About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

And now one about Jewish Orthodoxy

Readers of this blog know that I have little sympathy for either Christian or Muslim fundamentalists. It's high time to officially add Orthodox Jews to the list of people who make this world a much worse place than it would otherwise be.

A good starting point to appreciate the nonsense promulgated by “modern” (as opposed to the even worse “ultra”) Orthodox Judaism is a recent article by Noah Feldman in the New York Times. Feldman, who went to Maimonides School of Brookline, MA, for twelve years, begins his tale by recalling how he attended a school reunion with his girlfriend (whom he later married). During the event, an official photo was taken to be published in the school's newsletter, but when he got the newsletter, Feldman discovered that he and his girlfriend had literally been erased from the picture. After all, his girlfriend was Korean, and one cannot possibly be a good Jew and be too close to outsiders.

The fixation of even secular Jews – such as several of my friends – with adherence to downright silly rituals (usually in the form of complex and entirely arbitrary rules about food), and often with marrying only Jewish partners, is disconcerting. I mean, I make the best of my Italian heritage, especially when it comes to impressing friends and women by hinting that somehow I can take personal credit for the existence of the Colosseum, not to mention never ever denying the stereotypes that I can cook wonderful meals and that my sexual techniques are, as Woody Allen once put, astounding. But most of my friends aren't Italian, and I don't particularly look for Italians when pursuing a relationship. If I did so I would feel, well, racist.

One can argue that the propensity toward insularity of Jewish communities is a result of many centuries of persecution from the outside, except of course that it is historically more accurate to point out that Jews (like many other fundamentalist religious communities) have always drawn sharp boundaries with the outside world. Indeed, given the already strong propensity of human beings for being suspicious of – if not downright hostile toward – outgroups, it is easy to see how Jewish isolationism has in itself been part of the cause for the persecutions (before I get flooded with hate mail accusing me of justifying the Holocaust and other similar nonsense, let me remind the reader of the not-at-all subtle difference between understanding the causes of events and justifying the events themselves).

The most disturbing story in Feldman's article, however, goes beyond the silliness of Kosher diets, following 613 Biblical commandments (take that, supporters of merely Ten CC!), or the absolute prohibition against “nonprocreating seminal emissions” (which are not only fun, but good for the environment). If people wish to be silly, they have a right to do it (though the rest of us have the right to laugh at them). No, what is really disturbing is the tale of a physician addressing Feldman's school about the thorny issue of whether the Talmud authorizes one to operate on a patient during the Sabbath (when one isn't supposed to work – another of God's arbitrary commands). The answer, apparently, is that it is ok to violate the commandment in order to save a life, but there is an interesting and dark twist about motivations (which, according to Jewish legalism, are often more important than actions).

You see, technically a Jewish doctor is authorized only to save a Jew's life during the Sabbath. Non-Jews need not apply. Yet, the good doctor who lectured Feldman's class clearly rejected this outrageous distinction, and suggested the dangerous notion that all human beings have equal moral standing. A teacher present at the lecture objected, and explained that in practice the doctor was right: a Jew is in fact authorized to work on the Sabbath if this will save even a non-Jew's life. But there is a crucial question of motivation: the act is kosher only if it is done in order to improve relations between Jews and non-Jews, not for the simple sake of the non-Jew's life. Let me spell this out more clearly: the idea is that it is acceptable to save the life of an outsider during the silly “holy” day only if it is instrumental in furthering the political relations of Jews with the outside world. Otherwise, the non-Jew is on his own, humanitarian considerations and empathy for the suffering of others be damned.

Feldman, like so many others, honestly grapples with the perennial contradictions between the old traditions and a more enlightened, more egalitarian, modern world. My advice is simple: throw the old away, because it is nothing but the burden imposed by an ignorant and violent past. I'm “proud” of the Colosseum as a stupendous work of architecture, not of what the Romans where doing inside it. Come to think of it, how can anyone be proud (or, for that matter, ashamed) of what his ancestors did? It's hard enough to take responsibility for what we do during our own lifetime, “tradition” only gets in the way of an already exceedingly difficult task: to live a morally decent life.


  1. Speaking of Woody Allen, here's his character in a recent movie:

    "I was born in the Hebrew persuasion, but then I converted to Narcissism."

  2. Once at a dinner party a Jewish friend yelled at me for attempting to place a dairy product on one of her Kosher plates. (There are separate sets for meat and dairy according to Jewish "law". And they must never cross.) She insisted that if I had done so, the defiled "meat" plate would have to have been buried in the yard. The anger in her voice and eyes scared her guests including me. When I mentioned the power of the dishwasher she got even more angry and vocal. Some of her Christian friends now regularly refer to her behind her back as "that militant Israeli bitch". I'm just glad I'm a rational atheist.

  3. Goodness. What was she doing serving meat and dairy at the same meal? There shouldn't have been any "risk"!

  4. I feel the same way when I see Hasidim in NYC. I feel a sense of pity when I see them consciously dividing themselves from the rest of society out of a slavish devotion to ancient texts.

    I once worked with an attorney who was rather conservative, though not orthodox. He didn't wear a yarmulke all the time and he did not have a beard. He liked to travel overseas to places like Japan and Hong Kong but would complain about how flights would have to be scheduled so as not to interfere with the sabbath and how hard it is to find places that serve kosher food. I said to him once, "well either you believe there is a god that wants you to live like that, or you say it's a load of crap and flush it."

