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Christian Intolerance Throughout the Ages

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Author Topic: Christian Intolerance Throughout the Ages  (Read 274 times)
Heather Delaria
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« on: February 10, 2007, 09:11:48 pm »

"Christianity persecuted, tortured and burned. Like a hound it tracked the very scent of heresy. It kindled wars and nursed furious hatreds and ambitions. It sanctified...extermination and dreamt of infinite blisses and crowns it should be crowned with before an electrified universe and an applauding God."
George Santayana (1863-1952)

"I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized by its churches, has been and still is, the principal enemy of moral progress in this world."
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Christians Throughout History

Before we discuss the behavior of Christians throughout it is important to understand what we mean by Christian. Many believers had tried to argue that those people who committed some of the atrocities mentioned here are not real Christians. It is important for those who think that way to examine the logic behind such a defense. Another related defense is that some of the injustices and atrocities committed by Christians were done in spite of the peaceful teachings of "true" Christianity. This defense is flawed and much of what we shall see in this section is the direct consequence of the Christian monotheistic paradigm.
Many myths surround the so-called "early" Christians, the followers of the religion during the first three centuries of the religion. That these early generations were important to the nascent religion, no one will deny. For it was during these centuries that the books of what eventually became the New Testament were written, collected and canonized. It was also during this period that the Christian church was founded, grew and consolidated itself. Together with these developments, and perhaps because of them, myths arose about the special nature of these people.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2007, 09:12:44 pm »

The Spread of Nascent Christianity

Early Christian literature, for obvious propaganda reasons, tend to exaggerate the number of followers and the successes of their proselytizing efforts. This trend is already evident in the early second century document, The Acts of the Apostles:
 Acts 2:47
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.   

 Acts 4:4
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.   

 Acts 5:14
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.   

 Acts 6:7
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly...   

These and the subsequent writings of the early church fathers such as Justin (c100-c165) and Tertullian (c160-c225) are merely rhetorical falsifications. Historians had estimated that by the year 200, less than one percent of the population of the central provinces of the Roman Empire were Christians. [1] And these were almost all confined to dwellers in the cities and town. The rural folk held so strongly to their old beliefs that the Latin term for peasants, pagani, became for Christians the generic term for adherents of the old religions. [2]

When Christianity came under imperial favour under Constantine in the early fourth century, the Christians amounted to no more than five to ten percent of the population of the Roman Empire. [3] Even after the conversion of Constantine the growth of the religion was by no means rapid. In Antioch, certainly one of the most important and oldest centers of Christianity, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius (emperor from 379-395), Christians made up no more than twenty percent of the population which numbered about half a million. [4] These considerations show that Christianity did not spread like wildfire with its self-evident truths compelling people to immediately embrace the religion.

In fact, it is a historical fact that by the beginning of the fourth century the Christian church was already on its death throes; partly due to the persecution by the Emperor Diocletian (245-313) and due to the intense competition for converts by the rival religion, Mithraism.

If there is one historical figure who contributed more than anybody else to the actual growth of Christianity it was, not Jesus, not Paul, but the Roman Emperor Constantine (c274-337). Had Christianity not found favour with Constantine, and his successors, who eventually suppressed Mithraism, this ancient Persian Sun-cult could well had become the predominant religion in Europe. [5]

When Constantine became Emperor of the reunited Roman Empire in the year 324, he gave political, legal and economic support to the Christian church. These included giving the bishops power to settle disputes between Christians, exempting all the priests from municipal taxes and giving them annual allowances. He also enacted some anti-pagan laws. [6] Some of his laws allowed the churches to enrich themselves substantially by preying on believing rich proselytes, especially the women.

The siphoning of the church for the money of these women were so bad that Emperor Valentinian (d375), fifty years after Constantine, had to command the Damasus (c304-384), Bishop of Rome to limit their extravagant donations. The successors of Constantine carried further these pro-Christian anti-pagan laws. The Emperor Honorius (384-423), for instance, enacted laws which allowed Christian church to take over the vacated pagan temples and to confiscate meeting houses and properties of those sects considered heretical. [7]

This then was how Christianity actually spread. Through some historical accident which put them in the good books of the Roman Emperor, Constantine. It was also Constantine, if you remember, who made Jesus God in the council of Nicaea in 325CE.

Subsequently it spread and consolidated its power through persecutions of other religions. In other words, the cause of the rise of Christianity is not to be found in superior theology or morals, but in a ruthless political persecution of its enemies.

1. Robertson, History of Christianity: p60 
2. Harris, Cow, Pigs, Wars and Witches: p176
Robertson, History of Christianity: p59
3. Gibbon, Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire: p187
Roberts, History of the World: p279
4. Gibbon, Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire: p183
Robertson, History of Christianity: p59
5. Phelips, The Churches and Modern Thought: p210
McCabe, The Social Record of Christianity, : p12 
6. Robertson, History of Christianity: p86
7. Phelips, The Churches and Modern Thought: p209-210
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2007, 09:13:46 pm »

One of the myth is that the superior teaching of Christianity compared to paganism helped it spread rapidly and permeated all classes of society. The spreading of the religion was supposed to be supernaturally guided such that its rise became inevitable. Another popular myth is that, through no fault of their own, the early Christians were consistently and repeatedly persecuted and many were killed or executed. A careful examination of history however shows these myths to be what they are religious fairy tales.

First, historical evidence show that the spread of Christianity was not as rapid as believers had assumed.
Second, we know that the early Christians, far from being "special" were with few exceptions, uneducated, ignorant, superstitious, with no respect for rational thinking and preys on the young and the credulous.
Third, far from actively persecuting the Christians, the Roman Empire was, in fact, remarkably tolerant, of this young religion.

Next let us look at some of the early "Church Fathers" so-called because their theologies ended up on side of the victors. We find that their behavior were no better than the average followers. For the early fathers had such hatred for life and sexuality so morbid that one of them actually castrated himself! We will look at five of the most famous of these Church Fathers: St. Ignatius (c35-c110), Tertullian (c160-c225), Origen (c185-254), St. Augustine (354-430) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).

The Papacy

The pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the highest living authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Lay Catholics are often fed, explicitly and implicitly, with lies, myths and misconceptions about the papacy. Let's look at two popular papal myths. The pope, teaches the church, is infallible. His infallibility was guaranteed by Jesus to Peter, who was the first pope. These two well-known teachings of the Catholic Church are demonstrably false:

Papal infallibility is not supported by historical evidence. When the Catholic theologian Hans Kung questioned this doctrine, the current Pope, John Paul II announced that, Kung was to be stripped of all his academic post and told he should no longer consider himself a Catholic theologian.
The claim that Peter was the first Pope, the first Bishop of Rome and was appointed to that position by Jesus himself is without any historical support.
Many lay Catholics probably assumed that the popes in history had been men of elevated piety and morals. Yet this is another belief which is demonstrably false. Many of the past popes had been, well, scoundrels.

The Protestant Reformers

The Protestant Reformation was a pivotal event in the history of western Christendom. A protestant may read with glee the "exploits" of the popes above and may think that his historical forefathers must have been better men. Wrong.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was an anti-Semite, who thought women to be inferior to men and supported the horrible massacre of 100,000 peasants in the Peasants Revolt of 1525.
John Calvin (1509-1564) had a general intolerance which lead, in one instance, to his gleefully describing the execution of a theological opponent.
King Henry VIII (1491-1547) joined the Protestant movement because he wanted to remarry. His sexual exploits are legendary.

It is worth noting that, as far as morality and humanity goes, these three were not much different from the popes they despised!
Back to the top.

Wars and Persecution

Christianity has always been, at its root, an intolerant religion. This seed of intolerance is planted in the Bible itself. When Christianity gained political prominence and power in the fourth century they immediately persecuted the pagans with political and mob action. The "heretics", of course, were not spared by the loving followers of Jesus.
It is ironic that the most famous "meetings" between two of the great (as in having many believers-not "great" as in "very good") religions-Islam and Christianity- have been through a series of wars called the Crusades. An estimated nine million people died during these series of wars.

Christian intolerance extended beyond fighting "infidels". It turned inward as well. The medieval Inquisition caused the death of more than one million people in the crusade against what was considered a "heretical" sect called the Albigensians in the South of France.

Of course it did not stop there, fresh from this "success" the Inquisition hunted down witches all over Europe. The death toll for the witch-hunts which terrorized Europe for three centuries (from 1487 to circa 1782) has been estimated to be as high as two million.

The Spaniards learned from these and came up with their own Spanish Inquisition. The death toll here exceeded thirty thousand. The victims ranged from girls as young as thirteen to women as old as ninety. Such was the extend of God's grace!

The Protestants of course were equal to the Catholics in the prosecutorial glee and zest. For they too persecuted heretics, witches, Catholics and each other!

Of course persecution was not the only outlet for the Christian. War was another popular outlet for the religious instinct. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw a spate of wars between the Catholics and the Protestants. These Wars of Religion were fought in the Benelux countries, France, Germany and the British Isles. The final death toll easily exceeded fourteen million.

Perhaps on of the most enduring "gifts" of Christianity to the world is anti-semitism. This hatred of the Jews, rooted in the New Testament, propagated by the early Church Fathers gave the church and the laity the excuse to slaughter Jews at the tiniest of instigations. Christianity holds a large part of the responsibility for the holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered in World War II.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2007, 09:15:05 pm »

Science and Reason

Anti-rationalism, the hatred of reason and knowledge, is deeply rooted in the Bible. Rooted in the Bible, this mistrust of reason was faithfully brought to full fruition by the early church fathers and the christian Roman emperors, who together successfully brought about the demise of Greek learning. We see the fruits of this anti-reason slant in many historical acts:

Thus, we are not surprised when we hear that book burning forms a major part of the Christian persecution method.
Censorship of course was a natural follow up to book burning and another manifestation for the anti-reason and anti-knowledge slant of the religion.
Contrary to what some may believe (after all, aren't there many mission schools all over the place in "backward" countries?) Christianity had always been anti-education, especially secular education. It was the Christian emperor, Justinian (483-563), who had the dubious honor of closing down the last schools of Greek philosophy, thus plunging Europe into the dark ages.
Perhaps the most clear cut example of Christian anti-rationalism is their historical, and in many cases continuing, suppression of science. Important examples of this include:

The arrest of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) for publicizing his findings that it was the earth that orbited the sun and not vice versa (as the Church had erroneously believed).
The suppression of medical science began when Christianity took political control of the Roman Empire. After successfully suppressing Greek medicine, it continued to fight any advances in medical knowldege including the ban on dissection of cadavers for anatomical research, the outlawing of the use of anesthetics during childbirth and the condemnation of the live saving use of inoculation and vaccination.
Of all sciences, the one that threaten Christianity most is the science of evolution. For regardless of what liberal theologians might say, finding out that the apes are our cousins no longer makes us much of a "divine image". Thus the moment Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published his book The Origin of Species in 1859, the Christian response was swift and immediate.

This attitude of anti-evolution continues well into the twentieth century. The the last quarter of the twentieth century there arose a new manifestation of anti-scientific Christian irrationalism known with the oxymoronic name scientific creationism. It's "science" seems to involve little more than quoting their opponents out of context and invoking miracles when rational sounding arguments fail.

More recently, scientific creationism have evolved a new species: intelligent design creationism (IDC). Realising the weakness of it predecessor, especially in the latter's inabaility to provide strong evidence for a young earth and for the reality of a world wide Noahchian flood, IDC have decided to minimize their approach to merely pointing out ostensibly designed aspects of biology and the cosmos. We have reviewed these arguments in the another section of this website.

The current ban on stem cell research is just another manifestation of Christian irrationalism-depriving millions of it's potentially life saving discoveries.

Social Progress

Many lay Christians vaguely believe that their religion had somehow been responsible for many of the social advances of the modern world. Among these include the abolition of slavery, the improvement of the position of women in society [1] and the "civilizing" influence of missionary activities among native tribes all over the world.
This view, that Christianity had somehow been responsible for social improvements is held not only by the laity but also by theologians and writers as well. For instance under the entry for Slave in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary (1894) by M.G. Easton the following passage is included:

 The gospel in its spirit and genius is hostile to slavery in every form, which under its influence is gradually disappearing among men. [2]   

The Christians churches had also taught that it had always been the protector of women. In the early twentieth century it was still possible for the Bishop of London to make such a statement: "the gospel has given women the position she holds today."[3]

The problem with all these claims are that they are simply not true. The feeling of ex-Christians who came to realized the truth for the first time upon leaving the influence of their religion is akin to someone who had just been swindled. Given below is a bitter denunciation of these false teachings regarding the social good brought by Christianity by the ex-Carmelite nun, Phyllis Graham:

 One of the most irritating tricks of the Christian mentality is the habit of attributing every advancement in social awareness and humane action, on every plane of evidence, to the wisdom and benevolence of Christians inspired by grace and motivated by love. This is a nauseating trait which disgusts, and frequently infuriates, those who have regard for the historical truth and the sheer weight of evidence that cannot be refuted. [4]   

It is the aim of this section to present the reader with what Graham called the "historical truth and sheer weight of evidence that cannot be refuted." For it is true that history shows us that Christianity was not responsible for bringing about these social advances, in fact in some cases it actively suppressed any attempts at social reform.

Let's first look at slavery. We see that the Bible had never criticized slavery as an institution. In fact in many cases it actually made laws to support it. Actually slavery was already beginning to be viewed as a flawed institution in pagan Rome, however when Christianity came into ascendancy, the leaders of the church, openly supported slavery in word and in deed. Black African slavery was fully supported by the Christian churches in the U.S. Religious arguments, with quotes from the Bible, were prominent in the defense of slavery.

