Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reverend Dan's Christian Crimeline

And to all the David Bartons and Rick Santorums out there: I'm not making this sh*t up!!

Let's get one thing straight: while I'm not trying to bash Christianity, the fact is that Christianity has never sufficiently apologized for its own sins. And while I consider myself a Christian, it's galling to me that some people paint Christianity's history as a (sometimes) misguided but devoutly focused, evangelizing mission, persecuted relentlessly along the way.

The picture of devoutly-driven Founding Fathers by David Barton, and the recent tongue lashing given out by Rick Santorum concerning the Crusades and the early Church's treatment of Muslims (everyone else is "anti-Christian) are both totally off the mark. 

Through the years, I have been researching what could be called a "Christian Crime Line." Yes, that's a bit nasty, but there's no other way we can look upon the actions in a different light, especially when stacked up on upon the other. True, the eras in between may have had some ameliorating qualities, but the fact remains that non-Christians were persecuted, and killed on a scale of much greater proportions than Christians were under the Romans, even before the Crusades. By the time Urban II gave his fateful speech, whole cultures had been wiped away "in the name of God."* 

So let's look at some aspects of Christian history most people have never been taught before:

313 - 
Constantine unites the Empire after the Battle of Milvian Bridge and officially recognizes Christianity as a legitimate religion and bans persecution of Christians  
314 - 
Christians begin to massacre pagans in Egypt and Palestine
319 - 
Christian clergy receives tax-exempt status
319 - 
Arian Heresy starts to spread throughout the Empire
325 - 
Council of Nicea is convened by Constantine to discuss date of Easter and deal wiith Arian Heresy. Approx. 300 bishops attended (out of 1800 in the entire empire, most of whom were in north Africa)
325 - 
Approx. 3000 pagans are killed immediately after the Council of Nicea
327 - 
"Christian" Constantine executes his son Chrispus in belief that he had sex with his step-mother, Fausta. He didn’t. After Constantine finds out the truth, he has Fausta boiled ... in her own bathtub.
330 - 
Constantine outlaws Christian conversion to Judaism
335 - 
Magicians and astrologers (astronomers as well) are banned and executed
336 - 
Arian Christians are persecuted
337 - 
Constantine is finally  baptized as a Christian … on his deathbed
350 - 
Riots break out between Arian Christians and Orthodox Christians
354 - 
Emperor Constantius orders all pagan temples closed
355 - 
Clergy exempt from being tried in secular courts
359 - 
Christians build world’s first “death camps” in Skythopolis, Syria for pagans and unconverted Jews**
391 - 
The Great Library of Alexandria is burned by a Christian mob
360  - 
Pagan sacrifice is declared punishable by death
412 - 
Augustine of Hippo, supports war against heretics
415 - 
Female philosopher Hypatia is brutally murdered
435 - 
Emperor Theodosius II order the deaths of all non-Christians except Jews
476 - 
Rome falls to the Goths
528 - 
Emperor Justinian outlaws the Olympic Games (considered pagan)
529 - 
Justinian closes Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum.
590 - 
After Pope Gregory I decrees celibacy for the clergy, infants are murdered
632 - 
Byzantine-Arab war
782 - 
Charlemagne orders the beheading of pagans
850 - 
Eastern Orthodox Empress Theodora orders execution of Paulicans (heretics)
1095 - 
People’s Crusade
1095 - 
First Crusade: Pope Urban II calls for a “Holy War” to "save the tomb of Christ from the heathen”
1096 -
During the People’s Crusade (as in all official nine Crusades) Jews are killed en route
1101 - 
Crusade of 1101
1144 - 
First “Blood Libel” used against Jews in England
1145 -
 Second Crusade
1189 - 
Third Crusade
1193 - 
Northern Crusade
Fourth Crusade
1209 - 
Albigensian Crusade
1209 - 
The Inquisition as institution of Christianity is officially established
1212 - 
Children’s Crusade
1217 - 
Fifth Crusade
1228 - 
Sixth Crusade
1232 - 
Northern Crusades
1248 - 
Seventh Crusade
1251 - 
First Shepherd’s Crusade
1270 - 
Eighth Crusade
1271 - 
Ninth Crusade
1281 - 
Aragonese Crusade
1320 - 
Second Shepherd’s Crusade
1348 - 
Jews, believed to be the cause of the Black Death were massacred in Mainz, Germany
1365 - 
Alexandrian Crusade
1396 - 
Nicopolis Crusade
1398 - 
Crusades against the Tartars

