Holy Horrors: Religious slaughter through the centuries

By James A. Haught | August 1990
Secular Web

A pig caused hundreds of Indians to kill one another in 1980. The animal walked through a Muslim holy ground at Moradabad, near New Delhi. Muslims, who think pigs are an embodiment of Satan, blamed Hindus for the defilement. They went on a murder rampage, stabbing and clubbing Hindus, who retaliated in kind. The pig riot spread to a dozen cities and left more than 200 dead.

This swinish episode tells a universal tale. It typifies religious behavior that has been recurring for centuries.

Ronald Reagan often called religion the world’s mightiest force for good, “the bedrock of moral order.” George Bush said it gives people “the character they need to get through life.” This view is held by millions. But the truism isn’t true. The record of human experience shows that where religion is strong, it causes cruelty. Intense beliefs produce intense hostility. Only when faith loses its force can a society hope to become humane.

The history of religion is a horror story. If anyone doubts it, just review this chronicle of religion’s gore during the last 1,000 years or so:

— The First Crusade was launched in 1095 with the battle cry “Deus Vult” (God wills it), a mandate to destroy infidels in the Holy Land. Gathering crusaders in Germany first fell upon “the infidel among us,” Jews in the Rhine valley, thousands of whom were dragged from their homes or hiding places and hacked to death or burned alive. Then the religious legions plundered their way 2,000 miles to Jerusalem, where they killed virtually every inhabitant, “purifying” the symbolic city. Cleric Raymond of Aguilers wrote: “In the temple of Solomon, one rode in blood up to the knees and even to the horses’ bridles, by the just and marvelous judgment of God.”

— Human sacrifice blossomed in the Mayan theocracy of Central America between the 11th and 16th centuries. To appease a feathered-serpent god, maidens were drowned in sacred wells and other victims either had their hearts cut out, were shot with arrows, or were beheaded. Elsewhere, sacrifice was sporadic. In Peru, pre-Inca tribes killed children in temples called “houses of the moon.” In Tibet, Bon shamans performed ritual killings. In Borneo builders of pile houses drove the first pile through the body of a maiden to pacify the earth goddess. In India, Dravidian people offered lives to village goddesses, and followers of Kali sacrificed a male child every Friday evening.

— In the Third Crusade, after Richard the Lion-Hearted captured Acre in 1191, he ordered 3,000 captives — many of them women and children — taken outside the city and slaughtered. Some were disemboweled in a search for swallowed gems. Bishops intoned blessings. Infidel lives were of no consequence. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux declared in launching the Second Crusade: “The Christian glories in the death of a pagan, because thereby Christ himself is glorified.”

— The Assassins were a sect of Ismaili Shi’ite Muslims whose faith required the stealthy murder of religious opponents. From the 11th to 13th centuries, they killed numerous leaders in modern-day Iran, Iraq and Syria. They finally were wiped out by conquering Mongols — but their vile name survives.

— Throughout Europe, beginning in the 1100s, tales spread that Jews were abducting Christian children, sacrificing them, and using their blood in rituals. Hundreds of massacres stemmed from this “blood libel.” Some of the supposed sacrifice victims — Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, the holy child of LaGuardia, Simon of Trent — were beatified or commemorated with shrines that became sites of pilgrimages and miracles.

— In 1209, Pope Innocent III launched an armed crusade against Albigenses Christians in southern France. When the besieged city of Beziers fell, soldiers reportedly asked their papal adviser how to distinguish the faithful from the infidel among the captives. He commanded: “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Nearly 20,000 were slaughtered — many first blinded, mutilated, dragged behind horses, or used for target practice.

— The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 proclaimed the doctrine of transubstantiation: that the host wafer miraculously turns into the body of Jesus during the mass. Soon rumors spread that Jews were stealing the sacred wafers and stabbing or driving nails through them to crucify Jesus again. Reports said that the pierced host bled, cried out, or emitted spirits. On this charge, Jews were burned at the stake in 1243 in Belitz, Germany — the first of many killings that continued into the 1800s. To avenge the tortured host, the German knight Rindfliesch led a brigade in 1298 that exterminated 146 defenseless Jewish communities in six months.

