), the Crusades are often “the” example listed for the equally wearisome complaint that religion causes more wars than any other factor (a laughable falsehood).

The Crusades are often pictured as a series of bloodthirsty religious wars comparable to modern-day jihad terrorism. However, while there certainly were misdeeds performed during the Crusades – and these should be remembered and judged accordingly – the larger issue is whether or not the Church in general – or even the Crusades in particular – were at fault for such acts. Hitler and his Nazi state can be properly blamed for the atrocities of the Holocaust, for these vile acts flowed directly from his teachings and commands. But were the Crusades equally to blame for the evil performed while they were enacted, or are they, like other Christian Urban Legends, misunderstood and misrepresented?

Bad Press and Modern Myths

 
Thomas F. Madden, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University, says that,
 

“During the Middle Ages you could not find a Christian in Europe who did not believe that the Crusades were an act of highest good. Even the Muslims respected the ideals of the Crusades and the piety of the men who fought them. But that all changed with the Protestant Reformation. For Martin Luther . . . argued that to fight the Muslims was to fight Christ himself, for it was he who had sent the Turks to punish Christendom for its faithlessness. . . . It was in the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century that the current view of the Crusades was born.”

 

Even after the Reformation / Enlightenment period, the Crusades were not looked upon in a negative light. Even Muslims showed little interest in the Crusades before it became politically expedient after “the West” declared Israel a nation once again. Only in the last couple generations have the Crusades became the “whipping wars” in anti-religion propaganda.

Crusade History

 
“The Crusades” generally refers to the set of seven distinct campaigns over a 150 year period (A.D. 1099 to 1254) that were enacted to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control. Since the birth of Islam under Muhammad, Muslims had fought to bring the world under their control. Islam got off to a weak start under Muhammad until violence became the modus operandi. After a few centuries of conquest, though, Islam had spread to North Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor, and into Spain. By the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks had taken control of Palestine and closed Jerusalem to both Jews and Christians. The Muslim invaders attacked Constantinople (the capitol of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Church), and were headed into Europe, before the first Crusade was called by Pope Urban II in 1095 to defend the Christian West.

The word “Crusade” was not actually used during this time, now was “war” since these campaigns were considered more of a religious pilgrimage. After the 12th century, the word was used to designate those fighting on “croisade” – a French term meaning “the way of the cross." During the First Crusade, Jerusalem was successfully recaptured. Crusader territories were established that the Second Crusade (1147-1149) was called to reinforce. By 1191, Jerusalem and many of these Crusader territories had fallen back into Muslim hands, so a Third Crusade was called to attempt recovery. This led to the famous clash between the Muslim leader Saladin and Richard the Lionhearted (who was not able to regain Jerusalem from the Muslim forces).

The Fourth Crusade was launched in 1202, but, for various reasons, ended up coming against Constantinople itself. This divided both Empire and Church, and the East would never forgive the West for the atrocities that occurred (which sadly mirrored previous atrocities from the East). The Fifth Crusade started in 1217 in Egypt – largely going nowhere. The Sixth Crusade in 1228 was directed back toward Palestine. It was successful, but short-lived. The and Seventh Crusade lasted from 1248-1254, with Islamic forces destroying the remnants of the Crusader territories. Crusading came to an end shortly thereafter.

Urban Legends

 
The major issues people cite concerning the Crusades (when they can cite any at all) often involve some of the urban legends surrounding them. It is thought that Muslims were the innocent party and the Crusades instigated their hatred of the West, that Crusaders massacred innocent Jews and even other Christians, that children were sent to war, and that all of this was done to get rich. Perhaps worst of all, the Crusaders thought they would get away with it because the Pope promised them forgiveness of any sin committed while on Crusade. Like most urban legends, these falsehoods are based on only barely true, mostly misunderstood or misrepresented grounds.

Aggression

 
The Crusades were not simply unprovoked aggression – as noted above, they were defensive moves to protect Christendom from Muslim invasion. Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before the First Crusade. Further, the idea that the Crusades also sparked Muslim hatred of the West is a historical falsehood. the Crusades did not do much damage to the Islamic forces, and not much notice was given to the Crusades by Muslims for several centuries. Muslims did not even seem to take active interest in the Crusades until the early 20th Century.

Massacres

 
It has been said that when the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred every man, woman, and child in the city until “the streets ran ankle deep with the blood.” History and science show this to be poetic hyperbole. A contemporary Muslim source has been discovered that puts the number of the slain at three thousand. Was there violence? Absolutely. In that time, a city that had to be taken by force belonged to the victorious invaders – including people. This barbaric idea actually helped lessen damaging resistance (read Josephus for what happens when this goes wrong) and so served something of a cultural purpose. Thus, while it was a tragedy by today’s standards (although one might wonder at what people in that time might think of our war tactics today), it was not uncommon back then. Further, Muslim cities that surrendered to the Crusaders were left untouched, the people retained their property, and they were allowed to worship freely.

Anti-Semitism

 
No Crusade was ever called against the Jewish people. Sadly, there were unprovoked attacks on Jewish settlements by some rogue Crusaders, but the Church actually spoke out against them and some local bishops, clergy, and laity attempted to defend the Jews against them. Again, this is comparable to modern warfare – sometimes soldiers go off and commit horrible acts during war – but that is not an indictment on the legitimacy of the war itself, nor of the ruling authority (provided it did not command nor overlook such acts).

Riches

 
Christians did not go on crusade in order to plunder Muslims or get rich. Becoming a soldier was extremely expensive, and claiming an enemy’s treasure was the usual way of financing war in that day. Many crusading knights ended in bankruptcy. The failure of the Fourth Crusade is often claimed to have been caused by lack of funds. The Seventh Crusade cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown. Moreover, the casualty rate for crusaders were very high – some say as high as 75 percent. The prospects for survival were low, much less getting wealthy.

Children

 
Ironically, the so-called “Children’s Crusade” of 1212 was neither a crusade nor was it made up of children. Due to religious enthusiasm, some German youth (most what 20th Century westerners would call “adolescents”) proclaimed themselves “Crusaders” and began a march to the Mediterranean sea. Fortunately for them, the sea failed to miraculously dry up to allow them to cross over to the Holy Land for free. The Pope responded that he did not call this “Crusade,” and told them to go back home.

Indulgences

 
Another famous urban legend surrounding the Crusades is even found among Christians. Evangelical scholar Ergun Caner criticizes the Pope for promising, “If you go and kill the infidel, you will be forgiven immediately — Paradise,” and concludes that, “There is fundamentally, no difference between bin Laden, in that case, and the Crusades.” This is a gross misrepresentation.

A Bull of the Crusade granted indulgences to those who took part in the crusades for “all penitential practices incurred by the crusaders provided they confess their sins.” These indulgences were similar to those that had historically been granted to the faithful for helping to build churches, hospitals, orphanages, and monasteries. Unlike the Muslim’s guaranteed “ticket to Paradise” for dying in jihad, an indulgence is “not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power. Indulgences cannot get anyone out of Hell. It is not the forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it supposes that the sin has already been forgiven.”* Rather, indulgences are given for the remission of the temporal punishment due for sin that has been forgiven but not yet expunged by penance. Thus it was the temporal penances associated with forgiveness that were to be remitted.

The promise of ultimate forgiveness of sins required a contrite heart and was offered ahead of time as an assurance that should a faithful Crusader die while on Crusade, his final absolution (“last rites”) was already in place. The characterization of the remission of temporary, purgatorial sufferings of an already-forgiven and Heaven-bound Christian to the singular guarantee of Islamic Paradise for a Muslim assassin who dies in Jihad is fundamentally flawed. The Crusades were presented as penitential acts of devotion, not “get-out-of-hell-free cards.

Holy War?

 
To even tacitly admit that the Crusades were actions motivated by loyalty to Christianity, rewarded by papal indulgences, and sometimes led by the Church, may seem incredible to our modern Western mindset, but it was not unusual at the time. The Church at that time had the political authority and responsibility to protect the West. By the time of the first Crusade, Muslims had already been attacking the Christian West for many centuries. Something eventually was going to be done.

But were the Crusades really “religious wars”? Clearly not all battles between religious groups are over religion, any more than they are battles over language. Much like the Catholic-Protestant battles in Ireland, it simply is the case that some territories are nearly coextensive with certain faith groups (or linguistic groups, or racial groups, or political groups). If the Muslims had invaded India, perhaps we’d be discussing the “Hindu Crusades” – but they invaded the Holy Land and had their sites set on Christian Europe. Religious motivation was involved in a big way, of course, but the Crusades were not violent means of spreading religion – they were responses to Islam’s actions. Further, not all battles are “wars.” If a city gets attacked by invaders, the people can protect themselves and their city, or help may be sent from another city, without a formal declaration of war.

Just War?

 
Unfortunately, the Crusades are often simply lumped in with “religious wars” and treated according to whatever standard one uses to judge such events. Ergun Caner compares the Christian Crusades to Islamic Jihads. He believes that there was “a fundamental quantum shift that took place at the calling of the Crusades. Up until the Crusades, we had operated under a ‘just war criteria.’” Caner complains that, unlike the Iraq conflict for example, “Pope Urban [II] crossed the line from a ‘just war’, in Latin ‘bellum iustum’ to ‘holy war’, or ‘bellum sacrum.’” Caner goes on to criticize the Crusades for not being called by a secular authority, not distinguishing between combatants (he gives no justification for this claim), and for desring to “kill the infidel instead of convert the infidel.” This seems to be a flawed analogy though, as the Crusades were a defensive act against an aggressor – not a formal war.

But even if one considers the Crusades wars, Just War Theory would not necessarily rule against them. Augustine’s criteria for a just war are that it be called by a right authority (Jus ad Bellum) and conducted in the right way (Jus in Bello). These criteria were commented on by Thomas Aquinas, who said the following:
 

“First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war…(Romans 13:4)…and for this reason Augustine says, “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority."

 

There is nothing here requiring a “secular” authority. Further, it should be noted that the Pope, at this time in history, was not simply a “religious leader” of some sect (like Osama bin Laden). The Pope sat at the head of the Christian world – a world that had been under attack for centuries – and the Crusade he called was to come to the defense of the Christian world (not simply to attack infidels whom he happened to disagree with).
 

"Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says, “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

 

It was appropriate for Christians to defend against attacks, and to try to regain lands which their enemy had seized and desecrated. The Muslims were the cause of this problem, and had been for centuries, and defense of oneself or one’s brothers is certainly just.
 

"Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says, “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.”

 

The Crusades might not have been called for the “conversion of the infidel,” but they need not have been to be just. Defending one’s life or land is reason enough to fight – and to the degree that that was intended by the Crusaders, they were in the right.

Conclusion

 
Although many bad things happened during the Crusades, these were not called for by the governing authority. Nor, as it is commonly claimed, were sins committed while on crusade simply forgiven by virtue of their being committed while on crusade. Evil acts were committed during the Crusades because the Crusades were battles fought by fallen humans, and bad things happen in such circumstances. The evil of misdeeds done in a “religious” campaign might be more critically accounted, but they are not necessarily more unusual.

Finally, no misdeeds can be properly blamed on religion unless, of course, a given religion approves of such things.
 
 
Originally posted at Soul Device. Used with permission.
(Image credit: Emyoku)

Douglas Beaumont

Written by

Douglas Beaumont earned a Ph.D. in Theology at North-West University. He is the author of Evangelical Exodus, The Message Behind the Movie: How to Engage With a Film Without Disengaging Your Faith, and a contributor to The Best Catholic Writing. Follow Douglas at www.douglasbeaumont.com.

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  • Abe Rosenzweig

    Wow...

    • Which part, Abe?

      • Abe Rosenzweig

        I do not have loads of patience for atrocity apologetics. I
        recognize that that statement could generate an endlessly circulating argument, insofar as the whole point of this sort of exercise is to downplay the atrocity aspect of the subject. Historical contextualization and nuance is essential to discussing the past, but not apologetics.

        To pick up on one element of Beaumont's piece that was underdeveloped, it might behoove Catholics to learn more of the massacres of Jews during the crusades. I do not understand why the argument that these pogroms were not instigated from the top down by the Papacy is supposed to absolve the crusader movement for what happened, for the crusades provided the context for the upsurge in European anti-Semitism that was to reign supreme for the next millennium. How much does it matter if the pogroms were an unintended effect of the crusades? How does that negate responsibility? Yes, some bishops tried to give Jews shelter (tried and failed, mainly)--but, as the Jewish chroniclers at the time noted, the slaughterers wore the cross. Perhaps Doug Beaumont would next like to explain Innocent III’s anti-Jewish acts, which can likewise be seen as emerging from the crusades context and can hardly be attributed to movements peripheral to central Catholic authority?

        As it is, my “wow…” mainly stemmed from the link tagged on
        at the end. A few days ago, we read of how this site wishes to raise the level of discourse here. How does this do that? How does this make your Church attractive? It is repulsive.

        • W/ re: the crusader movement, by separating it from the Papacy, we are showing that the pogroms were not a "Catholic" thing, but rather a thing done by Catholics, much the same way the the gulag was not an "atheist" thing, but a thing done by atheists.

          • Paul Boillot

            Ah, but there is no such category as "an 'atheist' thing;" there is no governing/authoritative body for the atheist community.

            Your analogy would be valid if you had chosen, for example, "Vietnam was not an 'American' thing, but a thing done by Americans."

            Of course, had you chosen a logically valid analogy, it would have been clear that it was wrong, as Vietnam and the horrors of all the Holy Wars called for by the Pope (or any other religious leader) are very much "American" and "Catholic" things.

          • I said it wasn't an atheist thing, and it couldn't be chalked up to atheists. I think the analogy goes as far as I need it to. Also the gulags were clearly wrong and horrific things.

          • Paul Boillot

            "I think the analogy goes as far as I need it to."

            I agree; it seems like you needed to counter moral indignation so you brought up something awful done by AN atheist, whereas the original point was horrors which occurred, and predictably so, as a direct result of the heads of your religion repeatedly calling for religious violence. Categorically and qualitatively differing scenarios, but useful to bring up Stalin to deflect outrage.

            The problem that people have with Vietnam is not the original intent of guaranteeing the independence of the 'Democratic' South Vietnam, it's all the collateral and gratuitous bloodshed that occurred along the way.

          • False. I was bringing it up, not to outrage, but to show, again, that Catholics who do evil things do not do evil things because they are Catholic. Much like atheists who do evil things are not evil because they are atheists, or Russians don't do evil things because they are Russian.

          • Paul Boillot

            They pour asphalt on top of snow-covered roads: check - mate.

            http://sploid.gizmodo.com/this-is-done-on-purpose-its-basically-planned-obsolesc-1482487902

          • Atheists? Or Russians?

          • Paul Boillot

            Russians!
            (I usually go with the most recent antecedent when making references)

          • Russians might have been a bad example.

          • MichaelNewsham

            And yet we have been informed over and over again that the horrors committed by Marxist governments are due to their being atheists, and thus not having any universal. moral standards.

            Whereas the horrors committed by Catholics in the name of catholicism....well, that just sort of happens.

            There is nothing here requiring a “secular” authority. Further, it should be noted that the Pope, at this time in history, was not simply a “religious leader” of some sect (like Osama bin Laden). The Pope sat at the head of the Christian world

            So the Pope is the head of the Christian world and his actions don't require require authorization by a secular party, but all the bad things that happen because of that are due to the Pope being helpless to control the secular parties- "The Church didn't burn heretics, that was the secular government".

            These arguments remind me of those Congressional hearings where Captains of Industry, hailed by the business press for their incredible knowledge and control of their enterprises ,suddenly turn out to have been totally helpless and ignorant and not to blame when it all hits the fan

          • NSatin

            More people have died in name of communism than the entire history of people (allegedly) killed in the name of religion, ANY religion, combined. and communism has been around since the nineteenth century.

          • Steven Carr

            And more car accidents have been caused by sober drivers than the entire number of accidents caused by drunk drivers.

            And yet people say driving while drunk is dangerous!

          • fredx2

            Good example! The accidents caused by sober drivers were presumably ACCIDENTS for which little blame can be ascribed. They are, so to speak, the normal cost of using automobiles - which are a very socially useful item which benefits mankind tremendously. (Just like religion)
            However, occasionally things go wrong and people get in accidents.
            However an accident involving a drunk is a true crime because of the moral blame that can be caused by idiots getting behind the wheel when they know they can't drive. I like your analogizing atheists to drunks - it fits in so many ways!
            The chances of a drunk having an accident is infinitely greater than the chances of a sober person. The drunk has no idea what he is doing and endangers everyone else.

          • fredx2

            Nonsense. The Pope was not head of the Christian world in that sense. He was much more figurehead than leader. For example, the initial violence against Jews that occurred during the First Crusade took place in Germany, it was instigated by basically non-Christian troublemakers who felt free to go after the weak.
            And look at the scale of the atheist crimes - a hundred million killed in 75 years in the twentieth century. You have to go back a thousand years to pick things out, a time when the world was infinitely more brutal than it is now, and a time when we don't have all the facts. So, the Pope decides that after 400 years of Muslim attacks, it is time to start defending ourselves? This is your great crime? Come on.

          • Scott O’Connor

            "The pope sat at the head of the Christian world" I'm Catholic but I disagree with this statement in the sense that there were other communities like the oriental orthodox and the Assyrian church of the east who were outside of the communion of Rome. I would say he was the head of the Christian west.

          • Heather McLemore

            Like what atrocities happened under the direct Papal decree/ authority/ support?

          • Paul Boillot

            Of course bad people doing bad things is something that's going to happen if you're bad, Catholic OR Russian. A point so self evident it escapes me why you thought it needed to be made by the use of an analogy which absolves the Pope and Catholicism because Stalin doesn't speak for all atheists.

            The bottom line, as I see it, is that the tragedies of Vietnam and Iraq are, to a great, though not absolute extent, the result of poor thinking, planning and decision making by the leaders of America.

            While the Popes may not have *wanted* the sacking and rape of Constantinople to occur, or any of the other atrocities, they still bear a great deal of the blame for letting loose the dogs of war.

          • Well, Constantinople rests squarely on the shoulders of the Doge of Venice. He wanted the gold. That's where the gold was at.

          • Paul Boillot

            And here we have a great example of what I believe is religious-belief-induced myopathy. I'm not going to focus on the underlying facts, I just got done with a cursory wikipedia reading and your account is...lacking...even in the most charitable reading.

            That's not what I want to cover, however: You just got done explaining, perhaps unnecessarily, that those who do bad things are the ones who do the bad things.

            Either the popes are exonerated for what the grunts-in-the-field did because of their own personal responsibility or not (maybe even a sliding scale here?). But if the popes aren't responsible for atrocities and bloodshed when they call for religious violence, why is the Doge of Venice?

            If the Doge of Venice is, even partly, responsible for what soldiers did under his influence then so are each of the Pope who called for Croisade.

          • NSatin

            "But if the popes aren't responsible for atrocities and bloodshed when they call for religious violence, why is the Doge of Venice?"

            But Urban did not call for bloodshed and religious violence: he called upon the knights of Europe to defend Christian pilgrims from armed aggressors, and for Europe's nobles to finance such an endeavor.

          • Micha_Elyi

            Wikipedia? Ha ha ha.

            You're an example of atheist-belief-induced myopathy. And self-projection of your faults onto others.

          • Renard Wolfe

            Projecting much?

          • If this was a WP article it would abound with "citation needed" tags. Not that WP is always balanced (and often listing to port on many issues).

          • fredx2

            You equate Vietnam with the 100 million killed by Communists? Of course Stalin spoke for athests at the time - at least as much as the Pope spoke for Christians. Don't you remember the great internationale and how Communist cells all over the world took their marching orders from the wonderful, progressive USSR? Don't hide from your wonderful atheist achievement. After all, the Soviet Union was "heaven on earth, just like athests today believe they will usher in an era of peace and freedom as soon as that terrible ogre, Religion, is gone.

          • Paul Boillot

            I'm not hiding from anything, I promise you, although it may appear that way since I was not born before Stalin died.

            The argument that Stalin spoke for atheists the way the Pope speaks for Christians is foolish on a number of competing levels.

            First of all, the Pope doesn't speak for Christians. So, to that extent I agree with you that Stalin speaks for atheists in the same way. You've made my point for me!

            I imagine you weren't trying to be intentionally self-defeating, however, and maybe you meant that Stalin spoke for atheists the way the Pope speaks for Catholics.

            But that's just wrong. To be Catholic is to be part of the Church of Rome and recognize the Pontiff. To be an atheist is to not believe in god(s), and you can do that from anywhere, even Florida or Guyana. You didn't have to be in the USSR to be an atheist while Stalin was alive, you didn't even have to be a communist or a marxist, and you certainly didn't have to take orders from that insane Georgian ex-seminarian.

            Your response is just an emotionally charged series of ad-hominems, asking me why I don't own-up to the glorious achievement of my ideology.

            Have you forgotten, sir, in your zeal, all the thousands and millions of people Stalin had to POLITICALLY PURGE?

            Have you forgotten the stories like those of Leon Trotsky, who had to wander the globe homeless because he opposed Stalin? Maybe Trotsky was a closet theist then?

          • While some atheists blame such on "political religion," this is something atheism fosters, as it is evident that man will worship, live for, find his ultimate security in, and give his highest allegiance to something created if not the creator.

            And while atheists can be relatively moral, yet as they lack a transcendent supreme basis for morality, but instead morality is based upon what seems reasonable to them, then such can justify anything as being what is best.

            It is true that in religion there are various interpretations of what their holy book or leader, including the pope, means, yet at least there is a supreme authority to interpret.

