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That this topic would show up on this blog was inevitable. As an agnostic who is able to accept the possibility of gods existing, but finds the chance to be rather slim; I’m not fond of religion. Particularly when it comes to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). I consider them intolerant religions by default, due their claims of there being only one true god, and simply denying that any other gods even exist, declaring them as false or turning them into fiends. They have introduced the concept of holy wars, the idea that you need to kill and die for something completely intangible.

However, out of all fruits that falls from that same tree; I hold a special kind of contempt for the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. While my entries will not be merciful on Christianity as a whole, and a number of things will apply for Islam and Judaism as well, eventually I will focus upon Catholicism in particular…especially the Vatican. After all, the Vatican is effectively the heart and brain of the Catholic Church. Well…more or less. A shrivelled, deformed piece of flesh covered in tar, that is supposed to pass on as a heart sounds more accurate in this case, and the brain would seem to suffer a severe case of dementia . Just specifying, as creating the impression that the Vatican has an actual ”heart” is hysterically absurd.

What sets Catholicism apart from the rest is simple:

I: It has its own sovereign state. [1]

II: This sovereign state has been involved in a staggering amount of atrocities committed throughout history, to the extent that it is unmatched by any other religion in this regard.

III: The unparalleled hypocrisy together with certain very dubious principles. contemplate

I will go in detail about these three points below with varying levels of detail

I
The Vatican being a sovereign state is the most extreme example of the lack of separation of church and state for obvious reasons. Even Iran isn’t comparable. The church is the state. The problem with this is, that unlike institutions of other religions, the Vatican has direct political power; which is significantly amplified because the sovereign state sits at the top of the hierarchy of the Catholic church. This means that the Vatican is a world-wide threat to the separation between church and state. Although the Vatican’s pressure was a lot stronger in the past, when excommunication actually had a significant impact; it can still substantially influence modern countries. It also means that it can abuse concepts such as diplomatic immunity.

II
Then there’s the matter of how it is either directly or indirectly responsible for countless suffering, all in the name of defending and expanding Catholicism. It actually is official policy of the Catholic Church to encourage conversion. I quote: ”The Church maintains that it “has a duty to evangelize; it is also its inalienable right”. [2]

Historically, Catholicism is the religion that has been the most aggressively proselytized. While certain individual Muslim rulers might have aggressively proselytized Islam as well, I don’t think you can really claim it was standard. This isn’t very surprising, considering that they were more independent than their Christian counterparts; as there is no such thing as a Muslim version of the Vatican. This, in turn, means that due (forced) conversion not leading to some matter of rewards from a powerful entity; I’d dare say they were generally inclined to be more practical. Certainly, Islam has its ”Jihads”, but its really not comparable to an actual crusade, considering anyone can proclaim a Jihad. If anything, Jihads called by rulers merely seem like a convenient casus Belli to me. And unlike Christianity, the Muslims never had any religious military orders akin to the Knight’s Templars, Hospitallers or the Teutonic Order. The closest thing to a Muslim military order were the fabled Ḥashshāshī, [3] which is hardly comparable to any Christian military order, because of its structure, method of operations and sometimes mercenary nature …and that unlike the Christians, they had no desire to convert by the sword.

III
Christians, especially Catholics, are relatively often viewed as hypocrites and for good reason. The Bible holds more than a hundred inconsistencies and contradictions, [4] although this isn’t really that damning until you delve at some at some of the core believes of Christianity. God is considered almighty, all-knowing and considered to enshrine both justice and goodness. He is both merciful and loving. All of these claims are ultimately rubbish and can not be true if you study certain passages in the Bible…unless you have a very questionable sense of what certain principles are supposed to mean. We can start by looking at the Ten Commandments. [5]

The first commandment is ”Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. It is already a bit curious that this is apparently important enough to be the first commandment, but it only becomes more incredible as the commandment is explained somewhat.

”Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”

In other words, the very grave sin of worshipping an other god carries over up to the fourth generation…unlike (mass) murder. Furthermore, it is immediately equaled with hating god and also prevents you from receiving mercy from him.

So already in the first commandment, ”God” establishes himself as an exceedingly jealous and insecure deity, that even uses a veiled threat against any would be ”heretics”. Despite the talk about brought ”out of the house bondage”, ”God” demands loyalty from the start and considers it the greatest virtue. This actually gives a great religious explanation for why the Vatican punishes ”traitors” more harshly (or actually giving them a punishment to begin with) compared to (often homosexual) paedophile rapists. I could easily dig deeper in the Bible and portray numerous other examples; but I’ll save that for my second entry.