— In the 1200s the Incas built their empire in Peru, a society dominated by priests reading daily magical signs and offering sacrifices to appease many gods. At major ceremonies up to 200 children were burned as offerings. Special “chosen women” — comely virgins without blemish — were strangled.

— Also during the 1200s, the hunt for Albigensian heretics led to establishment of the Inquisition, which spread over Europe. Pope Innocent IV authorized torture. Under interrogation by Dominican priests, screaming victims were stretched, burned, pierced and broken on fiendish pain machines to make them confess to disbelief and to identify fellow transgressors. Inquisitor Robert le Bourge sent 183 people to the stake in a single week.

— In Spain, where many Jews and Moors had converted to escape persecution, inquisitors sought those harboring their old faith. At least 2,000 Spanish backsliders were burned. Executions in other countries included the burning of scientists such as mathematician-philosopher Giordano Bruno, who espoused Copernicus’s theory that the planets orbit the sun.

— When the Black Death swept Europe in 1348-1349, rumors alleged that it was caused by Jews poisoning wells. Hysterical mobs slaughtered thousands of Jews in several countries. In Speyer, Germany, the burned bodies were piled into giant wine casks and sent floating down the Rhine. In northern Germany Jews were walled up alive in their homes to suffocate or starve. The Flagellants, an army of penitents who whipped themselves bloody, stormed the Jewish quarter of Frankfurt in a gruesome massacre. The prince of Thuringia announced that he had burned his Jews for the honor of God.

— The Aztecs began their elaborate theocracy in the 1300s and brought human sacrifice to a golden era. About 20,000 people were killed yearly to appease gods — especially the sun god, who needed daily “nourishment” of blood. Hearts of sacrifice victims were cut out, and some bodies were eaten ceremoniously. Other victims were drowned, beheaded, burned or dropped from heights. In a rite to the rain god, shrieking children were killed at several sites so that their tears might induce rain. In a rite to the maize goddess, a virgin danced for 24 hours, then was killed and skinned; her skin was worn by a priest in further dancing. One account says that at King Ahuitzotl’s coronation, 80,000 prisoners were butchered to please the gods.

— In the 1400s, the Inquisition shifted its focus to witchcraft. Priests tortured untold thousands of women into confessing that they were witches who flew through the sky and engaged in sex with the devil — then they were burned or hanged for their confessions. Witch hysteria raged for three centuries in a dozen nations. Estimates of the number executed vary from 100,000 to 2 million. Whole villages were exterminated. In the first half of the 17th century, about 5,000 “witches” were put to death in the French province of Alsace, and 900 were burned in the Bavarian city of Bamberg. The witch craze was religious madness at its worst.

— The “Protestant Inquisition” is a term applied to the severities of John Calvin in Geneva and Queen Elizabeth I in England during the 1500s. Calvin’s followers burned 58 “heretics,” including theologian Michael Servetus, who doubted the Trinity. Elizabeth I outlawed Catholicism and executed about 200 Catholics.

At the 1572 Massacre of St Bartholomew, ultra-Catholics massacred several thousand Huguenot Protestants.
At the 1572 Massacre of St Bartholomew, ultra-Catholics massacred several thousand Huguenot Protestants.

— Protestant Huguenots grew into an aggressive minority in France in the 1500s — until repeated Catholic reprisals smashed them. On Saint Bartholomew’s Day in 1572, Catherine de Medicis secretly authorized Catholic dukes to send their soldiers into Huguenot neighborhoods and slaughter families. This massacre touched off a six-week bloodbath in which Catholics murdered about 10,000 Huguenots. Other persecutions continued for two centuries, until the French Revolution. One group of Huguenots escaped to Florida; in 1565 a Spanish brigade discovered their colony, denounced their heresy, and killed them all.

— Members of lndia’s Thuggee sect strangled people as sacrifices to appease the bloodthirsty goddess Kali, a practice beginning in the 1500s. The number of victims has been estimated to be as high as 2 million. Thugs were claiming about 20,000 lives a year in the 1800s until British rulers stamped them out. At a trial in 1840, one Thug was accused of killing 931 people. Today, some Hindu priests still sacrifice goats to Kali.