            Of course, if that authority is wrong in something, then it can justify atrocities like as Godlessness can. And which atheism did more of in the last 100 years, partly due to better technology and resources.

            And i think not only Islamic conquests but the Inquisitions, with papal sanctioned torture and killing of souls in order to deal with doctrinal dissent, are an example, among others, of what religion can justify.

            Holding the Bible as the supreme authority, versus (effectively) a (conditionally) infallible type office of men (as in Roman Catholicism, and basically in cults as well), and upholding a non-infallible teaching office, while seeing more variation as well as an overall assent to core truths, works to prevent the long term hanging of heretics, once it gets away from idea of the church and state being one, which Protestantism had to unlearn from Rome.

            (Yet, as the state sanctions morality by way of its laws which go back to a religious foundation, and which in the type of democracy as the USA reflect the beliefs of the founders as well as the overall beliefs of the electors, then there cannot be the degree of separation many insist on today. And which has the effect of state sanctioned hostility toward any general affirmation of religion, such as the Founders exampled, and instead effectively sanctions atheism.)

            And on the other hand, i submit that the Bible is the supreme standard for morality under the New Testament. And which (in only mentioning the temporal aspect) disallows the church using the sword of men for enforcing theological assent, or to enlarge its rule, or in retaliation. (thus evangelical faith has often been given to pacifism).

            And on the other hand it works to bring souls to be controlled from within by God and conscience, so that they need not be ruled from without. Which it sanctions the state to do. While also educating its people to vote wisely, as the government itself must be governed, which is is effectively by the people.

            One may invoke Joshua's conquests as an example of Bible sanctioned
            evils, but besides this being under the old covenant with its physical theocracy, and the people who were annihilated being terminally
            wicked cultures for an est. 400 years, the context is that the commission to wipe them out
            was proceeded by extensive and overt supernatural manifestations which
            confirmed the orders were from Heaven (atheists will object that these
            were not real, but if they will agree from the text then must go by the
            text). This was not some prophet just getting dreams in a tent.

          • Heather McLemore

            How much do you know about the horrific sacking of Constantinople? Though the Pope had strictly forbade the crusaders to attack Constantinople, there was sadly a lot of anger from memory past against the Greek city. For Constantinople was far from innocent in provoking such anger (NOT saying what the Crusaders did is even in the slightest justified, for Jesus tells us we should turn our cheek, and do not allow vengeance to enter our hearts, but sadly, we can be weak). There had even been a request for an attack against Constantinople due to the atrocities for which they had committed earlier, yet was outright denied and refused by the Pope, reminding that this is not how Jesus commanded us to behave.

            here is a bit more perspective.
            http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/03/reflections-on-sack-of-constantinople.html

          • James

            So what you are saying is that the Muslims should have been allowed forever to destroy all things christian without any consequence and hence be politically correct right?
            Nonsense

          • Heather McLemore

            Direct result of Christianity? Or of Islamic Caliphate?

            And, to rebut your claim regarding Atheism and not have a govmt power head (though the person for which you were countering was not using in such a way), you are gravely mistaken. Atheistic nations have massacred far more lives than any religion. N.Korea, USSR (under several rulers), Japan, China... So many, based on the rule of atheism- for example, Marxism is an atheistic principle.

          • And Vietnam was an American thing, since we went to "war" (without declaring, but still) as a country, led by our head of state.

            And your point saying it's a "Catholic" thing isn't really a point at all, simply a contradiction of what I said. Also, we were talking about pogroms specifically, and not the Crusades.

          • Paul Boillot

            I don't know how you misunderstood that badly.

            Clearly, if you re-read me, you'll realized that I am arguing that BECAUSE Vietnam was an "American thing," our involvement there being the result of the decisions made by the American leader, using it as an analogy would show that the atrocities along the way of the cross are "Catholic things" as well.

          • I misunderstood that badly probably because I'm having 5 conversations over 3 posts. Gimme a sec....

            I still don't think you're engaging in the conversation about pogroms. Or you didn't read the article. You presuppose the crusades were Satan's demons unleashed on earth without even engaging in the text, which is why I think I got a little lost.

          • Paul Boillot

            Dan, you seem like a nice guy, so when you write "I misunderstood that badly probably because I'm having 5 conversations over 3 posts." I want you to believe me when I tell you that I'm trying really hard to fight my impulse to tell you to refrain from writing poorly thought out responses if you're being overwhelmed with replies.

            But I like you, so I won't say that.

            Also, you're correct, I'm not engaging in the topic of the OP or in a convo about pogroms.

            I'm merely pointing out that using the Atheism/Stalin/Gulag is to Catholicism/Pope/Pogrom analogy is invalid as Atheism has no leader, much less one divinely appointed to represent the son of god.

          • No, you're absolutely right, I should.

            The point of the analogy is that evil acts committed by members of a group are not necessarily committed because they belong to that group.

          • NSatin

            "I'm merely pointing out that using the Atheism/Stalin/Gulag is to Catholicism/Pope/Pogrom analogy is invalid as Atheism has no leader, much less one divinely appointed to represent the son of god."

            The problem with this argument is the conclusion one reaches, logically, at the end of the respective worldviews. Atheism, intrinsically, does not value life, which explains why it fits so comfortably astride the Marxist worldview, and why Stalin's collectives and gulags and secret police, et al. are actually in line with an atheist worldview.

            Catholicism, on the other hand, acknowledges as objective truth the inherent worth and dignity of all life, but specifically humanity - humanity being the sole of creation made in the "image and likeness of God." Ergo, pogroms are not a logical extension of actual Catholic worldview, but a subversion, a twisting, of it.

          • Steven Carr

            'Catholicism, on the other hand, acknowledges as objective truth the inherent worth and dignity of all life, but specifically humanity...'

            True, but sometimes Catholics have to kill Muslims.

            Only when they are enemies , of course.

            The rest of the time they can be happy in the knowledge that Muslims will burn in Hell.

          • NSatin

            Defense is not the same as offense, and "Crusades," as originally proclaimed by Urban, were defensive. Yes, it becomes more murky with the later ones, but you can't understand those unless you understand what the "Crusades" ACTUALLY were first called for.

          • Steven Carr

            Of course, Cardinal Cormack Murphy O'Connor went on national British radio to declare that atheists were 'not fully human'.

            So leave over with your claim of the moral high ground, until you apologise for the disgusting, sickening claim by one of your Cardinals that atheists were 'not fully human.'

          • NSatin

            Two things: one you make the classic mistake of not understanding what "hypocrisy" means.

            Second, you should read his statements completely. It isn't "fully human" to deny our spiritual nature, for man is, by nature, a spiritual animal. Ergo, there is something fundamentally wrong to willingly deny that aspect of ourselves. (Leave aside for the moment atheism IS actually a faith, since atheists accept on faith there is no god). The cardinal has also remarked, per atheists, they need to be treated with "esteem," meaning compassion.

          • Steven Carr

            I don't want your compassion.

            I want your apology.

            It was simply disgusting to say that atheists are 'not fully human'.,

            Until the Church realises that they were not put on Earth to disgust other human beings, they will wonder why they have such a bad reputation.

          • NSatin

            It is intrinsically degrading to purposefully deny humanity's spiritual nature. That's what the statement means. It needs to be read with exegesis, NOT eisegesis. The cardinal did NOT state atheists lack inherent worth and dignity.

          • Steven Carr

            Just apologise for the Cardinal saying that atheists were 'not fully human'.

            Don't try to spread more lies by claiming all atheists say human beings have no 'spiritual nature'.

            Can't you even begin to see how much harm you are doing your Church by your refusal to apologise?

            No.

            You can't.

            That is why Catholics have the image they have - of always being right, never being wrong.

          • NSatin

            what is atheism then if not a denial of humanity's spirituality?

          • Andre Boillot

            Embrace of rationality

          • NSatin

            And Catholicism isn't?

          • Steven Carr

            It is simply a lack of belief in your imaginary god.

            People can get 'spirituality' in lots of different ways.

            After all, atheists are human beings, just like you, even if your Cardinals say they are 'not fully human'.

            We have feelings.

            We have rage when Catholics say we are 'not fully human'.

            We have burning resentment when they then refuse to apologise or even acknowledge that they have caused hurt and pain with their mouths.

          • fredx2

            In 2008 Murphy-O'Connor urged Christians to treat atheists and agnostics with deep esteem, "because the hidden God is active in their lives as well as in the lives of those who believe".[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk/7390941.stm

          • Paul Boillot

            NSatin,

            You're so wrong I'm not going to bother going into depth answering your specific fallacious claims. Just know that I have my eye on you :)

            If you feel the need to interact here, it might behoove you to know who you're conversing with and what you're talking about. Much of what you've asserted has been trotted out at SN only to be conclusively dismissed ad nauseam.

          • NSatin

            such as?

          • Paul Boillot

            "I'm not going to bother going into depth..."

            There are a lot of atheists here, and a lot of religious people. Most of us have been able to find a middle ground where we avoid incendiary (and logically invalid and observationally false) statements like:

            "To be an Orthodox Catholic, one must be willing and planning to blow up abortion clinics to save the unborn."
            or
            "Atheism, intrinsically, does not value life."

            I know it's a drag being told to do your homework, but atheists, in so far as you are logically allowed to address that category collectively, are united in one thing and one thing only:

            A lack of belief in god(s).

          • NSatin

            First, I never said "To be an Orthodox Catholic, one must be willing and planning to blow up abortion clinics to save the unborn," and I'm not sure where that's from, but such behavior is COUNTER to Catholicism and the biblical worldview.

            Atheism, which does not believe in god (or gods) devalues human life, because of it's rejection of intrinsic morality. If there's no ultimate consequence, no ultimate arbiter, if you will, for my actions (or inactions), then I can do anything I want, when I want. Which means either self-control (but again, what purpose does self-control demonstrate under such auspices) or someone stronger than myself are the only two reasons not behave and act however I choose.

          • Steven Carr

            But your imaginary god does not give you any morality.

            You can call other people 'not fully human' and your imaginary god will no more punish you than your imaginary god will reward you for building a cathedral in his name.

          • Paul Boillot

            First, I never said "To be an Orthodox Catholic, one must be willing and planning to blow up abortion clinics to save the unborn"

            My friend, who ever claimed you did? The point of the exercise is to show that that category of unfounded, untrue, and impolite statements will not fly.

            "Atheism, which does not believe in god (or gods) devalues human life, because of it's rejection of intrinsic morality."

            Atheism does no devalue human life, it simply doesn't believe in god(s).

            You want us to follow your deduction from:
            lack of belief in god(s) -> rejection of intrinsic morality
            ...but that's simply not a logically valid step.

            Additionally, there are thousands of comments about this exact topic on SN, and had you bothered to even glance at them you would've found a wealth of counter-arguments to your claims.

          • S Gorsey

            u are all f***ing wrong

          • As a result, atheistic individuals should be statistically more likely to kill people. Do you have any evidence that this is the case?

          • NSatin

            It's only statistically true (and beyond the demonstrated reality of Marxism I have no idea how one could quantify the religious inclinations, or lack thereof, of every murderer) insofar as what the worldview acknowledges. Just because the logic of a worldview leads somewhere doesn't mean people follow it lock-step, but that doesn't alter the nature of the worldview itself.

          • I have no idea how one could quantify the religious inclinations, or lack thereof, of every murderer

            You ask them. And you don't have to ask all of them. Just enough for a statistically significant sample. I see no necessary connection between atheism and a devaluation of life. Furthermore, if there was such a connection, then you would expect atheists to be more likely to kill people because of their philosophy of devaluing life, and there's no evidence of that. That lack of evidence does damage to your claim.

            Can you present an argument that atheism simpliciter necessarily leads to a devaluation of life?

          • Steven Carr

            You still haven't explained how a fetus can be fully human, while I am not fully human, in your worldview.

          • Steve Willy

            You still have not explained why a fetus ahould be summarily executed for convenience and you should not be, under your world view, you Hitchens-Dawkins parroting basement dwelling neck bearded clown.

          • Steven Carr

            Why does my opinion matter?

            I'm not fully human, remember. Just ask any Catholic.

            Why does your god allow abortion?

            Easy. He's imaginary.

          • fredx2

            Of the people in prison for murder right now, how many went to church each sunday and practiced a religion. And how many paid no attention whatsoever to religion. I would be willing to bet it is overwhelmingly the latter.

          • fredx2

            The patheos page you referred me to says that very few atheists are in federal prison. That is to be expected, since atheists are such a very small percentage of the population. My post said that of those in prison for murder, you would find that very few were actively participating in a religion in any meaningful sense before they went in. (After they went to prison a certain number "see the light" for whatever reason; we are talking about how their life is led before prison.) My contention was that those in prison for murder would, in all likelihood, more resemble atheists than the conventionally religious.
            The problem with modern, "liberal" atheism shall we call it, is only possible when safely cocooned within a larger religious society. You believe all of the Christian concepts, but without a God. You don't realize that those concepts of loving your fellow man, being peaceful, etc, developed primarily out of the Christian religion in the West. Strip away the Christian surroundings, and my bet is that any truly atheist society would rapidly go downhill, just like the Soviet Union did.

          • The patheos page you referred me to says that very few atheists are in federal prison. That is to be expected, since atheists are such a very small percentage of the population.

            The Patheos page provides evidence that the percentage of atheists in prison is much smaller than the percentage of atheists in the general population; meaning that, statistically, it is less likely for an atheist to go to prison than a Christian.

            My contention was that those in prison for murder would, in all likelihood, more resemble atheists than the conventionally religious.

            What does it mean to "resemble an atheist"? Is this similar to resembling a black man or a Jew?

            At the end of the day, your contention is just an assertion, not an argument. All the evidence I can find indicates that, if anything, atheists are more law abiding than theists, on average (possibly for understandable socio-economic reasons).

            Do you have any evidence for your claim? If you do, please present your evidence. If you don't, why should I believe you?

          • Paul Boillot

            Fred, thank you!

            You're doing us a service here by exposing the frivolity and bigotry of many of the stereotypes of us godless atheists.

            Keep on being open and honest about your prejudices, the more information you get provided to contradict them, the closer you and others will be to understanding reality.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Atheism, intrinsically, does not value life"

            Strictly speaking, this is true, though unlikely to demonstrate what I take to be your point. Here's a non-exhaustive list of things atheism does not value:

            Capitalism
            Socialism
            Communism
            Fascism
            Math
            Poetry
            Videogames
            Fried chicken
            Reeses peanut butter cups

            In fact, on issues not directly related to the existence of deities, you'll find atheism silent, neither for or against anything. Valuing nothing.

            PS. On a related note, I should retract my earlier comment that atheism, strictly speaking, embraces rationality.

          • NSatin

            You're mistaken:

            What we call "crusades" were in fact armed pilgrimages designed for the knights of Europe to protect Christian pilgrims proceeding and entering the Holy Land from a community that had (and has) been hostile to Christians. Islam has attempted, almost since its inception, to militarily conquer everything it could. It tried repeatedly in Europe, most notably through the Iberian Peninsula, but the advance was halted by Charles Martel at Poitiers, France in 732, and later with the Siege of Vienna in 1683, the last time Islam attempted a military conquest of Europe.

          • Steven Carr

            'What we call "crusades" were in fact armed pilgrimages....'

            I see.

            So preaching the Gospel is not enough sometimes.

            Sometimes you have to kill.

            That Jesus guy, with his 'loving your enemies' and preaching the Gospel.

            He knew nothing.

          • NSatin

            Catholicism is not pacifism. If you were walking down the street and saw a woman about to be mugged and raped, by your logic, you wouldn't intervene? The strong are supposed to protect those weaker than themselves.

          • Steven Carr

            I would do exactly what your imaginary god does when he sees a woman about to be mugged and raped.

            I would murmur something about free will and then pass by on the other side.

            OK, I would be playing God, but somebody has to do that,

          • NSatin

            So compassion, empathy, action in defense of those who can't care for or defend themselves, you would argue these are antithetical to the teachings of Jesus?

          • Steven Carr

            You still haven;t told us how you are going to turn the other cheek when somebody is being raped or mugged?

            We know your imaginary god is going to do nothing.

            You want us to do what your god refuses to do?

            Why?

            If your god allows women to be raped and mugged, who are we to thwart what he allows?

            By the way, are atheists 'fully human' or are you standing by Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O'Connor's claim that atheists are 'not fully human'?

            Do you know how much damage he did to Catholicism by opening his mouth and revealing the contempt the church has for non-believers?.

          • NSatin

            Per your remarks on free will, we have free will to help those who can't help themselves. I'm not sure I understand how, or why, you find this to be so at odds with Catholicism?

            Regarding Cardinal O'Connor, I encourage you to read what I actually wrote.

          • Steven Carr

            Does your imaginary god have free will to help those who help themselves?

            I agree you have the free will to turn the other cheek when you see a women getting raped and mugged.

            Provided you do what your imaginary god does, and pass by on the other side when people are raped and mugged, what more can anybody ask for?

          • NSatin

            If God did everything for us, what use is free will then? What purpose would humanity serve then?

          • Steven Carr

            OK, your imaginary god wants rapists to have the free will to rape.

            So what's your problem with your god?

            Why do you want to stop what he allows?

            You know better than your god, do you?

            And why do Catholics say that an atheist is fully human right up to the moment he is born, after which he stops being fully human?

            Are you claiming Richard Dawkins was fully human while he was in the womb, but stopped being fully human as a teenager?

          • Paul Boillot

            You're going to have to try harder to show that I'm mistaken, though thank you for that impromptu history lesson.

            I'm play the heck out of Crusader Kings 2, and Paradox did a great job of making the struggles of that era visceral. Did you know that the Reconquista started due to an uprising in the north of modern-day Spain started by one angry Visigoth, Pelagius, who was ignored too long by the ruling Moors and eventually founded a kingdom? Did you know that the 'Islamic' invasion of Spain was an accident, an opportunity which only arose because of bickering and disloyalty and internecine fighting among the 'Christian' Visigoths? Did you know that the Al-Andalus experienced it's greatest surge of ancient prosperity and progress under the Muslims?

            What, if anything, does any of that or any of what you said...have to do with your claim that I am mistaken? Mistaken about what, pray tell?

            You failed to reference anything from my post, right before you assumed that no one else had ever studied history.

          • fredx2

            Yes, there is a category such as an "atheist thing". Atheists are an idenfiable group; they hold similar ideas and beliefs; and you can say Atheists believe this, or do that. It is the same as saying its a gnostic thing, or a thing, etc.
            There is no rule that says a group has to have a governing body in order to be talked about in terms of taking collective action. What a wonderful dodge! We atheists never do anything bad, because we don't have a governing body!
            And notice the further dodge in the attempt to present any attempt to hold atheists responsible for Stalin as an irrelevancy! This is the one thing that atheists refuse to take responsibility for. In the whole history of mankind there has been one major atheist society,and it ended up being the greatest mass murder society in history.
            Of course they want to rule discussion of it off limits.

          • Andre Boillot

            "In the whole history of mankind there has been one major atheist society,and it ended up being the greatest mass murder society in history."

            While I appreciate that you've apparently granted that Nazi Germany didn't qualify as an atheist society, I'm still left wondering how you're either ignoring communist China (with several times the population of Russia), or how you think that grouping both Russia and China as one society is accurate.

            "Of course they want to rule discussion of it off limits."

            By all means, let's discuss. Tell me how atheism is/was casual with regards to mass murder.

          • Paul Boillot

            First of all, if the pro-lifers are to be believed, the greatest mass-murdering society SO FAR is the United States of America.

            I also happily make the case that the US is the first atheist state, so it's hardly fair to accuse me of dodging.

            Now, onto your first point about 'atheist things.' Of course there are atheists things in the broadest sense: it's a category...this is simply a tautology. In-context, however, I was replying to someone who had outlined a concept of "Catholic things." "Atheist things" cannot be "things" in the same qualitative sense as "Catholic things," as there is no authority or dogma to being an Atheist. Heck, there's substantial discussion about what the word per se means, but in general I've found it useful to mean "lacking belief in god(s)" when using the term.

            "There is no rule that says a group has to have a governing body in order to be talked about in terms of taking collective action."

            No, that's true. But if you've had any experience with atheists at all, you'd likely be sympathetic with an analogy to cats and the herding of same. Most atheists I know are intensely rational and headstrong, and you're going to have a heck of a time getting any sort of "collective action" out of us, other than agreeing to the statement "I have not seen convincing evidence of any supernatural being.

            If you think that's a 'dodge,' then I suggest you befriend some more of us and try to get us to follow along blindly with a proposal...any proposal. I imagine you're going to get a lot of questions.

            As to Stalin: I'm not going to dodge the fact that he was (as far as I know) an atheist. You could make the case that Hitler was too, although I think it's murkier. I've never met an atheist who wants to deny or dodge those facts, and it's deeply upsetting that following your reason to the conclusion that our god-stories are likely fabrications does not inoculate you against psychopathy or homicidal/genocidal/fratricidal inclinations.

            But neither does religion. Hitler and Stalin were as 'successful' in their psychotic murders because they had access to Command/Control systems and technological breakthroughs like gas-blowback-semi-automatic rifles, various gases, mechanized armor, propaganda tools etc... Not because their atheist-fueled insanity gave them super-human strength to strangle everyone they killed personally. All of the religious wars to date would have been orders of magnitude worse had the participants had access to the same tools.

            Did Genghis Khan kill almost everyone because he was an atheist, or did he have some sort of pagan ancestor worship thing going on?

            So, I accept that Stalin an Hitler were bad dudes who also didn't believe in god(s). No dodge there. What about their systems? What about the sociopolitical structures they had in place to rule their countries?

            I think there's a strong case to be made that they were not atheistic.