Christianity (especially Roman-Catholicism) has given ample justification for all sorts of atrocities and backward practices. A fundamental principle is that  is no equality, be it among men and women;  the faithful and the unbelievers or the clergy and laymen.

The Divine Right of Kings was firmly embraced by Christianity, essentially almost turning the king into a religious figure that ruled by the grace of God and no other…and thus, opposing a legitimate king would be effectively the same as opposing God. [6] [7] The only limitation was obviously the Pope, who could threaten to excommunicate a king, but that’s hardly a comforting thought, considering the actions of quite a number of Popes have been questionable and very much politically motivated. Especially in the case of the suppressing of non Christians, the Pope would not intervene. For example, let’s take a look at Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. [8] [9] Also known as Vlad Dracula and especially under his title of ”the Impaler”. This man was used as inspiration for the novel Dracula, although it turns out the historical Vlad was much more vicious than the fictional vampire count.

The real life Dracula is best known for his cruelty; in particular for his frequent use of impalement as an execution method. Although simply describing it as impalement doesn’t really do the brutality justice.His preferred method involving the use of a stake that would be inserted up someone’s  …anus and forcing it up; eventually exiting through the mouth. [10] The stake was typically oiled and not very sharp, so that the victim’s suffering would be prolonged. In fact, he eventually managed to perfect it to a demented art form; as some victims would endure for hours, if not days. His brutality and his great skill at using scare tactics actually managed to ”persuade” Sultan Mehmed II (the Conqueror of Constantinople) to abort his invasion of Wallachia.  In this case, the Vatican was quite pragmatic, actively supporting Vlad when he was imprisoned by the fraudulent King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (…and no, not because of his cruelty, but because he was a convenient scapegoat for Matthias).  Pope Pius II held Vlad III in high esteem…. [11] to the extent that the impalement execution method was officially sanctioned by the Vatican . [12] Impaling people up the ass in the name of Christianity is apparently quite dandy.

Pius II isn’t alone when it comes to bad Popes. What about Stephen VI,  Sergius III, Clement V, Alexander VI, John XII, Leo X, and Innocent III? The first decided to have the late Pope Formosus dug up from his tomb, so that he could be tried and executed for not correctly following protocol. [13] Executed being defined as having his rotting corpse thrown in the Tiber. The second has the dubious honour of potentially being the only Pope that had another Pope murdered (and an Antipope as well) and sired a bastard (…who became Pope John XI). [14] [15] He is also alleged to have had Formosum’s corpse exhumed once more (after some other Pope had buried the corpse again), putting him on trial again, declaring him guilty, severing his head and throwing him in the Tiber the once more. Clement V [16] [17] was a coward that submitted himself to the wishes of the French King Phillip IV, resulting into the destruction of the Knights Templars, [18] since Phillip IV had borrowed vast sums of money of the Knights Templar…and the demise of the Knights Templars meant that he’d never have to pay it back. [19]

Then there’s Pope Leo X [20] [21], who was so fiscally challenged, that he somehow managed to be unable cover his expenses with the more with an income of 600 000 ducats per year as Pope. As this was the early 16th century, this would translate to a truly staggering sum in modern days. He borrowed profusely, allegedly selling (among other things) cardinal hats, membership in some knightly order and even statues of the apostles. His actions drove on the Reformation, as he was a keen supporter of granting indulgences; a concept that was significantly criticized by reformers such as Martin Luther.

Pope Julius’ [22] history is also certainly more than a blemish on the Vatican, with his involvement with an adoptive nephew; bestowing on him to title of cardinal-nephew, showering him with gifts…to the extent his income was one of the highest in Europe. The affection led to rumours about the two having a homosexual relationship, further reinforced by the Venetian ambassador’s claim that they shared bed and bedroom. This allegation would end being used quite frequently by the Protestants to fuel anti-papal sentiment.  I’m sure some of the artwork in his villa didn’t help either. [23]

What about Pope John XII? [24] The man that was granted the Papal chair when he was somewhere around 18-20 and would be accused of holding orgies in the Lateran palace and being a homosexual. He managed to be the pope on three occasions, including when he first sold his office to his godfather; only to later on regret it and take the city back by force soon after. He has been referred to as immoral man with many mistresses, and that turned the Lateran into a brothel. There is an even an allegation that the legend about Pope Joan might been have brought about by a very influential mistress named ”Joan”.

The historically reviled Alexander VI  [25] [26] was quite a nice piece of work. Large scale nepotism, making his 17 year old son an archbishop, simply ”creating” 12 new cardinals so he could dominate the college of cardinals; one seat being taken by his now 18 years son and another by the brother of one of the Pope’s mistresses. He also issued the Inter caetera; [27] a papal bull that comes with this bastion of converting by the sword.