Next we look at the position of women. Save for a few Muslim countries today, women today enjoys opportunities unparalleled in their history. This major social progress has not been the result of Christianity. The Bible had never held women in high esteem. The Christian theologians, of course, faithfully continued this misogynist tradition. Thus while we find that the position of women were reasonably good in Pagan Rome, it took a turn for the worse when Christianity became the dominant force.

A modern twist of this misogynist tradition has been the Catholic Church's continued opposition to abortion and birth control. In its battle against abortion, the Catholic Church has entered into an alliance with fundamentalist churches using an ostensibly righteous battle cry: the right to life. With this issue they have found an ardent supporter in the administration of George W. Bush, whose "culture of life" policies have directly led to the deaths of many third world women. It must be remembered that the argument that "abortion equals murder", removed of any theological obscurantism, is a fallacious one.

Tied in to this misogynist tradition is a perverse view of sex. The Catholic Church's adherence to celibacy for the priesthood is one of the causes of the current scandal of clergy sexual abuse of children.

Lastly we will look at missionary activities. There is a "romanticized" view of missionary work that needs to be corrected. Missionary activities have wrought much harm on native tribes all around the world. It's methods, far from just preaching the word of God to natives, involve deception, coercion and even kidnapping! It is a known fact that the missionaries have been responsible for many deaths of native peoples all around the world.


Modern Fundamentalism

Until about four decades ago the majority of Christians count themselves in the mainstream liberal churches. In a way the churches’ loose and undogmatic approach to biblical interpretation help in ensuring that the pathological side of faith is kept to the minimum. The involvement of the churches in social issues kept the religion meaningful. In the US, these issues were the civil rights movement and the protest against the Vietnam war. However, once these crises passed and the psyche turns inwards, liberal theology-which as we have seen is essentially cognitively meaningless- was unable to provide the solace that the Christian needs.[5]
Thus since the second half of the sixties the attendance in mainstream Protestant Churches had dropped dramatically while a corresponding increase can be seen in the evangelical/fundamentalist churches. [6] Lay Christians, grown tired of the liberal theologians' endless and meaningless sermons turned to the fundamentalist churches. While liberal churches begin to lose members, the fundamentalists ones began to gain adherents. The Assemblies of God registered a 300% increase in membership from 1960 to 1979 in the US alone. Many other fundamentalist churches at least doubled their membership within the same period.[7]

The fundamentalists’ main tenets are that certain biblical teachings represent the rock bottom fundamentals of the faith and cannot be questioned by those who still wants to remain within the faith. [8] Thus, they reject any scientific findings, a priori, that does not square away with these basic beliefs. We have seen in the previous chapters that the complete acceptance of Biblical "truths" has made the fundamentalists anti-science, anti-Semitic, anti-women and anti-social progress. However, they do offer a kind of concreteness and certitude which the liberals lack. And it is this set of simple [but simplistic] answers that attract many to fundamentalism.

This evangelical fundamentalist revival is a worldwide phenomenon. Countries in the West have been the main epicenter of these phenomena-not surprising as these are the ones that are traditionally Christian. In the United States today there an estimated fifty million born again Christians, who are mostly fundamentalists. At the time of writing (2004), the US has fundamentalist Christians as its President and attorney general. In Latin America, a traditionally Catholic stronghold, an estimated seven percent of the population, or roughly, 35 million are fundamentalists Christians. Europe is also not spared from this looming darkness. In 1991 in England, about a quarter of a million took part in the fundamentalist “March for Jesus”. [9] Third world countries, the traditionally non-Christian ones, have also seen their fair share of evangelism and conversions. The author personally knows some Christian evangelists who try to proselytize in countries, such as Nepal, where the preaching of Christianity is officially banned. We will look at some of the harm fundamentalists do to themselves and to others. It is a warning that if vigilance is not kept, a new Dark Age would again arise.

In many ways modern fundamentalism harks back to traditional Christianity, to quote from the Bible:

 Ecclesiastes 1:9
What has been is what will be
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.   

I agree, they are the Christians that are most true to their tradition. Indeed we find that:

The intolerance of some of the more prominent TV Evangelists do not really differ much from the old church fathers.
Even their sexual excesses remind one of the Renaissance popes.
The trust of many fundamentalists on faith healing is a continuation of tradition of anti-reason and anti-intellectualism of traditional Christianity. That lay Christians are continually been duped and cheated by these healers does not seem to abate the strong irrational belief in faith healing.
Like the Christian mobs of old who burned down synagogues and persecuted heretics, modern fundamentalists burn down "New Age" stores, condemn modern music, still burn books and are generally not "worldly".

Finally we look at one fringe fundamentalist sect: the Jehovah's witnesses. Despite repeated mistakes in predicting the end of the world they continue to attract believers. And like all Christian sects, they harm these very followers in many ways. Not allowing blood transfusion due to some passages in the Bible has caused needless deaths and suffering.



Our conclusions are many:

The behavior of prominent Christians and Christian mobs should prove once and for all that religious instructions and contemplation do not lead to moral behavior.
Rather than being the cure for the ills of the world, Christianity had, in fact, been responsible for many of its ills: the inquisitions, witch-hunts, wars and persecutions.
Christianity was, is and looks like it shall remain as long as it exists, a fundamentally anti-rational and anti-intellectual movement.
Christianity, rather than being a force to bring about social change, had always been champions of the status quo. It's historical record on slavery and the position of women attest to this.
The Catholic Church continues to cause harm in the world due to its position on birth control and abortion.
Modern fundamentalism embodies all the major characteristics of historical Christianity: they are intolerant, anti-reason, anti-women and anti-life. They are without doubt, the "true Christians".
If this page leaves a foul taste in your mouth, then I have done what I set out to do. To show that Christianity has brought more harm than good to the world.

1. Knight, Honest to Man: p49
2. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary: p636
3. Phelips, The Churches and Modern Thought: p198
4. Graham, The Jesus Hoax: p95
5. Cohen, The Mind of the Bible Believer: p31-32
6. Gardner, The New Age: p225
 Nelkin, The Creation Controversy: p59-61
7. ibid: p61
8. Godfrey, Scientists Confront Creationism: p7
9. Haiven, Faith, Hope, No Charity: p218 
 Edmund Cohen, "The Religiosity of George W. Bush", Free Inquiry Vol 24 No. 4 June/July 2004 p38-40
Gilbert, Casting the First Stone: p16-17
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2007, 09:15:54 pm »


Some quotations which are religiously intolerant, or which discuss religious intolerance, are listed below.
Anon: A Washington Post op-ed piece 1997-APR-19 called "Cult or Religion?:"

"Every religion is 'bizarre' for those who do not accept its tenants."

Anon: From an Email sent by a conservative Christian visitor to this website:

"There is no such thing as 'religious tolerance' as far as God and Heaven is concerned. We are either 'in' Christ or not."

Anon: Bumper sticker by Harbor House Gifts of Fullerton CA.

"Truth, not tolerance."  The bumper sticker also shows a clenched fist on the left side and a Christian cross on the right.

Sheik Abdel-Aziz Ibn Baaz, Supreme religious authority, Saudi Arabia and author of a Muslim religious edict, 1993:

"The earth is flat, and anyone who disputes this claim is an atheist who deserves to be punished."

George H.W. Bush, (R) as Presidential Nominee for the Republican party; 1987-AUG-27:

"No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

G.W. Bush (R), as Governor of Texas. Interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America, 1999-JUN-24 by Peggy Wehmeyer. Bush's comment was in response to the Wiccan soldiers at a military camp in Texas being given the right to meet together on base -- the same right as has always been given to Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.

"I don't think witchcraft is a religion. I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made." 10

Most Rev. George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 1997:

"We have lobbed verses of Scripture, like hand grenades, into the camps of others, convinced we only have truth."

Bob Chell, University Lutheran Center. South Dakota State University, 1996-OCT-10:

"In the Bible, the ones who were most certain about what they were doing were the ones who stoned the prophets."

G.K. Chesterton, ILN, 1906-JAN-13

"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions."  ILN, 1906-JAN-13

"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." - ILN, 1928-AUG-11

Hillary Clinton:

"In every religion, there are those who would drape themselves in the mantle of belief and faith only to distort it’s most sacred teachings -- preaching intolerance and resorting to violence"

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), "Known as a dandy, a novelist, a brilliant debater and England's first and only Jewish prime minister:" 3

"The Jews are a nervous people. Nineteen centuries of Christian love have taken a toll."

Will Durant, writing in The Age of Faith:

"In Constantinople, more Christians were slaughtered by Christians in the years 342-343 than by all the persecutions by pagans in the history of Rome." [We wonder about the accuracy of this quote. It is true that an army in the Fourth Crusade, authorized by the Pope in Rome, did sack Constantinople and kill a massive number of fellow Christians. However, this was in 1203/1204.]

Hagar, in the Hagar comic strip for 1999-MAR-3:

"My son, always respect and honor the other fellow's point of view. Unless it's different from yours, of course."

John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court:

"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."

Bob Jones Jr., of Bob Jones University, referring to the Roman Catholic Church:

"Romanism is a pagan counterfeit of the Christian religion, ancient paganism and idolatry, claiming to be the church which Christ founded...The Roman Church is not another Christian denomination. It is a satanic counterfeit, an ecclesiastic tyranny over the souls of men, not to bring them to salvation but to hold them bound in sin and to hurl them into eternal damnation. It is the old harlot of the book of the Revelation--'the Mother of Harlots.'...Threats and fear have been her weapons. Her wealth has dazzled, her ceremonies blinded the eyes of her devotees to the blackness of her purpose and the rottenness of her heart." 6

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Federico Mayor, Director-general of UNESCO (1987-1999)

"It is intolerable that the world's religions -- founded on the values of love and compassion -- should provide a pretext for the expression of hatred and violence."

Josh McDowell, at a Youth for Christ rally in 1994:

"Tolerance is the worst roar of all, including tolerance for homosexuals, feminists, and religions that don't follow Christ."

Harvey Milk, at a 1978 Gay Freedom Day Rally. (Harvey Milk was killed later that year by a fanatic).

"The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, THAT my friends, is true perversion."

Richard D. Mohr, "A More Perfect Union:"

"Religious belief is a fine guide around which a person might organize his own life, but an awful instrument around which to organize someone else's life."

Blaise Paschal: Often attributed to Sam J. Ervin, Jr., in "Protecting the Constitution" (1984).

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction."

Pope John Paul II. Stated at a mass rally in Mexico City on 1999-JAN-25:

"Only faith in Christ gives rise to a culture contrary to egotism and death."

Rabbi Ya'acov Perin

"One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail." 11

Robert E. Regier & Timothy J. Dailey

"Our founders expected that Christianity -- and no other religion -- would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate people's consciences and their right to worship. They would have found utterly incredible the idea that all religions, including paganism, be treated with equal deference. 7

Ronald Reagan

"Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." 13

Pat Robertson, New York Magazine, 1986-AUG-18:

"It is interesting, that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation." 8

Pat Robertson, Fundamentalist Christian minister, on The 700 Club, 1991-JAN-14:

"You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions but I don't have to be nice to them."

Pat Robertson, quoted in M. Schwartz & K. J. Cooper, "Equal Rights Initiative in Iowa Attacked," Washington Post, 1992-AUG-23, Page A15:

"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

Adrian Rodgers prominent Evangelical teleminister:

"Never, never, never join a movement that persecutes people because of their faith."

A Serbian student in Australia: 4

"If you are a Serb, you go to church, and a person who doesn't go to church is by definition not a Serb. They are a Moslem, or one of those American sensitive new-age ***got types, or some other form of low life."

Andrew Sandlin, writing for the Chalcedon Foundation, calls for Christian believers to pray to God to exterminate those who think differently from themselves: 

"God extends his grace to his people (and mankind in general) when he destroys the wicked, because in destroying the wicked, he is averting their evil works that so plague God's children and mankind in general. When he maims and kills cultists and theological liberals, he prevents the spread of heretical doctrine that damns souls...God's judgment -- not his favor -- leads the world to righteousness. We should petition God's judgment on the wicked because judgment is a form of grace." 5

John Shattuck, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. State Department for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Stated at a press conference concerning the Department's 1997 Country Report on Human Rights on 1998-JAN-30:

"Ethnic and religious conflict remain the most intractable and dangerous problems in the world today."

Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue. Reported by the News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN, 1993-AUG-16:

"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good...Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism." 9

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, speaking at  Ebenezer Baptist Church, to participants in the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference for the World Council of Churches in 2000-JAN. (In the same speech, he reminded his audience that the racist apartheid policy in his native South Africa was also created by Christians, not Pagans.) 

"It was Christians, you know, not Pagans, who were responsible for the Holocaust. It was Christians, not Pagans, who lynched people here in the South, who burned people at the stake, frequently in the name of this Jesus Christ"

Unesco: Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) web site:

"As shown by the political impact of religious fundamentalism and ethno-religious movements, religious difference is a main factor of contemporary social conflict on local, national and global level."