            No no, you want to paint atheists as moral dodgers, avoiding the harsh truth that atheism leads to fanatical murdreing sprees...but the truth just doesn't conform to your picture.

            How did Hirohito's Japan manage to massacre whole cities at bayonet point, if they didn't not-believe in god? How did the Romans raze and salt Carthage without no-supernatural? How did the 911 hijackers murder everyone they did without the aid and comfort of not having an afterlife full of virgins to look forward to?

            Bad people can do terrible things. But it takes religion to make a good person commit atrocities.

            Finally: the worst mass-murder in terms of ratio of people then alive/people killed was not Stalin or Mao or Pol Pot or Hitler or any other godless person.

            It was not done with bombs or swords or guns or knives.

            It was done with water.

            By your god.

          • Andre Boillot

            Wouldn't it be more accurate to say you're separating the Pope from the Papacy? Which fair enough, the part need not reflect on the whole. Though it should be noted that, for better or worse, the actions of the Pope - chosen by Catholics - should reflect on Catholicism a great deal more than should the actions of Communist leaders in WWII Russia reflect on atheism.

          • Hold on. The article says the Pope condemned pogroms. Abe said "I do not understand why the argument that these pogroms were not instigated from the top down by the Papacy is supposed to absolve the crusader movement for what happened." I responded saying that it didn't absolve the crusader movement, but it shows a problem with the crusaders, not Catholicism.

            Bad people do bad things regardless of race, religion, creed, or ideology.

          • Andre Boillot

            Ah, reading comprehension fail. Didn't catch the specifying of pogroms, and mashed it together with this line from the article:

            "Although many bad things happened during the Crusades, these were not called for by the governing authority."

            Retracted to the extent you're addressing the pogroms.

          • David Nickol

            Hold on. The article says the Pope condemned pogroms.

            Whether or not the pope condemned pogroms, the Catholic Church for many, many centuries treated the Jews in such a way that it is not surprising pogroms took place. One of the more ironic entries in the old 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia online is the one attempting to justify many of the things the Church perpetrated against the Jews. A few examples:

            There remains only to add a few remarks which will explain the apparent severity of certain measures enacted by either popes or councils concerning the Jews, or account for the fact that popular hatred of them so often defeated the beneficent efforts of the Roman pontiffs in their regard. . . .

            The obligation of wearing a distinguishing badge was of course obnoxious to the Jews. At the same time, Church authorities deemed its injunction necessary to prevent effectively moral offences between Jews and Christian women. The decrees forbidding the Jews from appearing in public at Eastertide may be justified on the ground that some of them mocked at the Christian processions at that time; those against baptized Jews retaining distinctly Jewish customs find their ready explanation in the necessity for the Church to maintain the purity of the Faith in its members, while those forbidding the Jews from molesting converts to Christianity are no less naturally explained by the desire of doing away with a manifest obstacle to future conversions.

            It was for the laudable reason of protecting social morality and securing the maintenance of the Christian Faith, that canonical decrees were framed and repeatedly enforced against free and constant intercourse between Christians and Jews, against, for instance, bathing, living, etc., with Jews. To some extent, likewise, these were the reasons for the institution of the Ghetto or confinement of the Jews to a special quarter, for the prohibition of the Jews from exercising medicine, or other professions. The inhibition of intermarriage between Jews and Christians, which is yet in vigour, is clearly justified by reason of the obvious danger for the faith of the Christian party and for the spiritual welfare of the children born of such alliances. With regard to the special legislation against printing, circulating, etc., the Talmud, there was the particular grievance that the Talmud contained at the time scurrilous attacks upon Jesus and the Christians . . . .

            History proves indeed that Church authorities exercised at times considerable pressure upon the Jews to promote their conversion; but it also proves that the same authorities generally deprecated the use of violence for the purpose. It bears witness, in particular, to the untiring and energetic efforts of the Roman pontiffs in behalf of the Jews especially when, threatened or actually pressed by persecution they appealed to the Holy See for protection. It chronicles the numerous protestations of the popes against mob violence against the Jewish race, and thus directs the attention of the student of history to the real cause of the Jewish persecutions, viz., the popular hatred against the children of Israel. . . .

            You would think from reading this that the "Roman pontiffs" (with their "benificent efforts") were the only ones who counted as Catholics.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            Doesn't this remove responsibility for and participation in the "'Catholic' thing" from actual Catholics? And if the pogroms were not a Catholic thing, then surely the Catholic thing that was the crusades (not to mention the Catholic thing of sermonizing against Jews) provided the context for them, no?

          • It removes the responsibility from Catholicism, not from the perpetrators who were Catholic. This is a valid distinction, yes?

            I don't see how the Crusades would've led to pogroms against Jews. I could see how anti-semitism from the pulpit might, obviously, but that was never the right answer.

          • David Nickol

            It removes the responsibility from Catholicism, not from the perpetrators who were Catholic. This is a valid distinction, yes?

            Yes and no.

            You could make any religion or philosophy "pure" by claiming the misdeeds done by its adherents or even in its name were not attributable to the religion or philosophy itself. For example, the fundamental ideals of America ("All men are created equal") would never permit such things as cheating or exterminating Native Americans, the slave trade, interning the Japanese-Americans during World War II, dropping the atomic bomb largely on civilians, etc., so in judging American, all of those things must be attributed only to the people who did them, not to the country in whose name they were done. The abstract and pure entity "America" has never, and will never, do anything wrong.

          • Danny Getchell

            It removes the responsibility from Catholicism, not from the perpetrators who were Catholic.

            One of the scores of times that the "no true Scotsman" fallacy has appeared on this site.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            No, I can't say that I find that distinction especially satisfactory; it seems to to rely overmuch on compartmentalization that separates Catholics from Catholicism, and crusaders from the crusades. It also suggests, figuratively speaking, that something like a basketball game can only be judged by the
            intentions of the head coach, and not the actions of the players or asst. coaches.
            It's worthwhile to ask how the crusades led to outbreaks of pogroms, but only if you ask the question while observing that the crusades did lead to these pogroms; it is absurd to think that it is mere coincidence that these bursts of anti-Jewish violence occurred at times when crusades were being drummed up. Indeed, high officials of the Church spoke against actively harming Jews, but they also continued to engage in what you call “anti-Semitism from the pulpit.” So there was a long history of the Church denigrating Jews that simply wasn't going to be glossed by less emotive efforts to defend them. And the pulpit can hardly be separated from the crusade phenomenon, since highly emotional preaching was fundamental to the promotion of the movement. Jewish and Christian chronicles of the time both indicate that a basic driving force behind the pogroms was the idea that Christian success in the East was impossible if Christians lacked the gumption to clean house in their own territories (i.e., deal with heretics and Jews in western Europe). Disasters in the East (starting with the initial fall of Jerusalem to Muslims and followed by the recurring struggles of crusaders to retake and hold the city) were attributed to what was seen as Christendom's failure to maintain religious homogeneity on the home front. Ecclesiastical officials may not have intended for the (actually frequently organized) violence against Jews to happen as an element of the crusades, but they were still the ones who initiated the crusader movement, even if they wound up virtually incapable of steering it.

        • And with re: the last point, I didn't even notice the link til you said something. That said, this was pulled off of his website, not written for this one. That's all I can say on that.

          • David Nickol

            And with re: the last point, I didn't even notice the link til you said something. That said, this was pulled off of his website, not written for this one.

            I did not initially follow the link, but I have taken a look at it now, and I echo Abe Rosensweig's sentiments. I think unless there is a disclaimer, Strange Notions is implicitly endorsing the "pro-Catholic" posts. The last sentence and the linked essay constitute an attack against Islam. I don't think it is appropriate for Strange Notions to attack Islam, and I don't think the attack is defensible.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            I don't know--that seems kind of irresponsible? I know you guys are trying to deal with where you get content, so I won't hound you on it.

          • Appreciated. Write some articles for the site! (Edited because that's not an imperative. It's a suggestion. A plea, even.)

        • NSatin

          The individuals responsible for Jewish assaults were never supposed to go on "armed pilgrimage." Urban called on the knights of Europe and the nobles to finance the pilgrimage. Those "Catholics" who hijacked the purpose toward their own ends did so without Magisterium blessing and were severely condemned. What more could the church do? They were typically lower class and targeted the Jews for their own, primarily secular, ends, independent of the Catholic Church.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            Tell me more about they were "severely condemned." What, exactly, were the consequences of their actions? (I really don't know, but would like to).

            Again, I find this distinction between what was "supposed to happen" and what did happen to be pretty meaningless. If you start the ball rolling, you are at least partially responsible for that ball when it crushes things beneath it.

            Moreover, your claim that the perpetrators of the violence "were typically lower class and targeted the Jews for their own, primarily secular, ends, independent of the Catholic Church" doesn't hold water. Not only is it historically inaccurate (Nobles and burghers were responsible for initiating most of the violence), it is beside the point: their class makes no difference. The secular and sacred are hard to separate cleanly, and the rhetoric driving the violence was hardly distinct from how the Church had represented Jews for ages--indeed, the rhetoric was religious.

        • fredx2

          The Question of massacres of the Jews is an important one. However, did this violence occur because of the Church, or in spite of it? In most cases, churchmen opposed this violence and tried to stop it when it occurred. During the time of the crusades what happened was that someone started telling people that Jews were stealing children and killing them. This was a horrible and false allegation, but in a time of no newspapers, no TV, no radio, rumors spread and there was virtually no way to counteract the rumors. As a result mobs formed, etc and killed many totally innocent Jews. Bishops took Jews into their homes to try and save them, other members of the church did the same. It appears that the more Christian one was, the more likely they were to protect the Jews. The less Christian one was, the more likely they were to join the mob. There is no doubt there was anti-semitism in Europe at the time of Innocent III. But it was a thousand years ago. People were doing all sorts of horrible things a thousand years ago.

          This page is instructive about the reasons behind the Fourth Lateran Council provisions. No doubt they were unfair, but at least they seem to give reasons beyond simple anti-semitism.

          http://history.hanover.edu/courses/excerpts/344latj.html

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            "It appears that the more Christian one was, the more likely they were to protect the Jews. The less Christian one was, the more likely they were to join the mob. There is no doubt there was anti-semitism in Europe at the time of Innocent III. But it was a thousand years ago. People were doing all sorts of horrible things a thousand years ago."
            This is one of the more asinine things I've read on this site. Nope, I'm sorry, but neither your spectrum of christianness, nor your "but it was a thousand years ago, hoss!" arguments are worth a fart. Your history is also rubbish--you're mixing up blood libel persecution with the crusader massacres.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            (Nuts to whoever removed my original response.)

            You history is bad: you are conflating crusade massacres with blood libel claims (and I do not know why, because blood libel claims were only possible because of Church teachings on Jews). Your more/less Christian spectrum has no basis that I can see. Your claim that "people were doing all sorts of horrible things a thousand years ago" is offensive, not only because it excuses the actions of these murderers, but also because it points to how little credit you give to the basis intellectual capacity of your interlocutors here.

            For the life of me, I do not see how the link you provide proves what you claim it does.

        • Dennis_Moore

          You can't think critically

        • Heather McLemore

          Interestingly, the author of the post is not Catholic. Secondly, so your view is that a nation(s) should allow an intruder to barge into your home, destroy all you hold sacred, make you 3rd class citizens (in many cases), and continue on to your neighbors house, & on & on, until this aggressive intruder has conquered all- destroying everything of historical and religious importance that is not of their belief- w/o an attempt to save your home?

          If islam came to your nation, burned down your churches, destroyed your Bible's, forced you to convert, you'd be ok w/ that? Thing is, if not for the Crusades, this world would be completely different. If they were allowed to continue w/ their brutal conquest, & capture Europe, completely, America would not be America, the world would not be mostly Christian, Science would never have reached to where it is today..

          And how do you get from the Crusades to anti-semitism, exactly? Or the massacre of Jews during the Crusades? Did you not read the article? Have you not done any true scholarly research on the facts? Curious, what faith are you?

  • Here it comes...

    • Andre Boillot

      ...CREATIONSIM

  • Timothy Reid

    While I do agree that using the Crusades as IRON CLAD EVIDENCE that all religion (especially the Catholic religion) is BAD and must be exterminated........
    I don't think we ought to focus on being apologists for the Crusades. YES, the Muslim world had attacked Church lands and was threatening more. YES, there was persecution of Jews and Christians in the Holy Land. NO, Muslim Turks are not these immaculately innocent enlightened people who were unfairly attacked by Christians.......
    BUT... continuing to defend in any way our participation in the Crusades is just going to anger and frustrate and drive wedges and put us in a position of being the Church of the Crusades.
    It was almost 1,000 years ago.
    I do not want to be the Church of the Crusades.
    As a Church we shouldn't be trying to defend the episodes in our history that are questionable and go against morality. We should acknowledge these realities and condemn them (like JPII did).
    We should be honoring and lifting up and praising the many countless figures and movements in our history that have elevated us as human beings and brought Christ and the Holy Spirit to the world. During the Crusades, we had St. Francis of Assisi travelling to the Sultan of the Turks and preaching the Gospel while he was imprisoned and most likely tortured.
    That is Christ.
    Not, the Crusaders slicing off heads.

    • We are the church of the crusades. It happened. Good or bad we need to own it. We are not like atheists who try and convince themselves that bad atheist regimes were not really atheist. We are honest about our history. We have much to be proud of and some mistakes to own up to as well.

      • Andre Boillot

        "We are not like atheists who try and convince themselves that bad atheist regimes were not really atheist."

        This, on the heels of an article trying awfully hard to do the same.

        • Think so? It is hard to correct an exaggeration of badness without appearing to condone what did happen. If someone says the inquisition killed millions does saying it really killed thousands mean it was OK? A hard distinction to make but it is part of owning bad acts.

          • Andre Boillot

            I'll come back to this when I have the time to devote a proper response.

          • Andre Boillot

            I'm not sure it's that hard. In fact, as long as you start by condemning, unequivocally, the wrongs that were perpetrated, I don't think people view correction of exaggeration as condoning.

            Much of this article seems dedicated to downplaying the responsibility that the Church had for the collateral damage of an otherwise justifiable (?) call to retake the Holy Land by force ("Although many bad things happened...").

            As others have pointed out, the article neglects other crusades (eg. Albigensian Crusade) and dismisses specific instances of Crusader on Jewish violence while failing to mention the more general attitude of antisemitism. Also, I feel like there's a good deal of tap-dancing around the issue of Indulgences. While it's technically true that participation in the Crusades didn't constitute automatic forgiveness of sins, that's hardly the point. A *good* Catholic knows that, while you're forgiven your sins through confession, the piper still needs to be paid in purgatory. In an age where people where moved enough by the concept of purgatory to pay cash money in the hopes of lessening their stay, it's no small thing to offer indulgences for sins committed while on the war path.

            As to your claim that atheists try to white-wash the past with regards (I'll assume) to the communist regimes of Stalin, Mao, et al. - I don't know many that try to argue those regimes had no atheistic elements (at least in name, leaving aside cults of personality). What they do tend to push back against is the notion that their atheistic elements were somehow causal to the brutality and mass-killings these regimes embarked on.

          • Much of this article seems dedicated to downplaying the responsibility that the Church had for the collateral damage of an otherwise justifiable (?) call to retake the Holy Land by force ("Although many bad things happened...").

            It was a quite complicated. Many specific bad acts could have been cited over the 7 crusades. Any list would be bound to miss a lot. The question is whether the crusades give us some reason to reject Catholicism today. Do they prove that the Catholic church is not the legitimate church of Jesus?

            The Holy Land as a target was bad theology. The New Covenant is about a worldwide church. Jerusalem is no longer central. It is about the hearts and minds of people everywhere. So dealing with Muslim aggression was justified but the response should have occurred in the same place as the recent aggression. But Christians there had recently gone into schism with Rome. Jerusalem became the rallying cry. That became their undoing too because they didn't conquer enough territory to establish a permanent defensible nation. If they had captured the dessert ports then there would have been no place to launch invasions from but their military strategy was to dependent on their theology. Damascus is Lost just did not have the same power to rally troops as Jerusalem is Lost.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            "Dessert ports"
            I like a nice aged tawny myself.

          • What I mean is certain cities that were right on the dessert. They were very significant because any dessert crossing had to start and end at one of these. The crusaders never bothered to take these. If they had the crusader states likely would have survived. It would have totally changed the Muslim/ Christian dynamic in the centuries following.

          • Andre Boillot

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert

            "Not to be confused with dessert."

          • Andre Boillot

            It was a quite complicated.

            History usually is, and we often tend to find all the nuances and justifications for the failures of those we identify with, and none in those we disagree with.

            The question is whether the crusades give us some reason to reject Catholicism today. Do they prove that the Catholic church is not the legitimate church of Jesus?

            That's a bit outside of the scope of our discussion. You seemed to be patting yourself (or Catholicism) on the back for having taken responsibility for its role in the Crusades, when in fact the article seems as much, if not more, interested in misdirection than it does accountability. You followed that up with a straw-man / red-herring about how atheists deal with the fact that certain monstrous political regimes had atheist elements.

          • I don't think it is a straw man or a red herring. You admit to the atheistic nature of some pretty bad regimes. Many atheists don't. We just had one guy who said the US was the ONLY atheist state.

            I do think there is denial on both the Catholic and atheists sides. I just think the atheists have gotten away with it more. That is probably a good thing for us.

            I think Catholicism has an almost zero chance of producing another crusade. I think atheism has a huge chance of producing another holocaust.

          • Andre Boillot

            "I think atheism has a huge chance of producing another holocaust."

            Please, explain how atheism was a contributing factor to the Holocaust, and continues to be for future atrocities. Otherwise, you're just being silly.

          • Atheism leaves morality up for grabs. It allows the state to declare anything to be moral and justify and measures used to achieve it. Anyone that says No is just voicing an opinion that can be simply disagreed with. The state's opinion is what matters. If the state is not responsible to a higher moral authority and statesman are never to be judged in the next life then what is to stop them from using the most extreme measures?

          • Same thing for religion. All it takes is a new revelation or a novel interpretation of existing teachings. The priestly class (not talking specifically Catholic, but all priestly classes through history) can be just as corrrupt as any other class.

          • It is harder with religion. You have a traditional moral teaching that you need to discredit. Often it is even in the hearts and minds of the rulers. Many of them really do fear God. I think that is a very good thing even setting aside the question of whether God is real.

          • It's not harder with religion -- in fact, it's easier.

            For atheists to declare a change in morality, they have a traditional moral teaching that they need to discredit. Often it is even in their hearts and minds. Many of them really do fear doing wrong. I think that is a very good thing, and it requires them to make a real case for change instead of just broadcasting a new proclamation from the priestly hierarchy to a populace trained to believe that whatever God says goes..

          • Atheists fear doing wrong? Fear what? I am not trying to be insulting. I am curious. If there is a huge risk involved in standing up for what is right what fear would motivate them to accept that risk? I suspect if they did it would be because they have a latent belief in an afterlife. Good for them if they have but it would not come from their atheism.

          • Andre Boillot

            "If there is a huge risk involved in standing up for what is right what fear would motivate them to accept that risk?"

            What a staggering lack of awareness you have of what it takes to be openly atheist in this country.

          • I think being atheist is quite trendy. I would not call it risky at all, so I guess I am unaware. You would actually compare it to standing up for what is right in the face of a totalitarian regime?

          • Andre Boillot

            "I think being atheist is quite trendy"

            Your lack of awareness...continues. According to Pew, by the most broad definitions (Atheist + Secular Unaffiliated), atheist represent 8% of the US population.

            http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

            "You would actually compare it to standing up for what is right in the face of a totalitarian regime?"

            No, I was responding in the broader context that you seemed to present by asking what atheists fear.

          • Atheism always does badly in the polls yet in pop culture seems to be quite a force. Not sure why. Catholics are quite the opposite. Lots of people tell pollsters they are Catholic but how many defend the faith?

          • I think being atheist is quite trendy. I would not call it risky at all, so I guess I am unaware.

            I'm eager to see your list of publicly atheist presidents, Congresspeople, and Supreme Court Justices. Meanwhile, if you want to increase that awareness, you can begin here:
            http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2011/12/14/religious-believers-dont-trust-atheists-says-new-study/

          • Atheism is accepted with a wink and a nod. Obama takes a looong time to find a church, wink, wink. There is a certain level of religion expected and allowed but for many they expect functional atheism especially from Democrats. I think an atheist could be elected as a Democrat. I think much of the Republican base would refuse to vote for an atheist and a small number of swing voters but a Democrat could overcome that.

            A Christian who takes his faith seriously would have a much harder time being elected as a Democrat. They feel the need to have a church but they no longer see attending as important.

          • Andre Boillot

            Do you intend to give any logical argument or evidence for the claims you make? I mean, I know it's super-fun to just sit there typing out your far-right stream of consciousness...but this is a site devoted to reasoning. Let's see some, eh?

          • Religion and politics is a pretty big rabbit hole. I am not even sure what you question here. Bill Clinton was a Christian but we know how seriously he took his faith. It didn't hurt him much.

            Anyway, I asked what would motivate an atheist to accept a great personal risk to do what is right. I was thinking of especially the risk of death or imprisonment. You brought up the risks atheists take for being openly atheist. We can differ on how big that is. I suspect it changes a lot based on where you live. Still it is not in the same category as the risk you would take when challenging totalitarianism.

            Totalitarianism uses the fear of death to motivate people. Christians at least in principle are supposed to stand up to that fear. I don't see such a principle in atheism. So I do think totalitarianism is easier to install in a nation with many atheists or very weak Christians.