— The Anabaptists, communal “rebaptizers,” were slaughtered by both Catholic and Protestant authorities. In Munster, Germany, Anabaptists took control of the city, drove out the clergymen, and proclaimed a New Zion. The bishop of Munster began an armed siege. While the townspeople starved, the Anabaptist leader proclaimed himself king and executed dissenters. When Munster finally fell, the chief Anabaptists were tortured to death with red-hot pincers and their bodies hung in iron cages from a church steeple.

— Oliver Cromwell was deemed a moderate because he massacred only Catholics and Anglicans, not other Protestants. This Puritan general commanded Bible-carrying soldiers, whom he roused to religious fervor. After decimating an Anglican army, Cromwell said, “God made them as stubble to our swords.” He demanded the beheading of the defeated King Charles I, and made himself the holy dictator of England during the 1650s. When his army crushed the hated Irish Catholics, he ordered the execution of the surrendered defenders of Drogheda and their priests, calling it “a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches.”

— Ukrainian Bogdan Chmielnicki was a Cossack Cromwell. He wore the banner of Eastern Orthodoxy in a holy war against Jews and Polish Catholics. More than 100,000 were killed in this 17th-century bloodbath, and the Ukraine was split away from Poland to become part of the Orthodox Russian empire.

— The Thirty Years’ War produced the largest religious death toll of all time. It began in 1618 when Protestant leaders threw two Catholic emissaries out of a Prague window into a dung heap. War flared between Catholic and Protestant princedoms, drawing in supportive religious armies from Germany, Spain, England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, France and Italy. Sweden’s Protestant soldiers sang Martin Luther’s “Ein ‘Feste Burg” in battle. Three decades of combat turned central Europe into a wasteland of misery. One estimate states that Germany’s population dropped from 18 million to 4 million. In the end nothing was settled, and too few people remained to rebuild cities, plant fields, or conduct education.

— When Puritans settled in Massachusetts in the 1600s, they created a religious police state where doctrinal deviation could lead to flogging, pillorying, hanging, cutting off ears, or boring through the tongue with a hot iron. Preaching Quaker beliefs was a capital offense. Four stubborn Quakers defied this law and were hanged. In the 1690s fear of witches seized the colony. Twenty alleged witches were killed and 150 others imprisoned.

In Puritan Massachusetts, religious nonconformists suffered this fate – and much worse. (A 1892 lithograph from the Library of Congress print collection)

— In 1723 the bishop of Gdansk, Poland, demanded that all Jews be expelled from the city. The town council declined, but the bishop’s exhortations roused a mob that invaded the ghetto and beat the residents to death.

— Islamic jihads (holy wars), mandated by the Koran, killed millions over 12 centuries. In early years, Muslim armies spread the faith rapidly: east to India and west to Morocco. Then splintering sects branded other Muslims as infidels and declared jihads against them. The Kharijis battled Sunni rulers. The Azariqis decreed death to all “sinners” and their families. In 1804 a Sudanese holy man, Usman dan Fodio, waged a bloody jihad that broke the religious sway of the Sultan of Gobir. In the 1850s another Sudanese mystic, ‘Umar al-Hajj, led a barbaric jihad to convert pagan African tribes — with massacres, beheadings and a mass execution of 300 hostages. In the 1880s a third Sudanese holy man, Muhammad Ahmed, commanded a jihad that destroyed a 10,000-man Egyptian army and wiped out defenders of Khartoum led by British general Charles “Chinese” Gordon.

— In 1801 Orthodox priests in Bucharest, Romania, revived the story that Jews sacrificed Christians and drank their blood. Enraged parishioners stormed the ghetto and cut the throats of 128 Jews.

— When the Baha’i faith began in Persia in 1844, the Islamic regime sought to exterminate it. The Baha’i founder was imprisoned and executed in 1850. Two years later, the religious government massacred 20,000 Baha’is. Streets of Tehran were soaked with blood. The new Baha’i leader, Baha’ullah, was tortured and exiled in foreign Muslim prisons for the rest of his life.