“Among other works well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread, that the health of souls be cared for and that barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself. …we (the Papacy) command you (Spain) … to instruct the aforesaid inhabitants and residents and dwellers therein in the Catholic faith, and train them in good morals.”

So not just approving of the Spanish conquest, but even demanding they continue, merely so they can stamp out the religions of the natives. A devious politician resorting to deceit and treachery to accomplish his usually corrupt goals, the only loyalty  being to his family as switched allegiances whenever advantageous, and consolidated the power of the Papacy in the Rome. He is said to have fathered have at least eight children and had many mistresses. There are even claims that he committed incest with his (also rather infamous) daughter, Lucrezie Borgia (although these allegations are less substantial, and it should be noted that it is easy to tack on things to such an already dubious figure). And to top it off, there was his involvement with the infamous Banquet of Chestnuts,  [28] which was a very large orgy with fifty prostitutes, numerous guests and clergy members and actually held in the Papal Palace.

And last, but not certainly not least; there is Pope Innocent III .[29] The architect of the bloody Albigensian Crusade and the shameful Fourth Crusade (that is, even from a Christian perspective). The Fourth Crusade actually leading to the Crusaders attacking and sacking Constantinople; essentially backstabbing their fellow Christians. It was a vicious blow to the Byzantine Empire, one that they never really recovered from, and pretty much paved the way for the Ottomans to ultimately emerge victorious from their conflicts with the Byzantines. At first the Pope was furious, making a rather damning speech:

How, indeed, will the church of the Greeks, no matter how severely she is beset with afflictions and persecutions, return into ecclesiastical union and to a devotion for the Apostolic See, when she has seen in the Latins only an example of perdition and the works of darkness, so that she now, and with reason, detests the Latins more than dogs? As for those who were supposed to be seeking the ends of Jesus Christ, not their own ends, who made their swords, which they were supposed to use against the pagans, drip with Christian blood, they have spared neither religion, nor age, nor sex. They have committed incest, adultery, and fornication before the eyes of men. They have exposed both matrons and virgins, even those dedicated to God, to the sordid lusts of boys. Not satisfied with breaking open the imperial treasury and plundering the goods of princes and lesser men, they also laid their hands on the treasures of the churches and, what is more serious, on their very possessions. They have even ripped silver plates from the altars and have hacked them to pieces among themselves. They violated the holy places and have carried off crosses and relics.

But when he saw the riches the Crusaders brought to him, his eyes begin to glimmer with greed and his spineless holiness welcomed them back into the Church. He even accepted the establishment of the Latin Empire,  finally subverting the rule of a Roman Emperor after more than a thousand years of Roman emperors, and recognized the legitimacy of Catholic clergy in formerly Orthodox lands. Quite a heel face turn from his initial words about the Crusaders. The funny thing is, that the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans was not actually any more brutal (some would even say less…including non Muslims)…despite that the Ottomans were Muslims.

There is also the omnipresent misogyny, starting with the Fall of Man [30] caused by Eve. The Bible has numerous references  [31] [32] [33] that firmly establish women to be lesser than men. Through more than a thousand years of Christianity, women have been suppressed, all with the blessing of the church. Women were created to serve men. The witch hunts can be easily explained as a symptom of Christian misogyny.

Compared to Ancient Rome, it took Europe more than 1500 years to catch up. In the early Empire, the rights of daughters were mostly equal compared to sons, and they had the right to receive the same share as their brothers. By the 2th century BC, the default form of marriage brought no change of personal status and enforced the separation of property; to the extent that gifts could (theoretically) be demanded back in case of a divorce or merely when the couple lived apart. Divorces already took place in the 2nd century BC (although some even say 600 BC) and were acceptable as long as it didn’t go against Roman social norms. In fact, during the Late Republic and first few centuries of the Empire, marriage could be ended simply because either husband or wife wanted to. [34] Classical Roman law did not allow any form of domestic abuse, nor did it ever place any blame for rape at women (unless they were part of the infamia, although this applies for male victims as well) and it was treated as a capital crime. [35]