After the last "Crusade," a variety of complex factors entered into the picture. Too many to go into detail here, so please forgive the next seemingly sweeping generalizations. 

Witch-burnings took hold in Europe and, along with The Inquisition, for the next 400 years killed approximately 1 million people. Auto de Fes (burning as many as a dozen "witches" at a time) were very popular in France, Germany and even England. Men and children were also burned as "witches." Then in 1492, Jews and Muslims were expelled from Spain just before the colonization of the Americas, India and Indonesia. When Cortez landed in Mexico, there were approximately 25 million Meso-Americans (Natives from California down to Peru). In the year 1650, it is estimated that there were less than 1 million. And while disease may have been a major factor of depopulation, slavery and forced-conversions played roles as well. Within a period of 800 years (not counting the Crusades), Europe's countries were involved in 782 wars, most of which were sanctioned by the Church. The Tai Ping Rebellion in China (supporting a man who claimed to be the brother of Christ) took over 20 million lives.*** 

Does the above make me seem incredibly anti-Christian? Of course. Most will think that I couldn't possibly be a Christian after reading such a litany. But I am steadfast in my beliefs and, in them, I remain a Christian. And I will not fill in the obvious blanks in the Christian history of the above because so many apologetics have done that before me. 

But, being human, I can't begin to forgive the past, until I hear a very loud apology.

*I think that killing anyone for any reason "in the name of God" is the height of blasphemy. Sorry.
** While the evidence for this is very, very slim, the concept of "concentration camps" was not new. Also, take into account the volume of pagans still in the Roman Empire: a minority, yes, but one that, at the time, still was the religion of at least 10% of the Empire.
***And at no time did any Christian entity try to stop it.

Fischer: The Constitution Allows Us To Be Absurd

When Bryan Fischer REALLY gets to fuming about gays, Obama, Muslims, etc. etc., he becomes a talking head telling everyone what he thinks is "absurd."* The irony is that Obama's "DOMA Dump" has made Bryan Fischer look "absurd." He is also obsessed with the word "animus" in Obama's statement about DOMA. Given how much he thinks the Constitution, like the Bible, was mandated by God, Fischer argues for our God-given right to hate people if we want to. 

*The comedian Steve Allen was also a philosopher with some substance and he wrote a book about the Bible. With clarity and reason, he criticized most of the Old Testament with his favorite word - "absurd." There's an irony there somewhere as well.

It's Really Hit The Fan!: How Obama's "DOMA Dump" Brought Out The Self-Righteous, The Insane And The Just Plain Stupid

Did you know that homosexuality is the REAL cause of "dead beat dads"?? Mike Huckabee says so!!

Yesterday, I could smell the explosion of fire and brimstone here in San Francisco (where it was a cool and beautifully clear day, totally devoid of God's wrath). I could even sense the gnashing of teeth, ripping of garments and tearing of hair. And I'm evil enough to say that I enjoyed it all. The Christian Right, in full force, came out in its totally self-righteous mode, entertaining the whole country. 

