The Right-Wing Doesn’t Want to Talk About Christian Atrocities, So Let’s Talk About Christian Atrocities

By Josh Kilburn | 7 February 2015
Americans Against the Tea Party

The right-wing’s been freaking about Obama bringing up the crusades and the Inquisition, to show that Christianity doesn’t have a blood-free history. Whether it’s posting videos with skewed definitions of the Crusades or claiming Islam is still worse because reasons, they’re in a blind rush to defend the tribe and, in the process, they’re not orchestrating a very effective defense.

History is full of atrocities committed by Christians for Christ, against not just other religions but against Christians themselves. Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

11. Central African Republic Genocide (2012 – Present)

This is an ongoing conflict, and it’s my first go-to when I need to shut down a teabagger on a rail. While the UN hasn’t called it a genocide yet, Reuters acknowledges that what the Christians are doing is ethnic cleansing against a Muslim minority. The conflict is very much one of Christians working to expel Muslims from the country, and by all accounts, they’ve been very successful so far.

10. Bosnian Genocide (1992 – 1995)

I vaguely remember this genocide, but it’s worth noting because of how the pieces fell. There isn’t a huge language distinction; Serbian, Bosnian, and Croat are part of a dialect continuum. The difference is in the religion; Bosnian Serbs are Orthodox, while Bosnia Muslims were, well, Muslims. And that was what got them targeted during the collapse of the former Yugoslav Republic. The term “Ethnic Cleansing” gets thrown around to describe this one, too, and it was an extremely effective example of one (which is why it coined the term) — one of the worst ones in Europe since the Holocaust targeted everyone outside the Nazi paradigm for the ideal state. Speaking of which …

9. The Holocaust (1933 – 1942)

Make no mistake, there were Christian collaborators with the Holocaust. The real kicker, though, is knowing that the Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum. In many ways, the Holocaust was the child of centuries of Christian Antisemitism in Europe. “Christ Killer” is a common Christian slur thrown at Jewish people, and the Blood Libel didn’t come from Muslims, it came from Christians. Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, was a raging anti-Semite; in addition to his theses, he also wrote a book called On The Jews and Their Lies. While the religious outlook of the Nazis is questionable, what’s not in question is that centuries of Christian Antisemitism allowed it to happen.

8. The Pogroms (1881 – 1884; 1903 – 1906; 1917 -1921)

While I’m talking about Jewish abuse at the hands of Christians, let’s discuss the Pogroms. Pogrom is from Pogromit, a Russian verb meaning “to create a desert.” The Pogroms were a series of violent attacks carried out against the Jews by the Christians in Russia and Poland over the dates listed. The 1880s pogrom was triggered by anti-Jewish propaganda that the czar had been assassinated by Jews. Notice the date for the last one: 1921, and note how close that is to 1933; the pogroms were fresh on the mind of the Nazis when they seized power.

7. American Slavery (c. 1619 – 1865)

American slavery is a special beast; when you discuss slavery, you have to do it while acknowledging that American Slavery is a superior brand of evil. While all slavery is wrong, there was something perversely worse about American Slavery that, up to that point in history, makes it stand out. It’s that American Exceptionalism I keep hearing about. During the era in the lead up to the Civil War, both pro- and anti-slavery advocates threw Bible verses at one another, but the pro-slavery advocates where coming at it from a stronger position if they considered themselves “Biblical literalists”. In fact, some have argued that the notion of “Biblical Literalism” sprang up in defense of Slavery — meaning that the slave holding mentality is still with us to this day every time someone “takes the Bible literally” to defend Creationism or bash LGBT+ folk.

6. Native American Cultural Cleansing (c. 1500s –  c. 1800s)

It’s no secret that Christians did everything they could to eradicate the Native American traditions via boarding schools. You might just live in an alternative reality if you deny that. In 1872, the “Christanizaiton” of the Native Americans was still ongoing. Early Christian colonists referred to them as “devils” and “heathens,” and ever since the first Catholic Spaniard set foot in the New World, were working to wipe any last trace of their culture from the face of the world. And this is to say nothing of the brutality they visited on Native Americans in the form of violence and murder.