  5. Wow, an extraordinarily courageous and factually accurate post. Judaism is possibly the most exclusivistic, intolerant and racist religion that has ever existed on the face of the earth. And the whole philosophical concept of "Zionism" is
    simply the secularized version of the profound racism and superiority complex. But can one actually say such things in the modern US without being bombarded with death threats and ad hom accusations of anti-Semitism?? From over here in Europe, it seems very difficult for educated Americans to even suggest that Jewish people have ever, or can ever, be wrong about anything without being labeled a Nazi-sympathizer.

    Anyway, you will almost certainly be accused of.....well, something or other. You're just not supposed to examine the possibility of evil withing Jewish institutions and traditions themselves--even though Jews are human begins, that is to say, naked, violent and glorified apes like everyone else--but you must simply accept that that such folks are eternal victims who have never done anything wrong. Or, even of they do, it is all justified because of past persecution and present hatred from Muslims.

    No, hatred is hatred and intolerance and extremism on one side provoke more intolerance and extremism in response. Let's stop the BS of "group think" please, and start thinking in terms of the good of humanity as a whole in the here and now.

  6. How incredibly unpleasant the article, and how incredibly unpleasant the accolading comments, which seem to me, a thinly veiled set of comments of hate masquerading as "reason".

    I am not religious, but if you can but carry signs of your attitudes, I would make it a point not to save any of you, on any day of the week, as you are a bunch bad natured jerks.


  7. francesco:

    The 'good of humanity' begins with understanding why God would set a people apart for Himself in the first place. On the way to that understanding, note below my comment the very interesting history of the Czechs and Hitler's plans for world domination by Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Why does it matter?

    Seems to me that tho the faces and names may change over time, the tactics used to control people and bring about senseless outrage never do. It takes zero work whatsoever to misunderstand and misappropriate the facts on a serious issue, takes far greater skill, otoh, to give it thought and apply reason.


    "Propaganda vs. Reality

    Since an outright military victory seemed impossible, Hitler embarked on an unprecedented campaign to politically force the Czechs to give up the land, and with it any hope of being able to defend their capital or their country.

    The inhabitants of the Sudetenland, Hitler said, were predominantly German, and these three million Sudeten Germans deserved-what else?-the right of self-determination and a destiny separate from the other seven million inhabitants of Czechoslovakia; this despite the fact that the country was a democracy and that the Sudeten Germans enjoyed economic prosperity and full civil rights.

    To buttress his claim, Hitler organized and funded the creation of a new Sudeten political leadership that would do his bidding, which was, in the words of Sudeten leader Konrad Henlein, to "demand so much that we can never be satisfied."2

    William Shirer, who was a reporter in Europe at the time, succinctly summarized it:

    Thus the plight of the German minority in Czechoslovakia was merely a pretext ... for cooking up a stew in a land he coveted, undermining it, confusing and misleading its friends and concealing his real purpose ... to destroy the Czechoslovak state and grab its territories .... The leaders of France and Great Britain did not grasp this. All through the spring and summer, indeed almost to the end, Prime Minister Chamberlain and Premier Daladier apparently sincerely believed, along with most of the rest of the world, that all Hitler wanted was justice for his kinsfolk in Czechoslovakia.3

    In addition, Hitler backed the establishment of a Sudeten liberation movement called the Sudeten Free Corps, and he instigated a series of well-planned and violent uprisings that the Czechs were compelled to quell by force.4 Hitler's propaganda chief, Goebbels, orchestrated a fearful propaganda campaign of fabricated "Czech terror" and oppression of the Sudeten Germans.

    The Czech refusal to allow the Sudeten territories to return to their "rightful" German owners, Hitler prattled, was proof that the Czechs were the intransigent obstacle to peace. For what choice would Germany have but to come to the assistance of its oppressed brethren living under intolerable Czech occupation?

    Moreover, the Germans reversed causality, claiming that the Czechs were trying to precipitate a European crisis in order to prevent the breakup of their state, that the choice between war and peace in Europe was in Czech hands, and even that "this petty segment of Europe is harassing the human race."5

    But there was a simple way to simultaneously avoid war and achieve justice, Hitler said. The Western powers-meaning Britain and France-could force the Czechs to do what was necessary for the sake of peace: Czechoslovakia had to relinquish the "occupied territories."


  8. You may be interested in this interview with Feldman about the article:


  9. I am disappointed by this edition of the blog. Since we are speaking rationally, I will try to explain the reasons for my disappointment. Excuse a little sarcasm, it's meant in good humor.

    First two points: "The fixation of even secular Jews with adherence to downright silly rituals... about food... and marrying only Jewish partners." Secular Jews are typically selective in following rituals, often for a reason. For example, while it may seem kind of silly (rationally speaking) to put your right hand over your heart and take off your baseball cap to sing at a piece of cloth at a ballgame, we do it anyhow.

    The bit about intermarriage is trickier. My guess is that when there are more immigrants than Italian speakers on the Apennine Peninsula of a common Europe, and concepts of "Italian" cooking, culture or history become quaint but forgotten, some will wonder what was lost. Jewish identity is in many ways a family identity, so losing a family Jewish identity is losing much of what makes for Jewish identity. I think that is a valid point, whether or not one favors continuation of Jewish identity.