          • Andre Boillot

            You're criticizing polls and statistics which present a reality contrary to that which you claim...and yet I'm not seeing much in the way of evidence from you in this entire thread. You make lots of claims, and don't do a good job backing them up when challenged.

            "Bill Clinton was a Christian but we know how seriously he took his faith."

            Was? Has he ceased to be? Is he no longer a Christian? You might guess as to how seriously he took his faith (one might do the same for many members of the GOP, eg. Gingrich), but you can't say you know how serious a Christian he is.

            "Anyway, I asked what would motivate an atheist to accept a great personal risk to do what is right."

            Yes, and the condescension implicit in such a question is duly noted. Any number of things might motivate an atheist to risk their lives (love of family, friends, sense of empathy towards fellow man, etc.), even in the face of totalitarianism.

            "I don't see such a principle in atheism."

            There is no principle of atheism that would pre-dispose somebody to resist totalitarianism, nor is there one that pre-disposes one to accept it. That you keep trying to reduce atheists to their views on the existence of god continues to baffle me.

            "So I do think totalitarianism is easier to install in a nation with many atheists or very weak Christians."

            No True Scotsman, eh Randy? Those Germans gassing Jews weren't real Christians. The Russians that joined the communists weren't real Christians. Countless oppressive governments in South America and Africa, existing only because their populations aren't real Christians.

          • I do think the No True Scotsman objection is an issue. True Christians did become obvious by their response to the Nazi's. Still it becomes question begging.

            On Bill Clinton, I brought him up because I think what he did is just as offensive to Christian sensibilities as being an atheist is. Yet he was elected. So that makes me think an atheist can be elected.

          • Andre Boillot

            "On Bill Clinton, I brought him up because I think what he did is just as offensive to Christian sensibilities as being an atheist is. Yet he was elected."

            I can only assume that when you say "what he did", you're refereeing to the Lewinsky scandal. As a Canadian, you may perhaps be forgiven for not knowing any better, but news of the scandal did not break until well after Clinton's election to a second term. It's too bad that one of your only concrete examples seems entirely mistaken. Sad face.

            PS. As to your "It didn't hurt him much" comment earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_of_Bill_Clinton#Results

          • David Nickol

            Bill Clinton was a Christian but we know how seriously he took his faith. It didn't hurt him much.

            We do know? Then please tell me how seriously Bill Clinton took his faith. If you are talking about sexual indiscretions, are you willing to say we know how seriously Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson, Newt Gingrich, and Ronald Reagan (Nancy was pregnant before Reagan married her) took their faith?

            If doing something wrong—even something very wrong—means a person doesn't take his or her faith seriously, then I don't think we can say that any human being takes his faith seriously.

            But the thing is, it's not for you to judge which people take their faith seriously and which don't. You can't see people's hearts. This, by the way, seems to be a very Catholic approach. You may certainly conclude that someone's external personal behavior violates Catholic principles, but I don't believe the Church ever claims to judge whether a person has violated his or her own conscience and is morally culpable for objectively wrong behavior. I think that is what Jesus meant when he said, "“Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you." It is not that we can't judge others at all. It is more like, "Judge people the way you would have them judge you."

          • David Nickol

            Atheism is accepted with a wink and a nod. Obama takes a looong time to find a church, wink, wink.

            Are you saying Obama is an atheist?

          • I am saying that Obama wants you to understand he thinks like an atheist. Is he truly an atheist? I doubt it. Maybe what Pope Benedict called a functional atheist. I don't know. He brings up God when it suits him. If he ever does it when it works against his political interests I will be more convinced.

          • David Nickol

            I am saying that Obama wants you to understand he thinks like an atheist.

            What exactly does it mean to "think like an atheist"?

            It seems to me it takes monumental chutzpah to say such a thing on a web site dedicated to dialogue between Catholics and atheists. (It seems to me it takes monumental chutzpah to say such a thing at all.)

            So tell us all, please, how do atheists think?

          • What I am saying is that if Obama became an atheist tomorrow I would not expect a lot of change. All of his opinions are consistent with atheism. They are not consistent with Catholicism or really any but the most liberal forms of Christianity.

            That is true for most liberal politicians. It is what most liberal voters want. So yes, that is communicated. I am a Christian but I don't take it too seriously.

            I don't see that as hugely different from atheism. That does not mean they all think alike. It just means they all have a basically anti-supernatural metaphysics.

          • David Nickol

            What I am saying is that if Obama became an atheist tomorrow I would not expect a lot of change.

            So suppose Obama became what in your opinion is a true Christian, and he cited Jesus when it would not be to his political advantage. How would he change? I am guessing you would say he would oppose abortion, yet there are many Christians who support abortion and there is at least one prominent atheist (Nat Hentoff) who opposes abortion.

            Do you associate racial justice with atheism? Or an attempt to see that all Americans have health care? Or a belief that economic inequality is too extreme in the United States? The USCCB would be quite supportive of "Obamacare" if they didn't feel it supported abortion (which I think it doesn't). The USCCB is quite supportive of the immigration reform, which Obama is as well. The USCCB is supportive of stricter gun controls, which Obama is also. One the other hand, Obama has carried out (and in some cases intensified) many of the Bush policies in the "war on terror" that are troubling, but it was George Bush, whom everyone accepts as a devout Christian, who initiated those policies and started two wars (both opposed by the popes in office at the time).

            I really don't understand the belief that conservatives/Republicans are the religious people and that liberals/Democrats are irreligious. The former pay a lot of lip service to religion, but look what is happening with Pope Francis's statements about poverty and capitalism. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and now Pope Francis have all three attacked "unfettered capitalism," and now Rush Limbaugh has called Francis a Marxist.

            Setting aside the "pelvic issues," it seems to me that President Obama is much more in tune with Pope Francis than George W. Bush, and it is those issues that Pope Francis is advocating not be seen as the be all and end all of Catholicism (although he is certainly not changing Church doctrine).

            I do wish liberals were not such champions of abortion, but setting that and related issues aside, it seems to me that liberalism's concern with equal opportunity for all, help for the poor, guarantees of medical care for all, opposition to extreme economic inequalities, and other social positions are much more in keeping with the Catholic Social Teaching. I always like to quote the following paragraph from the Declaration on Procured Abortion:

            23. On the contrary, it is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption - a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.

            I don't know about you, but that sounds to me much more like a liberal approach than a conservative one.

          • This is absolutely true and despite being labeled a far right extremist I do agree with Obama and the USCCB on the issues you mentioned. Still, if Obama became an atheist how would he change?

          • Andre Boillot

            "Still, if Obama became an atheist how would he change?"

            Well, according to you, he'd lose all interest in fighting for the oppressed.

          • David Nickol

            Still, if Obama became an atheist how would he change?

            Perhaps you could answer how he would be different if he "too his religion seriously" or if he converted to a sincere and devout Catholic intent on following the teachings of the Church regarding government and economics.

            Can you name a major political figure (elected) who took his religion seriously" and explain how it affected his political decisions?

          • Paul Boillot

            "Maybe what Pope Benedict called a functional atheist. I don't know. He brings up God when it suits him."

            When did the RCC start handing out Prefect badges to a few outstanding pupils, given the power to adjudicate what is or is not in the hearts of anyone you know, let alone political figures you only encounter a third-hand through the distorted lense of the media?

            I suspect they haven't, and I further suspect that your god-man warned you about pretending to know what was in others' hearts.

            "If he ever does it when it works against his political interests I will be more convinced."

            Didn't Jesus also council you to keep your prayers private? Do you really think ostentatious religious political speeches would increase the number of true-believers in office?

            I'm pretty sure your attitude is 180* opposed to the way Jesus tells you to worship, and pretty spot-on with the ostentatious and vocally religious pharisees/sadducees.

          • MichaelNewsham

            Obama took a looooong time to find a church because his previous choice of church and pastors was heavily criticised during the 2008 election campaign.
            When you have right-wingers demanding to vet Jesus' position on the minimum wage, the choice of church makes a difference politically.

            And given what Rush Limbaugh has been saying, a Catholic who takes the Pope seriously might find it a hard time to be elected as a Republican- luckily for them, none of the likely Catholic contenders do so.

          • Danny Getchell

            The Catholic Church allows pro-abortion Democratic politicians to continue as communicants apparently in good standing. This would be in line with your "functional atheism" idea.

          • I think the pope left it open ended to allow individuals to ask themselves whether it applied to them or not. It was not so we could go around labeling individuals. Still I think it is fair to ask, "If your faith does not impact your position on the abortion issue then when does it make a difference?" Not that they disagree with the church on all issues or even most issues. The question is whether any of those positions are different from what they would be if they were atheist and not Catholic. If they go Democratic party line even when the church strongly opposes the party line position then maybe the church's influence is a bit of an illusion.

          • David Nickol

            Still I think it is fair to ask, "If your faith does not impact your position on the abortion issue then when does it make a difference?"

            I think it is unjust to say, in effect, if a fellow Christian does not have the same position as I do (and the Catholic Church does) on abortion, then he or she is not a good Christian. I was struck by something Fr. Komonchak said over on the Commonweal blog a few years ago, in a discussion of whether or not Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be refused communion:

            . . . . That abortion is an evil is one proposition. That it should be prohibited by civil law is another. That it should be prohibited in all cases and under all situations is another. That it should be prohibited under the present circumstances of U.S. society and culture is still another. How a Catholic should judge and act with regard to these last questions, whether as a private citizen or as a public office-holder, are prudential judgments, and I do not myself think that judgments involved in this degree of contingency should be considered grounds for excluding people from Holy Communion. Most U.S. bishops would seem to agree.

            And of course the Catholic view on abortion is not the only Christian view, nor is the Jewish view on abortion the same as the Catholic view or most Christian views.

            Some Catholics would like to make abortion the "litmus test." If you don't agree with the Catholic position on abortion, you are obviously evil, because what could be clearer or more important than abortion. It seems to me that Pope Frances—while not at all abandoning the Catholic belief that life begins at conception and abortion is the taking of an innocent life—is trying to make it clear that Catholics should not use abortion as a "litmus test."

          • I didn't say they were not good Christians. I said they should ask themselves some hard questions. Where do I get my beliefs? Do they come from the political thinkers I like? Do they come from my personal thinking and experience? Do they come from my Catholic faith?

            In order for you to accept some tenant of the Catholic faith as true do you need at least some support from some other source? Do you need the modern intellectual elite to give it a thumbs up? Do you need it to be a respectable opinion in the right circles?

            If so, then it is fair to ask whether you really believe the truths taught by the Catholic faith are from God. If they are from God then why do you need anything else to believe they are true? Is God's word not enough? If they are not from God then is it even worth calling what you have faith? If it is just a belief that Catholic teaching has a lot of wisdom and we should respect it then you don't need any faith to believe that.

            St Thomas Aquinas went there. He said if you deny one element of the catholic faith then you have no faith at all. Not a weak faith or an imperfect faith. What you have is simply not faith. It is something else.

          • David Nickol

            One more point. I think the "personally opposed but . . . " position on abortion is perfectly defensible in a secular, pluralistic democracy such as the United States. Pro-life advocates scoff at it, but in the United States we do not elect politicians to enact their religious prohibitions into law. Catholic politicians (and all Catholics, according to the Church) should oppose contraception, but that doesn't mean Catholic politicians are expected to try to outlaw contraception. It doesn't mean Mormons are supposed to outlaw alcoholic beverages and coffee. No doubt you will say that abortion is different, because it affects not just the people who procure it, but a "third party" (the embryo or fetus), who is murdered. But of course many people don't believe that a "third party" is involved, since they don't believe in the personhood of an embryo or fetus.

          • The question is why they are personally opposed. The only reason to oppose abortion is because it involves the deliberate killing of an innocent person. If they believe that is what abortion is then being personally opposed but still saying it is OK for someone else is not coherent. It is like me saying I personally oppose killing lawyers but I would not object if some else killed their lawyer. It does not make sense. Either lawyers are human beings and deserve the rights all humans deserve or they are not.

            If they are personally opposed to abortion for some other reason then it is even more incoherent. Denying the humanity of the unborn child is not permitted for Catholics. Still if you do that then why even be personally opposed? None of these "personally opposed but" politicians answer that very clearly.

          • Andre Boillot

            "The only reason to oppose abortion is because it involves the deliberate killing of an innocent person."

            If I may, a bit of unsolicited advice. Try avoiding absolutes when making these types of statements, unless you've put some serious thought into them ahead of time. There are quite a few reasons to oppose abortion that don't involve the question of whether an innocent person is being killed. To name just two, abortion is (generally speaking) both a riskier and less cost-effective method of birth-control than contraception.

            "If they believe that is what abortion is then being personally opposed but still saying it is OK for someone else is not coherent."

            If the foundation for that belief is a religious teaching, then it's perfectly coherent to not apply that to secular matters.

          • In this context we are talking about people who are claiming to be Catholic. I still don't get how you avoid the question of whether an innocent person is being killed. If the answer is Yes then opposing because it is too expensive or risky is just offensive.

            "If the foundation for that belief is a religious teaching, then it's perfectly coherent to not apply that to secular matters."

            So is it perfectly coherent to support the killing of lawyers if that became politically popular? The point is that Catholic morality says killing an innocent human being should be criminalized by the state. An exception makes no sense unless you don't really believe that is what abortion involves.

          • Andre Boillot

            "In this context we are talking about people who are claiming to be Catholic. I still don't get how you avoid the question of whether an innocent person is being killed."

            I thought the context was specifically politicians claiming to be Catholic, while diverging, in some cases, from Catholic teachings on abortion. You claimed the only reason to oppose abortion was that it kills an innocent. This is not true. Further, the Catholic theological position of when person-hood begins is not something that can be arbitrarily imposed on the secular laws of a pluralist society. On the other hand, there are reasons to oppose abortion that don't require such an imposition across the board. I listed two of them.

            "The point is that Catholic morality says killing an innocent human being should be criminalized by the state. An exception makes no sense unless you don't really believe that is what abortion involves."

            An exception would make no sense if the state's laws were structured around Catholic morality. You seem to have some difficulty in grasping that this isn't the case in the US, and that politicians have no business attempting to legislate on the basis of theology.

          • "On the other hand, there are reasons to oppose abortion that don't require such an imposition across the board. I listed two of them."

            OK, your reasons seem lame but lets say they make sense. If that is why a Catholic politician is personally opposed he should just say so. He would be explicitly rejecting church teaching on the matter but at least it would be honest.

            "You seem to have some difficulty in grasping that this isn't the case in the US, and that politicians have no business attempting to legislate on the basis of theology."

            Catholics are supposed to vote based on their conscience. That conscience is supposed to be formed by Catholic teaching. This is precisely the same foundation as their opposition to any murder would have. If they followed your principle no act of murder or anything else could ever be criminalized because the lawmakers get their morality from their theology. It is nonsense. Every lawmaker needs to justify his own vote according to his own moral system. If he is Catholic it has to make sense from a Catholic point of view.

          • Andre Boillot

            "He would be explicitly rejecting church teaching on the matter but at least it would be honest."

            The two arguments I made do no such thing. If anything, they could easily be used in conjunction with Catholic teaching to reinforce the idea that not only is abortion wrong, but it's undesirable for secular reasons.

            "Catholics are supposed to vote based on their conscience."

            If you mean Catholics casting votes in elections as individuals, sure. However, the primary concern of US government officials is upholding the Constitution. Elected representatives have the additional concern of...well, representing the interest of their constituents. That some elected officials are Catholic doesn't mean they get to impose their Catholic-specific values on their constituency. With regards to our topic of conversation, the issue is that the Church's definition of when life begins is based in theology, and it's a definition not universally agreed on by Christianity, let alone Abrahamic faiths, let alone the US legal system.

            "If they followed your principle no act of murder or anything else could ever be criminalized because the lawmakers get their morality from their theology."

            Haha, I forgot that morality = legality, and that morality can only be based in theology. Thanks for the reminder!

            "It is nonsense."

            Couldn't have said it better myself.

            "Every lawmaker needs to justify his own vote according to his own moral system."

            Nope.

            "If he is Catholic it has to make sense from a Catholic point of view."

            Nooooooope.

          • "The two arguments I made do no such thing. If anything, they could easily be used in conjunction with Catholic teaching to reinforce the idea that not only is abortion wrong, but it's undesirable for secular reasons"

            You keep changing the scenario. If an unborn child is a human being then your other reasons to oppose abortion are just silly. If you say it is not human then the reasons you give are not very good reasons but adopting them would not be in conjunction with Catholic teaching. It would still be rejecting Catholic teaching.

            "That some elected officials are Catholic doesn't mean they get to impose their Catholic-specific values on their constituency"

            You elect a person. You can't chop up the person and say that bit is Catholic and that bit is not. So if they determine that their support for health care is based on their Catholic faith then they should vote against it? We never go there because it makes no sense. Why go there on abortion? Because making sense on abortion means facing a hard truth. It means facing the fact that our society is deeply evil. That we really have been slaughtering our own children in huge numbers.

            "Haha, I forgot that morality = legality, and that morality can only be based in theology. Thanks for the reminder!"

            Really? Morality is not always based on theology but for the vast majority of it is. So none of them can vote on that morality if it comes from the 10 commandments or the Koran or whatever? You laugh but you are laughing at your own position. Democracy has never worked the way you suggest. It could not do so. It has to be each representative following their conscience and voting the way they believe is right for the country. Denying that is just willful ignorance to avoid a clear moral duty.

          • Andre Boillot

            Randy, perhaps we're at an impasse due to your lack of understanding what "explicitly rejecting church teaching" means. My two examples ignore church teaching. There's a difference.

            "You elect a person. You can't chop up the person and say that bit is Catholic and that bit is not."

            Look, you either understand what 'separation of church and state' entails, or you don't. You seem ok with the idea that an elected representative should legislate based on a particular faith's teachings, regardless of how they fit in with our Constitution. I'm thankful that's not the country we live in.

            "So if they determine that their support for health care is based on their Catholic faith then they should vote against it?"

            If they could find no secular reasons for voting for/against something, or if their faith brought them into conflict with the Constitution, I would hope they would abstain.

            "We never go there because it makes no sense. Why go there on abortion?"

            I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

            "Because making sense on abortion means facing a hard truth. It means facing the fact that our society is deeply evil. That we really have been slaughtering our own children in huge numbers."

            I'm supposed to be especially moved by this condemnation (which isn't even agreed on among Christians), in light of a reproductive system with a built in post-fertilization failure rate which is likely over 25%? Please.

            "Morality is not always based on theology but for the vast majority of it is."

            In spite of what the theology of the majority of Americans happens to be at any given time, laws in the US are not based on theology (or morality dependent on a particular theology), but rather the US Constitution, as well as common law.

            "So none of them can vote on that morality if it comes from the 10 commandments or the Koran or whatever?"

            I would never say that you couldn't vote a particular way just because it would conform to those codes - which, at least in the case of the 10 commandments, aren't particularly unique, aside from the gods they specify (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Ur-Nammu ).

            Again, I'm saying that if the only reason they can find for voting for/against something is theological, then they shouldn't be voting. I'm surprised you're not more sympathetic to this view, since I keep hearing many of your political cohorts warn against the specter of Sharia law (dun dun dun!).

            "Democracy has never worked the way you suggest."

            Randy, there you go with the absolutes again... 1) We (the US) are not a democracy. 2) I'm fairly certain all I've done to outline our system of government is make non-controversial assertions of what government officials are primarily tasked with doing, and that elected representatives have a duty to their constituents.

          • "You seem ok with the idea that an elected representative should legislate based on a particular faith's teachings, regardless of how they fit in with our Constitution."

            Actually I am OK with limiting your action based on the Constitution. If you are a Senator you do what is best for the nation with the powers given a senator by the constitution. But your definition of "best" needs to come from somewhere. The only place it can come from is the moral feelings and moral teachings you have come to accept as true.

            "In spite of what the theology of the majority of Americans happens to be at any given time, laws in the US are not based on theology (or morality dependent on a particular theology), but rather the US Constitution, as well as common law. "

            Hmmm. The US constitution is based on theology. Common law is based on theology.

            "which, at least in the case of the 10 commandments, aren't particularly unique"

            Uniqueness has nothing to do with it. Is it connected with the lawmakers notion of God or not? If it is then he is voting based on theology. It is not even possible for a person to avoid being influenced by his theology.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Hmmm. The US constitution is based on theology."

            Show. Your. Work.

            The closest thing to a mention of god that I can find is when I read the dates (eg. 'year of our lord').

            http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

            " Common law is based on theology."

            Again, show your work, because I'm not seeing it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law#Basic_principles_of_common_law

            "Uniqueness has nothing to do with it."

            If you were under the impression that I viewed any decision made for reasons which coincided with the 10 commandments as illegitimate, it's quite relevant to point out that much of the 10 commandments is not specific to or originating from the same. In any case, I don't have a problem with theology influencing somebody, I have a problem when theology is the sole basis for a decision.

          • Actually your problem goes way deeper. Even an atheist philosophy of law would have the same issue. The lawmaker would be imposing his thinking on a population that might not share his thinking. So what? That is what elections are for. If they don't like his way of legislating then vote him out. They guy you vote in still won't think exactly like you but he might be closer.

          • Given that most of the 10 Commandments are not US law, and several are in fact flat-out unconstitutional, the connection between the Constitution and theology (and the Commandments in particular) is pretty darn tenuous.

          • Paul Boillot

            "Every lawmaker needs to justify his own vote according to his own moral system."

            No. Every legislator needs to find the balance point between voting his conscience and voting the way the members of his district want.

            I imagine a large number of Catholic legislators do not vote for undiluted Catholic-approved positions because they have an agreement with the people to be *their representative*.