5. Thirty Years’ War (1618 – 1648)

The Thirty Years’ War led to the Treaty of Westphalia, which is the single genesis for the modern state as we know it. But the Thirty Years’ War is also known for being one of the bloodiest religious wars in Europe’s history, when Catholics and Protestants turned their blades on one another and decimated a full 20-40% of Europe’s population. There were witch hunts and mass burnings throughout Germany, and the period is generally regarded as the peak of European Witch Hunting, itself another popular Christian pastime. About the same time, Catholics sacked the city of Magdeburg and slew about 30,000 Protestants; according to the poet Fredrich Shiller, “In a single church fifty women were found beheaded, and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers.”

4. The Inquisition (c. 1100 to Present)

I know what you’re thinking — to the present? Yep. The Office of the Inquisition still exists today; in 1965 they made it the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They stopped their formal Inquisition duties sometime after the Napoleonic Wars, but up until that time, the Inquisition was in full swing, hunting down Jews, Heretics, and Witches. There were actually several Inquisitions, but the most famous is the Spanish Inquisition, whose brutality needs no introduction. When you think of Christian violence in the name of Christ, there’s a reason the horrors of the Inquisition spring to mind first.

3. The Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229)

The Albigensian Crusade happened in Southern France and was an effort of the early Church to stamp out a competing ideology — in this case, Catharism. It ran from 1209 to 1229, spanning 20 brutal years. At heart, Catharism was a form of gnosticism, and was labeled a Manichean heresy by the church. It kick-started with the Massacre at Béziers, where the Church massacred the entire population.

 2. The First and Second Crusade (1096 – 1102; 1147 – 1149)

I’m listing the First and Second Crusade here for another reason than the typical one. Right wing Christians like to claim that the Crusades were a “defensive” conflict, which is all well and good, but it overlooks the violence done against Jewish people in Europe at that time — executed, of course, by Christians. After all, the Christians were liberating the Holy Land from the “Christ Killers,” which, if you look above, I noted is a common slur against Jewish people. There was plenty of violence in political cluster that would later become Germany, for example. Accusations of ritual murder flourished and brutal religious violence was the retort; the Rhineland Massacres were just some examples of it.

1. Hypatia and the Library at Alexandria (415)

Hypatia was the last librarian at the Library of Alexandria. She incurred the wrath of a Christian Preacher named Peter; one day, on her way to the Library, Peter and a mob of hysterical Christians ambushed her and flayed her alive. They then proceeded to burn down the greatest reservoir of knowledge in the Classical World up to that point, performing what Carl Sagan described as “radical brain surgery.” Hypaita wasn’t the first pagan that Christians killed; in 356, Pagan ceremonies were punishable by death in Christian kingdoms, and Christian Emperor Theodosius would decree that children playing with pagan statues should be executed.

But Wait, There’s More …

This list is far from exhaustive, you can find more here. I didn’t even touch on the Catholic-sponsored Death Camps in Vietnam. I instead tried to call attention to some of the lesser known instances, as well shine a light on some of the better known ones. It’s important to remember that no one religion has a claim on moral superiority, but anyone claiming that Christianity is less violent than Islam is a graduate from the David Barton school of Alternative History World building.

Josh Kilburn is a writer, author, blogger, and freelancer with a Bachelor’s degree who lives in the buckle of the Rust Belt.

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  1. Okay, but this does not justify the hundreds of billions killed by Muslims. I won’t be holding my breath for a lefty to write an article summarizing all the terror that comes from Islam, though. Still, nice try.

  2. Regarding the claim that modern history has no examples of christian atrocities, one merely has to look at Northern Ireland.

    Regarding the claim that hundreds of billions were killed by Muslims, the population of the earth is 7,404,976,783. Hundreds of billions would imply at least 200 billion, 27 times the population of the earth.

  3. A very worthy article, but yet again the Goan Inqusition is totally ignored. This lasted for me ver 150 years and is one of the darkest moments in Indian History.