So what the hell did people expect? My fingers were glued to the keyboard the moment I read the news about Obama, the Justice Department and DOMA. Then I thought, "Sit and wait, rev." The deluge of self-righteousness was overwhelming: so many people were "appalled" at the "outrageous" and "unthinkable" act "radical element" Obama has done, all-but-declaring DOMA to be null and void, "abandoning his role as President." Some diatribes were (relatively) short, others long-winded and others too flabbergasting to be coherent. The panoply and intensity of outrage was - to use their own words - "staggering":

I first went to Family Research Council's Tony Perkins since he has become, after all, the country's Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Royal Order of Righteous Rhetoric:

"This decision by President Obama and the Department of Justice is appalling. The President's failure to defend DOMA is also a failure to fulfill his oath to 'faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.' What will be the next law that he will choose not to enforce or uphold? "Marriage as a male-female union has been easily defended in court and overwhelmingly supported by the American people.

Ahem. That "overwhelmingly supported by the American people" has changed a bit since the Dark Ages (before Prop 8), but Perkins is well known for skewing numbers to the point that some researchers are thinking of suing him and the FRC.

Matt Staver, Liberty Counsel:
“This is outrageous and unthinkable ... Today President Obama has abandoned his role as President of the United States and transformed his office into the President of the Divided States. He has been the most divisive president in American history.
Staver's bluster is countered by the fact that Obama has always been a lawyer first, a President second and a constitutional scholar third when it comes to matters of law. He would not have made such a statement if he hadn't thought it out with all of the legal ramifications it might entail.  The "divisive" adjective may go along with Perkins' "overwhelming" statement, but people are beginning to think differently about same-sex marriage... and Staver knows it.

Maggie Ghallagher, NOM:

“We have not yet begun to fight for marriage. The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in Wisconsin and Indiana to prevent a vote, or unilaterally declaring homosexuals a protected class under our Constitution, as President Obama just did. 
Maggie Ghallagher is no John Paul Jones, but she is definitely on a sinking ship: the "crowds" at her rallies can all fit into my bathroom.

As always, Bryan Fischer:
[This is] "a wake-up call to all conservatives that fundamental American values regarding the family are under all-out assault by this administration. It ought to represent a clarion call to man the barricades before we lose what is left of the Judeo-Christian system of values in our public life."
"Assault" and "man the barricades" reinforce more than Fischer's penchant for militaristic rhetoric: it's his evocation of the myth of the masculine privilege. Fischer is being the forceful "man" he thinks Jesus Christ was, all Rambofied and armed with tough love. This gives us the feeling that Mr. Fischer is compensating for something.

And Mike Huckabee:

"There is a quantified impact of broken families," Huckabee said. "[There is a] $300 billion dad deficit in America every year...that's the amount of money that we spend as taxpayers to pick up the pieces because dads are derelict in their duties."
This is genuinely a WTF? correlation. Is Rev. Huckabee losing it? Maybe no more than Pat Robertson who was last seen helping to conduct a faith healing that looked more like an episode of Jerry Springer.* What is a "dad deficit"? Do we now have a shortage of fathers because gay men are luring them away with their wiles? Some women should be so lucky! Point of fact: some women would rather have a gay husband. Totally apropos sentiment from one wistful woman: "I long for the old days, when the good ones were either married or gay. Now they're both!"

Rick Santorum:
"President Obama's refusal to defend a law that was overwhelmingly supported on both sides of the aisle and signed into law by a president of his own party is an affront to the will of the people." 
(h/t Joe.My.God)

Yes, the accompanying photo is a rather cheap shot, but I couldn't resist it. Santorum is still trying to get his name re-googled.
OK, I'll stop being giddy about the situation and stop to breathe a more serious note: the problem we now face is that of a circus trainer trying to put his tiger back in its cage. The Christian Right, with its power behind the Republican Party (and some Tea Partiers) will not only be ferocious in its onslaught against Obama, but against anyone they feel is not backing their agenda 110 percent. They've already begun to peel some moderate skin off the Republican Party with their claws.  

When pseudo-historian David Barton recently spoke to the Connect 2011 Pastors Conference, he said that Christians needed to take control of the culture and media so that "guys that have a secular viewpoint cannot survive" because Christians will "chop that kind of news off." I don't think Barton's talking about viewpoint. 

I'm serious.