          • Balancing your conscience with anything else is a pretty good definition of immorality.

          • Paul Boillot

            In private personal life you can, and should, follow your conscience with great zeal as a citizen. You should exercise your right to vote with great discrimination, as should all of your neighbor citizens.

            In the public life of a legislator, the representative of the people has a moral obligation not to impose his morality unilaterally, but to take into account the will and conscience of all their voters.

            Desiring members of Congress to vote solely along the lines of their personal beliefs opens democracy up to mob rule. If the majority of the populace is Shia Muslim and elect Shia Muslim representatives who only vote for Shia Muslim policies, the will and rights of all the minorities get trampled.

            Instead, we have a long tradition of public servants donning the mantel of their constituents' concerns in aggregate, or at least that is the ideal.

          • What should be imposed on society by government and what should be left to individual choice is part of what you conscience should dictate. We can say adultery is immoral but should not be illegal. Someone else might say adultery deserves a death penalty. They might all agree it is wrong but disagree on whether there should be a law against it.

            Abortion does not make sense as one of those cases. To put it in that category means either you don't see the government as having a role of protecting all innocent human life or you believe a fetus is not a human life. The first condition is nonsense. Of course governments need to protect life. So the second condition is the only one that applies. But the second condition would not only make it legal but also moral. So "personally opposed but" never makes sense. If a human life is not at stake then how can we oppose any woman's decision? If a human life is at stake then how can we not?

          • Paul Boillot

            Randy, this particular sub-topic is the role of private conscience in a public law-maker's decision process.

            The *very least* you can say is that private conscience should not be 100% of the decision, unless you'll admit that as an elected representative they have a moral duty to take into consideration their constituents, in which case their private moral conscience would already entail that public duty.

            Your second paragraph is entirely about setting up a shoddy rhetorical framework to support a straw man you can attack. I will not engage with it here.

            In this particular sub-thread, I'm going to deal with your false claims in the vein of:
            "[An elected representative] balancing [his] conscience with anything [other than his privately held morality] is a pretty good definition of immorality."

            If you want to discuss abortion with me, answer my question posed here:
            http://www.strangenotions.com/the-crusdades-urban-legends-and-truth/#comment-1169133026

          • I actually don't have a huge desire to discuss abortion. I just have trouble dropping discussion like this. Your questions just seem weird. I don't carry a gun. I would just talk to those men. I don't like strange hypotheticals. I think that is a lousy way to do moral reasoning.

            I give you straight-forward logic. You ignore it not because it is shoddy. It might need work but the logic is unbreakable. I would not want to engage that argument either.

            I do think you should always follow your conscience. That might not be the full definition of immorality but it comes close. You conscience is just your moral framework. The sum total of all the feelings and principles you have internalized. It is your best understanding of what it means to be good.

          • Andre Boillot

            "It might need work but the logic is unbreakable. I would not want to engage that argument either."

            Sounds like a great challenge for my upcoming Festivus feat-of-strength.

          • josh

            Is it time for the Airing of the Grievances? 'cuz that's my favorite part.

          • Paul Boillot

            You would talk to men who beating an eight year old to death?
            I don't think I believe that, and I don't much care if you think the questions are 'weird' or 'strange hypotheticals.' I imagine you don't like doing reasoning that way because you sense that you're on dangerous ground.

            Answer them or don't, but you've brought up abortion now several times. My engagement on that topic starts with trying to figure out when you think human life is worth protecting, and with what means.

            "I would not want to engage that argument either."
            Randy, are you serious? Do you have no apprehension about throwing challenges like that out, after the half-dozen times you've show yourself to have difficulty with reading comprehension and logical structure in the last two or three days?

            I don't want to engage with your "argument" because not because your "logic is unbreakable," for heaven sakes, but because you have written nine consecutive sentences that fail to be clear and intelligible. I could wade through them again and again and try to piece together a cogent argument for you, I *could* do that as I'm very good at playing devil's advocate and analyzing someone else's point.

            I *could* do that but why? Why should I distill and clarify your argument for you? Why don't you feel it is your responsibility to speak clearly and concisely about the things you hold dear, and why, for the love of all, do you feel that such muddy prose could ever be labeled 'unbreakable'?

            Jelly is unbreakable as well, it has no structure to break.

          • David Nickol

            I give up.

            As I said (although not in these exact words) in a mega-message in today's thread on biblical interpretation, there is a certain type of Catholic who cannot conceive of the possibility that he or she may be wrong, but also cannot seem to grant that anyone who thinks differently from themselves might have a sincerely held or well-though-out position. Kathryn Schulz explains it as follows:

            Think for a moment about what it means to feel right. It means that you think that your beliefs just perfectly reflect reality. And when you feel that way, you've got a problem to solve, which is, how are you going to explain all of those people who disagree with you? It turns out, most of us explain those people the same way, by resorting to a series of unfortunate assumptions. The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is we just assume they're ignorant. They don't have access to the same information that we do, and when we generously share that information with them, they're going to see the light and come on over to our team. When that doesn't work, when it turns out those people have all the same facts that we do and they still disagree with us, then we move on to a second assumption, which is that they're idiots. They have all the right pieces of the puzzle, and they are too moronic to put them together correctly. And when that doesn't work, when it turns out that people who disagree with us have all the same facts we do and are actually pretty smart, then we move on to a third assumption: they know the truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes. So this is a catastrophe.

          • If they followed your principle no act of murder or anything else could ever be criminalized because the lawmakers get their morality from their theology.

            This would only be true if there were no non-theological reasons to criminalize murder.

            But I don't need a theological authority to convince me I don't want to be murdered, I don't want my boyfriend murdered, I don't want people I don't even know murdered. And I don't want to live in the sort of warlord society that would arise if murder were legal. It doesn't take theology -- it just takes self-awareness, empathy, and imagination.

          • So what if your reasons are non-theological? Does that make the issue of imposing them on others any less? Law is about imposing something on those who disagree. All murder is justified in the eyes of the murderer.

          • Randy, let's separate out some issues. As a Catholic, you probably believe it's immoral for Catholics to skip Mass to watch a football game or to leave the Church. Does this mean if a referendum were offered to voters making these things illegal (perhaps through a Constitutional amendment to get around the First Amendment issues), you would vote your conscience and make these rules into law?

          • Depends which football game!

            The church does differentiate between acts that the state should make illegal and acts that are just wrong but the state need not impose any penalty. Taking of an innocent life needs to be punished by the state. A Catholic has a duty to support laws that do that. There is no such duty for the other things you list.

          • That's interesting, thanks. I do wonder how the church makes the distinction.

            Anyway, it's clear that theology doesn't not govern every vote a politician makes. That means it isn't true that nothing could ever be criminalized if people didn't rely on theology. There are clearly other criteria.

            Those criteria are laid out in a variety of political theories. The Founding Fathers, for instance, didn't rely on theology. They used the work of secular Enlightenment political philosophers.

            As for the idea that even if you don't use theology you're still imposing your moral beliefs when you pass laws: For many of us, “personal morals” are about doing good or doing harm to others. But policy shouldn’t be based on personal morals that invoke “because I say so” or “because my sacred book says so.” Policy should rely on demonstrable harm and good — which for some of us is the basis of morality, allowing us to invoke morality without invoking religion. But they’re not the same. Though we probably should be careful about the confusion.

          • David Nickol

            The only reason to oppose abortion is because it involves the deliberate killing of an innocent person.

            This is certainly not true. For example,

            An unborn fetus in Jewish law is not considered a person (Heb. nefesh, lit. “soul”) until it has been born. The fetus is regarded as a part of the mother’s body and not a separate being until it begins to egress from the womb during parturition (childbirth). In fact, until forty days after conception, the fertilized egg is considered as “mere fluid.” These facts form the basis for the Jewish legal view on abortion. . . .

            Orthodox Jews, however, do not take abortion lightly, and basically approve it only if necessary to take the life of the mother.

            I think it is a big mistake for Catholics to imply (as it seems to me they do) that an embryo or fetus either has the same moral status as any other person (a "post-born" child or an adult) or it has no moral status at all. It may not be a human being, but it is a potential human being, which is not trivial. Abortion in our legal tradition has never been homicide, not even prior to Roe v Wade, when it was illegal. It was never punished as the taking of an innocent human life. But it was illegal. By framing the issue of abortion purely in religious terms (and Catholic ones, at that), the legal question becomes whether an embryo or early fetus is a person. There may be many people (and I am probably one of them) who think that an abortion is undesirable even if the embryo or fetus isn't a person.

            I am sorry to bring this aspect up, because it always causes a quarrel, but it seems to me that if abortion is really believed to be the taking of an innocent life, it is not just abortionists, but women who procure and pay for abortions who should be held responsible. In my experience, perhaps 5% of "pro-lifers" will even contemplate holding a woman legally responsible for procuring an abortion. A woman who paid someone to kill her 1-day-old baby would surely be prosecuted, but a woman who arranges for an abortion, delivers herself to an abortionist, signs all the releases, and pays for the (alleged) killing of the innocent person inside her, according to the pro-life movement, should be free of all legal responsibility. It does not make any sense to me.

          • Not sure where you are quoting from. That belief is not consistent with opposing abortion at all. I am not saying a Catholic politician is not free to hold such a belief. I am just saying that of he did he should not be personally opposed to abortion. If a fetus is just part of a mother's body why be personally opposed to removing it?

            Catholic politicians do not have to say abortion should be dealt with the same way other killing is. It just says the law need to recognize that there has been a life lost. A woman who kills her child 1 day after it is born would be dealt with differently than a typical murderer. Her circumstances would be considered but the fact of a lost life would also be considered. The judge and prosecutor could do many things. All this is already in the law.

            All that is required is that the law take seriously the life that has been lost. How to do so is a matter of for the government and not for the church to decide. Politicians would have many choices.

          • Paul Boillot

            If you lived in a state that had CC laws of which you availed yourself, and you were taking your well-trained-security dog out for a walk, and you saw two men bludgeoning an eight year old about the head and shoulders in an alley, would you stop them?

            How?

            Would you set the dog on them?

            Would you use deadly force?

          • Paul Boillot

            Okay Randy, since my other scenario was too "weird" and "strange" for you, let me ask the question in the following manner.

            If you walked out of your front door and saw two men beating a toddler to death in the street, what would you do?

          • You didn't believe my answer before. I would still talk to them. I would expect that once I engaged them they would stop beating the toddler.

            I am not saying your particular scenario is wrong. I am saying the whole concept of trying to do moral reasoning this way is wrong. Lawyers say hard cases make bad laws. In morality focusing on contrived scenarios leads to wrong answers. It tends to lead to more permissiveness. That is it tends to allow one to justify anything and everything as moral.

          • Paul Boillot

            "the whole concept of trying to do moral reasoning this way is wrong"

            Contemplating what you would do in a given scenario is not a good way to think about morality? You're going to quote "lawyers say"? That's the weakest attempt at an argument from authority I've heard yet today.

            Let alone that "lawyers" are the brunt of culture-wide derision for their abilities to argue a case right or wrong if the paycheck is big enough, did you have no other moral authority to appeal to?

            Have no other moral teachers before me used hypotheticals and allegories to show commonalities between situations that might otherwise go unnoticed?

            How do you apply Kant's moral imperative if you don't think about potential situations ahead of time? How often did Jesus teach in parables about difficult situations?

            The more we chat, Randy, the more I get the impression that you don't really think about what you type, you just see my position and write some sentences which oppose it.

            "In morality focusing on contrived scenarios leads to wrong answers. It tends to lead to more permissiveness. That is it tends to allow one to justify anything and everything as moral."

            Not only do you have nones-evidence for these assertions, if you were right the whole history of ethics and morality would be counter-productive. I wish you would've told Jesus not to go around telling contrived stories about shepherds and sheep.

            One last point: "contrived scenarios." If you were writing in 19th and early 20th century english, I wouldn't take exception to your characterization. The first definition I'm finding for the word is "deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously," and yes the moral picture I'm painting is one that I've chosen purposefully.

            But you're not writing in that vein, and the word has taken on connotations since: "created or arranged in a way that seems artificial and unrealistic."

            In this world of 7, going on 8 billion people most of whom struggle for their daily bread, where mental illness is generally untreated and adult predators fly under-the-radar in the most 'civilized' countries, let alone in the developing world, calling the situation of "two men attacking a child" "unrealistic" is callous and ignorant.

            The question of what to do when confronted with a child whose life is being threatened by another is not an artificial moral problem, and your arguments about 'lawyers say' and 'contrived' and 'I would talk to them' are skim milk: watery and unsatisfying.

            Does no one like whole milk anymore?

          • Andre Boillot

            "Does no one like whole milk anymore?"

            Just come out with it, you're a shill for CoWMAN (Commercial Whole Milk American Network), aren't you?

          • "Contemplating what you would do in a given scenario is not a good way to think about morality?"

            The trouble is we are too good at twisting the scenario until we get the answer we want. So sometimes it is good if is a simple removal of some element. Like imagining if the participants were a different race of gender to try and see if that effects your feelings. A classic one is inverting the participants. So looking at abortion from the view of the baby being aborted rather than from the view of the woman deciding whether to abort. That would make sense. A scenario that seems completely unrelated is more likely to create confusion than clarity.

            Jesus' parables are different. He is not trying to answer a moral question but trying to teach a moral principle. Sometimes he pointed out inconsistencies in the Pharisees rules like saving a lamb on the sabbath day. Still Jesus was not big on trolley problems. He taught with authority. He was revealing God more than helping us do moral reasoning.

          • Paul Boillot

            You said: "the whole concept of trying to do moral reasoning [by exploring hypothetical moral problems] is wrong."

            In response to my example of Jesus, who explored hypothetical moral problems, you say " He taught with authority. He was revealing God more than helping us do moral reasoning."

            He taught? Taught what?

            How to reason and act morally....using not simple thou-shalt-nots, but specific hypothetical EXAMPLES.

            Randy I'm through with your games. You're not just wrong, you're actively contradicting yourself. You haven't responded in this way yet to any of the numerous mistakes you've made in dialogue with me, so let me show you how this works.

            "I was wrong. We can and should explore moral problems via thought-experiments."

            That's all you have to say. There's no blood, so no foul. You wanted to be a contrarian, and it bit you: I know how that goes, we'll just admit it and move on.

            -----

            Now, let's get to your first objection: "The trouble is we are too good at twisting the scenario until we get the answer we want."

            You have no idea what I 'want' out of this exercise, and I'm not twisting anything. But since you don't know, and appear terrified at the prospect of continuing without knowing how I'm going to try to twist this, let me be frank. What I want is to find out what your defence of life looks like.

            The exchange so far:

            Paul:"If you walked out of your front door and saw two men beating a toddler to death in the street, what would you do?"

            Randy:"I would still talk to them. I would expect that once I engaged them they would stop beating the toddler."

            So. They're beating the child, you approach, yelling out in the hopes that your presence and voice will stop them. What do you do if they do not stop, if they just ignore you and continue?

          • You do have me curious. I am still skeptical the exercise will be more of a trick than an argument.

            Paul:"If you walked out of your front door and saw two men beating a toddler to death in the street, what would you do?"

            Randy:"I would still talk to them. I would expect that once I engaged them they would stop beating the toddler."

            So. They're beating the child, you approach, yelling out in the hopes that your presence and voice will stop them. What do you do if they do not stop, if they just ignore you and continue?

            It depends on the details. How sure am I that the toddler is being seriously hurt? I would look for help. If someone was home I'd yell at them to call 911. I would likely go right up to them and demand they stop and try and physically shield the toddler.

            At some point using force and even deadly force might be in order. I can think of a lot of scenarios. It depends how angry I am. It depends on how I size up the two men. It depends on how seriously the child is hurt.

          • Paul Boillot

            Hey, look at that! You answered! You have my thanks.

            As an aside, I'd add that much of your questions and concerns about the details seem reasonable. "I'd yell at them to call 911" "try and physically shield the toddler" etc...
            If I re-read my scenario I gave, these are all logical and well-thought out reactions. What I'm taking away from your response is that I didn't paint the picture I thought I had, so if you'll allow me and my nefarious porpoises, let's consider a slightly different scenario.

            ---

            NEW SCENARIO
            State with CC law
            Rough part of town - so you avail yourself of CC law

            You're out for a walk, and as you pass an open alleyway the following awful scene appears:
            1) One child is on the ground, immobile, with an apparent stab wound.
            2) One adult male, dressed like a vagrant, is holding a knife and approaching a second child.
            3) Second child is cowering behind a dumpster.

            You know from watching a lot of COPS that if you're going to make a move you have to do it immediately: allowing the man to get ahold of the 2nd child makes any action extremely dangerous to that child.

            You have a weapon, you are well trained in its use, you carry it legally, and you sincerely believe that one murder has already occurred and another is about to take place.

            Thoughts?

          • OK, if you are trying to get me to say that it is reasonable to use deadly force in some situation then you could have just asked. I don't see myself doing that. I am not that kind of guy. I have never touched a firearm. Still I would not say a person shooting to kill in a situation is committing an immoral act. In fact, that might be the only moral thing to do in some extreme situations.

          • Paul Boillot

            Randy, I'm not "trying to get you to say" anything except what you believe. I have a fair understanding of the various flavors of Catholicism, and I'm trying to get a handle on which one you prefer.

            Believe it or not, I have a lot of respect for the "I am not that kind of guy" approach to deadly violence. I think people like Gandhi and MLKJr. and NM have shown us that modern-day policy/power changes have to be non-violent.

            "I would not say a person shooting to kill in a situation [like the one I described] is committing an immoral act. In fact, that might be the only moral thing to do in some extreme situations."

            I agree, and I think I painted a picture of just such a situation. On the other hand, that's a situation that would remove all doubt and hesitation (I think) from me personally, I can understand that someone else might have a stricter standard.

            What I would like to know, for those who would not hesitate in that situation and yet are 'pro-life' is what stops them from physically intervening in the actions of abortion doctors.

            It seems to me to be a contradiction to be pro-force, even up to deadly force, in the defense of a child being attacked on the street, and yet anti-force in protecting children in the womb.

            I happen to believe that pro-lifers who don't use force are tacitly admitting that they don't actually believe that the fetus is a 'human life' in the same way that a child-on-the-street is, and justify their non-action by sub-consciously categorizing fetuses differently from post-birth children.

          • Would intervening with force in an abortion situation actually save a child? I don't think the chance of that is very high. It might kill some clinic staff and the abortion would happen a week later after you are in jail.

            The other issue is that we don't have the responsibility to intervene with force to prevent evil. If we are in the situation that is different. We are just doing what a police officer should do and would do if they were there.

            If you are going to commit adultery I maybe should discourage you but I don't think I have any responsibility to stop you even if I could do so non-violently. I need to respect your free will as a human person. If the state allows you to commit the act then I should not impose any other law on you.

            So I would only see a responsibility for Catholics to support laws that respect the unborn. When we have a chance to use our political power to either recognize their life as sacred or deny their live even exists then we should consistently choose the former.

          • Andre Boillot

            So I take it you would support legislation that would charge mothers that sought and obtained an abortion with murder or, failing that, accessory to murder - jailing them accordingly.

          • I can't imagine any such legislation being contemplated. Like I said. I would look for a law that took into account both the mother's difficult situation and the baby's loss of life. It is a hard question but that is why lawmakers get the big bucks!

          • David Nickol

            I can't imagine any such legislation being contemplated.

            Of course you can't. Because nobody, not even the pro-life movement, wants to be consistent and hold women responsible for procuring abortions. It would be extremely unpopular. Why? Because everyone realizes that many women who procure abortions are in tough situations. Everyone with a brain also realizes that anyone who murders someone or hires a hit man is also probably in a tough situation, and the way to be fair to that person is to put him or her on trial and let a judge and jury decide their level of culpability.

            It seems to me the "pro-life" movement realized early on that holding women responsible for their actions was bad PR. I remember in the early days of the anti-abortion movement, it was common to cite cases of women who got abortions for trivial reasons. For example, I remember hearing about a woman who had an abortion because she had a skiing vacation planned a few months ahead of time, and she didn't want to cancel it or be pregnant during a skiing trip.

            The truth of the matter is that most women know exactly what they are doing when they get an abortion. They aren't being pressured by their boyfriends or parents. They aren't dupes of the abortion industry. In fact, in any give year, about 50% of women who procure abortions have had at least one abortion previously. (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you.)

            The unwillingness of pro-lifers to hold women legally responsible for procuring abortions while at the same time mandating severe penalties for abortionists is either rank hypocrisy or political expediency. It is a very sincere kind of hypocrisy, though. I have been in many discussions in which people who are actually rather important leaders in the pro-life movement bend over backwards to make excuses for women who have abortions. Such woman are in terribly difficult situations, they say. They deserve our support and compassion. But what is their solution? Make it as hard as possible for women in these terribly difficult situations to procure abortions.

            How this relates to the crusades, I don't know!

          • Andre Boillot

            Randy, it's not a mere "loss of life", we're told it's murder. Are you telling me that, as long as it happens in the womb, there should be no penalties for procuring such a thing? Are you qualifying the unborn life?

          • Paul Boillot

            "Would intervening with force in an abortion situation actually save a child? I don't think the chance of that is very high. It might kill some clinic staff and the abortion would happen a week later after you are in jail."

            I think, especially for late-term abortions, that case doesn't hold water. If a man hires someone to kill your wife, and you have the opportunity to kill the hired assassin, shouldn't you?

            Might'nt the death of that assassin give second-thoughts to the original plotter? Do we have an obligation to allow murders simply because they're difficult to stop? Don't we need to stop as many as possible?

            If the plotter is the mother, doesn't the state have a legal obligation to sedate her during her full term if she's decided to abort?