  4. For all the crticisims here regarding details and nuance I think we shouldn’t lose the author’s intent of holding Religion responsible for some of the worst atrocities humans have perpetrated on humans. Humility is the only way to honestly embrace our difficult past. We should take it as a cautionary tale. If it’s not fostering unity and peace and taking steps toward understanding, then we have done and are doing religion wrong. People of faith have to come to a place where our faith traditions enable rather than hinder the common good not just our particular brand of good. We are all in this ‘life thing’ together. People of faith should be on the front lines of the fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all of humanity.

  5. One can know that when the writer refers to the Tea Party Patriots to "Tea Baggers" that the article is a leftist diatribe.
    There is no way to disabuse the writer and his readers of their reality. So, there's no use in trying. Truth does not work on them.
    The anti-slavery movement in Britain and America was a Christian movement.
    The 'Holocaust', the mass killing of Jews by the Nazis, began in June of 1941 in response to Roosevelt's entry into the war in March of that year. The Nazis believed that Roosevelt was acting on the behalf and at the behest of the Jews whom Hitler was dispossessing from Germany. I don't believe there were many baptisms or masses celebrated at Auschwitz.
    The Spanish Inquisition lasted 350 years and it executed approximately 2,000, and they were given trials.
    I'm sure the person who wrote this hateful piece hates especially the fact that the first meal taken on the moon was the Holy Eucharist.

    • Wrong. Where to start. In 1861, The Presbyterian Church of American met in Philadelphia to discuss current issue and swear allegiance to the Union. The southern Presbyterian leaders voted to leave due to their stance on slavery. Minister and Pastor Henry David Thorwell wrote that the Christian and Presbyterian Churches needed to stay out of secular a fairs and defend the rights of the south to have slavery.
      Also, go on ahead and Google the Confederate Constitution. . It was ratified March 11th, 1861.. it states many times that the south is a Christian nation and it was “invoking favor and guidance by Almighty God ” to protect their institutions and slavery.. so… you’re wrong about all Christians wanting to abolish slavery.
      the Spanish Inquisition. . 3000-5000 people were killed… if it lasted 300 years that is 1 person per month . 150,000 people were jailed.. why??? Because the Church FORCED people to convert to Catholicism if they were Muslim or Jewish.. Does that seem fair? Would you be so happy if the United States decided to outlaw Christianity and would kill one of your fellow followers per month and jail hundreds of your friends if they didn’t convert to a new religion?? No. I don’t think you would be so quick to dismiss it as no big deal.. also.. your comment that 3000 died over a 300 year period is no big deal? Let’s not forget the purpose of the Inquisition was to convert, not kill.. hundreds of thousands were tortured into converting.. methods such as slicing for blood, burning, pulling of nails, starvation, slow hangings, beatings, and strangling were all tortuous methods used to coerce non Catholics to convert. . I checked the bible.. I couldn’t find any instances of Jesus beating people into submission.. so as a Christian, you should probably reconsider your stance on he Inquisition as not a big deal.
      And as far as your belief that the Holocaust was a response to Roosevelt entering the war??? Uhhhhh no.. Alfred Jodl wrote to Hitler in March 1941 that Jewish Bolsheviks would need to be exterminated. In May of 1941, Heinrich Müller wrote the details to the Final Solution that began the full extermination of the Jews.and up to that point, tens of thousands of jews had already died and starved in concentration camps.. they were just writing policy in early 1941 to make sure the stance was completed.. late May, 1941, the Waffen SS exterminated 4,000 Polish Jews to begin the program.. FYI, the US entered the war at the end of December 1941.. so you’re wrong on that too.. and let me go on ahead and quote Mein Kampf for you.. Hitler wrote: “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 Jesus Christ” .. so tell me again that the Holocaust wasn’t a Christian atrocity? Hell, I’m a Christian and I am not dumb enough to think that our past isnt LITTERED with killing in Christ’s name.. we just need to own it, learn from it, and do better.. understand that not all Christians are killers just like not all Muslims are terrorists. . Christians can’t be hypocrites and calling all Muslims terrorist is forgetting about our own Timothy McVeighs and our own KKK’s that enact terror in the name of Christ.. we need to take the stance that all terror is wrong and not judge people by their race or religious beliefs..
      Oh.. and look things up before you use a false belief to defend your point..
      Finally, please use facts when u post on the internet. Here is a quote from the Smithsonian Institution : “Bacon cubes were among the meals stored in the lunar module. And it worked out that meal A, the first meal eaten on the Moon, consisted of bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, pineapple grapefruit drink and coffee.” Your welcome for the education. .