— Human sacrifices were still occurring in Buddhist Burma in the 1850s. When the capital was moved to Mandalay, 56 “spotless” men were buried beneath the new city walls to sanctify and protect the city. When two of the burial spots were later found empty, royal astrologers decreed that 500 men, women, boys, and girls must be killed and buried at once, or the capital must be abandoned. About 100 were actually buried before British governors stopped the ceremonies.

— In 1857 both Muslim and Hindu taboos triggered the Sepoy Mutiny in India. British rulers had given their native soldiers new paper cartridges that had to be bitten open. The cartridges were greased with animal tallow. This enraged Muslims, to whom pigs are unclean, and Hindus, to whom cows are sacred. Troops of both faiths went into a crazed mutiny, killing Europeans wantonly. At Kanpur, hundreds of European women and children were massacred after being promised safe passage.

— Late in the 19th century, with rebellion stirring in Russia, the czars attempted to divert public attention by helping anti-Semitic groups rouse Orthodox Christian hatred for Jews. Three waves of pogroms ensued — in the 1880s, from 1903 to 1906, and during the Russian Revolution. Each wave was increasingly murderous. During the final period, 530 communities were attacked and 60,000 Jews were killed.

— In the early 1900s, Muslim Turks waged genocide against Christian Armenians, and Christian Greeks and Balkans warred against the Islamic Ottoman Empire.

— When India finally won independence from Britain in 1947, the “great soul” of Mahatma Gandhi wasn’t able to prevent Hindus and Muslims from turning on one another in a killing frenzy that took perhaps 1 million lives. Even Gandhi was killed by a Hindu who thought him too pro-Muslim.

— In the 1950s and 1960s, combat between Christians, animists and Muslims in Sudan killed more than 500,000.

— In Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, followers of the Rev. Jim Jones killed a visiting congressman and three newsmen, then administered cyanide to themselves and their children in a 900-person suicide that shocked the world.

— Islamic religious law decrees that thieves shall have their hands or feet chopped off, and unmarried lovers shall be killed. In the Sudan in 1983 and 1984, 66 thieves were axed in public. A moderate Muslim leader, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, was hanged for heresy in 1985 because he opposed these amputations. In Saudi Arabia a teen-age princess and her lover were executed in public in 1977. In Pakistan in 1987, a 25-year-old carpenter’s daughter was sentenced to be stoned to death for engaging in unmarried sex. In the United Arab Emirates in 1984, a cook and a maid were sentenced to stoning for adultery — but, as a show of mercy, the execution was postponed until after the maid’s baby was born.

— In 1983 in Darkley, Northern Ireland, Catholic terrorists with automatic weapons burst into a Protestant church on a Sunday morning and opened fire, killing three worshipers and wounding seven. It was just one of hundreds of Catholic-Protestant ambushes that have taken 2,600 lives in Ulster since age-old religious hostility turned violent again in 1969.

— Hindu-Muslim bloodshed erupts randomly throughout India. More than 3,000 were killed in Assam province in 1983. In May 1984 Muslims hung dirty sandals on a Hindu leader’s portrait as a religious insult. This act triggered a week of arson riots that left 216 dead, 756 wounded, 13,000 homeless, and 4,100 in jail.

— Religious tribalism — segregation of sects into hostile camps — has ravaged Lebanon continuously since 1975. News reports of the civil war tell of “Maronite Christian snipers,” “Sunni Muslim suicide bombers,” “Druze machine gunners,” “Shi’ite Muslim mortar fire,” and “Alawite Muslim shootings.” Today 130,000 people are dead and a once-lovely nation is laid waste.

— In Nigeria in 1982, religious fanatic followers of Mallam Marwa killed and mutilated several hundred people as heretics and infidels. They drank the blood of some of the victims. When the militia arrived to quell the violence, the cultists sprinkled themselves with blessed powder that they thought would make them impervious to police bullets. It didn’t.