            I'm not joking around: you people literally believe that murder is being done every single time the morning-after pill is swallowed post-successful fertilization.

            I don't think I could live with myself if I stood by passively and allowed such a system. At the very least, I want to hope that I would be out being MLKjr/Gandhi-style-civilly-disobedient, and being jailed for refusing to remove myself from abortion driveways.

            The fact that so few Catholics are doing that inclines me to believe that they don't seriously, deep down, believe that the fetus is 100% the same as walking, talking child.

          • I can accept that Catholics have been weaker in their opposition to abortion than they should be. So you think Pope Francis is being inconsistent when he decides to oppose it less vigorously? I am kind of double-minded about that. I can see the value in being logically consistent. I can also see that conversion is the only way to win the abortion fight.

          • Paul Boillot

            When I was in HS and still a fellow believer, I took great pride in attending the March for Life.

            I look back now, and find it difficult to understand how teenager-me could believe that my body being on a particular street was sufficient opposition to what I then-believed was a systematic and efficient modern day holocaust.

            As to Pope Francis: I think he's a pretty righteous dude. I don't know how the orthodox Catholic is *supposed* to square the circle of tacit abortion-acceptance, but if there is a way to do so I trust that kind old man to find it.

          • Paul Boillot

            "I think being atheist is quite trendy. I would not call it risky at all, so I guess I am unaware. "

            Imagine our shock that you refuse to believe that there could be negative reactions to being openly atheist. Those in power and in the majority are very rarely willing to concede that there are systematic social hurdles they will never have to jump.

            Racism? It's an overblown myth.
            Gay? It's a choice, and they're too pushy anyway.
            Atheists? Stuck up snobs who just want license to be immoral.

            Atheists are the most hated demographic in the country, ranking lower on trustworthiness than rapists.

            http://reason.com/blog/2011/12/01/believers-rate-atheists-about-as-trustwo
            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/11/16/new-research-says-anti-atheist-prejudice-stems-from-distrust/

          • The irony of judging someone for being judgmental is lost on you. Still you have done nothing to challenge the notion that atheism is trendy. Sure there are some places where people will react badly but there are also many places where atheism is celebrated.

            The research you cite is quite weak. It just asks about a hypothetical person. Stereotypes reign when people only have that one piece of information about someone. The better question is how much do they change their opinion of someone they know if they find out he is an atheist.

          • Paul Boillot

            I'm an a conservative Catholic website arguing with a far-right extremist named "Randy," who thinks that, despite *facts*, atheists are actually loved the world 'round...and you think I have no sense of irony?

            Also, what is the information content of the phrase "judging someone for being judgmental"? I don't see any judgment of you in what you're replying to: all I did was point out that your attitude is nones-surprising.

            It is simple fact that members of an oppressive majority will not notice or care about the plight of those in the minority, on the whole.
            If P
            Powerful Majority -> Dismissal of Minority Concerns

            You say that atheism is 'trendy', and I'm happy to agree with you that the numbers are going up in recent years, though there are certainly more functional atheists out there who won't 'come out' for fear of the stigma.

            You say it's therefore 'not risky', although those two are not logically connected or mutually exclusive...was marching in the civil rights demonstrations 'trendy'? I imagine so, for some sub-cultures...was it without danger?

          • "all I did was point out that your attitude is nones-surprising."

            Actually you asserted some things about my opinions of racism and feminism.

            "was marching in the civil rights demonstrations 'trendy'? I imagine so, for some sub-cultures...was it without danger?"

            Civil right demonstrators were beaten up and jailed. Have there been any atheists beaten up or jailed in the US or Europe? Maybe some parts of the south that might happen. I suspect most atheists are relatively safe where they are. Don't get me wrong. Those that experience actual persecution for what they believe should be protected and supported. I do think both Christians and atheists play the persecution card too much. The modern west is pretty tolerant.

            I don't actually feel like a powerful majority. That is one of the disconnects here. As an orthodox Catholic I feel like I am in a much smaller minority than you are. Not sure if that is true but I run into a lot more atheists than I do orthodox Catholics.

          • Paul Boillot

            Randy, I don't know what you expect of me: It's effort enough to make cogent and concise arguments, let alone having to re-explain everything for you until you get it.

            In the future, could you do me the favor of reading, and re-reading, what I say before you respond? I like the sound of my own *voice* as much as the next guy, but having to continually point out the gap between what I've said and your understanding of it is getting old.

            "Actually you asserted some things about my opinions of racism and feminism."

            I did nothing of the kind. I don't know what your attitudes on those fronts are, although allow me to assure you that even a godless liberal like myself has a lot of work to do in both areas. What I did, and you can double-check me on this by...reading, was to point out that:

            " I would not call it risky at all, so I guess I am unaware."

            is an earth-shatteringly un-earth-shattering announcement.

            In the hypothetical, let's use the subjunctive mood here ,case that you were prejudiced against a minority of which you are not a part, namely atheists, your dismissive attitude would be unsurprising, as it would be with the traditionally accepted analogous situations I mentioned.

            You see, I used a rhetorical device where I listed a variety of cases where it's widely known and accepted that people in powerful majority groups have cognitive biases against seeing/acknowledging the plight of minorities...and tacked on atheists as another example of a minority group. Maybe a guilty conscience prompted you to feel the others on the list as attacks, but that's not for me to say.

            "Civil right demonstrators were beaten up and jailed. Have there been any atheists beaten up or jailed in the US or Europe? Maybe some parts of the south that might happen."

            So even on a cursory level, you're willing to acknowledge that there are parts of the US where atheism might be especially, and potentially actively, discriminated against. I suppose that's a start.
            Do you have any idea how many black-enfrachisement fighters were atheists?
            http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-02-22/black-atheists-civil-rights/53211196/1
            http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/brainiac/2012/02/atheists_in_the.html
            How much do you know about the history of discrimination against atheism?
            Let's add http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists. Oh, and there's a lovely little section in there about Hitler stamping out communist atheists.

            "Those that experience actual persecution for what they believe should be protected and supported."
            We, as well as any other citizen who does not follow the tenants of Judeo-Christianity, are daily forced to support a religion we do not ascribe to. It's un-Constitutional and discriminatory. "In God We Trust" on every piece of legal tender. Various states trying to impose school-prayer and/or anti-scientific creationism into curriculums. The number of posts and positions in the federal and state governments which are unavailable to atheists. And the general publics visceral distrust of atheists in general, no doubt all commie pinko swine as accurately portrayed by the Mccarthyists.

            You ever see Dr. Strangelove? I just re-watched it last night.

            "The modern west is pretty tolerant."
            Probably the only thing you've said which I agree with.

            "I don't actually feel like a powerful majority."
            I'll refer you to the top of this post, regarding cognitive biases and power groups. The godless are reviled in this country: MORE THAN RAPISTS.

            Your own snide and totally unsupported and unsupportable claims about Clinton and Obama's religious views show just how low you think the connotations of the word 'atheist' are.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Randy, Paul,
            I hate to play the slithering and wimpy role of peacemeaker, but perhaps we (Catholics and atheists) could agree that anyone who publicly states their convictions these days exhibits a degree of courage? In certain contexts, it is undoubtedly courageous to state that one is an atheist. In certain contexts, it is courageous to state that one is a Catholic, especially if one follows up by saying, "Not just a cultural Catholic. I actually believe in the reality of the resurrection, and the dogmas of the Church". You should all just give yourselves a pat on the back and a little golf-clap for at least standing for something. As for me, anonymous Jim, maybe I have something to work on. I take the shameless path of admitting my convictions only to those who I know will understand me. But as for you guys, it seems like there is some very admirable common ground.

            --Jim

          • Paul Boillot

            Jim,

            First of all, I appreciate your evident earnestness, and I don't think it's fair of you to self-characterize a 'peacemaker' as some sort of wimp.

            I would submit to you, and to anyone else who read(s) this exchange, that I never said that publicly averring your creed is anything *but* courageous, be you Catholic, Atheist, or any other sort of philosophy/worldview.

            I happen to believe that open and frank discussions about these topics are incredibly difficult, they require vulnerability on both sides, and they are sacred. I think that's why the founders wrote so many protections in for individual rights and free expression: this country doesn't work if we don't protect those who put themselves and their beliefs on-the-spot.

            I hate to sound whiny, and in any other forum I would descend to Randy's level and beat him at his own slanderous game, but on this website we're asked to engage in civil debate, and I mean to do my darnedest to follow the rules.

            In my defense of atheists I don't believe you will find me attacking Catholics or theists in general.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks Paul. It wasn't my intent to single you out. You were just the most recent one in that thread. From what I have seen, you do just as good a job as any of us at remaining civil.

          • MichaelNewsham

            Admittedly, only a very small percentage of Catholics in Western countries are orthodox, if you mean "believing what the Church teaches about contraception, abortion, homosexuality and gay marriage".

          • Our capacity for empathy makes us fear harming others, make us rebel against the pain done to others.

            I would trust an atheist with empathy far more than I would a theist who only does right and avoids wrong because he fears punishment in the afterlife. I mean, are you really telling me that you care so little about the pain and joy of the people you love that it's not enough to motivate your actions? I think more highly of you than that.

          • We can rationalize. We know it hurts to put a dog down but sometimes you have to do it. You might cry all day but you still do it. Can we do that with people? Only because we understand a human life has greater dignity that a dog's life. But how can an atheist know that? Even with abortion and euthanasia we find humans are pretty easy to convince when there is something to be gained by saying killing is OK.

          • We know it hurts to enter a city and kill every man, woman, child, and baby. When an atheist hears that command from a religious leader, we can use our empathy and reason to know this is wrong. But how can a theist know that if they have given themselves over the will of their God-annointed leaders and priests?

            (I can do this all day.)

          • Paul Boillot

            "Atheists fear doing wrong? Fear what? I am not trying to be insulting. I am curious."

            Atheist moral motivations, at least in my case and many that I know, is a combination of negative reinforcement and, as Rob points out, the ability to empathise; just the same as everyone else.

            On the negative or restrictive side we are primates just like theists, and we have a biological need for group interaction and acceptance just like you. The fear is conditioned fear of ostracization.

            On the positive or active side, the habitual use of imagination to internally simulate others' subjective experiences gives us the ability to reason/intuit what the emotional outcomes for others might be.

          • josh

            "All it takes is a new revelation or a novel interpretation of existing teachings. "

            Or a reassertion of old teachings. That's why we talk about fundamentalism; it's not hard to find some gruesome stuff at the heart of most religion. :)

          • Andre Boillot

            Randy, I hate to break it to you, but you're describing the manner in which tyrants have used religion for much of human history.

            In addition, you still fall woefully short of explaining how atheism contributed to the Holocaust. In case you need reminding: Hitler publicly condemned atheism, German soldiers' attire featured the phrase 'God with Us', the Final Solution was in large part dreamt up by Heinrich Himmler, who's antisemitism would likely be hard to untangle from their Catholic upbringings, and the carrying out of rounding up and exterminating of Jews required more than a few Christians - who certainly did not think they were operating under an atheist government.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Himmler

          • There you go! I was surprised you didn't go right into denial mode but you are there now. This is precisely what Catholics should not do with the crusades. We should be more honest with ourselves.

          • Andre Boillot

            "There you go! I was surprised you didn't go right into denial mode but you are there now."

            Yes, and you've done quite a thorough job illustrating how a lack of belief in god(s) leads to rounding up Jews for extermination.

            Of course, you've done nothing of the sort, and this refrain has become quite boring.

          • I am sure it is boring. I am also sure it is true. I mostly know this from reading people who were there. Corrie Ten Boom, St Maximilian Kolbe, Pope Benedict, a bunch of others whose names I forget. Anyway, witness after witness just matter-of-factly states that the Nazi's hated religion and they were atheists. You can deny it. It is sad that atheists do because it makes it much more likely to happen again.

          • Andre Boillot

            Randy, perhaps you need help reading. I never said some Nazi's weren't atheists. Hitler it seemed was an atheist, or at the very least anti-Christian. Importantly though, not in public. Germany remained largely Christian throughout the war, as it was before and after. The Nazi party rhetoric wasn't explicitly atheistic in nature, and relied in part on religiously fueled antisemitism in order to gather political momentum.

            My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross. As a Christian, I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice."

            - Zee Fuhrer

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

            The strongest case against atheism you seem to be able to make with regards to the Holocaust is that some religious bulwark against committing atrocities was absent. We may grant this was the case with Hitler, but the carrying out of the Holocaust required the cooperation of millions of Germans, most of who were likely Christians. Never mind that you can't show that religion prevents these crimes, but you can't demonstrate how atheism causes them.

          • Argon

            Anyway, witness after witness just matter-of-factly states that the Nazi's hated religion and they were atheists. You can deny it. It is sad that atheists do because it makes it much more likely to happen again.

            Oh boy. I know the author of this article roughly skirted it but this moves directly into Godwin's Law territory.

            Say "goodnight Gracie!"

          • Godwin's law is a stupid concept. The trouble is that the only time it gets invoked is when a thread is old and tired and I don't really want to bring in a whole new topic.

            Still if you consider how we should react to the kind of moral failure we had in WWII you would hope we could do better then just not talking about it. That is what Godwin's law tries to do. Just make some sort of bizarre rule that you can't talk about this historical event.

            It's a bit like Catholics and the priest abuse scandal. It gets brought up so often in discussion where it does not belong that you begin to wish nobody would ever discuss it again. Yet that is a bad idea because Catholics need to learn something from the scandal.

          • Andre Boillot

            "That is what Godwin's law tries to do. Just make some sort of bizarre rule that you can't talk about this historical event."

            I think the widely accepted intent of invoking 'Godwin's law' is to avoid lazy attempts to equate opposing views with those of the Nazi's when there's no reasonable...er...reason to do so. As someone who's recently argued against using extreme examples, I would have thought you'd be sympathetic.

          • Paul Boillot

            "We just had one guy who said the US was the ONLY atheist state."

            Your reading comprehension is terrible.

            I said that it was the first, not the only.

      • Paul Boillot

        Officially denouncing the gods of other religions does not an-atheist-state-make if you set up your own political deities and state-run inquisition.

        For a state to be truly atheistic in nature, it would have to eschew supernatural explanations for all measurable phenomena.

        The first modern-day atheistic state was the United States of America, thank god.

        • Wow! Good for you! If you are going to re-interpret history to suit your cause you may as well do it big. All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Exactly what an atheist state would say.

          • Paul Boillot

            " If you are going to re-interpret history to suit your cause"

            First of all, your quote is from the Declaration of Independence, which is not part of the governing literature of the US. There is no mention of g(G)god(s) or c(C)reator(s) in the Constitution.

            Secondly, of course I am aware of the religiosity of the founding fathers, though if that has anything to do with our discussion at all I'll happily note that *one* Catholic signed the Declaration, of 56, *one* Catholic signed the Articles of Confederation, of 48, and *two* Catholics singed the Constitution, of 55. If the personal religious beliefs of our founders is meaningful at all to this discussion, Catholics only have a 3.6% share in the founding of the most important governing body of the last 250 years.

            But, of course, the personal religious inclinations of the founders is inconsequential to our discussion, and while I could wish that we had gotten further away from superstition by 1776, the Deistic "God of Nature" that Jefferson was referring to is a far cry from your personal, loving, caring, and occasionally miraculously interceding, savior.

            I said the US was an "atheistic state", not that it was founded by atheists.

            We have an explicit separation of church and state. Our second president officially repudiated the idea that the US is a christian nation. The government, despite religious lobbyists trying their best as we speak, is not allowed to support one or ANY church/religious creed.

            You are, in fact, protected by the pluralistic and atheist government that you refuse to believe is extant. The "seperation of church and state" clause arose out of inter-sect religious persecution. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_Church_and_State

            I called the US an "atheistic state" because the government has nothing to do with the supernatural. You know...like the definition of the word "atheist." (Just watch flax news and listen to the whining about the war on Christmas if you don't believe me)

            YOU, however, use the term as inherently pejorative, to mean "godless and therefore evil," and yes, by your definition I too don't think the US is atheist. Because you *define* atheist states as being the twisted marriage of marxism and political religion, you can then procede with your accusations of revisionist history.

            It is to the credit of our founders that, even despite being as blinded by religion as many of them were, they could grasp that a non-religious state was the only guarantor of religious freedom possible.

          • Lionel Nunez

            In order for anyone to accept what you say as true; you're going to have to define religion and how that is different or the same from this "political religion" you describe, because otherwise you just come across as being subjective with your labels to suit your values/beliefs.

          • Paul Boillot

            I come across as being subjective with my labels, eh? Well, he's a link to the wiki page I wrote ON MY OWN for my nefarious PORPOISES. (Flipper was a terrible movie.)
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_religion

            I don't think they *are* different, by the way, which is why I contest the characterization of Stalinism/Nazism/Maoism/Khemer Rouge as atheistic. (Notice theists never try to add Hirohito's Imperial Japan to that list, though they were in many ways the most institutionally brutal and depraved)

            Political religion is a flavor of vanilla which subs-out ready-made political deities and state-miracles for traditionally accepted ones in the interest of usurping religion's power over the minds of the masses.

          • NSatin

            Actually the Constitution does not forbid separation of church and state. What it actually says is, "Congress shall make no law respecting an ESTABLISHMENT (emphasis mine) of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

            Virtually none of the founders would suggest good government can exist without religion. What they meant in this amendment was government cannot influence religion, but that it is proper and necessary for religion to influence government, in a guiding morality sense.

            Consider: http://satinsheets12906.blogspot.com/search/label/Christian%20nation

          • picklefactory

            I said the US was an "atheistic state", not that it was founded by atheists.

            "Secular state" would be more accurate.

          • NSatin

            Agreed. "Secular" is more apt than "atheist."

          • Paul Boillot

            Sure, so would "partially secular" as we still have vestiges like "In God We Trust" on our money and courthouses which refuse to take down the 10 commandments.

            The overlap in the definitions of secular and atheist are palpable, and I'll give the US a passing grade on being the first modern state (to my knowledge) which operated on an explicitly a-religious foundation.

          • picklefactory

            Imperfectly secular state. :)

          • Paul Boillot

            "Actually the Constitution does not forbid separation of church and state."

            A wonderful debate technique: counter an argument that your opponent never made. If you construct stupid things to say, and then pretend I've said them, and then refute what you've pretended I've said, then you come out looking good. (I think some people came up with a phrase for that....hay...hay person?)

            But, of course, I didn't say that.

            The establishment clause has been, from the inception of the US, taken to mean a clean break between government and religion.

            Not only are you wrong here: "Virtually none of the founders would suggest good government can exist without religion." you are painfully wrong. The only thing that can save you is the murky meaning behind "exist without religion."

            You might be able to make the case that many would argue that private religious belief was necessary to the good ordering of a man's desires (although the prevalence of deism/unitarianism etc... would make me hesitant to assert this conclusively)... but what they explicitly meant, clearly, and unequivocally was that the preservation of religious freedoms for all would rest solely on the complete religious disinterest of the government.

          • NSatin

            "We have an explicit separation of church and state. Our second president officially repudiated the idea that the US is a christian nation. The government, despite religious lobbyists trying their best as we speak, is not allowed to support one or ANY church/religious creed."

            Those are your words.

            If what you say is true about the founders, and allow me to use Jefferson since you mentioned him, how then do you explain the following.

            Thomas Jefferson was one of the least orthodox of the Founders (along with Benjamin Franklin). At best, it can be said that Jefferson was a Unitarian. Yet, while serving asPresident of the United States, he not only used federal dollars to pay for weekly Christian services every Sunday, he offered federal buildings and offices for their use, specifically the Capitol and Supreme Court, as soon as the government moved to Washington in 1800. Additional buildings and offices included the War Office and Treasury Department. Jefferson authorized ministers of all Christian faiths to preach at these services. It must be noted: these services and the attending ministers were uniquely Christian; not Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, [insert non Judeo-Christian religion here], but Christian. The reason this practice was discontinued? Travel technology sufficiently improved so that federal workers were able to attend their local church services at home.

            When called out on this by a bystander, since Jefferson didn't believe in the miraculous, he responded it was his duty as Chief Magistrate to set an example for the citizenry.

            Or the words of Jefferson's inaugural?

            “I shall need… the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life.”

            How about the words of Tocqueville?

            "While I was in America, a witness at assizes of the county of Chester (state of New York) declared that he did not believe in the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. The judge refused to allow him to be sworn in, on the ground that the witness had destroyed beforehand all possible confidence in his testimony. Newspapers reported the fact without comment."

            Benjamin Rush?

            I proceed, in the next place, to inquire what mode of education we shall adopt so as to secure to the state all the advantages that are to be derived from the proper instruction of youth; and here I beg leave to remark that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in RELIGION. Without this, there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all re publican governments. Such is my veneration for every religion that reveals the attributes of the Deity, or a future state of rewards and punishments, that I had rather see the opinions of Confucius or Mohammed inculcated upon our youth than see them grow up wholly devoid of a system of religious principles. But the religion I mean to recommend in this place is the religion of JESUS CHRIST

            James Madison?

            Man’s duty of honoring God is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation to the claims of civil society.

            George Washington?

            Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

            Washington again?

            It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

            John Adams?

            Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

            Charles Carroll?

            Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore, who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime & pure, which denounces against the wicked eternal misery, and insures to the good eternal happiness are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free government.

            The list can literally go on all day. What part of any of these suggest the founders believed government can exist without religion?

          • Andre Boillot

            Another insult to the meaning of "literally".

          • NSatin

            You can't place your own thoughts onto the evidence. The evidence speaks for itself.