Anton Hein, "Religious Freedom, Tolerance, and Intolerance," at: 
Josh McDowell, et. al, "The New Tolerance: How a Cultural Movement Threatens to Destroy You, Your Faith, and Your Children," Tyndale House Pub., (1998). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store
Taken from "Britannia: America's Gateway to the British Isles," at: 
"Is Christianity a Confidence Trick?" Australian Union of Students hate web site, at: 
Andrew Sandlin, "Hatred for God's Enemies," at: 
Bob Jones, Jr., "Romanism and the Charismatic Movement: Because they ignore the Word of God, both papists and charismatics are doing the work of the devil," Faith for the Family, 1981, Bob Jones University, at: 
Robert E. Regier and Timothy J. Dailey criticized a prayer delivered on 2000-SEP-14, by a Hindu priest, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala of the Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Parma, OH. It opened a session of the U.S. House of Representatives. Criticism of the prayer appeared on 2000-SEP-21 in the Culture Facts section of the Family Research Council's (FRC) web site. It was also Emailed or mailed to the subscribers of Culture Facts, a weekly newsletter. It was later removed from the FRC web site. More details.
It is perhaps worthwhile noting that the end result of fumigation is the deaths of large numbers of unwanted, formerly living, animals.
The term "pluralism" is ambiguous. Here, it appears to refer to religious diversity in the country. Other times, it refers to the belief that all religions are true.
Bush was referring to the Army's decision to treat soldiers of all faith traditions in the same way. Following the requirements of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, they allowed Wiccans to hold religious rituals on an army base in Texas.
From his eulogy at the funeral of mass murderer Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who killed about 48 Palestinians in a machine-gun attack at Muslims in prayer in a mosque at the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron, Palestine. The quote was reported in an article by Clyde Haberman in the New York Times, 1994-FEB-28.
MOST's section on religious rights is at: 
Quoted in the Massachusetts Family Institute's E-Alert for 2004-JUL-09.
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2007, 09:16:58 pm »

The Origins of Christian Anti-Semitism
Sandra S. Williams
Student/Judaic Studies Program
University of Central Florida


The Apostle Paul
The Church Fathers

The Holocaust took place only a few decades ago under the very eyes of Christian Europe. The Christian clergy looked on while six million men, women, and children were murdered. And as the Jewish extermination program spread from one end of Europe to the other, the Pope sat in the Vatican with his attitude of neutrality concerning Hitler and his victims. There can be no doubt that the mass genocide of millions of Jews all over Europe called for enormous participation by huge numbers of people, both Protestant and Catholic. The horror of these events transcends anything known in human history. That it should have happened at all and in our time, and in a part of the world long thought to be civilized, culturally advanced and "Christian" is incomprehensible. What would cause such terrible hatred of every Jewish man, woman, and child that they should become the mortal enemy of the populations with whom they had lived for generations? What allowed millions of people who considered themselves to be Christians to participate as perpetrators, collaborators, or silent bystanders, as six million men, women, and children were slaughtered? And how did a competition between two sister religions become so great an abyss that it made mass murder possible? These are the questions this paper seeks to answer through an understanding of the theology and practice of the Christianity in which these perpetrators, collaborators, and bystanders were raised, and which would support an environment that could allow such a horrific event to take place.

In the light of history, one can't help but wonder if the events of this century have had any impact on today's Christian theology students who will be tomorrow's pastors and teachers? As the foundational teachings of the faith and the writings of the Church Fathers and "great theologians" are studied, are they accepted uncritically as indisputable authority? And to what extent is the information on Jews and Judaism presented in inadequate, biased, and distorted ways? As these students graduate, will they go on to teach large numbers of Christians who will be even less informed? As they stand in their pulpits and talk about "the Jews," the "Pharisees," the crucifixion of Jesus, and the early Church, will these pastors and teachers no longer be thinking of Auschwitz?

To understand the anti-Semitism of Christian Europe of this century, one must look back two thousand years to the birth of Christianity and its separation from its beginnings in Judaism. As we look back to the beginning of the Christian Era, the issues are indeed multitudinal and complex. Only through a knowledge of this critical time of transition can we understand the roots of the prejudice which developed into Christian anti-Semitism. To understand how a thoroughly Jewish religion of the Nazarene sect became the anti-Jewish religion of the Christian Church, it is necessary to retrace the events of the early centuries starting with Jesus.

It is the intent of this paper to focus on the person of Jesus and his teaching, the theology and teaching of the Apostle Paul, culminating with the writings and theology of the Church Fathers through the 4th and 5th centuries and how each has or has not contributed to the roots of Christian anti-Semitism.


Who Was Jesus?

Jesus was born a Jew, on Jewish soil. He was brought up in a Jewish family, taught from the Hebrew Bible, and his followers consisted entirely of Jewish people. He knew not Greek, Egyptian, Roman, or Persian. He spoke only Hebrew and the everyday language of the day...Aramaic. He was a Jew preaching to Jews. Although his teachings had universal implications, he was essentially a partisan and not an internationalist. As far as can be determined, Jesus was a faithful and righteous Jew, teaching strict adherence to the Torah. His teachings were typically simple, practical, and ethical, without evidence of arrogance or parochialism. "Much of his teaching was Haggadic in character and consisted of parables, legends, and poetic sayings of the great teachers of Israel."1 Typically his teachings were prophetic in nature with concern for the Kingdom of God and the near end of the world. Jesus frequently made use of the expression...Son of God. Bratton asserts that "this expression was a Hebrew idiom referring to the spiritual sonship of every person. The later use of the phrase by hellenized theologians to indicate Jesus' divinity as God's only son has no source in Jesus the Semite."2 From the gospels it is evident that Jesus actively participated in the culture of his day. It is also evident that he believed in much of the spiritual thinking of his time, such as demon possession, evil spirits, exorcism, and God's miraculous intervention in the world.

"Practically all of his sayings, including the Lord's Prayer (Math. 6: 9-13), can be found in Jewish writings before his time...the Old Testament, the Apocrypha, Rabbinical teaching, or the Essene literature."3 The genius of Jesus according to Bratton, lies in his ability to select and to emphasize. "He selected Jewish ethical principals and revitalized them for his hearers and sharpened their meaning. He reread the law, substituting positive principals for negative commandments, redefining religion along prophetic lines. He taught the potentiality and high worth of every individual, the paramount importance of personal moral integrity, the conviction that there is purpose in life, the idea of altruistic service as the true test of greatness, and the attitude of good will in all human relationships."4 The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew seems to compile most of Jesus' principals while Luke illustrates them in parables. Paliakov is also in agreement with Bratton that Jesus was in fact a faithful Jew. "Nothing in the Nazarene's teachings constituted formal heresy from the Jewish point of view: even at the end of the first century, a doctor of the law, Rabbi Eliezer, considered that Jesus, too, would have a place in the world to come."5

Why Was Jesus Never Accepted by His People?

If Jesus was a loyal and faithful Jew, why then the strange silence on the part of Israel concerning one of her most influential sons? According to Bratton, the reason for this is twofold: "The first was the impossible claims made for Jesus as the new God of the Gentile Christians who spurned the universal God of Judaism."6 One can only imagine how the Jews of Jesus' time must have felt about this claim, that he should be considered to be God himself and a rival of their own God. "The exaltation of Jesus to a deity destroyed whatever interest there may have been on the part of Jews in his teachings."7

The other reason according to Bratton was the Christian persecution of Jews once the Church was in power. Instead of putting the teachings of Jesus into practice, Christians began a reign of terror throughout the Roman world. This was to continue down through the centuries. In the name of Christ, Jews were treated with contempt, hunted down, tortured cruelly, and killed.

In 1905, Julius Wellhausen, a distinguished German scholar, declared that "Jesus was not a Christian, but a Jew."8 Many a Christian was no doubt surprised, because for 1900 years Jesus had been considered not as a man, and even less as a Jew, but as the second person in the Trinity, even God Himself. "If the Jews had failed to recognize Jesus as one of their prophets, it was because the organized Church - both Catholic and Protestant - was concerned only with protecting its official portrait of Christ, the God, and prohibited any scholarly investigation of Jesus, the man."9

The Fundamental Teachings of Jesus

The primary thrust of Jesus' teaching seems to be that of the Kingdom of God. Scholars are divided on Jesus' major emphasis. Some say that the "eschatological element was purely secondary and that Jesus used the term 'Kingdom of God' to refer to the achievement of the will of God in individual life and society at large."10 Others believe that "Jesus was an apocalyptist and regarded himself as a Messianic figure sent by God to announce the near end of the world and the establishment of God's Kingdom."11 At the time of Jesus, the longing for deliverance from foreign oppression had become an obsession. And it was from Rome that the people sought their deliverance.

The most indepth writings concerning Jesus come from the gospels. But one must remember that the gospels were not written by historians or biographers, but by theologians. The final editing was to take place by Gentile Christians who were opposed to the law of Judaism and whose chief interest was in attracting other Gentiles to Christianity. It does not appear from the situation at the time that it was Jesus' intention to institute a new religion. He asked his followers to go beyond the Law in the sense of striving for selflessness and to have the heart of a servant. From the gospel accounts, his concerns were clearly for worship of God and justice toward all men.

In the gospel of John, "the Jews" are clearly represented as Jesus' main adversaries. This can be seen in almost every chapter. "By the time the 4th gospel was written (approximately 125 C.E. according to modern scholars), the individuals who opposed Jesus were long forgotten. And after one hundred years they gave way to the generalization 'the Jews.'"12

Jesus and the Pharisees

Because of their portrayal in the gospels as hypocritical and self-righteous, the Pharisees have been looked down on by Christians for almost 1900 years. It is the contention of the gospels that the Pharisees had turned Judaism into a sterile, formal religion that was devoid of life and vitality; that because of them, Judaism had become nothing more than a yoke and a burden to the people.

The Pharisees, along with the Sadducees, were descendants of the Hasidim, the loyal supporters of the Maccabean revolt against the Syrians in the second century B.C.E. They were really the founders of many of the religious teachings and ethical principals that have survived in Judaism to this day. Their main contribution was the "interpretation of the Torah and the commentary that accompanied it...later called the Talmud. Their interpretations have stood the test of time and were later to be found in the Mishnah and the Gemarah, giving continued application of the law to Jewish life down through the ages."13

Travis Herford, an authority on Pharisaism, writes "it belongs to the irony of history that the Pharisees should be charged with a bigoted and stiffnecked hardening and sterilizing of the religion of the Jews, when it was they, as contrasted to the Sadducees and other literalists, and they alone, who gave it the flexibility and adaptability of spirit that enabled it to live and survive."14 A point of interest, Jesus himself was a product of the Pharisaic synagogue and frequently taught in it.

Jesus' Death

Near the end of his life, when Jesus made his entry into Jerusalem, he was received by a great crowd of people. It was the time of Passover and one can only imagine what a hot bed of agitation Jerusalem could be under Roman rule, which was undoubtedly of great concern to the ruling priests and the Roman prefect. There are more than a few historical scholars who believe that "the movement led by Jesus was a social and political Messianism and therefore a direct threat to Roman rule, and that Jesus was arrested and condemned and crucified by the Romans as a political rebel."15 This view goes entirely against the gospel accounts.

Other scholars believe that "those responsible for the condemnation of Jesus were the leaders of the priestly Oligarchy, belonging to the sect of the Sadducees."16 These priests held the interests of the upper class and were rigidly orthodox. They hated and feared Jesus as a revolutionary who was stirring the people up with his dangerous Messianic ideas. Earlier, Jesus had attacked the temple, the very symbol of the national religion.

Logic and reason do not support, as Christians have claimed through the centuries, that Jesus was killed and nationally rejected by his people. People from all walks of life seemed to be irresistibly drown to his teachings and his personality, as is evident from the frequent crowds that gathered around him. And as Morais states "perhaps the best proof that his enemies were a minority, and also of his popularity among the crowds congregated in Jerusalem, is that the ruling council took the precaution to arrest him in a solitary place and late at night, the time always preferred by tyrannical religious and secret police."17

The Gospel of John

Before leaving Jesus and continuing to look further into other origins of Christian anti-Semitism, the teachings of the Gospel of John should be further examined. It must be remembered that when the gospels came to be written, the sect of Christians were in open conflict with Judaism. Most scholars agree that the Gospel of John is the latest of the four. According to Morais, "Few Bible scholars accept that it was really written by the Galilean Fisherman who became Jesus' closest disciple."18 If in fact the date of the writing of John's gospel is 125 C.E., this would be a major miracle indeed, for the Galilean fisherman to have written such a work.

The accounts of Jesus differ in the gospels, especially concerning the trial of Jesus. John's gospel, however, is the only one that collectively describes the enemies of Jesus as "the Jews." In none of the other gospels do "the Jews" demand, en masse, the death of Jesus. In the other three gospels the plot to arrest Jesus and put him to death is always presented as coming from a small group of priests and rulers. Whoever was the author of John's Gospel, one thing has become clear: the image of "the Jews" acting collectively as the enemy of Jesus became fixed in the Christian mind. Successive generations of Christians were to read in the gospels the collective guilt of the Jews in the death of Christ.

A further word needs to be added concerning the guilt of "the Jews" in the death of Jesus. At the time of the Roman occupation of Israel, there were already more Jews living in the Diaspora than in Palestine. It would not have been possible for all Jews to have been aware of the existence and teachings of Jesus. Even the community of Galilee (Jesus' childhood home) was more than a days journey away, and it is doubtful they were even aware that his arrest and crucifixion had taken place until after the fact.

The Christian doctrine essentially teaches that God had sent his son into the world to save it and that his earthly appearance and death were foreordained. Foundational teachings by the Church Fathers is that salvation for all men came only through Christ. One of the great paradoxes of Christianity that can only be answered by Christians themselves is the argument so well taken by Bratton, who attests: "From the standpoint of common sense, if Jesus Christ was predetermined and was necessary as the culmination of God's plan for the redemption of the world, then those who were supposed to have accomplished that death should be praised rather than blamed. If Christ's death was God's will and the only condition for salvation, it would seem unreasonable to anathematize those who helped bring it about. Rather than be castigated, they should be canonized."19

When Jesus ended his ministry, it was not yet a religion. It was Jews who first carried his teaching into the Diaspora, where it was to find success beyond their imagination. It was to the hellenized Jews that the apostle Paul was to bring this message first and also to include the Gentiles.