    Third point: "Except of course that it is historically more accurate to point out that Jews have always drawn sharp boundaries with the outside world." I didn't expect such ignorance of social history. To make the point and respond to challenges, I'll offer choices of Europe of the Middle Ages, Europe of pre-World War II, or an Islamic state. My point will be that the enforced separation of Jews was stronger than the self-imposed separation of Jews in distinguishing Jews from the dominant community.

    Fourth: "My advice is simple: throw the old away, because it is nothing but the burden imposed by an ignorant and violent past." Having taken only an introduction to philosophy course, I can see the point of discarding the archaic writings of Aristotle, Plato, Descartes and Kant. The imperfections and scientific ignorance of these philosophers has wrecked havoc on acceptance of modern insights. Examples: where would religious fundamentalism be without persisting Aristotelian notions of purpose and perfection, Cartesian notions of soul and mind/body duality... (help me out here, professor). Maybe trying to extract insights from ancient texts, understanding the limitations of their origins and context, revising and putting them into modern context, offers some benefits worthy of continuing departments of philosophy or religion.

  10. Ty,

    "I would make it a point not to save any of you, on any day of the week"

    and that's not "incredibly unpleasant"??????

  11. With regard to the insularity of orthodox Jews, I think it is something of a chicken or the egg thing. Some will point to it as being a contributing factor to anti-semitism.

    On the other hand, events like the Babylonian and Assyrian conquests provided a strong impetus for Israelite priests to use religious orthodoxy as a means to create a sense of cohesion in a topsy turvy world.

  12. "The 'good of humanity' begins with understanding why God would set a people apart for Himself in the first place."

    For crying out loud, stop appealing to God to make your arguments here. You know that most of us that comment here are atheists, so it makes no sense to us. Your mere assertions won't convince us that "God is in control" or that "God... yadda, yadda, yadda....".

    There are no chosen people of God, because there is no God. If the Jewish people were God's chosen, it would seem that he would have lifted a damn finger to come to their aid when six million of them were being systematically slaughtered.

    And as usual you cut and paste from some web site something whose relevance to the topic is a mystery.

  13. Cal,

    which of the billions of fictitious supernatural entities invented by humans to a posterior justify their racial and religious exclusivism, mutual hatred, and intolerance, are you referring to?? That old YWYW is one of the worst of those fabulous monsters can be determined by even the most superficial reading of the Old Testament chronicles. Don't understand what the other stuff has to do with anything. But I do think, though I cannot prove, that the exclusivism of monotheism itself was one of the greatest contributors to intolerance in mankind's history: my god is THE god and WE are his chosen, etc, etc..

    Preferential marriage between people of the same race or religion is racism and/or destructive intolerance, plain and simple. There's no need to bring Italy into it. Italy is a profoundly racist country already. It would indeed become worse under the circumstances that one of you described. But that is that supposed to be a moral justification?? Other cultures would be just as exclusivist and intolerant, therefore....what?? Dies it follow that Exclusivism and intolerance are Good Things?? Very weak logic there. All traditions and established institutions need to be subjected to the most rigorous, and sometimes harsh, critical examination in the light of modern knowledge, science and modern moral development. If they can't stand up to such scrutiny, as I think intraracial marriage cannot (I don't care about kosher food practices myslef) then they should be abandoned. And, of course, I mean voluntarily as harmful to humanity, not by law or some such. If they can stand up to such scrutiny, then they are probably innocuous in any case.

    On the point about self-exclusion versus external; it is a fair point. The history is extremely long and complex. However, it seems obvious to me that, whatever the historical causes, the kind of religious exclusivism and quasi-racism described in the article, and which Massimo touched on, are harmful to everyone, including practicing Judaists themselves. So why does this stiff continue after 3,000 -4,000 years??
    Are the Jews or is Jewish religion in danger of extinction?? That is not my impression.

    In any case, our goal should be to see members of Hezbollah give up their BS and unite in matrimony with members of the most ultra-Orthodox sect that you can imagine. But.......certain outdated and repugnant (by modern standards) beliefs and traditions obviously stand in the way of this possibility. Therefore, I must conclude that they are damaging and undesirably divisive.



  14. Cal (& Benjamin)

    If the Sudetenland Germans are supposed to be like the Palestinians, then there must have been, to complete the analogy, a Czech settler movement in southern Germany.

  15. S: "If the Sudetenland Germans are supposed to be like the Palestinians, then there must have been, to complete the analogy, a Czech settler movement in southern Germany."

    The point is suf, "the spirit" if you will, that kind of represents that concept of total world domination (one apart from God) is all the same. And whether one is crazy about Jews or not, they are one of the forces in the world that seem to keep it in check.

    There is a story in the OT about a character named Joseph. Joseph is treated by his brothers like the world currently treats the Jews. He seems to be the favorite, blah, blah, we hate him...blah, and so on. But in the end, Joseph saved even the brothers that despised him (and quite a number of other people) from starvation.
    It might bother a lot of people that even Jews, being God's people and all, can't even seem to get along. But you know what? After nearly 20 years of watching my husband's fam who are more or less Jewish,(not practicing) and who do not necessarily get along, I have realized that once a person learns to really love a Jew, one can virtually LOVE anyone! :)

    So the lesson in life about what hardheartedness will get ya, may not necessarily be for the Jew, it might be for us.

    Btw, the leader of Humanistic Judaism, if you will, passed away in a horrible accident the other day. Sorry for him. what a awful way to die.


  16. I have realized that once a person learns to really love a Jew, one can virtually LOVE anyone! :)

    What on earth!?