Naturally, Christianity would turn out to be the great demolisher [36] of women’s rights. Already under Constantine the ”Great”, rape became a public offense of which the victim was very frequently an accomplish of, even if she had not consented. Christianity would turn out to erode women’s rights and be a very backward religion in this respect. On that note, Spartan women [37] also weren’t exactly off bad, nor were the Scandinavian [38] pagans. But contrary to the commonly held view in Christianity, women in the (eventually) Christian Visigothic Kingdom enjoyed a legal position that surpassed that of Christian women elsewhere by far. [39] Some of it carried over to the various successor states, which meant that even during most of Christian Europe’s history, women in Spain and Southern France had a somewhat better position compared to elsewhere. Rather interesting, for supposed ”barbarians”, according to the Romans.  Also a fascinating detail is that women actually had more rights under Islamic law [40]  for a long time, than their Christian counterparts would. Yet perhaps the most perplexing is that, despite Christianity starting out as sect of Judaism and what written is in the Bible; women have nearly equal monetary and property rights compared to men under Mosaic law. [41]

But finally, there was a different sound during the Age of Enlightenment. As the influence of the Catholic Church had begun to slowly whittle down already in the Renaissance, there was more room for philosophic debates without immediate suppression by religious authorities. It is mostly the Enlightenment that gave way for the separation between church and state.  Which, given the nature of Christianity, was a very important development for Europe. It is only logical that the progress of science accelerated from that moment on; as it was no longer held back by religion. And with the Age of Enlightenment began the very slow, gradual improvement of women’s rights…eventually surpassing Islamic and even Roman law.

Nevertheless, Christianity remains misogynistic to this day. Just take a look at whole abortion debate and the ordaining of female priests. The Catholic Church maintains the scientifically rebuked belief that life already begins at the conception. [42] The belief of abortion being evil is frighteningly absolute, as demonstrated in the case of a pre-teen girl being raped by her stepfather.  [43] Now, this was ”just” her stepfather…but what it would have been her genetic farther? I’m positive that the archbischop would have acted the exact same way, despite it also being incest, and that either one or both of the twins might be born with a significant genetic deficient. The Vatican’s justice is a mockery of true justice, supporting that the archbishop’s excommunication of the mother and doctors involved, and that the child rapist was not excommunicated.

The Catholic Church maintains that life must be protected at all costs; only offering an exception when abortion is an indirect effect of a life saving treatment. Of course, if a birth itself would threaten a woman’s life; you can’t exactly speak about the abortion being an ”indirect” effect.  It is a truly antiquated, fantastical and bizarre viewpoint that ought to have no place in a serious debate. Their unfounded, refuted belief is more important than the bodily integrity of a female .You might as well still argue in favour for spontaneous generation. Then again, this viewpoint ultimately isn’t that uprising considering that the Catholic Church has always been eager to claim more faithful; regardless of how. They are even still against contraception, acting as if there is no such thing as overpopulation.

Part two of this entry will attempt to offer an explanation why Christianity became (and still is) such a popular religion. Additionally, it will take a look at how it managed to spread through the Roman Empire as a malignant tumour.

References

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_City
2: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-Church-has-a-duty-to-evangelize;-it-is-also-its-inalienable-right-11043.html
3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashashins
4: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html
5: http://atheism.about.com/od/tencommandments/a/analysis.htm
6: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings
7: http://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/367/367-04.htm
8: http://www.donlinke.com/drakula/vlad.htm
9:  http://www.exploringromania.com/vlad-tepes-punishments.html
10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENk4HgxA_Bs&t=32m30s
11: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_II#Papal_Policies_and_Initiatives
12: https://www.examiner.com/article/vlad-the-impaler-aka-dracula
13:  http://www.law.uga.edu/dwilkes_more/his31_cadaver.html
14: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Sergius_III
15: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981869,00.html
16: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_V
17: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981606,00.html
18: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar#Arrests.2C_charges.2C_and_dissolution
19:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_IV_of_France#Suppression_of_the_Knights_Templar
20:  http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981624,00.html
21: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Leo_X
22: http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/julius_III.html
23: http://bp0.blogger.com/_jqLm4W1Sois/RlOZIePy0qI/AAAAAAAAAuM/xsjsIv5GzjY/s400/Satirello_che_ne_masturba_un_altro.jpg
24: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_XII
25: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Alexander_VI
26: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1981842_1981844_1981620,00.html
27: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter_Caetera
28: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banquet_of_Chestnuts
29: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Innocent_III
30: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Man#Genesis
31: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%203:16&version=KJV
32: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2014:34-35&version=KJV
33:  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%202:11-12&version=KJV
34: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Ancient_Rome
35: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_ancient_Rome#Rape_and_the_law
36: http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/women.html
37: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_ancient_Sparta
38: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Scandinavia
39: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Spain_and_Aquitania
40: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Islamic_law
41:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_rights_of_women_in_history#Mosaic_law
42: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7Z.HTM#-2C6
43: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/03/07/catholic-abortion.html

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