Early Jewish Christianity

As recorded in the Book of Acts, the members of the very first Christian community in Jerusalem were strictly observant Jews who observed the law to the last detail and had every intention of continuing to do so. They followed all the requirements of the law, including the observance of Shabbat, circumcision, and the dietary laws. New recruits came only from among fellow Jews. "These earliest Christians had no thought of being anything but good Jews. They were not called "Christians" until after the middle of the first century at Antioch."20 Up until that time, they were known by various names including the Nazarenes, Ebionites, the Brethren, Followers of the Way, Sons of Light, and Galileans. And among them were diverse points of view and theologies.

From the accounts in Acts, it is clear that it was the Greek speaking Jews of the Diaspora, or the Hellenists, whose attitude toward the Gentiles was one of openness and tolerance. It was they who were considered by the leaders in Jerusalem to be the greatest threat to the fledgling group of Nazarenes. After his conversion, Paul the Apostle, was such a Jew. As recorded in Acts, the first great conflict in the history of the Church was this clash between these Hellenized Jews and the more orthodox followers of Jesus.

The Conflict

The main issues in the conflict were: 1) Did salvation through Christ supersede or make optional obedience to the Mosaic Law? and 2) If Gentiles were already God-fearing and converted to Christ, should they be responsible for following the whole of Jewish Law or not? Because Jesus' teaching had been strictly to Jews in Israel, the question had not arisen. The Nazarenes who were led by Peter and James (the brother of Jesus) said YES. They presided over the synagogue of Nazarenes in Jerusalem. The Hellenists said NO, and they were led by a religious genius and an outstanding leader: Paul or Saul of Tarsus. Those in Jerusalem held strictly to the Mosaic Law, maintaining that circumcision was a necessity for all followers of Christ. Paul, on the other hand, had undertaken missionary journeys where he had converted Greeks to Christianity. He maintained that the Law was not necessary for Greek converts. For Paul, the only requirement was to be baptized into the faith. "Law or no Law, he considered his Greek converts to be bona fide Christians."21 James and Peter, however, remained insistent that a Gentile had to become a Jew before becoming a Christian.

Paul set up his headquarters in Antioch, a Syrian city. It was here that the segregation barriers of Jews and Gentiles began to fall, and the Jewish sect of Nazarenes began to be called in Greek, Christianoi, or followers of Christ (Acts 11: 19-26). Because the conflict remained unresolved, the Christian community of Antioch decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem for a conference with Peter and James. There are two accounts of this conference. Galatians 2 is Paul's own account of how he took Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile, along with him to prove his point. Here he claims an unqualified victory over the orthodox viewpoint in Jerusalem. The second account is by Luke (Acts 15) who reports that an agreement was worked out. In both accounts, there is agreement that Paul won his argument. As a result, Paul and Barnabas became fully accredited as missionaries to the Gentiles. And so in 48 C.E. the Council of Jerusalem established the legitimacy of Gentile Christianity and freed it from the requirements of the Jewish Law. From that time on, Christianity would develop its own vocabulary in Greek and Latin, and also ways of expression which would make it increasingly divergent from those of Judaism and its origins.

Leon Poliakov points out that "when Paul made this crucial decision to exempt Christian proselytes from the commandments of the law and from circumcision, he thereby changed the course of world history."22 And so Paul became known not only as the Apostle of the Gentiles, but also among his fellow Jews as the "Apostate of the Law." "He had opened the door to the Gentiles without requiring from them obedience to the law, and they in turn had introduced into the new religion all their abominations - deification of Christ, the cult of the Virgin Mary harking back to the great pagan goddesses, the setting up of images in Churches, which was an open infringement of the second Commandment, and so on."23

Although Paul and other missionaries continued to preach in the synagogues, the gulf began to widen between church and synagogue. And although Christianity was birthed in Judaism and was at its inception powerfully influenced by it, it none the less ceased to be Jewish in language and outlook.

Judaism, threatened by the popularity of this new religion, reacted by closing its ranks. The Jews established a canon of the Hebrew Bible and condemned the writings of the Nazarenes. "Apparently the final break occurred when the Jewish patriarch, Gamaliel II, included an imprecation against the Christians in the Shemoneh Esreh (Eighteen Benedictions)"24 important prayer to guard against apostates. At this point, Christians were no longer seen as harmless followers of Judaism, but as grave heretics.

Paul and Torah

Many historians believe that Paul never advocated that Jews should stop following the Torah, only that Gentiles could now come into the covenants of Israel without adhering to the Law. The implications of his teachings, however, were to have profound effects upon succeeding generations of Christians.

Because of the essential conflict between grace and law, Paul devotes much of his letters to dealing with the issue of the Law and Jewish legalism. The view expressed by Davis is that Paul does not seem to "disagree with individual Jews, but with Judaism itself, saying that Christianity has replaced it. By attacking the Law as such, Paul appears to attack the very essence of Israel and he does so from a position of knowledge."25 One can only imagine what those early Gentile converts must have thought of Judaism. Paul, the Pharisee, the disciple of the great Rabban Gamaliel, who has experienced the best that Judaism has to offer, has rejected the Law so completely that he does not advocate that Gentile proselytes should adhere to it.

In the Pauline letters, Judaism is reflected as a joyless mechanical means of earning salvation by doing the works of the Law. And the God of the Jews is portrayed as a remote and gloomy tyrant who lays the burden of the Law on men. Against this portrayal of Judaism, the gospel of freedom from the Law is indeed welcomed as good news. And only a people who were stubborn and stiff-necked would refuse to be liberated from this burden.

When one considers that the three pillars on which Judaism stands are God, Torah, and Israel, an attack on any one of them would be considered anti-Jewish. In Romans 10: 4 Paul declares that "Christ is the end of the Law" and this can be interpreted as the end of the history of Israel as the people of God. This was to bring about, beginning from the second century onward, the replacement theory in Christian theology, which essentially states that the Church has now replaced Israel as the chosen people of God, and this has been one of to the greatest obstacles in the Christian's understanding of the Jews.

From the Jewish point of view, it was Paul's apparent abrogation of the Law which was most disturbing. Jewish interpreters and those who know something of Jewish thought and Torah, felt that "Paul's attacks were not merely unfair, they missed the mark completely. The Rabbis never speak of Torah as the means to salvation, and when they speak of salvation at all, it is the way of Torah, which is your life."26 In the eyes of Judaism "faith and works are never seen as opposites, for each would be meaningless without the other."27

When one considers that most Christian scholars have drawn their primary understanding of the Jewish concept of Torah, not from Jewish sources, but from the pages of the New Testament itself, their ignorance is understandable and not surprising. The result, unfortunately, has been historical inaccuracy and misunderstanding of the religion in which Christianity has its origins.

Paul's Divergence from Jesus

Jesus and Paul seem to be in agreement in basic religious and ethical values. Paul is in agreement with Jesus on God's omnipotence, His fatherhood, His unity, and His benevolence. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, their conception seems to be mixed. Both regard it as a future event and also as a spiritual condition. "For both, the Law had ceased to have absolute significance. Jesus' attitude toward legalistic Pharisaism was one of discrimination or relative importance; Paul's criticism of the Law was based on his belief in "Justification by Faith, rather than works."28

From his own point of view, Jesus regarded his sonship as ethical and spiritual. "Such terms as 'Son of Man' and 'Son of God' are ambiguous and reflect on the one hand the Jewish Messianic connotation, and on the other, the later Johannine deification process."29 In the gospels, Jesus gives no acknowledgement or recognition of his preexistence. On the other hand, it is Paul's contention that "Christ was preexistent in heaven, shared in creation, gave up his divine existence, came to earth as a man, lived and died for man's salvation, was exalted as Lord, and was to return to judge the world and establish God's Kingdom."30 Yet according to Bratton, Paul is neither a polytheist nor a tritheist. His theology subordinates Jesus to God. The difference in their teaching is that Jesus' theology was theocentric, while Paul's was Christocentric. Once Paul's letters became canonized, this led to the beginning of the process of deification of Jesus, which ultimately let to the Nicean Creed in the fourth century.

It was this divergence between Jesus and Paul that was to set the pattern for all future Christian thought. Bratton proposes that Paul's theology was neither consistent nor systematic, but rather it was formulized "on the run." "His teaching was a mosaic blending of various elements from his Jewish heritage and his Greek environment. Paul's speeches in Acts, as compared with his letters, reveal a variety of attitudes toward Jewish Law and toward the place of Jewish history in God's plan of salvation. In spite of his opposition to the requirements of the Law for Gentiles, he had non-Jewish converts circumcised and also preached to Jews as his first responsibility. His Christology was likewise ambiguous. The impact of pagan thought on his changing intellectual formulations compelled him to see Jesus as something more than human, and yet as a Jew he could not bring himself to equate the historical Jesus to God. He spoke of Christ as divine Lord, but he cannot be considered a Trinitarian in the fourth century sense of the word."31

The main factors contributing to the rift from Judaism was the belief by the early Christians in the risen Christ and their rejection of the primacy of the Torah. From there, they were to go on to assert that they were the people of God, and that the Old Testament ceased to be important except as a preparation for the New Testament. Paul had laid the foundation, and by the end of the first century the rift was complete.


The Hellenization of Christianity

Were it not for the teachings of Paul, it is possible that the early Nazarene movement might have survived in an atmosphere of coexistence among their fellow Jews. Aside from questions concerning the Messiahship of Jesus, there were no great conflicts. With the emergence of the early Catholic Church, there lies a vast chasm between it and primitive Christianity. A complete metamorphosis is seen as the teachings of Jesus became a theological system. The spontaneous enthusiasm of the first age of Christianity has been replaced with a highly organized Church system with authority, creeds, and a canon of scriptures. The religion of Jesus has been replaced by a religion of blessings, which are received only through sacraments, which are given only by the priests. The key to this transformation is Hellenization.

When primitive Christianity broke from Judaism, it was immediately exposed to a world teaming with the Greek, Persian, and Egyptian cults. As Paul and other early missionaries sought new converts, it is not difficult to see how they would naturally and even unconsciously begin to utilize accepted terms in the propagation of their message. It also seems logical to assume that these new converts already had other religious ideas, which they brought with them as they came into the new faith.

The mystery religions which were rampant in the Greek world at that time became the medium in which Christianity patterned itself. "The chief mysteries were Eleusinian, Dionysiac, and Orphic (Greek); Isis, Serapis, and Osiris (Egyptian); Mithra (Persian); and Adonis or Tammuz (Syrian). These cults offered man salvation through faith and sacrament. Their devotees conquered sin by obtaining a state of ecstasy or enthusiasm in which they became united mystically with the Savior...God."32 There seems to be a striking resemblance to the Pauline experience called "in Christ." As Christianity grew, the moral message of Jesus was lost sight of as the mystery of his person became the prime consideration. And as Christianity became more hellenized and separated from Judaism, it spread more rapidly.

The Canonization of the New Testament

During the quarter-century following the death of Jesus, nothing seems to have been written about his ministry or teachings. At first the sayings of Jesus were written in Aramaic, then later in Greek. The first Gospel was that of Mark, written about 70 C.E., to be followed by those of Matthew and Luke. By the end of the century, Paul's letters had also acquired scriptural status.

There were two reasons for making a new body of scripture. One was the natural desire for a document that would record the events that were happening and to distinguish the new faith from the Jewish religion. The other basic reason for canonization was to separate the orthodox or genuine from the heterogeneous mass of literature that had begun to accumulate in the first two centuries.

The process of canonization was determined by two factors: one was automatic and the other arbitrary. Along with the Hebrew Bible, certain books were being used in the services of worship. These books which were read purely for edification were automatically included. "Among the books cited as being regularly used in the period from 100 to 170 C.E. were the Four Gospels, Acts, the Letters of Paul, I Peter and I John."33

The years 220-400 C.E. saw the acceptance of the above list, plus those books which up to this time had been almost universally rejected, such as James, II Peter, II and III John, Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation. On the other hand, several other books which had previously been regarded as canon were rejected. These include Barnabas, Hermas, the Didacha, and I Clement. The authorities of this closing period were Origen from Alexandria; Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage; Eusebius, the Christian Historian of Caesarea; and Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. In 367 they issued for the first time a canonical list that was the same as the present New Testament. Jerome used this same list for his later translation. In 397 the Council of Carthage ratified the list and it became canonized.

From this brief outline, it appears that the canonization of the New Testament was purely a human process. The Church was to teach that scripture was an infallible revelation and divinely predetermined, which discouraged any later objective and scholarly investigation from within its own ranks.

The Emergence of the Catholic Church

By the year 300 C.E., the clergy had become a distinct class. It was organized on an hierarchical basis of deacons, presbyters, and bishops. It held complete authority over the laity. When the Council of Constantinople in 381 made the bishop of the principal cities "patriarchs," the Roman bishop refused the title and called himself "Pope" and "Visible Head of the Church."

As Christianity evolved into the Catholic Church, there was much disagreement about the nature of Christ. The Latin view of Cyprian and Tertullian identified Christ with God as co-equal and co-eternal. On the other hand, the Greek or Eastern Church was divided. The Alexandrian school held Christ to be of the same substance as that of the Father, whereas the Antiochian school subordinated Christ to the Father. The controversy became so intense that Constantine convened the Nicean Council in 325 C.E. This was made possible by the recognition of Christianity as the official religion of the Empire by Constantine in the Edict of Milan in 313. "The so-called Nicean Creed as used today was the one probably adopted at the Council of Constantinople in 381."34 The Nicean formula decided once and for all the oneness of Father and Son, and it pronounce anathemas on all those who did not accept it. The Latin theologians of the Western Church had prevailed, their leaders were Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine.