— Today’s Shi’ite theocracy in Iran — “the government of God on earth” — decreed that Baha’i believers who won’t convert shall be killed. About 200 stubborn Baha’is were executed in the early 1980s, including women and teenagers. Up to 40,000 Baha’is fled the country. Sex taboos in Iran are so severe that: (1) any woman who shows a lock of hair is jailed; (2) Western magazines being shipped into the country first go to censors who laboriously black out all women’s photos except for faces; (3) women aren’t allowed to ski with men, but have a separate slope where they may ski in shrouds.

— The lovely island nation of Sri Lanka has been turned hellish by ambushes and massacres between Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils.

— In 1983 a revered Muslim leader, Mufti Sheikh Sa’ad e-Din el’Alami of Jerusalem, issued a fatwa (an order of divine deliverance) promising an eternal place in paradise to any Muslim assassin who would kill President Hafiz al-Assad of Syria.

— Sikhs want to create a separate theocracy, Khalistan (Land of the Pure), in the Punjab region of India. Many heed the late extremist preacher Jarnail Bhindranwale, who taught his followers that they have a “religious duty to send opponents to hell.” Throughout the 1980s they sporadically murdered Hindus to accomplish this goal. In 1984, after Sikh guards riddled prime minister Indira Gandhi with 50 bullets, Hindus went on a rampage that killed 5,000 Sikhs in three days. Mobs dragged Sikhs from homes, stores, buses and trains, chopping and pounding them to death. Some were burned alive; boys were castrated.

— In 1984 Shi’ite fanatics who killed and tortured Americans on a hijacked Kuwaiti airliner at Tehran Airport said they did it “for the pleasure of God.”

Obviously, people who think religion is a force for good are looking only at Dr. Jekyll and ignoring Mr. Hyde. They don’t see the superstitious savagery pervading both history and current events.

During the past three centuries, religion gradually lost its power over life in Europe and America, and church horrors ended in the West. But the poison lingered. The Nazi Holocaust was rooted in centuries of religious hate. Historian Dagobert Runes said the long era of church persecution killed three and a half million Jews — and Hitler’s Final Solution was a secular continuation. Meanwhile, faith remains potent in the Third World, where it still produces familiar results.

It’s fashionable among thinking people to say that religion isn’t the real cause of today’s strife in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, India and Iran — that sects merely provide labels for combatants. Not so. Religion keeps the groups in hostile camps. Without it, divisions would blur with passing generations; children would adapt to new times, mingle, intermarry, forget ancient wounds. But religion keeps them alien to one another.

Anything that divides people breeds inhumanity. Religion serves that ugly purpose.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

James A. HaughtJames A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia’s The Charleston Gazette-Mail and a senior editor of the Free Inquiry magazine. He is also the author of numerous books and articles; his most recent book is Religion is Dying: Soaring Secularism in America and the West (Gustav Broukal Press, 2010). Haught has won 21 national newswriting awards and thirty of his columns have been distributed by national syndicates. He is in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the World, Contemporary Authors, and 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century. His website is haught.net.

Holy Horrors
By James A. Haught
Prometheus Books (30 May 2002)
ISBN-10: 1573927783
ISBN-13: 978-1573927789

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    • And no end in sight. What a shame that even in the 21st century, mankind is still living in the Dark Ages when we COULD have colonized another planet and MAYBE cured diseases like cancer instead of blowing the money on religious wars.

      • History has proved it.I'm fully aware that atheists will say that non belief in a God or Gods has nothing to do with what happened under the atheist regimes of the 20th century but they can't hide behind the fact that these regimes who put the belief of the supernatural behind them didn't behave very well,in fact,they committed the most severe atrocities known to mankind.

        Nothing to do with atheism.?Maybe,but,mankind can and does behave atrociously without God or belief.

          • Grackle, mate, as an example,

            i was a few years back having a facebook stoush over religion.vs.atheism with a years-long buddy who'd recently gone "born-again".
            after he hit me with the "prove it" comment, i went searching for the supporting data for my argument.
            He apparently used that time to block me and bar me from his email account.
            I still have not had any communication with him for the last i think 6 years, i'm still 'blocked'.

            a comment asking for proof is the christians version of shouting "Smokebomb!!" and running away like a ninja,
            Because facts are so pesky when you're in the queue for heaven….