  17. francesco,

    Seriously, what makes you thinking that 'it is up' to the Jews to solve all the world crisis's and "get along"?

    I think most nations are equally (and often times more) guilty of just wanting their own way. But if we can effectively shove it off on the jews, we don't have to think about our own level of culpability around the world and in our personal lives.

    If some factions of the Jewish state gave less excuse and pity for terrorism, there would be less terrorism. That is what one ought to do with persons who do not have a well developed (mature) sense of their emotional selves.


  18. "What on earth!?"

    Just a random, probably not well thought through, opinion. Never mind.

    please tell me you're not..

  19. And while I'm HOGGING the thread at the moment.. sorry about that.


    Greeks, Italians and Jews likely have some similar temperament markers. You know, five Italians (Greeks, Jews) in a room, more opinions than there are people. Always makes for interesting conversation when one guy begins an argument with himself...

    Actually tho, more than they may know, many Greek, Spaniards and some Italians are Jews (or part).

    it would be terribly fascinating if we could all see what our DNA consists of, wouldn't it.


  20. An interesting post, which causes me to have to think about some of its conclusions/observations.

    Let me just write this as a non-Jew, U.S. citizen of Italian descent, and agnostic.

    Certainly, when taken at its most literal, Judaism is highly exclusive. The vast majority of both religious and secular Jews here in the States don't take such prohibitions so literally (or only follow kosher partly or temporarily). I mean, it's possible to follow the basic teachings and rituals of Judaism without being cruel, exclusive, and/or fundamentalist about it.

    Fracensco wrote:
    Preferential marriage between people of the same race or religion is racism and/or destructive intolerance, plain and simple. There's no need to bring Italy into it. Italy is a profoundly racist country already. It would indeed become worse under the circumstances that one of you described.

    Not necessarily.

    Perhaps it's a different phenomenon in the States. For example, plenty of people who immigrate here make efforts at maintaining their language, cuisine, heritage, etc. Perhaps it makes more sense to do so when one is a minority in a larger society of many other immigrant groups. Typically, first and second generations inter-marry, while later generations in the U.S. "out"-marry (including many Jews). Some of the children from either form of marrying explore their heritage in someway to better understand themselves and their extended families.

    As already noted before - some of the rules at exclusivity and "inter"-marrying have many historical antecedents, which probably made good sense for many generations regardless of how we might judge those now. I agree that some or all of these appear archaic now; but there are several logical arguments (as already noted above) that an individual, family, and/or community can use to explain and justify their actions.

  21. "Seriously, what makes you thinking that 'it is up' to the Jews to solve all the world crisis's and "get along"?"

    See, this is another example of how you come in and interject irrelevant comments that derail the actual discussion.

    Lets review. Most of this thread starting with Massimo was about the exclusivity practices of SOME Jews. Nobody suggested that it was the responsibility of Jews to solve all of the world's crisis. That would only be an absurdity that you would project on to another.

  22. Just two things and I don't want sound offensive here but I can't find any other explanation: it requires either extreme lack of reading comprehension skills or deliberate misintepretation for non-benevolent motives to suggest that anything I have written even IMPLIES that Jewish people should be held "responsible for solving the world's crises"!! Let me just make my view as clear and crisp as possible: I reject the Jewish race, I reject the Italian race, I reject the Palestinian race, the Frence race, the British race, the Persian race, the Arab race, and consider myself a member of the human race/species. (And, of course, homo sapiens is nothing special either. Just a minor twig---a kind of freak--- on the extraordiarily convoluted and complex tree of evolutionary bioligiocal history domimated by bacteria and other more interesting species).

    I also reject Judaism, Christianity, Islam and all the other harmful, anti-rational mythologeis that separate (and were partly designed to seperate) people
    into groups of "us" versus "them".

    From this view, it is every human being's responsibility qua human being to try to help solve the crises that afflict humanity. One essential move toward that goal is the elimination of ancient and profoundly embedded mental habits of "group think" that are fostered and reinforced by almost all religions and to accept and recognize the artificiality of racial distinctions that man has invented to serve whatever outdated adaptive purposes that may once have served. (This may sound utopian, but I'm talking LONG, LONG, LONG term future; and I don't expect it to actually happen anyway). In the meantime, any little progress that will be made will almost certainly, IMO, proceed along this path of cosmopolitanism and elimination of phony distinctions and divisions and not through the reinforcement or erection of new ones. Globalization seems to be producing two trends that go in opposite directions: the increasing univeralization of culture, knowledge, habits, department stores, technology, etc.. (this is good) and a strong reaction in terms of throwback to ancient rites, rituals and beliefs (so-called multiculturalism---this is very bad).

    Re Italy, I was thinking in the short-term. Italy is an traditonally emigrant country that has recently tutned into an immigrant country. The process of integration (on whatever model you please) will take a very long time indeed. Italians will generally first turn increasingly racist and intolerant (as they are doing) and which happened, as history tells us , over and over again wit new immigrant groups to the US.

    Finally, as I noted before, I do NOT think that all singular cultural traditions and habits should be eliminated. They should be subjected to ruthless examination and rational criticism by modern standards. This is what Massimo did in his post. Some things---like clitorodectemy, not treating patients on sabbath becasue they are not Jews, silencing, intimidating or killing people who draw cartoons that "offend" your sensibilities, or calling other sects non-Christian because Catholicism is the only true Christianity, etc.----are no longer morally acceptable.