Tertullian (150-225 C.E.), presbyter of Carthage, had been trained for the Law. His approach was rigid and legal. His reasonings were..."Only those who were baptized and followed the prescribed course of penitence could hope for release from punishment" and "Divine revelation not reason is the source of all truth."35

Cyprian (200-258 C.E.), bishop of Carthage, had been a pupil of Tertullian. He is credited with the much quoted phrase "Outside the Church, there is no salvation." "He instigated the Lord's Supper as a magical rite and the practice of celibacy."36

Augustine (354-430 C.E.), bishop of Hippo in North Africa, became the Father of Roman Catholic thought. He believed that man's citizenship was already in heaven, and the present life is but a prelude to the heavenly life. But heaven is only for those who God has chosen. Some are predetermined, others are not.

Leo the Great in the fifth century and Gregory the Great in the sixth century, gave Augustine the official stamp of approval. The transition to the Catholic Church was now fairly complete. Sacrament was now central to the religion and it was grounded in authority. Any inquiry into the basis of the faith was not permitted.

By the fifth century, Christianity had rejected the rationalization of the Greeks. It turned it's back on tolerance and rational thinking, embracing legalism, dogma, authority, and sacramentalism. The rejection of Hellenism was to bring on a thousand years of darkness.

The Anti-Semitism of the Church Fathers

The war of the Christian Church against the Jews began with the Church Fathers' relentless attacks on those Jews who stubbornly refused to accept Jesus as Messiah. "The unbridled utterances of bigotry and hate coming from the venerated Church Fathers of the early Christian Church raises some doubt as to both their sanity and their saintliness."37 Despite their belief that Christ's death was necessary and predestined, they denounced the Jews as a "condemned race and hated of God."38

Before expounding further on the anti-Semitism of the Fathers, it is only fair to mention that from the days of Paul onward, there was considerable anti-Christian hostility from among the orthodox Jews because of the claims of Christianity. Because the rapidly growing Church was becoming a real threat to Judaism, fear and hatred of Christianity would not be surprising. It is quite possible that the Jews may have aided and even instigated the early Roman persecution of the Christians in the first few centuries.

Because of the growing power of the Church, Christian theology and the Church Fathers were to become more and more obsessed with Jewish guilt. The following teachings of the Fathers were to be handed down throughout succeeding generations in Christendom. Origen (185-254 C.E.) echoed the growing hostility:

"On account of their unbelief and other insults which they heaped upon Jesus, the Jews will not only suffer more than others in the judgment which is believed to impend over the world, but have even already endured such sufferings. For what nation is in exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone? And the calamities they have suffered because they were a most wicked nation, which although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none as for those that were committed against our Jesus."39

The Church, who was now Israel, had to discredit the other Israel. And it did so by making anti-Jewish theology an integral part of Christian apologetics. The Fathers turned out volumes of literature to prove that they were the true people of God, and that Judaism had only been a prelude to or in preparation for Christianity. Justin Martyr along with Hippolytus (170-236 C.E.) was obsessed with the belief that the Jews were receiving and would continue to receive God's punishment for having murdered Jesus. Hippolytus writes:

"Now then, incline thine ear to me and hear my words, and give heed, thou Jew. Many a time does thou boast thyself, in that thou didst condemn Jesus of Nazareth to death, and didst give him vinegar and gall to drink; and thou dost vaunt thyself because of this. Come, therefore, and let us consider together whether perchance thou dost boast unrighteously, O, Israel, and whether thou small portion of vinegar and gall has not brought down this fearful threatening upon thee and whether this is not the cause of thy present condition involved in these myriad of troubles."40

As the Church came into power in the fourth century, it turned on the synagogues with even greater intensity. Jewish civil and religious status was deteriorating, thanks to the influence the bishops had in the political arena. Laws were passed making it a capital offense for any Jew to make a convert, they were excluded from various professions, denied all civil honors, and their autonomy of worship was being threatened. In every way, they were being discriminated against. Christians felt that their belief in divine punishment was now supported by this growing evidence.

Hilary of Potieres spoke of the Jews as "a people who had always persisted in iniquity and out of its abundance of evil glorified in wickedness."41 Ambrose defended a fellow bishop for burning a synagogue at Callinicum and asked "who cares if a synagogue - home of insanity and unbelief - is destroyed?"42 Gregory of Nyssa (331-396 C.E.) gave the following indictment:

"Slayers of the Lord, murderers of the prophets, adversaries of God, men who show contempt for the Law, foes of grace, enemies of their fathers' faith, advocates of the Devil, brood of vipers, slanderers, scoffers, men whose minds are in darkness, leaven of the Pharisees, assembly of demons, sinners, wicked men, stoners, and haters of righteousness."43

The strongest attacks on Jews and Judaism by the Church Fathers are to be found in the Homilies of Chrysostom (347-407 C.E.) in his Antioch sermons. He is considered to be among the most beloved and admired in Church history. His name translates in Greek as St. John the Golden Mouthed. His discourses were prompted by the fact that many Christians were meeting on friendly terms with Jews, visiting Jewish homes, and attending their synagogues. Chrysostom said:

"The Jews sacrifice their children to Satan....they are worse than wild beasts. The synagogue is a brothel, a den of scoundrels, the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults, a criminal assembly of Jews, a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, a gulf and abyss of perdition."44

"The Jews have fallen into a condition lower than the vilest animal. Debauchery and drunkenness have brought them to the level of the lusty goat and the pig. They know only one thing: to satisfy their stomachs, to get drunk, to kill, and beat each other up like stage villains and coachmen."45

"The synagogue is a curse, obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or hear, she has deliberately perverted her judgment; she has extinguished with herself the light of the Holy Spirit."46

Chrysostom further said that the Jews had become a degenerate race because of their "odious assassination of Christ for which crime there is no expiation possible, no indulgence, no pardon, and for which they will always be a people without a nation, enduring a servitude without end."47

He elaborated further on God's punishment of the Jews:

"But it was men, says the Jew, who brought these misfortunes upon us, not God. On the contrary, it was in fact God who brought them about. If you attribute them to men, reflect again that even supposing men had dared, they could not have had the power to accomplish them, unless it had been God's will...Men would certainly not have made war unless God had permitted them...Is it not obvious that it was because God hated you and rejected you once for all?"48

On another occasion Chrysostom is quoted as saying "I hate the Jews because they violate the Law. I hate the synagogue because it has the Law and the prophets. It is the duty of all Christians to hate the Jews."49

Chrysostom's Homilies were to be used in seminaries and schools for centuries as model sermons, with the result that his message of hate would be passed down to succeeding generations of theologians. The nineteenth century Protestant cleric R. S. Storr called him "one of the most eloquent preachers who ever since apostolic times have brought to men the divine tidings of truth and love." A contemporary of Storr, the great theologian John Henry Cardinal Newman, described Chrysostom as a "bright, cheerful, gentle soul, a sensitive heart..."50

Augustine, the great theologian, was also guilty of the growing hatred. In a sermon on Catechumens, he says:

"The Jews hold him, the Jews insult him, the Jews bind him, crown him with thorns, dishonor him with spitting, scourge him, overwhelm with revilings, hang him upon the tree, pierce him with a spear...The Jews killed him."51

"But when the Jews killed Christ, though they knew it not, they prepared the supper for us."52

In another sermon he characterized the Jews as "willfully blind to Holy Scripture," "lacking in understanding" and "haters of truth."53

The Church Fathers had sown the seeds of intolerance and Jews were to become the object of hatred and persecution all over Europe for centuries to come.


Many of the sources reviewed in the writing of this paper agree that Jesus was, in fact, an observant Jew and that he was loyal to the faith of his people, as is also my own conclusion. It seems clear that he did not have any concern for starting a new religion or for the conversion of his own people to a faith outside their own. Clearly, his concerns were for the Kingdom of God, brotherly love, and for teaching the moral and spiritual implications of the Law (Mat. 5:17).

In reading the accounts of Jesus, some Christians have wrongly interpreted his criticism of the "Pharisees" [which were in all probability Sadducees] and their attention to the fine distinctions of the Law, as an indication that the Law was no longer necessary. Therefore, any Jews who observed Jewish Law would not find favor with Jesus. To do this is to remove Jesus from his culture as well as it is to misunderstand what he was teaching. But this alone cannot be used to develop an anti-Jewish theology.

As previously stated, if not for the innovations of Paul, it is possible the early sect of the Nazarenes might have survived within Judaism, or at least lived in an atmosphere of coexistence. Paul's innovations were to have such a profound influence that they have affected the course of world history. The position presented in this paper is that it was the hellenization of Christianity that caused its separation from Judaism. Paul himself, the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a hellenized Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia. It was the lack of understanding on the part of the Gentiles concerning Jewish Law, Jewish life, and the Jewish mind set that was to cause the reactionary attitudes of early Gentile Christians; attitudes which were first against Judaism and were later to become the anti-Semitic policies of the Christian Church.

Although Paul taught the Gentiles that through faith alone in Jesus Christ they could now enter into the covenants of Israel, he never advocated that Jews should not follow Torah. Paul's mission was to the Gentiles and his position was to simply make the faith accessible to Gentiles whom he felt were not required or obligated to take on the sometimes uncomfortable demands of Jewish Law. For example, by dropping the requirement for male circumcision, he made conversion to Christianity painless. A Christian proselyte could continue to live his life in his own culture without major interruption. And so began a blending process of Jewish and pagan customs and festivals which were later to become institutionalized by the Church, e.g. Sunday observance, Christmas, Easter. Because of this blending and "gentilizing" of Paul's teaching, Judaism seemed to the Gentile Christian mind set to be more and more in error. By removing the requirement for Gentiles to follow Torah, he unwittingly set the stage for the later anti-Semitism of the Church Fathers.

On the other hand, the writings and speeches of the Church Fathers as presented in this paper, clearly speak for themselves as to the blatant anti-Semitism, Jewish hatred, and intolerance that was pervasive by the fourth and fifth centuries. The Church had begun to act in ways that were in diametric opposition to its founder. Jesus never taught his followers to convert people by force, or to persecute, oppress, or harm people simply because they disagreed with his message. It is not difficult to understand how Christian anti-Semitism has been perpetuated, since the very men who laid the foundational Christian theology and developed the Nicean Creed were, in fact, some of the worst anti- Semites in history.

In the first century C.E. one out of every ten citizens of the Roman Empire was following Judaism. It was Judaism that had introduced God to the Roman world, but it was Christianity that was to become the state religion. Despite the rapid growth of this new religion, the Jews remained faithful and steadfast in their ancient religion. The people to whom Jesus addressed his message and to whom he belonged, rejected all Christian claims concerning him. By continuing to keep Torah, the Jews threatened the very truth, if not the very existence of Christianity. If Judaism remained valid and the only path to God, then Christianity was invalid.

The Church Fathers had a very logical solution to this problem...their apologetics would deny the legitimacy of the Jews and Judaism. The Church promoted itself as the new Israel, and the other Israel had to be discredited. And it did so by citing the Jews own scriptures against them, not just on specific issues, but on the fundamental questions of Israel's status as God's chosen people. In the process, the Christian religion became saturated with anti-Jewish sentiments.

The Church Fathers misinterpreted Jesus' teachings and lacked understanding of his Jewish culture. They assumed Paul's teaching to have universal application to Gentile and Jew alike, while failing to understand that his teaching of not being "under the Law" was not intended as instruction for the Jews. The Church Fathers developed, therefore, an extreme theology that was rigid and intolerant and required the Jews to abandon Judaism or be seen as "foes of grace, enemies of their fathers' faith, and advocates of the Devil."

Persecution followed the Jews wherever they went in the centuries that followed. Over time, three progressively severe policies were to be applied against the Jews: conversion (you can not live among us as Jews), expulsion (you can not live among us), and annihilation (you can not live). It is therefore my conclusion that the Church Fathers bear the major responsibility for the origins of Christian anti-Semitism.

Before closing it is important to point out that Christian anti-Semitism is not simply a shameful blemish on the early Church, but is an underlying element of its theology that has endured through the centuries and into modern times. It is tragic that in later times even the well known Church reformer, Martin Luther, was finally seduced by all the anti-Jewish propaganda of his time. Although in his earlier ministry Luther sympathetically acknowledged the shameful way the Church had treated the Jews and urged kind treatment of them, in later life he was to write the complete opposite. Here in part is what Luther wrote in C.E. 1543. Note that Adolf Hitler seemed to use it as a general guide for implementing the earlier phase of his "final solution" against the Jews:

"What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we cannot tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. . . . .We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. . . . . Let me give you my honest advice:

First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our LORD and of Christendom.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.

Fifth, I advise that safe conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home. [We might well ask "What home?", since they were all presumably burned in point two!]

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them, and put aside for safe keeping.

Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hand of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow."54
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2007, 09:18:03 pm »

Part 3: Its Foundation In Christian AntiSemitism
By Michael Hakeem, Ph.D.

