This is my second year of participation in Blog Against Theocracy, hosted by Tengrain. This article will be cross-posted there. I am proud to be a participant and encourage you to visit Tengrain’s blog to read other articles posted there by many other bloggers. Yesterday I defined theocracy and looked at secular reasons to oppose it in this article. Today, I wish to take a different approach. In Matthew 7:17, Jesus said that we can recognize authentic believers by their fruit. So it is certainly legitimate to consider the fruit of theocracy. One of the best measures of that is the treatment of outcasts, who Jesus gathered to himself.
We so have a time in history in which the sacred authorities were at least equal to the secular, and for much of it, Western Europe can be considered a virtual theocracy from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Enlightenment. We’ll go back a little earlier for context. One group that was considered outcasts throughout that time was Jews. Here is the fruit of theocracy where Jews are concerned:
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 offense.
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.
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 testify against Christians in court. 3
535: The “Synod of Claremont decreed that Jews could not hold public office or have authority over Christians.” 3
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. 4
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: Cannnon 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.
1121: Jews were exiled from Flanders (now part of present-day Belgium)
1130: Some Jews in London allegedly killed a sick man. The Jewish people in the city were required to pay 1 million marks as compensation.
1146: The Second Crusade began. A French Monk, Rudolf, called for the destruction of the Jews.
1179: Canon 24 of the Third Lateran Council stated: “Jews should be slaves to Christians and at the same time treated kindly due of humanitarian considerations.” Canon 26 stated that “the testimony of Christians against Jews is to be preferred in all causes where they use their own witnesses against Christians.”
1180: The French King of France, Philip Augustus, arbitrarily seized all Jewish property and expelled the Jews from the country. There was no legal justification for this action. They were allowed to sell all movable possessions, but their land and houses were stolen by the king.
1189: Jews were persecuted in England. The Crown claimed all Jewish possessions. Most of their houses were burned.
Inserted from <Religioustolerance.org>
From there we continue with a brief look at the Inquisition.
The Inquisition was a Roman Catholic tribunal for discovery and punishment of heresy, which was marked by the severity of questioning and punishment and lack of rights afforded to the accused.
While many people associate the Inquisition with Spain and Portugal, it was actually instituted by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) in Rome. A later pope, Pope Gregory IX established the Inquisition, in 1233, to combat the heresy of the Abilgenses, a religious sect in France. By 1255, the Inquisition was in full gear throughout Central and Western Europe; although it was never instituted in England or Scandinavia.
Initially a tribunal would open at a location and an edict of grace would be published calling upon those who are conscious of heresy to confess; after a period of grace, the tribunal officers could make accusations. Those accused of heresy were sentenced at an auto de fe, Act of Faith. Clergyman would sit at the proceedings and would deliver the punishments. Punishments included confinement to dungeons, physical abuse and torture. Those who reconciled with the church were still punished and many had their property confiscated, as well as were banished from public life. Those who never confessed were burned at the stake without strangulation; those who did confess were strangled first. During the 16th and 17th centuries, attendance at auto de fe reached as high as the attendance at bullfights.
In the beginning, the Inquisition dealt only with Christian heretics and did not interfere with the affairs of Jews. However, disputes about Maimonides’ books (which addressed the synthesis of Judaism and other cultures) provided a pretext for harassing Jews and, in 1242, the Inquisition condemned the Talmud and burned thousands of volumes. In 1288, the first mass burning of Jews on the stake took place in France.
In 1481 the Inquisition started in Spain and ultimately surpassed the medieval Inquisition, in both scope and intensity. Conversos (Secret Jews) and New Christians were targeted because of their close relations to the Jewish community, many of whom were Jews in all but their name. Fear of Jewish influence led Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to write a petition to the Pope asking permission to start an Inquisition in Spain. In 1483 Tomas de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain, he set tribunals in many cities. Also heading the Inquisition in Spain were two Dominican monks, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin.
First, they arrested Conversos and notable figures in Seville; in Seville more than 700 Conversos were burned at the stake and 5,000 repented. Tribunals were also opened in Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia. An Inquisition Tribunal was set up in Ciudad Real, where 100 Conversos were condemned, and it was moved to Toledo in 1485. Between 1486-1492, 25 auto de fes were held in Toledo, 467 people were burned at the stake and others were imprisoned. The Inquisition finally made its way to Barcelona, where it was resisted at first because of the important place of Spanish Conversos in the economy and society.
More than 13,000 Conversos were put on trial during the first 12 years of the Spanish Inquisition. Hoping to eliminate ties between the Jewish community and Conversos, the Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492…
Inserted from <Jewish Virtual Library>
Now, lest you consider this a rant against Catholicism, it is not. The brief period of Protestant theocracy in Massachusetts gave us witch burnings. It is the nature of religious hypocrites to seek and abuse authority. The fruit of theocracy is rotten to the core. Now the theocons might argue that it isn’t true anymore, because they like Jews and support Israel, but that claim is also a lie. It still applies, because the theocons have new outcasts. Here’s a theocon from Family Research Council discussing the problem that gay people cannot get permanent visas for partners who were here on temporary work and student visas, because the state does not recognize gay unions:
(To see the video, go to the bottom and see it at my blog. I could not get it to post here.)
The bigotry is unchanged. It just has new targets.
In addition to intolerance, hate and bigotry, the fruit of theocracy will be rotten any time what’s best for people interferes with their religious agenda. Here’s Tony Perkins of family research council talking about global warming:
(To see the video, go to the bottom and see it at my blog. I could not get it to post here.)
Can we entrust the care of the earth to those who want it to end in apocalypse?
Tomorrow I shall discuss the error that has led the religious right to attempt to impose their dogma and attempt to discern Jesus’ view.
Cross-posted at Politics Plus