        • The reason that it ‘appears’ that atheism is just as bloodthirsty as religions is because atheist leaders in the last century have had a much greater ability(because of technology) to inflict mass casualties or industrial murder. Do you seriously believe that the crusades would have been any less bloody than the holocaust if deadly enough technology was available? Or that Cromwell would have been any less of a genocidal lunatic than Mao?.

          You also forget that the atrocities of atheist leaders were not committed in the name of atheism, but in the name of communism or racial purification or political, coercive violence. Also Hitler wasn’t an atheist, he was a catholic and said so often, but don’t let these inconvenient facts get in the way of your prejudices, John!

        • Chinese Communist are atheists, Hitler, thought he was god, (atheists), most Communist governments, so I think atheists have killed a whole lot of people

            • It's also often overlooked (since modern Christians like to ignore this bit of history) that a lot of early antisemitism stems from Christian church, specifically about the death of Jesus. So Hitler's views were actually quite congruent with the early church's.

          • Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf he adored God and Jesus. He was the Worlds 2nd biggest collector of Christian relics behind the vatican.
            Atheist dont kill. Ideologies of hierarchical,paternal, tyrannical power kill. And religion of all creeds is to create division, hatred, jealousy and those bastards took our jobs…kill them

            • excuse me Craig, but i'm atheistic and i like to imagine i could kill if i needed to. And i'm sure other atheists have before and will continue to kill.
              The difference is that A's usually have a motive brought about by thinking for their murderous deeds, not just a hazy interpretation of a stone-age belief system

        • John, can you be specific? Exactly what "most severe atrocities known to mankind" were committed by allegedly atheist regimes? Don't hide behind the really wimpy and intellectually lazy, "History has proved it."

        • "History has proved it" is not one of the acceptable answers; you supposedly know history, so give concrete references to historical events. Do you, like, know any history? Have you read any? For example?

        • “Maybe, but, mankind can and does behave atrociously without God or belief.”
          From the article it is clear that mankind doesn’t do any better WITH gods or belief.

    • I'm not sure such a statement holds up to scrutiny.

      While it's true that Stalin was a secular thinker who used religion and religious-minded obedience in order to seize power, he also went to great lengths (once he dismantled the competitive power of the church) to rebuild religious centers throughout Russia.

      Mao Zedong never declared himself an atheist, though his religious views were complicated, for sure. He has been quoted as saying "atheism must take the place of religion", while holding views about the existence of Heaven, and being quoted as saying "it is wrong to tell people to be against religion".

      Hitler was (probably) a Christian. Pol Pot was (probably) a Buddhist.

      While it can be argued that these horrifying regimes weren't strict adherents of common religions of their days, they were examples of the elevation of tyrants to godheads, and of the worship of the state, replacing one religion with another. It's also difficult to come up with accurate figures for how many deaths have been at the hands of religious zealots because of religious ideas; I've seen estimates as high as 800 million over the course of recorded history (when all religions are taken into account). Then there are the realities of 20th century technology vs. that of antiquity, the relatively larger populations of more recent societies vs. those of antiquity, better record keeping of the 20th century, etc.

      It's a difficult assertion to prove or disprove.

      “There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.” – Sam Harris

    • Well done champ, pat yourself on the back and go to bed tonight all smug and satisfied with yourself cause you sure showed all us godless heathens….

      This essay was not about who outright murders more of who.
      It was showing that when you want to have a bunch of humans killed and you’re light on good reasons, religion sure does fit the bill.
      Atheists may indeed commit atrocities; they are human after all.
      They usually have some solid reasons: We want to take over power, we want this land/resources etc etc.
      But to kill your fellow man, because they were brought up reading a different book … or even just reading the same book as you a bit differently… well that takes a special kind of stupid to pull off.

      To reiterate; killing another person, meh, it happens sometimes. Killing them because they wear a blue hat when your special invisible friend only allows green hats…………………………..