          • Paul Boillot

            I think he means not that you're insulting him personally or his "own thoughts", but that you will not, nor could you if you tried, extend that list continuously for a 24 hr period. That is literally not possible. Note the informal definition:

            lit·er·al·ly
            ˈlitərəlē,ˈlitrə-/Submit
            adverb adverb: literally
            1.
            in a literal manner or sense; exactly.
            "the driver took it literally when asked to go straight cross the traffic circle"
            synonyms: exactly, precisely, actually, really, truly

            informal
            used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true.

          • Many of your quotes are about the importance of a religious populace, not a Christian government, which is not the same (religious does not equal Christian, and populace does not equal government).

          • Paul Boillot

            I'm going to do this quickly. You took issue with:

            "We have an explicit separation of church and state. Our second president officially repudiated the idea that the US is a christian nation. The government, despite religious lobbyists trying their best as we speak, is not allowed to support one or ANY church/religious creed."

            You said: "Those are your words." You are wrong; they are not mine.

            1) Jefferson: " I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State"
            2)Adams: "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."
            3)The Constitution:"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

            So there's that. Let me do you work for you: you probably meant to take issue with:

            Not only are you wrong here: "Virtually none of the founders would suggest good government can exist without religion." you are painfully wrong.

            I'll grant that if you read that quickly and without thinking, your last reply is a damning rebuttal. Except all of the quotes share some things in common:
            1) They talk about Religion and Morality as equivalent, and atheists are perfectly capable of being moral without religious belief. I take leave to disagree with Mr. Rush in asserting that moral virtue would be best served by religious inculcation, whatever its origin.
            2) They talk of religion/morality as a necessary attribute OF THE PEOPLE, not THE GOVERNMENT.

            Of course, had you taken issue with that part, I would've just copy-pasta'd

            The only thing that can save you is the murky meaning behind "exist without religion." You might be able to make the case that many would argue that private religious belief was necessary to the good ordering of a man's desires (although the prevalence of deism/unitarianism etc... would make me hesitant to assert this conclusively)... but what they explicitly meant, clearly, and unequivocally was that the preservation of religious freedoms for all would rest solely on the complete religious disinterest of the government.

            Lastly, I just want to address your choice of Jefferson to champion your argument, trying the "even the weirdo least-religious guy paid for religious stuff with government money...and he didn't pay for no hindu services no sireee" line.

            Jefferson fought his rightful Lord and King because of his self-evident, inalienable right to freedom. He believed that in his day-and-age of enlightenment, no educated thoughtful man could look at his fellow man and FAIL TO RECOGNIZE their basic worth and dignity, their ineradicable right to life, liberty and to pursue his own happiness.

            HIS...no *hers* there. The founders, as far as I know, didn't think about women's sufferage. Is that a good argument to take away their right to vote today? Is it a good argument that disenfranchising women would be a moral good? Or is it an indication that, although these men had the courage and moral fiber to stand up for their rights against King and Country, against tradition ancient and military might overpowering...although they had the sand to LITERALLY FIGHT AND DIE for their rights...they were imperfect and narrow-minded and flawed tragically?

            Jefferson wrote eloquently enough about the Creator given rights of all his fellow men to move the 13 colonies into open rebellion...and yet he kept slaves. He fathered children on a women who was his legal property.

            Did Jefferson break his own laws, did he act un-Constitutionally when he paid for religious services? Yes. Was he an amazing and inspiring and deeply flawed man? Yes. Should we let his mistakes dictate what we do now with our rights?

            Should we take-back the slaves? Should women get back in the kitchen? Let's call up Queen E and see if she'll have us back for Christmas.

            PS. What on earth was your goal in bringing up the fact that there were no Muslim or Hindu services organized by Jefferson? Do you expect us to take that as an indication of the fundamental superiority of the Judeo-Christian tradition? How many Hindus or Muslims in Washington at the time do you think he was snubbing by this failure?

      • Timothy Reid

        I do agree we need to own up to them and acknowledge them or we risk denying the truth of history. What I feel is that we need to not be the Church of the Crusades and be the Church of Christ.

  • Slocum Moe

    If you disdain Catholicism only for it's atrocity and abomination, of which there is plenty, you validate the idea that somewhere, at it's core, there is something admirable, good or at least benign.

    There is not.

    • Andre Boillot

      I dunno, they have some nice songs.

    • Paul Boillot

      Look, I sympathize with your analysis, but I think you're wrong.

      There are some good things in/about Catholicism/Catholic tradition, and we can and should disdain it for what is evil about it.

  • Danny Getchell

    Mr. Beaumont,

    I'd like to read your analysis of the Albigensian Crusade.

  • Raphael

    What were atheists doing during the Crusades?

    • Doug Shaver

      Most of the ones living in Europe were pretending to be Christians.

  • Steven Carr

    'Due to religious enthusiasm, some German youth (most what 20th Century westerners would call “adolescents”) proclaimed themselves “Crusaders” and began a march to the Mediterranean sea. '

    I think it is pretty obvious that this can be blamed on religious enthusiasm and not religion,

    Atheists should remember that very few Catholics nowadays are enthusiastic about religion.

  • Steven Carr

    'It was appropriate for Christians to defend against attacks, and to try to regain lands which their enemy had seized and desecrated.'

    Yes, it's called 'turning the other cheek'.

    Christians do a lot of that. They are famous for it.

  • Steven Carr

    Perhaps the author could learn how to spell Crusades correctly....

    • @epicusmontaigne:disqus
      "Crusdades". Not as bad as the Crusades, but easy to fix. :)

  • vito

    I wonder who and why started the legend that the Crusades were only directed against Muslims who had allegedly taken some land from Christians. What about the Northern crusades, or Baltic crusades, also authorised by the Pope and waged for centuries to subjugate and, in some cases, exterminate the pagan neighbours to the east and north, although they had not taken any land from Christians.
    Saying "Crusades generally refers to ... campaigns over a 150 year period ...that were enacted to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control" is incorrect historical interpretation or simply a lie. It' like saying "World War II" typically refers to a war waged by Hitler against the Communist Russia, without mentioning the other fronts. I assume some Christian authors may consider the Nothern/Baltic crusades insignificant compared with campaigns against Muslims (who cares about some Prussians or Lithuanians anyway - they were small and pagan, they deserved it), but it remains a historical fact.

    • Steven Carr

      I always thought that the Crusades were only against people who believed in the same god that the Christians believed in.

      It seems I was wrong. Were they also against non-believers?

    • Abe Rosenzweig

      Yes. I don't think this article did a good job with what it explicitly discussed, but lacunae like the Wendish and Livonian crusades just reveal how half-baked it is.

    • Jakeithus

      "Saying "Crusades generally refers to ... campaigns over a 150 year
      period ...that were enacted to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim
      control" is incorrect historical interpretation or simply a lie"

      I wouldn't call this a lie, because the popular understanding of the word Crusade almost exclusively refers to the Christian/Muslim conflict as opposed to the Northern crusades. You are right in that it is not the most correct historic retelling of the crusades, but it is the one that is understood and believed by almost everyone.

      Crusade apologetics is a funny term to use, because there is a religious connotation to the word apologetics. I think this has to due to the Crusades being a common talking point in atheist/anti-religious apologetics. Things would be easier if apologetics could be taken out of it and it would return to a historical discussion instead of being used to make religious/anti-religious points.

      • Abe Rosenzweig

        Yes, I do think that he's using a popular notion of what the crusades were, but he is supposed to be a scholar, and should know better. Obviously, his argument is greatly weakened when you take into account the fuller historical situation, and not just popular ideas.

        Apologetics is closely associated with religion, but not particular to it (and prior to it, even). I don't truck with using historical specifics to make broad claims about the category of religion, but the author was certainly engaging in a defense of the religious implications of the crusades for the Catholic Church.

        • Jakeithus

          I think this argument still holds up, because it makes it clear from the very beginning it's a response to the misconceptions and urban legends common people hold about the Crusades.

          I dislike the use of the term apologetics in this discussion, which you're right are often religious but not always, because it treats the topic like a contest about who can score more points, rather than paint an accurate picture. It is probably accurate to label this piece a piece of apologetics for the Catholic Church and its role during the Crusades, I just dislike that the conversation so often ends up as a series of attacks and defenses.

          I guess I just hope for a better world where apologetics about historical events aren't needed, since people will no longer use those events to make ignorant and inaccurate attacks to begin with.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            Well, one of the misconceptions about the crusades is that they only consisted of window of campaigns against Muslims; if he wanted to clear up the popular misunderstanding, then he would have had to tell people to gird their loins and prepare to hear how things were actually much worse..

            Yes, I agree: too bad that this piece was an apology, but that it is.

          • Jakeithus

            "if he wanted to clear up the popular misunderstanding, then he would
            have had to tell people to gird their loins and prepare to hear how
            things were actually much worse"

            If I hear you right, you're saying that the popular understanding of the Crusades is actually better than the reality? No offense, but I think you're way off base on that point.

            The one misconception that didn't get mentioned in the article is that Crusades were not just between Christians and Muslims, but also took place between Christian kingdoms in Northern Europe and the neighbouring Pagan people (although even this is complicated by the fact that these campaigns were not always called Crusades by their contemporaries).

            The primary misconception is that the Crusades were about aggressive religious expansionism, rather than political conflicts with a religious element, which is not surprising given the overlap between religion and politics at the time.

            Christianity was used to further political gains by violent means during the Crusades, and this is sad and unfortunate, and is a legacy the Church has to deal with. However, it says nothing more about the religion than the violence perpetrated by secular or atheist regimes in more recent years.

          • Abe Rosenzweig

            You did not hear me right. The larger context of the crusades--that they included the Northern campaigns--was the basis of this whole tier of comments. What I'm saying is that the author's job of apologizing (in the rhetorical sense) for the crusades is made much harder by the facts of the Northern campaigns; he doesn't even try to do it.

            I don't think religious systems can be so cleanly separated from their histories and the behaviors of their adherents. The fundamental tenets (i.e., creedal stuff) of a religion may not be immediately and clearly implicated in certain events, but religions are more than basic tenets. The way the Church responds to what it did in the past says something about the religion.

          • Jakeithus

            I guess I just disagree as to how much the Northern Crusades change the points the author is making about the Crusades in general. In the case of the Northern Crusades, it might have been less about defense against Muslim aggression and more about expansion and conversion, but even then there were other political factors in play, considering there were battles fought even after the official conversion of the pagan countries. A complete picture of the Crusades needs to include them, but nothing about them invalidates the main points being raised.

            I don't think a clear separation is necessary, but one has to be careful of overstating the importance religion itself might play upon all of the action of its adherents. That line of thinking can lead people to try and one up each other in the game of "adherents to your beliefs have killed more people than adherents to my beliefs", which is a pretty stupid game and doesn't really accomplish anything.

  • fredx2

    Hasn't anyone noticed that the title of this piece is CRUSDADES?

    • Abe Rosenzweig

      That's nuts; personally, I thought it said Escapades, and have been wondering when Janet Jackson was going to show up.

  • Hugo

    In the last decade, the West has also experienced several attacks from radical Islam. What has been the response of non-confessional, secular states: exactly the same. Invade Islamic countries to prevent further attacks. In the process they have also committed some atrocities against innocents like in the Crusades. But in both cases self-defense was/is claimed. Violence is always reprehensible, but when there is no many options, what to do to defend yourself or your country? I'm sure none would like to be in those Pope's shoes. In addition, if the Islamic imperialism of that time had succeeded, I wonder if we had got the level of civilization that we know now in the West. Probably, though not in the best way, they did us a big favor.

  • Montjoie

    Please fix the typos, especially in the headline.

  • Jim Brooks

    There are two points that you are missing in your essay. First of all the reason the Franks gained a foot hold in the Holy Land and could keep it for a century is because the Muslim nations surrounding them were too busy fight themselves. Secondly the inhabitants of the Holy Land, being Muslim, never revolted against their Christian rulers because the Franks treated them better. Under the Christians, the Muslims paid less taxes and had less interference in their day to day lives.

  • Ben

    Might want to give a quick edit to the headline: Crusades, not CrusDades.

  • Tom

    just one thing. the Muslims did invade India. The Taj Mahal is a Muslim structure.

  • Tom

    I just read the other comments. So, is the President or congress responsible for murders committed by US soldiers? the argument that the Pope called a crusade, Jews were killed by crusaders so the Pope is responsible is thin. The hierarchy of the church from priests on up called for an end to violence against Jews. But just as today when the Pope calls for an end to abortion, greed, divorce et. al. many Catholics chose to ignore them for their own purposes.

  • Tom

    andre
    first of all I just saw how much time you have put into commenting on this blog. I know it is cold but you have got to get out a little Ha Ha. If I get a chance I will read some of your postings. second of all I missed the part in the article you linked that tells us the Pope called for the killing of the Jews. We have got to look at the context of why the Jews were placed in ghettos as horrible as it was. Don't bother asking me to explain because I am too busy now but maybe you can find some good books about the social attitudes of the time and Catholicism.

    • Andre Boillot

      Tom,

      "I missed the part in the article you linked that tells us the Pope called for the killing of the Jews."

      Perhaps you were too busy with your amazing life to carefully read my reply to you. You had stated that: "The hierarchy of the church from priests on up called for an end to violence against Jews." I simply asked you for some sort of supporting evidence for your claim, especially given evidence of extreme antisemitism in some Papal bulls that state Jews are rightfully deserving of slavery, which establish laws which call for the establishment of Jewish ghettos, and that decree that "Jews should be recognizable everywhere: [to this end] men must wear a hat, women, indeed, some other evident sign, yellow in color".

      Over to you.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cum_nimis_absurdum

  • Joel Tuscano

    Hi Doug... An interesting read and quite well written, although u seem to have got a factual error in using 'If Muslims had invaded India' as an example. U see Muslims did invade India. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/History/Mughals/mahmud_mughals.html But there were no Hindu crusades. Just pointing out a simple mistake in a very well written article... God bless!!!

  • Bowman2062

    A few years ago i asked my self the same question. And to answer it, it only took
    me a few hours, the internet and some books left over from historical studies at
    the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf.

    What came out of it is what follows. It´s in the internet now for a while
    and other people found more stuff that fits into the list i now post here. Read
    it, and you know why the crusades where necessary! (Sorry for my bad english ..
    i went to an monastery school .. they prefered latin and greek over
    english.)

    632

    Death of Muhammad

    During his lifetime Islamic wars of aggression have enslaved and devastated
    wide parts of the Arabian peninsula. Since Muhammad's death, Jihad ( جهاد =
    „Holy“ war) is continued and has converted the entire Mediterranean region for
    more than 1300 years into a permanent battleground

    635

    A Muslim army conquers the Christian-Byzantine city of Damascus, capital of
    the Christian kingdom of Damascus. The city and country are looted and burned
    down, the population cut down or enslaved. Forced conversion to Islam begins
    immediately. Which means : Non-Muslims (كفر‎ = Kuffar) have to pay a head tax (
    ‏جزية = Dschizya) and become stripped of nearly all rights and protection. Only
    who collaborates (converts) is reprieved.

    636

    Battle of al-Qādisiyyah

    Conquest of Mesopotamia including their Sassanid capital Ctesiphon.

    Immediately after the victory of violence widespread looting begin. Caliph
    Umar gives order to burn down the library of Al-Mada'in (Comparable to the
    library of Alexandria). Also later the Mohammedan fanaticism seeks to destroy
    ancient writings wherever he can lay hand on.

    637

    A Muslim army conquers the Christian-Byzantine Jerusalem. Forced conversion
    to Islam begins immediately. Churches and synagogues are looted or razed. Male
    inhabitants are cut down, woman and children are raped and/or enslaved.

    640

    Conquest and pillage of Cairo. Nearly all of the entire male population was
    slaughtered, woman and children are raped and/or enslaved. The ancient library
    of Cairo goes up in flames.

    642

    Decisive battle at Headlam (Ecbatana) versus the Sassanid Empire. Wide
    parts of what today is Iran fall into the hands of the Muslim conquerors. The
    magnificent Ecbatana, presumed to be the oldest city of the world, is nearly
    razed. Irretrievable possessions in art and culture are destroyed. Punitive
    actions, looting, enslavement and forced conversion to Islam begin immediately.
    These actions last till the year 900.

    642

    A Muslim army conquers and destroys Alexandria, capital of the
    Christian-Byzantine Egypt. City and country get into the furor of the Muslim
    conquerors. Within the few first months hundreds of thousands are slaughtered,
    millions are enslaved. In a firestorm beyond example not only the oldest
    Christian testimonials are destroyed, also everything ancient Rome and Egypt
    ever achieved is burned to the ground. The library of Alexandria, the jewel of
    the ancient world (restored after an accidental fire during the roman expansion)
    now becomes destroyed deliberately and by method. More then 4000 years of
    written history, early science and poesie go up in flames.

    645

    A Muslim army conquers and destroys the Christian city of Barca in northern
    Africa (Libya) They destroy the ancient greco-roman capital completely. The
    population goes into slavery.

    650

    The last territories of the Kingdom of Armenia are run down. The become
    looted and forced into Islamization.

    652

    Attack by Muslim Pirates (Corsairs) on Sicily. The attack is repelled
    despite the fact that the coastal villages lay in ruins, and many of the
    inhabitants are dead or enslaved.

    667

    Further attacks by Muslim Pirates (Corsairs) on Sicily are now ordered ,
    but still can be repelled. The coastal villages and churches now have to be
    fortified. Despite that, inhabitants still become enslaved

    674

    An attack on Constantinople (capital of the Christian-Byzantine empire) is
    repelled. On retread the Islamic army levels the regions eastwards of Bosporus
    to the ground, the population is forced into slavery.

    700

    Muslims conquer the Italian isle of Pantelleria and enslave the population.
    The island becomes a Muslim pirate stronghold.

    708

    Muslim invaders conquer Sicily for a short period. But it is able to
    reconquer the island under heavy losses and devastation's.

    708

    The brutal Islamic campaign against the Christian north-African territories
    finally reaches the Atlantic ocean. On his march every north-African city and
    town was plundered and burned down. More then 50% of the north-African
    population is dead. Millions were raped, tortured and enslaved.

    710

    The last Christian city in North Africa has been conquered and pillaged.
    With this raid the once Christian North Africa dies. All 400 dioceses are razed.
    North Africa, once a thriving Christian world, which gave birth to great
    theologians like Tertullian, Cyprian, Athanasius, Augustinus, does not exist
    anymore.

    711

    Muslim hordes cross the sound of Gibraltar and invade the Iberian peninsula
    ( Today Spain and Portugal) and immediately begins the forced conversion into
    Islam. Taxes are higher and corporal punishments (amputations & be headings)
    for infidels are harder than everywhere else under the iron boot of Islam.
    Regular programs against Christians and Jews occur.

    711

    Qutaiba ibn Muslim commissioned by the Umayyad Caliphate starts a raid from
    Khorasan versus Transoxania. He conquers the notable city's of Samarkand and
    Bukhara which become pillaged and nearly depopulated. Also Khwarezm and the
    Fergana valleys are subdued.

    712

    Islamic conquerors reach the borders of India and China. Behind them
    (following to contemporary chroniclers) all conquered country's are in flames.
    Soon these Arabs wage first attacks on Sindh. Streams of slaves arrive on the
    markets of the middle east.

    712

    The Islamic Conquest and forced Islamization of southern Spain are nearly
    finished. North African slave markets are full to the bursting point with
    European slaves.

    713

    Muslims conquer and loot Barcelona, crossing the Pyrenees flooding,
    parching and looting into the kingdom of the Franks.

    717

    Another attack on Constantinople (capital of the Christian-Byzantine
    empire) is repelled. On retread the Islamic army levels the regions eastwards of
    Bosporus to the ground, the population is forced into slavery.

    720

    Muslims invade southern France, conquer Narbonne and besiege Toulouse. The
    primary function of this campaign is less aimed on conquest then of the chase
    for loot and slaves.

    720

    Another landing operation by Muslim invaders on Sicily comes to extended
    battles and more devastation.

    723

    Defensive battle of frankonien troops near Tours and Poitiers (today
    France) Victory of the franconian troops over the islamic invaders. The muslims
    have to retreat behind the Pyrenees but still control large areas of the iberien
    peninsula (today Spain and Portugal)

    731

    Plundering Islamic troops achieve a break through into southern France.
    From Dijon to Sens near the Loire, Langres and Luxeuil, nearly all of France and
    southwards of the Loire river falls into their hands.

    732

    The plundering of the rich Monastery city of Tours fails through the loss
    of the battle of Tours and Poitiers. Also the Muslim invaders manage to pillage
    and devastate the surrounding areas. On retreat they are able to lead thousands
    of hostages into slavery.

    735

    Again strong Muslim army attacks southern France. Despite the fact that
    they don't achieve to conquer and hold the cities and country's they wanted to,
    they enslave everyone who falls into their hands. In addition to that woman and
    children are raped.

    751

    In the battle of Talas an Arab Muslim army defeats a Chinese army for the
    first time.

    810

    Islamic troops occupy the island of Corsica. They use it from now on as
    base for attacks on the coastline of southern France.

    831

    Muslim troops conquer and pillage the city of Palermo on Sicily.

    832

    Muslim troops raid and plunder the city of Marseilles, where they obtain
    great numbers of slaves and goods.

    835

    Muslim troops operating from Sicily attack the Italian mainland and
    devastate Calabria.

    838

    Islamic troops again raid and pillage southern France and the Rhone Valley.

    840

    The cities of Tarent and Bari fall into Islamic hands. Both cities are
    heavily ransacked and pillaged. Thousands are enslaved.