    Others, perhaps dietary restrictions, cleaning habits or language maintenance, would probably pass muster , in my own limited view obviously.

  23. Well said Francesco!

    "(This may sound utopian, but I'm talking LONG, LONG, LONG term future; and I don't expect it to actually happen anyway)."

    And I think we should have a utopian ideal that we as humanity work toward, regardless of its achievability.

  24. Francesco,

    The clarification of the distinctions of races, cultures and religions does not even come close to addressing the problem that we are facing. You see, committed Darwinists are also highly exclusivistic. And so, whatever do you intend to do about them? Heh?

    "and all the other harmful, anti-rational mythologies that separate (and were partly designed to separate) people
    into groups of "us" versus "them".

    Maybe it's JUST the "us vs them" part that gets us into a predicament, no matter who we are or what our beliefs happen to be.

  25. " . . . to accept and recognize the artificiality of racial distinctions that man has invented to serve whatever outdated adaptive purposes that may once have served. (This may sound utopian, but I'm talking LONG, LONG, LONG term future; and I don't expect it to actually happen anyway)."

    Hopefully this will come to pass, but I'm afraid it will happen only when we are all so intermixed as to be visually indistinguishable. Having said that, I look forward to the day it is true. (And Cal--this is from a committed "Darwinist", as you would call me.)


  27. i think that if these people stopped being jewish/religious/etc. all of a sudden, they'd still remain stupid.

    do you think genetics are at play here, Massimo?

  28. Don't understand what the other stuff has to do with anything.

    Welcome to the blog, Francesco! :O)

    Now, it's so funny how Americans get so worked up when the theme is "Jews" or anything related... I suspect almost all of these reactions would just vanish in a puff of smoke if Israel all of a sudden was located in, say, Western Africa instead of a geopolitically very significant area. Just a guess.


  29. "You see, committed Darwinists are also highly exclusivistic. And so, whatever do you intend to do about them? Heh?"

    See how full of bullshit you are! Quit throwing out BS, and back up your assertions.

    Say a group of evolutionary biologists get together, have their picture taken with their spouses. Soon after, they discover that one of the evo bios is married to a creationist. Would they air brush them out of the picture? I doubt it.

    This is what happenned with the Jewish author and his Korean wife. Did you even read Massimo's original post?

    Just to pound this into your thick skull. If a white man has a black spouse, they attend a family reunion, and they are removed from the gatherings' photos, would you hesitate to call that family racist?

    If a doctor who accepts Darwinian evolution finds out that one of his patients is a creationist, does he refuse to treat the patient? No.

    Yours truly is married to a Peruvian God believing Catholic. How exclusivist is that? Scientists and interested lay persons come from every single ethnic group on earth.

  30. Leaving aside the meaningless quip about Darwinists, there is a point to be made about some kind of biologically innate tendency to create these classes and divisions. I think there is even some evidence in that direction, though I'm not an expert.

    However, as more of a philosophical than scientific person, the simple answer is that one should try not to derive an ought from an is. What I was talking about above were moral oughts. Whether most possible are innately too stupid, evil, pre-programmed etc, is a question of what IS the case. We must strive to overcome such facts of biology in an case, IMHO, and try to reach some improvement over the current mess.

  31. "Leaving aside the meaningless quip about Darwinists,"

    If it were untrue, therefore meaningless, no one would have even bothered to shoot "the messenger" over it. The best of today's Darwinists obviously do not have a thing on the most virulent of Orthodox Jews.

    To be really good and effective at serving humankind there must be sincere and enduring love for people. (no matter who they happen to be)

  32. Wait! The reason why Jews are labeled isolationists is because they protect themselves from the hostile outside world, and rightly so. They have been persecuted for centuries.
    By the way, have you ever heard of a Jewish suicide bomber? I don't think so.

  33. Dear anonymous coward,

    If your "logic" of protection against persecution held any water, there would be more isolationist groups out there than a 16-bit integer system can count, I'm afraid.

    Or do you think Jews have a monopoly on being persecuted and exterminated? Get a life if you do think so...

    Now, the suicide bomber comment... go research a bit. Ever heard of Baruch Goldstein? OK, his massacre was not with a bomb, but it's the same. But even if there were no known cases of Jews killing innocents because of religious and political intolerance, like some Palestinians do, your comment is just plain brainless anyway.

    And that Goldstein (an American, by the way) is highly regarded by many Jews (well, the stupid right-winger extremist ones, anyway), is as good as the Arab world celebrating 9/11.


  34. Cal,

    To be really good and effective at serving humankind there must be sincere and enduring love for people.

    Oh, I could not agree more. Do you have any empirical evidence that accepting the fact of descent with modification of species and natural selection as one of its driving forces leads people not to love their parents, relatives and even non-relatives. However, since you have basically made a universal assertion, I just need one counterexample to destroy it: myself. Moreover, my love for others is not motivated by (conscious or unconscious) desire for reward or horror of punishmenst in some imaginary "other" universe.
    Exactly the opposite in fact: I was MUCH more prone to hate and anger with others when I was a Catholic than when finally came to accept that this life, for all its enormous defects and injustuces, is just ALL THERE IS, and that we are all suffering in this thing together with our personal and collective destinies in our own hands: to hate or to love, without ulterior motives, HERE and NOW, to whatever extent we are capable of doing so.