The clergy's claim that atheism accounts for the evils of Communist Russia has been shown to be insupportable. Are the clergy ready to argue that the Nazi horrors could occur only because Germany was permeated with atheism? In fact, pre-Nazi Germany was permeated with Christianity. It is no exaggeration to say it was one of the most Christian nations in the world, if judged by the usual indexes. Just a couple of decades before Hitler started his ascent to power, 90 to 95 per cent of Germans were members of Christian churches; the Protestant church press was flourishing, publishing some 600 independent church papers with a circulation of 17,000,000; theology students numbered 5,500; and the presence of some internationally famous theologians kept interest in religious concerns prominent.
Nazism arose in the bosom of a pervasively Christian society. More than this, the Holocaust was a product of certain Christian doctrines. If the American clergy don't know that there is an intimate relationship between the Holocaust and the Christian faith, some Nazi officials and military leaders did. A German general replied, when asked at the Nuremberg Trials, how such a thing could happen: "I am of the opinion when for years, for decades the doctrine is preached that Jews are not even human, such an outcome is inevitable." He, of course, underestimated the duration of such preachment, which, as will be seen, started with Jesus. Julian Streicher, chief Nazi ideologist of anti-Semitism and founder of Der Sturmer, the most notoriously vile anti-Semitic publication, recommended "the extermination of the people whose father is the Devil," recalling Jesus' attribution of such parentage to Jews.

Hitler, whose virulent hatred of the Jews he frequently voiced with frenzy, saw the killing of the Jews as a sacred mission: "Today, I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord [italics in the original]." In response to two bishops who questioned the Nazi race policy, Hitler said that he was only putting into effect what Christianity had preached for 2,000 years.

Hitler is wrong. Christianity does not preach that all Jews should be exterminated here on earth. What Christianity did was to invent religious anti-Semitism which sometimes spills over into massive slaughter of Jews. In addition, what Christianity preaches is that Jews, and all others who do not believe in it, should, after death, be punished by horrible torture and ultimate destruction, whereas believers could qualify for a life of everlasting bliss. Christianity provided a system of thought, a climate of opinion, that made possible the dehumanization of whole categories of people, particularly the Jews. The Nazis referred to the Jews as devil, bacilli, vermin, worms, rats with human faces, filth, insects that lived in the darkness, and worse. Before Nazism, German literature contained vicious degradation of the Jews.

That is the bedrock Hitler could exploit with impunity. A historian, Victoria Barnett, writes: "The very fact that the persecution of the Jewish people could reach genocidal proportions, without massive outcry from their fellow citizens and with participation of the thousands of Germans who worked in the camps, reveals how deeply anti-Semitism was embedded in the hearts and minds of ordinary Germans." It was so deeply embedded in the German psyche that it was possible to hear anti-Jewish diatribes from Christian pulpits, the court preacher in Berlin in the Weimar period was a rabid anti-Semite, there existed pre-Nazi anti-Semitic political parties, and a League was formed to promote hatred of Jews. Professor George L. Mosse, a Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin and one of the most expert, probing, and prolific students of Nazism, says: "German anti-Semitism is a part of German intellectual history. It does not stand outside it." Mosse quotes Nietzsche: "I have never yet met a German who was favorably inclined to the Jews."

A combination of Christian anti-Semitism, racist theories, and Germanic super-nationalistic ethnocentrism reached its zenith in the Nazi era, forming a mixture of lethal volatility that exploded in the flames of the Holocaust. Its foundation was Christian anti-Semitism, in the view of some scholars, Professor Yehuda Bauer's being representative: "Without Christian, or traditional anti-Judaism, modern nationalistic and racial antisemitism would have been impossible."

Basic to an understanding of it all is the inherent intolerance of Christianity, a truth noted by the Encyclopedia Britannica:

"Christianity from its beginning, tended toward intolerance that was rooted in its religious self-consciousness." It is possible to cite many authorities who confirm that intolerance of Jews is part and parcel of Christianity. Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether can represent them all: "Is it possible to purge Christianity of anti-Judaism without at the same time pulling up Christian faith? Is it possible to say 'Jesus is Messiah' without, implicitly or explicitly, saying at the same time 'and the Jew is damned' "?

Many students of the subject see the Holocaust and Christian ideology as twins. As one researcher notes: "Almost without exception, general histories of National Socialism and especially of the Nazi policies concerning the 'Jewish question' begin with the story of nineteenth-century anti-Semitism. Conversely, most works on anti-Semitism in pre-Nazi Germany see in it a prelude to the Holocaust." Barnett provides a specific example: "The Holocaust . . . posed a direct challenge to Christians throughout the world. They were confronted with the consequences of the anti-Semitism that had been supported by Christian churches for centuries, and which made the Holocaust possible."
It all began with Jesus. Bishop John Shelby Spong indicts him: "Jesus is . . . depicted, especially in the Book of John, as being guilty of what we today would surely call antisemitism. Indeed, the hatred of the Jews that has been the dark underside of Christianity for two thousand years is fed by the pejorative attitudes found in the Christian Scriptures and even in the supposed words of Jesus. It has led to pogroms, ghettos, segregated housing and clubs, defaced synagogues, Krystallnacht, and Dachau."

Through the ages, the Gospels have furnished abundant ammunition to the anti-Semites. Professor Alan Davies, writing in Eliade's sixteen-volume Encyclopedia of Religion, comments: "Today, even Christian scholars generally concede that the Gospels and other sections of the New Testament are colored in some measure by hostility toward the Jewish antagonists of the apostolic church in the troubled milieu of the first and second centuries." He goes on to give details of the material in each of the Gospels that has gone into the structure of anti-Semitism. He points to the Gospel of John as an extreme example of Jew-baiting: "So negative and intense is the Johannine image that John has sometimes been regarded as the 'father of anti-Semitism.'" But that infamy is pinned on the Apostle Paul by Professor Hyam Maccoby: "If Paul was the creator of the Christian myth, he was also the creator of anti-Semitism which has been inseparable from that myth."

The Church Fathers--Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ephrem, Augustine, for example--topmost Christians all, fashioned an image of the Jews concocted of superhuman malevolence, hopeless totality of spiritual blindness, and every nameable evil. Look at this tiny sample of Chrysostom's thunder, taken from eight sermons devoted to the same theme: The Jews "are inveterate murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil . . . debauchery and drunkenness have given them the manners of pigs and lusty goats. They know only one thing, to satisfy their gullets, get drunk, to kill and maim one another. They murder their offspring and immolate them to the devil . . . .The Jewish disease must be guarded against. The Christian's duty is to hate the Jews."

This image of the Jews spun by these Christ-possessed notables of the early Church has been transmitted throughout the Western world through theological works, sermons, the mystery and Passion plays, folklore, and the arts.

The Middle Ages, spanning several hundred years, was a very bad time for Jews. The Popes were ruthless in their condemnation of them, treated them with extraordinary contempt, stimulated hatred toward them, and were instrumental in getting them slaughtered. Professor Raul Hilberg, in his encyclopedic research, The Destruction of the European Jews, presents two parallel columns, one setting down indignities, disadvantages, deprivations, prohibitions, restrictions, special penalties, and stigmatizing garb and insignia imposed on the Jews by the Catholic Church in Medieval times and the other listing their counterparts enacted by the Nazi regime.

What did the Christians have against the Jews? Professor Friedrich Heer reports that blame for everything deemed evil, from aborted human or animal birth to the plague, was laid at the door of the Jews in the Middle Ages. But above all, Christians charge the Jews with being "Christ-killers." Did the Jews kill Christ? Ignorance leads to an unhesitating affirmative response. Yet the Gospels themselves are confused and contradictory about the crucifixion, Mark and Matthew pinning it on the Romans, Luke and John on the Jews. Historians say crucifixion was never a Jewish method of execution but a Roman one. Many scholars make the case for the Romans' execution of Jesus as a political rebel.

Howard Teeple, after a painstakingly detailed analysis in his recent, impressive volume, How Did Christianity Really Begin?, concludes: "Who was responsible for Jesus' death, Jews or Romans? Neither Jews as a whole nor Romans as a whole, but the Sadducean priests, the Sanhedrin, Judas, and Pilate." Then there are those scholars who insist that there existed no historical Jesus to be executed.

Think of the millions of Jews put to death by Christians unable to reason logicalloy about their beliefs. If they could reason correctly, they would have nothing but boundless gratitude for the Jews, had they indeed crucified Jesus. Isn't it at the core of Christian doctrine that it was foreordained that Christ was to be put to death? To talk like Christians do, didn't God send his son here, for that express purpose? If salvation was to come into being, wouldn't someone have had to crucify Jesus?

Part 4 will discuss the Christian churches, which predominantly supported Nazism and kept silent about the "Final Solution." Martin Luther will be the starting point for reasons to be explained.

Michael Hakeem, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin--Madison.
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2007, 09:19:10 pm »


This page is about the active hatred and oppression of Jews in history and at present. It is an examination of how and where specific anti-semitism arose out of proportion to the "normal" background levels of prejudice that have always plagued mankind. The history of organized anti-Semitism is a history of Christian influence... this page is about that history with a few introductions to the confusing subject of how a religion that arose out of Judaism and Paganism combined, then turned on its heritage with the most bloody and hateful vengeance that either pagans or Jews have ever seen.

Anti-Zionism, Anti-Judaism, Anti-Semitism, Israel and Racism
BCE to 4th Century: The Roman Empire tolerated Jews until Christianity took over
6th-11th Century: Non-Christian Cultures were not Anti-semitic or Intolerant
11th Century: The First Crusades: Muslims were tolerant of others, Christians were not
13th-16th Century: Christian anti-Jewish legislation continues
19th Century
Reasons for Christian Anti-Semitism
Modern Times


1. Introduction
Nearly every culture that came into contact with Western Christianity tolerated and accepted Jews until Christianity spread its violent anti-Jewish message across the West. Only with Christian principles was anti-semitism made possible, culminating in the atrocities of the Nazis during World War 2. No other religion has hated the Jews as much as Christian communities.

The Dark Ages, encompassing the Spanish Inquisition, the Burning Times witch hunts, etc, was the time in which Christianity had complete control over the imagery and information people could come into contact with. Anti-Semitism spread from Christianity, through many stereotyped and falsified stories, to the whole of Europe and wherever else the Christian message spread at that time.

"Semites include Hebrews, Assyrians, and Arabs. But hatred of, or prejudice against, the Jews specifically, which has waxed and waned since the foundation of Christianity - goes by the misnomer of anti-Semitism. One strand derives from the crude assertion that 'the Jews crucified Christ'"
"Ideas that Shaped Our World", Robert Stewart, p55

 "By tradition Semites are descendants of Shem, son of Noah, and include most of the peoples of the Middle East. Anti-Semitism refers specifically to prejudice against or hatred towards the Jews. In its earliest systematic form, anti-Semitism had a religious character, reflecting the hostility of Christians towards the Jews, based on their complicity in the murder of Jesus and their refusal to recognize him as the Son of God. Economic anti-Semitism developed from the Middle Ages onwards, expressing a distaste for the Jews as moneylenders and traders. The nineteenth century saw the birth of racial anti-Semitism in the works of Wagner and H. S. Chamberlain, who condemned the Jewish peoples as fundamentally evil and destructive. Such ideas provided the ideological basis for German Nazism and found their most grotesque expression in the Holocaust."

"Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood, p233

2. Anti-Zionism, Anti-Judaism, Anti-Semitism, Israel and Racism
Although this essay is about hateful and racist antisemitism, we need to define other terms that are related. Anti-Zionism and Anti-Judaism are both different from racist anti-semitism.

Anti-Zionism: The belief that Israel, as a country, should not exist and the land that it now exists should be returned to the original owners. It is also used to describe those who would reduce the power, strength or stability of Israel as a country - regardless of whether the inhabitants are Jews, Christians, Arabs, etc.

"It is unreasonable and unfair to assume that opposition to Zionism or criticism of Israeli policies and action is [...] an expression of anti-Semitic prejudice. The Arab-Israel conflict is a political one - a clash between states and peoples over real issue"
"Semites and Anti-Semites" by Bernard Lewis, p20/22

Anti-Judaism: Philosophy, Logic, Reason and religious beliefs lead many to reject Judaism as a religion, just as Judaism itself rejects other religions. It is in the nature of religious dialogue that this be true - but anyone can convert to Judaism and be a Jew, according to their beliefs, so anti-Judaism is not race specific or necessarily prejudice.

Anti-Semitism: This is a racist dislike of the Jewish race, a form of xenophobia. This page is not about anti-zionism or anti-Judaism.
They are all inevitable and deeply linked. One must be careful not to accuse the victims of Israel as being anti-Semites, when in fact they're merely anti-Zionists, or to accuse a Hindu of being an anti-semite because he sees the religion of Judaism as wrong or silly. Even if such a view is ignorant, uneducated or prejudice, it is held against the religion, not against a race of people. Likewise you must be doubly careful when criticizing Israel or Judaism, not to accidentally fall into anti-semitic rhetoric. Be precise and be aware of the issues. For obvious historical reasons there is a lot of emotion around the sensitive issues of antisemitism, people are apt to find it where it isn't present as much as to miss it where it is!

3. BCE to 4th Century: The Roman Empire tolerated Jews until Christianity took over
The Roman way was tolerance. They allowed religious groups to order their own internal affairs according to their own religious rules. They allowed most religions to exist alongside each other, with the Emperors having various religious affiliations. Sometimes certain cults and sects were suppressed, sometimes bloodily and violently, but historically there was no other empire so tolerant and accepting of a multitude of religious beliefs as under Roman rule.

As Jewish Christianity arose within Judea, inside the Roman Empire, its fundamentally Jewish beliefs combined with pagan sun worshipping religions such as Mithraism and other Roman influences. Pauline Christianity, which is the Christianity we know, was very similar to Judaism and the original Gnostic Christianity. It was these two close neighbours that Christianity first came to view as its two greatest competitors and enemies; all three had similar beliefs, all three competed for the same types of religious convert. But gnostic Christianity and the priestly castes of Judaism were both peaceful. Pauline Christianity was bloodthirsty.