      • I must say, you have far more patience responding to patrick's cr*pola than I do.

        The Holocaust was in response to Jew-friend Roosevelt bringing the US into the war on behalf of the German Jewz, now that's a new one I hadn't heard before.

      • Heh. There were rifts in the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and most famously the Baptist and Methodist churches along geographical and theological lines over slavery in the US. Have you never wondered why there are Sothern Baptists and Southern Methodists as well as Baptists and Methodists?

        BTW: Please explain why it is that you hold Kees in such contempt when the founders of Christianity were all Jews. You know Hos name was Yeshua where he lived, do you not? He wasn’t blonde with blue eyes- that’s Thor, repackaged as Jesus, to sell Germanic tribesmen of the Dark Ages on Christianity. It didn’t take right away, either. See Charlemagne’s two decade missionary war against his German cousins, the Saxons.

  6. Pure Garbage, perhaps the writer should study history instead of vomiting venin
    Sad when one has to stoop so low to put out lies to justify an ideology

  7. Atheists have killed more people in the twentith century than all religions in the past 2000 years. Stalin 15-25 Million, Mao 25-35 Million, Pol Pot 6 million, etc.

    • Atheists have not killed one single person in the name of Atheism. The people you refer to were dictators who happened to be Atheist. Atheists do not belong to a specific set of beliefs, the only thing that other Atheists have in common with those dictators are that we do not believe in gods. The word Atheist does not link us as some kind of congregation, however we are standing strong together against religion and it’s evils. That is where it is in a way good to have the Trumps and the Putins etc. in power, as they highlighting the evils of religion. More and more people are saying enough! So I can only see a world were religion is kept out of government, law, school, public and media etc. in the near future, finally we will have a world of truth and justice and not the shambles of today.

      • Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the heads of personality/ruler cults and the creed they subscribed to was Communism, not Atheism.
        Organized religions, especially the Christian Churches, have been overwhelmingly hostile towards egalitarianism, socialism and anything even remotely resembling Communism for centuries… far longer than Marxist Communism has existed. Read about how the Churches and their political allies brutally put down peasant revolts during the Ancien regime throughout the Middle-Ages and Early Modern Era. If the Churches and their hierarchies with generations of accumulated temporal wealth hadn’t already been so violently hostile towards egalitarian creeds, then the Socialists and Communists would have used religious justifications for their political actions. Many Socialists and Communists are only hostile towards the organized religions because the organized religions already have a bloody body count of their comrades.
        Don’t blame Atheism or Atheists for the bloodbaths caused by the organized religions and their political enemies.

  8. “The Holocaust” (there was, in the Ottoman Empire during WW I, the Armenian Holocaust) didn’t end in 1942, but in 1945. I think you misread your source material badly. There was something called the Wannsee Conference, held on 1/20/1942. This was a gathering of senior government leaders and SS leaders. Reinhard Heydrich of the SS led the conference. This was the gathering at which the Nazis “industrialized” the process of (mostly) ethnic cleansing. This stage of the holocaust, from 1942 until the end of the war, was the part in which the most were killed.

  9. Absent here are any references to the cultural genocide being committed against indigenous Australians since Invasion in 1788. Or the more recent christian churches – especially Catholic, sexual abuse and rape of children – hundreds of thousands of children abused by priests, pastors, religious. Or the current Gay Conversion 'Therapy' which is a perversion of the worst kind.

  10. The author thinks the Crusades were fought against the Jews? Wow, public education truly has failed. Yes, the Crusades were a defensive measure, but they were against the imperialist Muslims. Islam has been a murderously imperialist Society since its Inception, and the Crusades were response to several hundred years of that.