    There may not be many Jewish suicide bombers, but there has been widespread Jewish terrorism, crual displacement and rithless treatment of Palestinian people, often verging to the point of genocide. I need not mention the "actual" genocides and other atrocities recorded in the Old Testament. It's also interesting that the Jews of Judea were one of the very few (if not the only) religious group ever persecuted by the Romans. Now, the Romans were extremely tolerant of relgious diversity and accepted hundreds, oif not millions of gods, into their pantheon. But YHWY's "chosen" just wouldn't go along with this pluralism. I'm not justifying the persecution, but...again, why has Judaism, and its offshoots Christanity and Islam.... always insisted on exclusivity and superiority (my god or the highway)??

  35. F: It's also interesting that the Jews of Judea were one of the very few (if not the only) religious group ever persecuted by the Romans. Now, the Romans were extremely tolerant of relgious diversity and accepted hundreds, oif not millions of gods, into their pantheon. But YHWY's "chosen" just wouldn't go along with this pluralism."

    Tolerance, shamolerance.

    You have agreed with me that the best way to serve mankind was to sincerely love people. If you can give evidence that the kind of pluralism you are referring to here actually leads people love others more, I like to hear about why such a thing is true. I think the kind of tolerance displayed by the Romans was just a plain matter of self-interest, ( a cheap tolerance - one traded off for whatever makes the individual happy next) and when one belief system interferes with another's hedonistic interests, of course they're going to want to rid themselves of the Jews.

    The Jews have existed by God's design to remind us that there is only one God...and we MOST CERTAINLY are not Him.

    And yeah, that makes some people mad.

    "..need not mention the "actual" genocides and other atrocities recorded in the Old Testament..."

    Disproportionate representation here because the Jews had some of the few (if not only) written records of the time. Yet they told about the good the bad and the ugly. There is, I know for a fact, far less embellishment, i.e. making us look better then we really are, in Jew histories of this nature, than there are in the their contemporaries. Further, many of the nations that the Jews did happened to war against were not protective at all of their children. Namely they wound offer their children to idols in various cruel ways.

    Exactly how long would you permit things like that to go on in surrounding communities before YOU would put a stop to it?

  36. Francesco,

    And while we speak of people sacrificing children, I note that there is by far much more Muslim on Muslim violence in the west bank (and the world for that matter) than there is actual Jew on Muslim. But that is not the way that he world media would have you see the state of affairs.

    Jews are also, of course, harder on other Jews. I am thinking here of the untimely passing of one of my husbands cousins in Ca. who is (was) Jewish and a known academic. He and his brothers and sister were terribly critical of each other, I understand why my in-laws wanted to get away from that Jewish community. Arabs, on the other hand don't just brow beat. there is, by far, a greater level of physical violence in families and communities.

    And contrary to what most people tend to think, Muslims are actually NOT monotheistic either.


    ps. I seek to, but don't claim to understand any of these people groups. As odd as it may sound, my family gets along unusually well.
    Everyone keeps shoving each other to the front of the line, so to speak. We all (5) wait so long to take any inheritance money, it just sits there forever and a day...
    My husband thinks we are bunch of peace-nik weirdos. :)

  37. Well, there it is for you.

    No, I don't hold the Romans up as a model of moral magnificence and genuine pluralism, and I am not a defender of paganism, and certainly NOT, the bastardized, patriarchalist Roman version of it. I did not even assert that it was somehow "better" than Judaic monotheism, for that matter. My point was simple: Judaic people were, and are, neither more nor less destructive and capable of hideous cruelty than any other human beings on the face of this earth. To suggest otherwise is shockingly racist and almost frightheningly amoral!! (Judaic people can do no wrong and must not be criticized under any circumstances.)

    Sorry, you have built another straw man.

  38. I just noticed that you write: "Islam is NOT a monotheistic religion"?? Yes, and I am Uncle Sam Wilson. Gosh"!!! Never mind.

  39. Bwah ha ha!

    I never suggested that Jews can't do wrong, was referring to the disproportionate criticism of them. Without a doubt, a many people join in on this nonsense because they think they've 'got something' on God.

    "See God, your very own people aren't perfect..." BUT the Jews may very well be on the earth to teach us about our own response to God, not theirs. Amazing how missing the point can be so pitifully easy to do.

    I have no idea what your last (short )comment is supposed to indicate. That Mohammad has different names, but that the worship of Mohammad is not worshiping "different" gods?

    possibly you do not know the origins of the Babylonian religion.

    I've gotta run..

  40. First off, I would like to say that English is not my native tongue, so if there is anything unclear about what I am about to write, I'd like to apologise in advance. Now that that's said...

    I am not an orthodox Jew, so my familiarity with the biblical rules is rather limited, but here's the thing: rules are never written without reason. The fact that you don't understand the reasoning behind them does NOT make them "arbitrary", and it sure as hell doesn't make them "silly".

    The Jewish rules and traditions are very, very old, so it is very possible that some of them - perhaps even most - are irrelevant in the modern world, and I'm pretty sure that most non-orthodox Jews keep to them mostly because of tradition. But they were relevant for the time they were written in, and they should be viewed in that context, and treated with respect.

    I, personally, do not believe in some of these rules and traditions, because to me, many of them are irrelevant. The thing is, though, I respect the Jews who keep to them, and so I feel I must respect the traditions they live by, even if they seem pointless to me. Anything else(say, for example, ridiculing them for their traditions!) would be, well, intolerant.