"Within only a few decades of the Crucifixion, many converts to Christianity had already chosen to forget that the four evangelists, the twelve apostles and even Christ himself had been devout and practising Jews", "All that was well done in the Old Testament or that might be interpreted as proof of Messianic authority, the Christians claimed for themselves; the failures and denunciations they allotted to the Jews". The Jews saw the plundering and abuse of their own holy texts and themselves wrote on the life of Jesus. "Christian writers retaliated with hideous accounts of Jewish depravity". "It is here, in the rantings of the early Church Fathers against the Jews, that the first fertile seeds lie buried in the hysterical anti-semitism that was to become so rampant in the Middle Ages.". Quotes taken from "The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall, p259-260.

Even before the Church was the official religion of the Roman Empire, when it was still autonomous, it was producing official anti-Judaism legislation. For example in 306CE "The church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews." [Quote: Christian persecution of Jews]

The aggressive Pauline Christianity gained the upper hand in the 4th century. The Roman Empire became a Christian Empire and under Emperor Constantine from the 4th century "theological diatribes" against the Jews began to appear in law. The first bloodshed was the finalisation of the slaughter of all the gnostics and the destruction and oppression of Judaism. The Roman Empire, once a multicultural tolerant nation became a theocracy ruled by Christian intolerance; and this influence spread through the Roman Empire to all of the Western world. Where Christianity had a stronger foothold, the Jews and non-Christians were persecuted and slaughtered more mercilessly than at any other time.

Due to this "religious fanaticism of such intensity" Jews were forced to live separately, were striped of wealth, belongings and all rights, they were reduced to slavery, ceremonially and regularly dehumanized, scapegoated, humiliated and slaughtered by Christian powers. This intolerance combined with complete enforced ignorance and superstition in all areas of life, resulted in the Dark Ages; that period in the Middle Ages when all of Europe was under the brooding, monstrous shadow of a bloodthirsty, out-of-control, corrupt Christian Church ruled from Rome. Roman Catholicism became most successful and bloodthirsty religion the world has ever known.

"Mixed marriages between Jews and Christians were punished by death. In the Codex Thedosians of the Emperor Theodosius II (408-450), the Jews were forbidden to hold any public office or function or to build new synagogues. Justinian completed this process of discrimination against the Jews in the 6th century by outlawing them altogether with all pagans and 'heretics'."
"The misery of Christianity - a plea for Humanity without God" by Joachin Kahl, 1968, p55

The Christian anti-Judaism hatred spread further and further... this trend lasted a full one thousand years before it began to abate.

315: Constantine published the Edict of Milan. [...] Jews lost many rights with this edict. They were no longer permitted to live in Jerusalem, or to proselytize.
325: The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: "For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people...We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews...our worship follows a...more convenient course...we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews...How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded."
337: Christian Emperor Constantius created a law which made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death.
339: Converting to Judaism became a criminal offence.
343-381: The Laodicean Synod approved Cannon XXXVIII: "It is not lawful [for Christians] to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety."
367 - 376: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephroem refers to synagogues as brothels.
379-395: Emperor Theodosius the Great permitted the destruction of synagogues if it served a religious purpose. Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire at this time.
380: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as "an act pleasing to God."
415: The Bishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril, expelled the Jews from that Egyptian city.
415: St. Augustine wrote "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus."
418: St. Jerome, who created the Vulgate translation of the Bible wrote of a synagogue: "If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil's refuge, Satan's fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever you will, you are still saying less than it deserves."
489 - 519: Christian mobs destroyed the synagogues in Antioch, Daphne (near Antioch) and Ravenna.
List taken from Christian persecution of Jews

4. 6th-11th Century: Non-Christian Cultures were not Anti-semitic or Intolerant
It wasn't just the Roman Empire that tolerated Jews and multiple religions. Most surrounding cultures did too. It was only with the rise of Christianity that the world saw bloodthirsty, immoral and fundamentalist intolerance for freedom of belief. Non-Christian cultures around the growing darkness of Christianity were tolerant of Jews and others, including fledgling Christian communities, but Christian theology was not a well behaved child; its founders and theology was deeply intolerant of any knowledge or ways of life that was non-Christian. The most Christian countries were the most anti-semitic, the more the anti-Jewish rhetoric and legislation spread from the Christian Churches, the worse the violence became.

Under the Moors and the Arian Kings of Spain Christians and Jews could both practice their religions freely.

"But to this relatively satisfactory situation the conversion of King Recared (589) and his successors to Catholicism soon put a stop. From the moment the voice of Catholic orthodoxy gained the royal ear [...] and throughout the seventh century, a series of Church canons and royal enactments complemented one another in a rising crescendo of anti-Jewish measures that was to culminate, at the end of the same century, in the total destruction of Spanish Jewry."
"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall, p261

"The seventeenth Church Council of Toledo bound over every Spanish Jew [...] into perpetual slavery. Whatever their intentions in 694, there can have been few Jewish slaves who regretted the annihilation in 711 of the Visigoth kingdom at the hands of the Moors, under whom the subject peoples, both Christians and Jews, were permitted to practice their own religions in a more tolerant atmosphere of cultural exchange"

"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall p263

One European purge of Jews centered around the widespread Christian belief that the end of the world was going to occur in 1033, the 1000th anniversary of the fable of the crucifixion of Jesus. France had also succumbed, after centuries of toleration, to the Christian anti-Jewish ravings.

"In France some Christians sought to prepare the way for the return of the Saviour by forcibly baptising or murdering Jews"
"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall, p215

Western Europe
All of Western Europe gradually came to be as bad as main Catholic countries as Catholicism's power continued to increase and spread, even to Germany which had, before Christianity, had high morals and tolerated Jews.

Religious note that persecution and outlawing of a Jew would stop if he converted to Christianity:
528: Emperor Justinian (527-564) passed the Justinian Code. It prohibited Jews from building synagogues, reading the Bible in Hebrew, assemble in public, celebrate Passover before Easter, and testifying against Christians in court.
535: The "Synod of Claremont decreed that Jews could not hold public office or have authority over Christians."
538: The 3rd and 4th Councils of Orleans prohibited Jews from appearing in public during the Easter season. Canon XXX decreed that "From the Thursday before Easter for four days, Jews may not appear in the company of Christians." 5 Marriages between Christians and Jews were prohibited. Christians were prohibited from converting to Judaism.
561: The bishop of Uzes expelled Jews from his diocese in France.
612: Jews were not allowed to own land, to be farmers or enter certain trades.
613: Very serious persecution began in Spain. Jews were given the options of either leaving Spain or converting to Christianity. Jewish children over 6 years of age were taken from their parents and given a Christian education
692: Cannon II of the Quinisext Council stated: "Let no one in the priestly order nor any layman eat the unleavened bread of the Jews, nor have any familiar intercourse with them, nor summon them in illness, nor receive medicines from them, nor bathe with them; but if anyone shall take in hand to do so, if he is a cleric, let him be deposed, but if a layman, let him be cut off."
694: The 17th Church Council of Toledo, Spain defined Jews as the serfs of the prince. This was based, in part, on the beliefs by Chrysostom, Origen, Jerome, and other Church Fathers that God punished the Jews with perpetual slavery because of their responsibility for the execution of Jesus.
722: Leo III outlawed Judaism. Jews were baptized against their will.
855: Jews were exiled from Italy
1050: The Synod of Narbonne prohibited Christians from living in the homes of Jews.
1078: "Pope Gregory VII decreed that Jews could not hold office or be superiors to Christians."
1078: The Synod of Gerona forced Jews to pay church taxes
1096: The First Crusade was launched in this year. Although the prime goal of the crusades was to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, Jews were a second target. As the soldiers passed through Europe on the way to the Holy Land, large numbers of Jews were challenged: "Christ-killers, embrace the Cross or die!" 12,000 Jews in the Rhine Valley alone were killed in the first Crusade. This behavior continued for 8 additional crusades until the 9th in 1272.
1099: The Crusaders forced all of the Jews of Jerusalem into a central synagogue and set it on fire. Those who tried to escape were forced back into the burning building.
List taken from Christian persecution of Jews

5. 11th Century: The First Crusade: Muslims were tolerant of others, Christians were not
Germany and more Eastern countries were not anti-Jewish, and communities existed there peacefully. But with the Crusades, large Western Christian armies roamed Europe, having an unfortunate affect on many Jewish settlements.

"Christian armies began to advance into Germany, and the first to feel the edge of their weapons were the peaceful Jewish communities long-settled in the trading cities along the river-valleys of the Rhineland and the Danube. [...]"

Crusaders said, "'Great tracts of country stand between us and the enemies of God whom we wish to conquer. It is absurd to begin this enterprise when before our eyes are the Jews, more hostile to God than any other race.'. Most men who wore the cross made little distinction between Jew and Muslim. [...]". Quote taken from "People of the First Crusade" by Michael Foss p58-59.

"By early 1096, they [including "monks who had absconded from their monasteries"] were already beginning to move south-eastwards, in bands large and small. [They] butchered as many Jews as they could lay their hands on and looted their property."
"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall, p91

Chronicler Solomon bar Simson records an age-old Christian argument, "You are the children of those who killed the object of our veneration, hanging him on a tree. And he himself had said, "There will yet come a day when my children will come and avenge my blood." We are his children and it is therefore our duty to avenge him against you who disbelieve in him." [Michael Foss p59]

Tens of thousands were killed in total. Multiple communities were attacked including those at Cologne, Neuss, Eller, Xanten, Trier and Metz. Also different groups of Christians under multiple leaders, from Christian Monks to Christian Hermits, overwhelmed Jews in Prague, Ratisbon, Regensburg, and other places, after attempting forced conversions of the Jews to Christianity.

Some Christians were horrified and ashamed by the actions of their comrades, and some of their written complaints survive. But the overwhelming vast majority of Christian texts and rhetoric were violently anti-Jew. The hatred was very specifically anti-Jew and not merely anti-pagan, it wasn't a blanket hatred as with "pagans" in general, but a directed hatred of the Jews in particular.

After the taking over of Jerusalem from the Muslims by the Christian armies, the Muslims hoped to reclaim their territory but they weren't the only ones who wanted to see the Christian aggressors removed:

"Nor were the Muslims the only ones to hope for a return to Islam. For generations, apart for some years of madness under Caliph al-Hakim, the Jews of the land and the city had, on the whole, been treated with tolerance by the Muslim rulers of Palestine. Yet what had the Christians done? Among the first monstrous acts of their presence in Jerusalem they had shut Jews in a synagogue and burnt them alive."
"People of the First Crusade" by Michael Foss, p183

The Jews reminisced over the temperate Muslim government, the safety, stability and tolerance of Muslim rule. It had all been replaced by Christian war, blood, danger, instability and fierce anti-semitism. The Muslims had also allowed the co-existence of Orthodox Greek Christians, and also Christian Copts, Syrians, Jacobites and Armenians. These relatively peaceful Christian groups were all oppressed by the new Christians proclaiming Latin patriarchy. The Catholics destroyed all peace in the whole middle East. The more pagan Christians, peaceful and tolerant, were shocked at how low and barbaric Western Christianity had become.

6. 13th-16th Century: Christian anti-Jewish legislation continues
In England the Jews situation was unique. Before Christianity, England contained many religions, pagan Celts, druids, natural religions and an assortment of imported beliefs all co-existed. But the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity led to a top-down enforcement of Christianity. The populace were convinced, coerced and led into Christianity by varied ingenious schemes, and all other religious beliefs were purged. Christianity meant the end of religious pluralism in England in the Middle Ages; if the Jews were present before 1000CE, they too would have been violently purged. Jews were introduced to England only in the 11th century, but by then England was already Christian. They were imported as subservients to the Christian government, coerced into providing trading advice and financial services.

The thirteenth century saw continuing Papal legislation limiting the rights of Jews, cross-marriage and even cross-contact between Jews and Christians were enforced, with Jews living in walled-off areas. The Catholic Church led the world in making new, innovative ways at dehumanizing the Jews, removing every right possible.

"Throughout Western Europe, although in some countries later than others, the general pattern was the same. The springtime of Christian usury and the pillaging, burning and looting of Jewish property" led eventually to them becoming financially useless and being expelled by the Christian rulers.

In England, France and Germany Jews were expelled as Christian commerce finally caught up with historical Jewish experience of trade which they'd gained before Christianity shattered their communities. "And from Spain and Portugal too, where Jewish prosperity lasted longer than in the North, all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity were finally driven out in the last decade of the fifteenth century [so that] the main bulk of the European Jewish had been pushed eastwards into Poland and the European provinces along the Russian border" [McCall, p283-284]

Martin Luther (1483-1540)
Martin Luther created the Protestant reformation with the publication of his 95 theses in 1517. He was also one of the most famous Christian anti-Semitical writers during this time, and in 1543 listed seven horrible, unjust and inhuman ways in which Jews should be treated, effectively stripping them of most their rights within (what was to be) Protestant territories.

"New York, NY, April 20...The impact of Martin Luther's anti-Jewish writings, the persistence of anti-Jewish ideas in Christian theology and the efforts of the Lutheran Church to fight the scourge of anti-Semitism and racism are explored in the new issue of Interfaith Focus, a magazine published by the Anti-Defamation League."
Anti-Defamation League, 1999 or 2000

"He made his famous recommendation that rebellious peasants should be 'killed like mad dogs' [and] that synagogues be burned - Jews were 'poisonous bitter worms'. [...] The Bohemian Protestants also turned on the Jews and expelled them from Prague. Indeed, most of the new sects were as intolerant as the old ones."