    840–847

    Muslim invaders conquer the city of Benevent which stood under frankonia
    protection.

    841

    The Italian city of Brindisi falls after intense fighting into Muslim
    hands.

    841

    The Italian city of Capua is completely plundered and destroyed after a
    short besiege.

    843

    Muslim troops conquer and pillage the City of Messina on the island of
    Sicily.

    843

    Arab attacks on the City of Rome fail. Nevertheless the city and the
    surrounding region are plundered and set on fire. The population, as far as
    captured, is enslaved.

    846

    Further Arab attacks on the City of Rome fail. Nevertheless the city and
    the surrounding region are plundered and set on fire. The population, as far as
    captured, is enslaved.

    848

    In August 848 the city of Ragusa (on Sicily) is plundered and destroyed be
    the Arabs, despite to the fact that Ragusa signed a peace treaty and gave the
    city to the Arabs.

    848

    Muslim units raid and plunder Marseille, the surrounding region becoomes
    heavily devastated.

    Hostages and slaves are taken.

    849

    Arab attacks on the City of Rome fail. Nevertheless the city and the
    surrounding region are plundered and set on fire. The population, is captured
    and enslaved.

    851-852

    The Italian city of Benvent, for a short time liberated, now falls again
    into Islamic hands. The occupant troops massacre great parts of the
    inhabitants.

    856

    Arab invaders atatck and destroy the cathedral of Canosa in Apulia.

    The city is plundered and slaves are taken.

    859

    Muslim troops again raid and plunder southern France.

    868

    The Arabs finally conquer the city of Ragusa (Sicily)

    870

    Arabs conquer the isle of Malte where they destroy a 700 years old
    undaunted christian culture.

    878

    Moslem troops conquer and pillage the city of Syracus on Sicily

    880

    Moslem troops conquer and pillage the city of Nice

    882

    Moslem troops create a beachhead in the Provence (Fraxinetum) controlled by
    the Spanish Moorish, from there they attack Campania as well as Sabinia in the
    province of Latium.

    888

    Moslem troops again create a beachhead in the Provence (Fraxinetum)
    controlled by the Spanish Moorish, from there they organize raid campaigns.
    Westwards up to Arles (capital of the Kingdom of Burgundy) and also along the
    river Rhone, up to Avignon, Vienne (Near Lyon) and Grenoble.

    902

    Moslem troops raid and pillage the City of Taormina in Sicily.

    911

    The bishop of Narbonne is unable to travel from France to Rome due to the
    fact that raiding Muslims blocked all pass roads in the alps. Highway robbery,
    enslaving and plundering become order of the day in the alps.

    918

    Moslem troops from Sicily conquer and pillage the city of Reggio on the
    Italian mainland (Calabria)

    920

    Muslims push forward from Spain over the Pyrenees, devastating unhindered
    the Gascogne (southern France) and threaten Toulouse.

    934

    The Italian cities of Genoa and La Specia are raided, plundered and
    pillaged by Muslim troops.

    935

    The Italian cities of Genoa and La Specia again become raided, plundered
    and pillaged by Muslim troops.

    939

    Moslem hordes push over the Swiss alps up to Geneve. The city is plundered
    and slaves are taken.

    942

    Moslem troops march pillaging and murdering through the southeast of France
    and push into northern Italy.

    942

    Muslim troops conquer and burn down the city of Nice.

    952-960

    Starting from the alpine passes Muslim troops conquer the Swiss for nearly
    8 years. They plundered and destroyed in the following years the canton Valais,
    parts of canton Grisons and eastern Swiss. Between 952 and 969 Arabs ruled after
    the battle of Orbe (near the German border) wide parts of southern and western
    Swiss, including the Great St Bernard Pass, and pushed forward onto St. Gall up
    to Pontresina.

    942–965

    Muslim troops conquer and devastate the duchy of Savoy.

    942–965

    Muslim troops conquer and devastate the Provence (France)

    964

    Muslim troops, coming from Sicily conquer and pillage, parts of the Italian
    mainland and the city of Rometta.

    979-988

    Sebük Tegin declares Jihad (holy war) on the Hindu-Shāhī. He defeats their
    king Djaypal in the years 979 and 988. All fortresses in Afghanistan along the
    Indian Border fall into the hands of his Muslim warriors.

    1002

    Arab troops again conquer and destroy the Italian city of Bari.

    1002

    Arab troops conquer and plunder the italian city of Genoa

    1004

    Arab troops conquer and plunder the Italian city of Pisa.

    1009

    Caliph Al-Hakim commands the systematic devastation of all christian
    sanctuaries within Jerusalem. Also the Church of the Resurrectio (including the
    holy grave) was destroyed.

    1070

    The Seljuks, a inner Asian nomad tribe, which converted in the 10th century
    to Islam, gains control over Jerusalem. Peaceful pilgrimage is increasingly
    hindered. Raids on Christian pilgrims, including murder and enslavement
    increases.

    1071

    Battle of Manzikert. A Christian-Byzantine army is desperately defeated by
    Islamic hordes.The Muslim Seljuks conquer the entire heartland of the
    Christian-Byzantine empire: Asia Minor.

    1099

    After nearly 470 years of islamic expansion and agression as counter
    reaction the christian crusades begin.

    1206

    Sultanate of Deli. General Qutb-ud-Din Aibak takes over the power in the
    land at the river Indus by assassination of his former king. He found the so
    called Slavedynasty = Mamluk Dynasty or Ghulam Dynasty) This sultanate later
    goes over as bankruptcy assets into the Mughal Empire.

    1389

    Battle of Kosovo. A Christian army of Serbians, Bosians and Bulgars are
    defeated by an Islamic horde . The entire Balkan becomes Islamic.

    1453

    Conquest of Constantinople (Today Istanbul) Heart of the east roman empire
    (byzantine empire) . The Christian emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos dies
    defending the city. The end of the Byzantine Empire. The City is plundered 3
    days and nights. In all streets bloodcurdling deeds occur. Murder, torture,
    mutilation and rape are daily order. Sutan Mehmed II gives order for the public
    execution (beheading) of all Byzantine aristocrats including their families.
    Tens of thousands of civilians end up on Muslim slave markets.

    1479

    Ottoman troops conquer after extremely heavy fighting on the venetian
    island of Euboea. Main parts of the population are massacred, survivors are sold
    into slavery.

    1480

    A Muslim army conquers the Italian city of Otranto. The city becomes
    occupied (till 1481) and exposed to the arbitrariness of the occupants. After
    the retreat there are only burned walls and streets full of bones left.

    1492

    After the King of Spain reconquered with Granada in 1492 the last Muslim
    kingdom in europe, fled Moriscos settled in the Maghreb. These Corsairs built
    together with local Arabs and Morishs great fleets and start a permanent war on
    Christian Europe. Especially on their shipping and coasts. The corsairs raid
    within the next 4 centuries all coasts and ship lines up to the coast of
    Flanders,Denmark, Ireland, even Island. Most targeted for slave hunt,
    plundering, rape and pillage are the coasts and coastal villages of Italy,
    Spain, and Portugal.

    1499-1503

    Ottoman troops invade the northern Italian region of Friuli and threaten
    the city of Vicenza. The Apulian harbor town Otranto ( ca 100 kilometers
    southeast of Brindisi) becomes conquered and is prepared for beachhead for
    further plunder and war expeditions.

    1521

    A Muslim army conquers Belgrade. The city is plundered, all churches are
    destroyed or converted into mosques. Priest are often impaled or burned alive.
    Men cut down, woman and children raped and/or soled as slaves.

    1526

    Battle of Mohács. A Christian army was defeated by a Muslim horde. Muslim
    armies now occupy wide parts of Hungary and threaten Vienna. Ottoman hordes
    wreak havoc in a till then unknown dimension.

    1526

    The city of Ragusa (today Dubrovnik) was conquered by Muslim troops. It
    follows the normal plundering rape and forced conversion to Islam or slavery.

    1526-1530

    Grand Mogul Babur conquered starting from what today is Uzbejistan and
    Afghanistan the sultanat of Dehli as well as the Indian heartland around the
    north Indian Indus and Ganges plain. And the cities of Delhi, Agra and Lahore.
    Between 100 and 150 million people get into the grip of this Muslim usurper.

    1529

    First siege of Vienna from Muslims armies fails. But in advance the cities
    of Komorn and Preßburg (today Bratislava) go up in flames. The entire
    surrounding areas become heavily devastated. Thousands upon thousands are
    captured and end up on slave markets in Istanbul.

    1534

    Muslim pirates raid and pillage with 84 galleys the southern west coast of
    Italy, Starting at the city of Reggio northwards through the Tyrrhenian Sea up
    to the city of Sperlonga, subsequently driving home to Istanbul, loaded with
    thousands of slaves and immeasurable booty.

    1537

    Muslim pirates conquer the venetian isles Naxos, Kasos, Tinos and
    Karpathos.

    1543

    Muslim Corsairs of the Barbary coast besiege and plunder the city
    Nice.

    1544

    Barbarossa Hayreddin Pasha raids the island of Ischia (near the Italian
    coast) and takes 4000 hostages (which he only releases with ransom) and enslaves
    further 9000 inhabitants (nearly the rest of the population)

    1515

    Turgut Reis enslaves the entire population of the Maltese island Gozo- 5000
    to 6000 people are sold on the Libyan slave markets.

    1554

    Moslem pirates raid the city of Vieste. The city is plundered and
    7000-10000 slave are taken which are soled on slave markets in Istanbul.

    1555

    Turgut Reis raids the city of Bastia on Cosica. He enslaves 6000-7000
    people which are sold on the Libyan slave markets. On retreat he gives order to
    set numerous coastal villages on fire.

    1558

    Pirates of the Barbary Coast conquer the city of Ciutadella (Monorca) They
    destroy all buildings and take 3000 slaves ( to be soled in Istanbul) and
    otherwise slaughter all inhabitants.

    1563

    Turgut Reis invades the coastal region of Grenada (Spain). The Conquers and
    plunders every coastal village. Among them Almuñécar, where he takes 4000 slaves
    and cuts down a much higher number. In the following years the Balearics are
    raided so often that the entire coastline has to be fortificated with fortified
    watchtowers and fortified churches. Islands like Formentera become depopulated
    by slavery, massacres and escape.

    1565

    Siege of Malta by Ottoman troops and Muslim Corsairs. Beginning at May 18th
    and ending at September 8th 1565. During this failed campaign nearly the entire
    Island was devastated. All fortifications shot to rubble and more then 42000
    soldiers and civilians killed.

    1658-1707

    The Mogul Empire expands southwards and forcing the conquered regions to
    convert to Islam.

    1609-1616

    Great Britain alone looses 466 merchant ships (between 15000 and 40000
    people) by attacks through pirates of the Barbary Coast. Crews were massacred or
    sold as slaves.

    1617-1625

    Attacks by Corsairs of the Barbary Coast are daily order. Raids occur in
    southern Portugal, South – and East Spain, the Balearic islands, Iceland,
    Sardinia, Corsica, Elba, the Italian peninsula (especially in Liguria, Toscana,
    Lazio, Campagnia, Calabria and Apulia) further Raids and plundering (including
    rape and enslavement) occur on Sicily and Malta. Greater raids in dimensions of
    real military expeditions strike down cities like Bouzas, Cangas, Moaña and
    Darbo.

    1627

    Iceland was raided and plundered several times by Turkish pirates. A major
    part of the population end up as slaves at the Barary Coast. Those who resisted
    were herded together in a church and burned alive.

    1631

    Murat Reis along with Algerian pirates and regular Ottoman troops raid
    Ireland. They storm the coast near Baltimore (County of Cork) They pillage and
    plunder the entire city, they took nearly all inhabitants as slaves and sold
    them on the slave markets of the Barbary Coast. Only two came home alive.

    1677-1680

    Further 160 British merchant ships (between 8000 and 20000 people) were
    lost to the Algerian Muslim-pirates. Crews were slaughtered and enslaved.

    1683

    Second (failed) siege on Vienna and threat to central Europe by Muslim
    armies. On advance the Ottoman army sets the surrounding regions on fire. All
    towns are plundered utterly and depopulated (enslavement) as far as who has not
    already fled. The retreating Ottomans only leave scorched earth.

    1700-1750

    Still over 20,000 European hostages ( not slaves) rot in Algerian dungeons
    and await redemption. Among them not only people from the Mediterranean coasts,
    there are also Danes, Germans, British , Swedish and Icelandic people.

    1915-1917

    Armenian Genocide. The ottoman empire uses the confusions of WW I to
    eliminate of the Christian Armenians. Up to 1.5 million Armenians were
    slaughtered on death marches and camps or local massacres.

    This is only a rough conspectus about the Islamic aggressions.

    In Islams time of existence, Islam has enslaved and sold more then 1
    Million Europeans and more then 2 million were killed during these actions. In
    India the death tolls are up in the 100 millions. Islamic slave traders sold up
    to 12 million Africans to the west (north- and south America) and have abducted
    up to 18 million back to the Islamic heartlands. For one slave captured there
    was an average of three more losing their lives. Which increases the African
    victims of Islam up to 120 Million! Not to speak about the millions of Muslims
    who became victims of their own ideology.

  • STA

    Excellent Essay. Congratulations on defending the truth against prevailing 'intellectual' 'thought.'

  • Kuni Leml

    What scientists point out is the fact that certain Fundamentalists an/or Fanatics are anti-science. No one has claimed that Religion in of itself is anti-science.

    “The term "anti-science" refers to persons or organizations that promote their ideology over scientifically-verified evidence, usually either by denying said evidence and/or creating their own.”

    The only people I have seen claiming that religion is “anti-science” are those who claim that a book, that if taken literally contradicts itself, should be taken literally (unless of course it contradicts their latest beliefs. Then that portion has magically been invalidated by God because God needs to keep up with the latest diet fads or that portion now magically means the opposite of what it clearly states.)

    The only people I have seen claiming that religion is “anti-science” are those who also claim that a scientific theory is not a fact when in fact a theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation & experimentation”, i.e. a fact.

    Had Galileo proposed heliocentricity as a theory, he would have still been calling it a “fact.”

    A theory, in science, is a fact. Very few things can honestly be claimed to be 100% true. The Earth may not be orbiting the sun tomorrow; some yet unknown force may knock the planet out of the solar system.

    A wormhole could open up in the Earth’s path and transport the planet to the exact center of the universe. As scientific evidence is gathered on the Earth’s new position, the existing scientific theory will be rejected or modified if it does not fit the new empirical findings. In such circumstances, a more accurate theory will be wanted, which will result in the scientific consensus that “Earth as center” is now a theory.

    Nevertheless, the theory that the Earth orbits the sun is still considered valid by every sane and/or honest scientist.

    The theories of gravity, evolution, the Oxygen theory of combustion, plate tectonics, Heliocentrism, man-made global warming etc. are facts.

    But I digress. You were trying to peddle the canard that there is no ongoing conflict between faith and science by ignoring the fact that an overly large percentage of Americans, for the 21st century, still claim that the Earth was created in the last
    10,000 years. You also conveniently forgot to mention that in the rest of the First World, there are no serious issues vis-à-vis the conflict between faith and science.

    Furthermore, the theory that “Galileo might have avoided controversy if his view had remained within the realm of science and out of the realm of theology” IS the proof that those who hold up Galileo as an example of a Faith/Science conflict are, contrary to your claims, right.

    Even those who try to peddle the BS that scientific theories are not facts also claim to support science; their only problem is that they cannot find any actual science, to support or, which will support their hypotheses.

    The fact that the Papists funded science does not change the fact that Galileo was still threatened with the inquisition.

    Had the Papists actually supported science, like you claim, they would have asked Galileo to submit a paper for peer review and had he failed to produce his findings backed with “well-substantiated explanation acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation & experimentation” they should just have ignored him. If anyone asked about his alleged theory, the Church, had they actually supported science, would have answered that “he has an interesting hypotheses that he has not yet proven to be a theory.”

  • Kuni Leml

    Regarding the Crusades:

    Umm, “only barely true” is still true. “Only barely true” means that whoever is telling the story did not buy your rationalizations for the evil committed.

    If murdering civilians “was not uncommon back then” it still does not change the fact that it is still evil. All it means is that “back then” the major Religions in both Europe and the Middle East were evil and corrupt.

    Who has claimed that a Crusade was called against the Jews? (I did notice that you conveniently forgot to mention the Albigensian Crusade)

    Who has claimed that a Crusade was called in order to loot riches?

    The fact that “adolescents” were even allowed to march off on a Crusade indicates, even if they got nowhere close to Palestine, that those behind the Crusades had no problem with sending “adolescents” to their deaths. Were the local Papists too busy buggering the older boys to notice that their future boy toys were about to do something that would win 2 out of 3 of them the Darwin Award for that year?

    The Muslim’s guaranteed “ticket to Paradise” for dying in jihad is also not a pardon of future sin. They are dead, they died in said Jihad.

    If an indulgence is “not a permission to commit sin” then why was it only valid if they confessed the sins committed during the Crusade? An indulgence is in fact a permission slip to commit any temporal sin. Father I have sinned, I helped murder 3,000 unarmed non-combatants – No problem my son, the Indulgence covers your temporal sins.

    One could point out that there are no such things as Just/Holy wars, just people who claim that their current war is Just. Given the fact that the winners of wars write the history books. When America finally, unless it re-embraces Capitalism, collapses under the weight of Trickle Down/Supply Side economics, you can bet our then worthless currency that our enemies will be claiming that 9-11 was a justified attack.

  • The Crusades were an entirely commendable attempt to free the Holy Land from Muslim invaders. Rather than condemn it we should lament that the Crusades ultimately failed.

  • Jonathan

    Background[edit]

    Further information: Crusades

    In the First Crusade, flourishing communities on the Rhine and the Danube were attacked by Crusaders, yet many were spared due to the efforts of the Papacy (see German Crusade, 1096). In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France suffered especially. Philip Augustus treated them with exceptional severity during the Third Crusade (1188). The Jews were also subjected to attacks by the Shepherds' Crusades of 1251 and 1320.

    The attacks were opposed by the local bishops and widely condemned at the time as a violation of the crusades aim, which was not directed against the Jews.[1]However, the perpetrators mostly escaped legal punishment. Also, the social position of the Jews in western Europe distinctly worsened, and legal restrictions increased during and after the crusades. They prepared the way for anti-Jewish legislation of Pope Innocent III. The crusades resulted in centuries of strong feelings of ill will on both sides and hence constitute a turning point in the relationship between Jews and Christians.

    First Crusade[edit]

    Main article: Persecution of Jews in the First Crusade

    Defending in the Holy Land[edit]

    The Jews almost single-handedly defended Haifa against the crusaders, holding out in the besieged town for a whole month (June–July 1099) in fierce battles. At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known and include Jerusalem,Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.[2][3]

    Massacre of Jerusalem[edit]

    Jews fought side-by-side with Muslim soldiers to defend Jerusalem against the Crusaders.[4] Saint Louis University Professor Thomas Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades, claims the "Jewish Defenders" of the city knew the rules of warfare and retreated to their synagogue to "prepare for death" since the Crusaders had breached the outer walls.[5] According to the Muslim chronicle of Ibn al-Qalanisi, "The Jews assembled in their synagogue, and the Franks burned it over their heads."[6] One modern-day source even claims the Crusaders "[circled] the screaming, flame-tortured humanity singing 'Christ We Adore Thee!' with their Crusader crosses held high."[7] However, a contemporary Jewish communication does not corroborate the report that Jews were actually inside of the Synagogue when it was set fire.[8] This letter was discovered among the Cairo Geniza collection in 1975 by historian Shelomo Dov Goitein.[9] Historians believe that it was written just two weeks after the siege, making it "the earliest account on the conquest in any language."[9] However, all sources agree that a synagogue was indeed burned during the siege.

    Ransoming[edit]

    Following the siege, Jews captured from the Dome of the Rock, along with native Christians, were made to clean the city of the slain.[10] Tancred took some Jews asprisoners of war and deported them to Apuleia in southern Italy. Several of these Jews did not make it to their final destination as “Many of them were […] thrown into the sea or beheaded on the way.”[10] Numerous Jews and their holy books (including the Aleppo Codex) were held ransom by Raymond of Toulouse.[11] The Karaite Jewish community of Ashkelon (Ascalon) reached out to their coreligionists in Alexandria to first pay for the holy books and then rescued pockets of Jews over several months.[10] All that could be ransomed were liberated by the summer of 1100. The few who could not be rescued were either converted to Christianity or killed.[12]

    Protection attempts by Christians in Western Christendom[edit]

    Prior to the First Crusade, there are multiple accounts of cooperation between Christians and Jews. Not only were there economical collaboration, with Jews being involved in several industries such as trade, minting, and financial advising, but Jews and Christians were social with one another, even attending each other’s weddings.[13]

    As the Crusades began, many Jews were in danger of being killed. There are documented accounts of how as the Crusades spread and reached different towns and cities, and Christians stood up and attempted to protect the neighboring Jews. In the German city of Trier, the local bishop attempted to protect the Jews.[14]The bishop was still new to the city, however, and did not have the political power necessary to band the town together. In the face of the crusader attack, the local bishop abandoned his attempt to save the Jews and told them that “You cannot be saved—your God does not wish to save you now as he did in earlier day. Behold this large crowd that stands before the gateway of the palace”, as well as forcing them to choose between conversion and removal from his palace.[14]

    Other German cities had similar experiences, with some towns such as Mainz having the local burghers fight against the incoming crusaders.[14] Another German town, Cologne, hid all the local Jews among their Christian neighbors during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, spending the remainder of the holiday with the Christian acquaintances.[14]

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  • S Gorsey

    go f*** your self