    It seems to me that the Jewish customs of only marrying other Jews, and sticking to the rules and traditions as strictly as possible, come from a very understandable fear, from a historical viewpoint: they were afraid of losing their religious identity, as a people, having been dispersed through the known world. If Jews hadn't kept to their strict traditions through the years, I highly doubt that Judaism would have existed today. In my opinion, as a Jewish girl who considers herself very secular, it has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with the will to survive, culturally and religiously. You're talking about a people that spent most of the last 2000 years as either immigrants or foreigners, no matter where they were born. It makes sense that they would hang on to their traditions as tightly as possible, doesn't it? And while I'm not entirely sure this sort of thinking is relevant today, I think it would take a long time for Jews as a people to become comfortable enough again to not frown upon non-selective marriage.

    That example you gave of the Jewish doctor particularly disturbed me. I am not thoroughly familiar with the Talmud, but I suppose you aren't, either, and I further suppose that I am more familiar with it than you are. As far as I know, the original law dictates that saving all people is equally important, meaning that a Jewish doctor is more than allowed to work during a Sabbath to save lives - he's expected(if not outright required) to do so. Talmud discussion is controversial on the matter, but most agree that working during a Sabbath to save a non-Jewish life is just as acceptable. It is specifically mentioned that one is expected to do so even if their only motive is to prevent ill will among people of other religions. Turning that into, and I quote: it is acceptable to save the life of an outsider during the silly “holy” day only if it is instrumental in furthering the political relations of Jews with the outside world takes it and twists it into something ugly and false!

    I do not say that it is impossible that some Jews are acting in a racial manner, any more than it is impossible for any other human being. But going so far as to say that Judaism as a religion is racial is not only downright ridiculous, it's offensive. This Jewish law you speak so lowly of dictates that all immigrants(by which I mean people who live in your land but are not your own people), are to be treated with the same kindness and respect as your own people, without discrimination or persecution, as if they were our own, and this rule is even older than Christianity. I don't think I have to remind you that Jews were not commonly treated with equal kindness when they lived in Christian or Muslim countries.

    You wrote: it is easy to see how Jewish isolationism has in itself been part of the cause for the persecutions. It is, as you say, human nature to hate and fear the unknown and misunderstood, but it does not explain the persecutions Jews were subjected to. What caused these persecutions was ignorance and intolerance, and the unwillingness to attempt to understand what is different, not the fact that Jews chose to remain different!

  41. "disproportionate criticism of Jews" in the US?? Versus say Muslims, Mormons, atheists, etc...? This is unworthy of a response. Try to substantiate that assertion, please. LOL

    Different names for Muhammad? Muslims do not believe that Muhammad is God? Please read your Koran, at least. I have read it in three languages, plus many of the Hadith and so on. You do NOT want to debate with me on this. (I may as well mention that I find the stuff as horrifying and repulsive as I find the OT, from which it is mostly borrowed).

    To the other fellow:

    There is a profound difference between the origin of traditions and their original adaptive (or whatever) value and their continued misuse and abuse in a modern secularized society. Refusing to treat people on some arbitrary day for celebrating a mythological entity called the "Sabbath" because they are not Jewish, or treating them only for the hidden, hideous motive that they should eventually be converted to Judaism is morally repulsive. If we disagree on that, we disagree. But I, and I'm sure many others these days, refuse to be intimidated or cowed into "respecting" preposterous idea and practices by the use of sacred cows like "tradition", "ancient religious institution", blah, blah, blah..

    Traditions that are not subject to glaring rational scrutiny and logical criticism are hardened and dangerous dogmas. But I continue to repeat myself without getting anywhere here. It's getting quite boring.

    Good day.

  42. PS:

    Catholicism, on the other hand, is much, MUCH closer to polytheism. "Oh, when those (billons) of (supernaturally endowed and worhipped) Saints go marchin' in---

  43. Massimo, you never told me you had sex with Woody Allen?!!??!!!

  44. Certainly Orthodox Jews do not have a monopoly on racism, prejudice or xenophobia, any more (or less) than Catholics or Muslims, for example.

    The fun begins, however, when they get involved in politics in a country that is eternally confused between Jewishness as a religion, ethnic group or whatever. See, for example http://hofesh.org.il/english/index.html

  45. "Certainly Orthodox Jews do not have a monopoly on racism, prejudice or xenophobia, any more (or less) than Catholics or Muslims, for example."

    Although nobody said that Orthodox Jews have a monopoly on these things, your statement is demonstratably false.

    Catholics and Muslims are more than happy to convert anybody from any ethnic, national, or "racial" background. Indeed, their are many members of both of these religions that are African, Asian, Latin American, and European. In fact they are really only religious entities, not ethnic ones.

    It seems rather obvious from the case mentioned in the article that the Orthodox Jews were not very interested in welcoming a potential new Korean member into their fold. They would rather make her and her "bastard" offspring disappear from the photos and public recognition. How exactly do Catholics and Muslims do this? Exactly, they don't!

  46. Francesco,

    The following well studied source says that the ancient pagan religion has been repackaged into a monotheistic form, but there is much more to that. It does not mean that it is truly monotheistic.

    "Contrary to popular understanding, Islam did not begin with Mohammad. Most of the practices still embodied in Islam had their beginning in pre-Islamic Arabia. Mohammad repackaged the pagan worship associated with the Ka’aba in Mecca into a monotheistic form.