"A History of Sin" by Oliver Thomson, page 161

7. 19th Century
 "In the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church opposed the emancipation of the Jews, insisting that they remain in ghettos [...] and be denied equal rights. In its view, which dated back to St. Augustine in the fifth century, Jews should remain degraded until they renounced their anachronistic religion and embraced the saving truth of Christianity. The Jews immured since 1555 in the ghetto of Rome, which was ruled by the popes [...] suffered oppression, humiliation - including, as in the Middle Ages, having to wear a yellow star of David on their clothing [...]. After 1870 and until [the 1960s] papal pronouncements regarding Jews normally assumed that their proper status was ghetto subjugation and restrictions. [...] Forced conversions ended only after 1870. [...]
Popes fostered anti-semitic movements in Europe; from behind the scene Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) supported the virulently antisemitic Catholic Social Party in Austria and smiled on its leader, Karl Lueger, as he smiled on the French antisemitic volcano Edouard Drumont. [...]

The Vatican daily L'Osservature Romano in 1892 "glorified in antisemitism. Good antisemitism, wrote a typical Catholic journalist, is "nothing other than Christianity, completed and perfected in Catholicism""

"Anti-Semitism" by Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer, p6

8. Reasons for Christian Anti-Semitism
The Church Fathers were anti-Jewish, probably because the Jews actually owned and wrote the "Old Testament" of the Christian Bible, and argued with the new Christian sect over the claims of these newcomers about the Jewish Scriptures. From the very beginning the Church Fathers were vehemently anti-Jewish. They claimed that Jews belonged to Christians, along with their sacred texts; the Jews were forced to be slaves of Christians. Aquinas, a highly influential Christian theologian of the 13th century, is just one example of a high-brow Christian scholar who continually repeated the traditional Christian claims against Jews.

"St Thomas Aquinas gives the principle theological backing in his Summa Theologica when, reiterating the views of St Bernard, he declares that 'since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions'."
"The Medieval Underworld" by Andrew McCall p271-272

"In the Gospels we read more and more frequently about the Jewish people being reluctant to accept Jesus as the Messiah. He speaks to the Jewish audiences about 'your Law' as if it were not the same Law which he acknowledges and lives by. He grieves for the 'hardness of the hearts' of the Jewish congregation (Mark 3:5). We read about the Jewish people having been 'moved against' Jesus by the priests (Mark 15:11)"
"Jesus Versus Christianity" by Alfred Reynolds, p316

"The Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets"

Pilate, the Roman governor, is pressurized by Jews to "take action against an innocent man to placate the hostile Jews (Mark 15:15)'. Jesus is crucified despite Pilate finding 'no fault in him' (Luke 23:3). Pilate 'asserts the prisoner's innocence (John 19:4/6), and only the insistence of 'the Jews' prompts him to deliver Jesus to his executioners. Reading this story in the Gospel of John, one might even get the impression that the executioners in question were Jews, although the only form of execution used by the Jews was stoning; crucifixion, the Roman form of carrying out a death sentence, filled them with horror'. The later gospels are even more adamant in their condemnation of 'the Jews'. [Reynolds, p317]

The Christians always blamed the Jews for the persecution of their Messiah (see my essay on Paul & Mithraism for why and when Christianity decided that Yeshua was the messiah), and because it the Jews who killed him they have consistently produced violently anti-semitic propaganda, which have permeated into society in general even in today's enlightened world.

Note that the Romans crucified a large number of people of all types yet the crucifixion of Jesus is not attributed to the Romans by the Christians but always to the Jews. Jesus was killed by the Romans as a conspirator who wished to instigate a theocracy in Roman territory, yet the Italians are not blamed (as ancestors of the Romans) but the Jews (as ancestor's of the Rabbi's who with Jesus frequently argued).

St Paul, a very early Christian writer and the most influential saint of Christianity, wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 "...the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. How displeasing they are to God! How hostile they are to everyone! ... In this way they have brought to completion all the sins they have always committed."

From the very outset there were hatefully anti-Jewish Christians. It was hundreds of years before the New Testament was compiled, but the writings of such influential people as St Paul, so early, are an indication as to how intrinsically anti-Jewish Christianity was to become.

Sons of the Devil

"[The Bible's representation of the Jew:] The Jews were descended neither from God (like Jesus and the Christians), nor from Abraham but from the devil (John 8:44), and, as the children of the devil, the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning, they were bound to seek Jesus' life"
"The misery of Christianity - a plea for Humanity without God" by Joachin Kahl, 1968, p53

"Jesus said to [the Jews], "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. [...] You belong to your father, the devil [...] The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God"

John 8:42-47, New Testament, NIV

More Pauline Text

"The epistles show that at one time the point was reached when no reconciliation was possible and when the 'Church of Christ' was inevitably set against 'the Jews'. The Jews are said to have failed to attain righteousness and stumbled through unbelief (Rom. 9:31/3). They are ignorant of God's will (Rom. 10:3) and invoke His severe stricture (Rom. 10:21). Straying from the path of righteousness, they have sinned through blindness and stubbornness (Rom. 11). ['The Jews'] have 'both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and... please not God, and are contrary to all men (1 Tess. 2:15)"
"Jesus Versus Christianity" by Alfred Reynolds, p314


"It is a painful but inescapable truth that antisemitism, which seethes with hate, was spawned and nourished by Christianity, which reveres a Jewish prophet who preached love and compassion. The New Testament and the writings of the Church Fathers often refer to Jews and Judaism contemptuously. Jews were depicted as an accused people, children of the Devil collectively condemned by God to suffer for rejecting and killing Christ. This degrading image of the Jew was propagated over the centuries in numerous books, sermons, works of art, and folklore, and vestiges endure into the twenty-first century. Two thousand years of Christian anti-Judaism [...] hardened hearts against Jews. [...] This mind-set, deeply embedded in the Christian outlook, helps to explain why so many people were receptive to anti-Jewish propaganda"
"Anti-Semitism" by Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer, p3

The hypocrisy is that the Jews were led from captivity by Moses, a character massively revered within Christianity, and Jesus preached love and tolerance, yet the Christians managed to bring the world, and the Jews, down to a horrific hell as if Jesus and Moses both never existed! It is a psychological characteristic of Christianity that has allowed such contradiction, violent hypocrisy and emotional corruption within its ranks for so many hundreds of years.

9. Modern Times
The stereotypes of Jews that were fabricated by early Christians are still with us today: Big nosed, money grabbers, conspirators and grotesque, these all stem from the bigoted viewpoints forced upon all of Europe by Christian literature and messages that were endlessly created in the name of their God, based on versus found in the New Testament.

"Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years' pre-history of 'Christian' anti-Judaism..."
Hans Küng, "On Being a Christian"

"Today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord"

Adolf Hitler
Nazi Germany
Probably the most evident and known example of serious anti-semitism, the atrocities committed under Adolf Hitler's German government had no comparison, with millions of Jews murdered. Like previous Catholic-influenced programs, the Nazis also slaughtered many other groups such as gays and many forms of minority religion.

Universalism: All people will enter heaven independent of their religion & knowledge gained in life
Liberal Christianity
There have always been moral people, some of them Christians, who have bemourned the actions of fellow Christians against the Jews. Thankfully, the future is bright as in the 20th and 21st centuries, liberal Christianity has become the dominant form of Christianity. Liberal Christianity abandons much of the traditions and original Christian ideas in favour of a much more deistic approach to belief and morality. Liberal Christianity is largely moral and certainly good-natured. As such, the more violent anti-Jewish readings are marginalized in favour of other, more universal, interpretations. Liberal Christianity, and especially universalism has led to a much more moral-minded and apologetic Christianity, which is a very welcome modern trend.

10. Conclusions
Christianity created anti-semitism. All anti-semitism has been made possible because of the teachings of early and middle ages Christianity. In the early centuries the Roman Empire tolerated most religions including Judaism until Christianity took over; after which it became a monster and oppressor of any non-Christian belief systems. Anti-semitism has always been rife within Christianity, right from the original Church Fathers of the first century and many of the most influential Christian theologians wrote anti-Jewish tracts including Martin Luther. Muslim governments and people through the Middle Ages were more tolerant of beliefs, of science and knowledge, and of Jews, than Western Christianity. Cultures surrounding Western Christian countries were all more tolerant than those inflicted by Christianity. Anti-semitism marched in step with Christianity, was caused by Christian beliefs and was preached from the pulpit by the highest Christian leaders right on through to the twentieth century.

Muslims, pagans and Jews all had superior moral systems to the Christian intolerance and violence towards anything non-Christian. No other religion has displayed such immovable hatred towards another religion as Christianity did towards the Jews. No holy war has ever lasted so long and been so bloody as the one the Christians waged against innocent Jews. History provides us with only few occasions where Jews, or even Muslims or pagans, were as intolerant or morally corrupt as the West was under Christian rule. Thankfully modern Christianity, since it lost its power, is generally more humane. Christianity has slowly been forced to change its ways mostly due to pressure from increasingly powerful secular, poly-cultural governments and changing culture.
List all the pages on Judaism
Christian Morals


Foss, Michael
"People of the First Crusade", 1997.

 Heywood, Andrew
"Political Ideologies", 1992. Quotes taken from Third Edition, 2003. Published by Palgrave MacMillan.

Kahl, Joachin
"The misery of Christianity - a plea for Humanity without God", 1968.

Lewis, Bernard
"Semites and Anti-Semites", 1986. Hardback.

 McCall, Andrew
"The Medieval Underworld", 1979. Quotes from 2004 Sutton Publishing softback edition.

Perry, Marvin and Schweitzer, Frederick M.
"Anti-Semitism", 2002. Hardback. Published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Reynolds, Alfred
"Jesus Versus Christianity" 1988. Quotes from 1993 edition, Cambridge International Publishers, London UK.

Stewart, Robert (Consulting Editor)
"Ideas that Shaped Our World", 1997. Quotes from original Marshall Editions hardback edition.

Thomson, Oliver
"A History of Sin", 1993. Quotes from original Hardback Edition, Canongate Press.


Anti-Defamation League ( An overview of 2000 Years of Jewish Persecution The Bloody History of God's Chosen City Religion inspired suffering (especially of the Jews) in history

Portions of this text were originally wrote by myself in 2000 Apr 06, although on that date itself the original text was a rewrite of even older text with an unknown composition date.
2005 Mar 18: Added a quote from Bernard Lewis on types of anti-semitism, and quotes from Marvin Perry and Frederick M. Schweitzer.
Read / Write CommentsBy Vexen Crabtree 2004 Oct 06
© 2005 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.
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Heather Delaria
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2007, 09:21:10 pm »

Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas [Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino] (c. 1225–7 March 1274) was an Italian Catholic philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis. He is the most famous classical proponent of natural theology. He gave birth to the Thomistic school of philosophy, which was long the primary philosophical approach of the Catholic Church. He is considered by the Catholic Church to be its greatest theologian and one of the thirty-three Doctors of the Church. There have been many institutions of learning named after him.

Modern criticism

Some of Thomas's ethical conclusions are at odds with the majority view in the contemporary West. For example, he held that heretics "deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death", and thus that heresy should be punished by death (ST II:II 11:3), He also maintained the intellectual inferiority of women and their subjection to men on that account (see[[1]]) ST I:92:1, which is one reason why he opposed the ordination of women (see ([[2]]) ST Supp. 39:1; he did say, however, that they were fit for the exercise of temporal power. He also held that "a parent can lawfully strike his child, and a master his slave that instruction may be enforced by correction". ([[3]]) ST II:II 65:2.
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2007, 09:22:23 pm »


Origen (Greek: Ὠριγένης, ca. 182–ca. 251) was a Christian scholar and theologian and one of the most distinguished of the Fathers of the early Christian Church. He is thought to have been born at Alexandria, and died at Caesarea. His writings are important as one of the first serious intellectual attempts to describe Christianity.

Origen, to be entirely independent, sold his library for a sum which netted him a daily income of 4 obols (about twelve cents) on which he lived by exercising the utmost frugality. Teaching throughout the day, he devoted the greater part of the night to the study of the Bible and lived a life of rigid asceticism. According to some traditions, he carried this to such an extent that, fearing that his position as a teacher of women as well as men might give ground for scandal to the heathen, he followed Matthew 19:12 literally and castrated himself; this action, if accurately reported, was likely partly influenced, too, by his belief that the Christian must follow the words of his Master without reserve. Later in life, however, he saw reason to judge differently concerning his extreme act. The historical accuracy of this supposed castration has been doubted by some scholars. It has been postulated that this story was circulated by Origen's rivals in an effort to lessen his importance or to otherwise sully his reputation. Rebecca Denova is one such scholar.
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2007, 12:04:56 pm »


I respectfully affirm that alot of what you've posted is either factually incorrect or contains many half-truths, some of which even I believed at one time.

The Romans certainly were not a peace-loving empire until Christianity came along - by a long shot. They serverly persecuted Christians and continued to to do so when they adopted Catholism. A historically educated Atheist will even attest to that.

You also unfairly and incorrectly use the words "Christian," "Catholic" and "The Church" interchangaebly.

Hitler and the Nazis were not Christians by any stretch of the word. Hitler's core beliefs were rooted in the occult and paganism, yet he often coated his statements with certain Christian ideologies when it suited his public agenda. Yet I don't use this argument to make blanketed statements about pagans or paganism, and I never would, since I am aware that Hitler was psychopathic and distorted the nature of the religions he borrowed from, essentially creating his own warped religion.

This thread is just one example of how even some Wiccans resort to preaching intolerance and anger themselves (the very root of violence) in an attempt to voice their feelings of being intolerated. It comes across as hateful towards anyone who could be considered a Christian, and this should not be the goal of anyone who calls themselves a Wiccan, or any faith which claims to preach a message of love and acceptance.

I'm not sure what your goal could possibily be by putting so much negative energy into this.

Just live by example, and I assure you that you will open many more eyes.
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