    • Atheists have never killed en mass for their belief or lack of belief. In Communist states they let their own people starve. The Marxist removed STATE RELIGION. The people who STARVED were Christian, Jew, Muslim, Asian, Atheists, etc etc. I suggest you read Crimes of Christianity c1892 By G Foote. I also suggest you learn what communism was and meant as a sick system of rule and not a BELIEF SYSTEM OF CONTROL.

  1. Tell us these John!!! as you think or been propagandize that the Communism of China, Russia, and others where atheist or that don't believer in mythic G0D's and Goblins, but got their power over the people by religions of fear to the people, and all these dictators weren't real communist!! as a dictator isn't a community type of leader of humanities people but a commandeer & dictator for personal overpowering the masses!! John must be a FOX fan!!!!

  2. Left out the Spanish Inquisition's genocide of natives in the Americas. Their entire language, culture and history were wiped out by the Catholic Church, who enslaved the survivors at missions.

    Monotheism is a curse.

  3. I really like how the author totally left out the Muslim crusades… While not a Muslim hater in the least (I hate everyone equally), this list left out a LOT of history that led up to the formation of those Christian Crusades. Oh, and I'm also not a Christian either.

    630 – Muhammad conquers Mecca from his base in Medina.
    632 – Muhammad dies in Medina. Islam controls the Hijaz.
    636 – Muslims conquest of Syria, and the surrounding lands, all Christian – including Palestine and Iraq.
    637 – Muslim Crusaders conquer Iraq (some date it in 635 or 636).
    638 – Muslim Crusaders conquer and annex Jerusalem, taking it from the Byzantines.
    638 – 650 – Muslim Crusaders conquer Iran, except along Caspian Sea.
    639 – 642 – Muslim Crusaders conquer Egypt.
    641 – Muslim Crusaders control Syria and Palestine.
    643 – 707 – Muslim Crusaders conquer North Africa.
    644 – 650 – Muslim Crusaders conquer Cyprus, Tripoli in North Africa, and establish Islamic rule in Iran, Afghanistan, and Sind.
    673 – 678 – Arabs besiege Constantinople, capital of Byzantine Empire.
    691 – Dome of the Rock is completed in Jerusalem, only six decades after Muhammad’s death.
    710 – 713 – Muslim Crusaders conquer the lower Indus Valley.
    711 – 713 – Muslim Crusaders conquer Spain and impose the kingdom of Andalus. The Muslim conquest moves into Europe.
    718 – Conquest of Spain complete.
    732 – Muslim invasion of France is stopped at the Battle of Poitiers / Battle of Tours. The Franks, under their leader Charles Martel (the grandfather of Charlemagne), defeat the Muslims and turn them back out of France.
    762 – Foundation of Baghdad.
    785 – Foundation of the Great Mosque of Cordova.
    789 – Rise of Idrisid amirs (Muslim Crusaders) in Morocco; Christoforos, a Muslim who converted to Christianity, is executed.
    800 – Autonomous Aghlabid dynasty (Muslim Crusaders) in Tunisia
    807 – Caliph Harun al—Rashid orders the destruction of non-Muslim prayer houses & of the church of Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.
    809 – Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sardinia, Italy.
    813 – Christians in Palestine are attacked; many flee the country.
    831 – Muslim Crusaders capture Palermo, Italy; raids in Southern Italy.
    837 – 901 – Aghlabids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Sicily, raid Corsica, Italy, France.
    869 – 883 – Revolt of black slaves in Iraq.
    909 – Rise of the Fatimid Caliphate in Tunisia; these Muslim Crusaders occupy Sicily, Sardinia.
    928 – 969 – Byzantine military revival, they retake old territories, such as Cyprus (964) and Tarsus (969).
    937 – The Church of the Resurrection (aka Church of Holy Sepulcher) is burned down by Muslims; more churches in Jerusalem are attacked.
    960 – Conversion of Qarakhanid Turks to Islam.
    969 – Fatimids (Muslim Crusaders) conquer Egypt and found Cairo.
    973 – Israel and southern Syria are again conquered by the Fatimids.
    1003 – First persecutions by al—Hakim; the Church of St. Mark in Fustat, Egypt, is destroyed.
    1009 – Destruction of the Church of the Resurrection by al—Hakim (see 937).
    1012 – Beginning of al—Hakim’s oppressive decrees against Jews and Christians.
    1050 – Creation of Almoravid (Muslim Crusaders) movement in Mauretania; Almoravids (aka Murabitun) are coalition of western Saharan Berbers; followers of Islam, focusing on the Quran, the hadith, and Maliki law.
    1071 – Battle of Manzikert, Seljuk Turks (Muslim Crusaders) defeat Byzantines and occupy much of Anatolia.
    1071 – Turks (Muslim Crusaders) invade Palestine.
    1073 – Conquest of Jerusalem by Turks (Muslim Crusaders).
    1075 – Seljuks (Muslim Crusaders) capture Nicea (Iznik) and make it their capital in Anatolia.
    1076 – Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) conquer western Ghana.
    1086 – Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) (see 1050) send help to Andalus, Battle of Zallaca.
    1090 – 1091 – Almoravids (Muslim Crusaders) occupy all of Andalus except Saragossa and Balearic Islands.
    Only after all of the Islamic aggressive invasions is when Western Christendom launches its first Crusades.
    1094 – Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus I asks western Christendom for help against Seljuk (Muslim Turks) invasions of his territory.
    1095 – Pope Urban II preaches first Crusade; they capture Jerusalem in 1099.

    • Mike is right.
      There were several Muslim invasions into India, that resulted in in over 800 million Indian deaths, often in the most ghastly ways. No other religion comes anywhere close to being so bloody.

      The act of leaving out so much disgusting genocide serves only to make Christianity look bad, and somehow equivalent to Islam. Such essays as this do a disservice to the people of today who are trying to understand the people of yesterday.

  4. That people kill for reasons other than religious belief does not negate the truth that people kill for religious belief. Religious belief in itself kills no one. But it is a potent weapon in the hands of the powerful to justify slaughter. Our troubles as a species lie in our giving up responsibility for our lives to individuals and groups we call leaders. Everywhere there is a power gap between the majority and a minority, there is injustice and oppression. The leaders simply use different rationales to justify their crimes. Religion and religious leaders are no different.

  5. Saying that religion doesn't kill, is the same as saying that guns don't kill. People use both to kill. Religion is the excuse and the gun is the weapon. They are BOTH used specifically to kill.

  6. Interesting that the author left out World War II. While not a direct cause of the conflict, use of Christian fanaticism was used to blind and rally the people of Germany into a fascist state, while the people of Japan believed their emperor to be the literal embodiment of God on Earth. What this really boils down to is extremism and fundamentalism, both of which can occur within any ideology. In places like the United States, France, Greece, Germany, Spain, and Italy, extremism and fundamentalism is growing and rising inside of nationalism (as it did in 1930’s Germany), as the populations become more irrationally fearful of terrorism (and therefore ‘outsiders’) and fall back into the perceived safety of tribalism.

  7. losethename.com, a way to end ignorance and the perverse control of religious idiots and all things government, same sh*t different pile

  8. Most people have never read their holy book but been indoctrinated from an early age which is a form of child abuse inflicted on a developing mind! Both christian bible & the holy Quranare disgusting, stone-age works of bigotry, barbstidm, cruelty & genocide to name just a few. They are totally divisive of all of humanity & the cause of the many conflicts around the world. As Freud ssid, religion is Wish Fulfilment! It’s used as a mental crutch against reality. It was conjured up by mortal man to control mortal man. Sadly there is a part of the human psyche that craves BS& ignored reasoning & critical thinking & logic!
    CConsideringthis is the 21st ccentury, I would posit that humankind in technology has advancedst a fantastic rate, but as evolved beings, we really havenot aadvanced very far! Don’t think so ? Then look around the world without your rose-,tinted religious spectacles & take a cool, honest, hard look & hang your head in shame!

  9. Look at the timeline…there is no more strife today than any time in history…humans are inherently barbaric…it is human nature…nothing will change that…not even the nuclear era…

  10. Actually it is humans that kill. We are barbaric and will use anything as a reason to cause harm and destruction. In all reality, we are no better than the animals. At least they have a reason for their ignorance and brutality.


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