    It is also important to distinguish between the Allah of Islam and the God of Old Testament. They are not equivalent. Allah is presented as unknowable and capricious. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob delights in making and keeping His promises. Jesus summarized the entire Law of Moses in two commandments: Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. No where does the Qu’ran admonish its readers to make such commitments.

    The Qu’ran calls for a warrior agenda. Islam divides the universe into two parts: Dar Al Islam: the domain of the faithful (to Islam); and Dar Al Harb: those with whom they are at war until Judgment Day. The agenda of Islam is conquest, by the sword if necessary.

    This perspective can be confirmed by examining three areas: their sacred writings, exemplified by the Qu’ran; by a review of their history of conquest and cultural imperialism; and by an inspection of the Islamic countries and their propagating a legacy of hate and repression on their various subjugated populations.

    These views may appear shocking, especially when contrasted with the popular propaganda promoted in the West. But it is essential to personally investigate the many competent materials available, and to really understand the agenda that lies behind today’s headlines...." http://www.khouse.org/strategic_

    (btw, is this 'francesco' your actual name?)

  47. truthfully I am not quite sure if this is really good scholarship or not, but interesting if turns out to be true.

    Kaaba a Hindu Temple?

    [Note: A recent archeological find in Kuwait unearthed a gold-plated
    statue of the Hindu deity Ganesh. A Muslim resident of Kuwait requested
    historical research material that can help explain the connection between Hindu civilisation and Arabia.]

    Was the Kaaba Originally a Hindu Temple?
    By P.N. Oak (Historian)

    Glancing through some research material recently, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a reference to a king Vikramaditya inscription found in the Kaaba in Mecca proving beyond doubt that the Arabian Peninsula formed a part of his Indian Empire.

    The text of the crucial Vikramaditya inscription, found inscribed on a gold dish hung inside the Kaaba shrine in Mecca, is found recorded on page 315 of a volume known as ‘Sayar-ul-Okul’ treasured in the Makhtab-e-Sultania library in Istanbul, Turkey. Rendered in free English the inscription says:


    A Hindu temple at the center of Islamic life? Who would have thought?


  48. There goes Cal, cutting and pasting again.

    Of course it is also well known that Christianity has "pagan" influences as well. And the "holy trinity" of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost would seem to be at least a degree less monotheistic than Islam.

    "....their sacred writings, exemplified by the Qu’ran; by a review of their history of conquest and cultural imperialism; and by an inspection of the Islamic countries and their propagating a legacy of hate and repression on their various subjugated populations."

    Cal, study a little history in a more "fair and balanced" manner. You don't think Christianity has been spread by military conquest?

    Ever hear of the Spanish-Catholic conquest of nearly 90% of the Western hemisphere? They also conquered in the name of Christ, and coercively converted Native American populations.

    Northern European Protestant sects also continued the tradition of conversion by conquest here in the United States.

    Of course it is always easier for you to turn a blind eye to what does not confirm your prejudices.

  49. S: "Cal, study a little history in a more "fair and balanced" manner. You don't think Christianity has been spread by military conquest?"

    There is no need to be ambiguous about historical fact and qualify everything one knows by all the various possibilities of other injustices in the world.

    A fact about Islam is still a fact.

    "Ever hear of the Spanish-Catholic conquest of nearly 90% of the Western hemisphere? They also conquered in the name of Christ, and coercively converted Native American populations."

    The native Americans that I know who really have Christ in their lives are incredibly better off than the ones that live by their own traditions. The ritual use of hallucinogens leads to rampant alcoholism and so on.

    One of my older brothers is a pastor for a formerly Mennonite congregation in N.Central MN. They work so hard to help people (many of which are Native American ) get clear of their addictions. They have this place for people to go called "The Refuge".

    And so, I don't know a thing about who exactly it is you are talking about from the past, but I know about the love and kindness my brother and his wife share with so many people.

    They are, without question, "the real thing"


  50. "A fact about Islam is still a fact."

    And I don't question those facts. Being an atheist, I don't have a dog in this race.

    What I am doing is calling you on your smug manner of patting yourself and Christianity on the back by criticizing Islam for the same things that historically Christianity has done also. Religion, Christianity and Islam has been spread by military conquest over the globe.

    I also don't question the kindness of your brother.

    "The ritual use of hallucinogens leads to rampant alcoholism and so on."

    I do question these simplistic unsubstantiated cause and effect assertions you are prone to make. Having a background in anthropology, I know a little bit about these things, and I can spot your BS instantly. And what I know about these things is that socio-cultural phenomoena are complex and not so easily amenable to matter of fact linear cause and effect explanations.

    Face it Cal, you have a shotgun approach to argumentation. You just shoot out whatever you can pull out of your hat, and hope that it sticks.

  51. Listed are only events that solely occurred on command of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)

    Ancient Pagans

    * As soon as Christianity was legal (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.
    * Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.
    * Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.
    * Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer." [DA468]
    * Pagan services became punishable by death in 356. [DA468]
    * Christian Emperor Theodosius (408-450) even had children executed, because they had been playing with remains of pagan statues. [DA469]
    According to Christian chroniclers he "followed meticulously all Christian teachings..."
    * In 6th century pagans were declared void of all rights.
    * In the early fourth century the philosopher Sopatros was executed on demand of Christian authorities. [DA466]
    * The world famous female philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria was torn to pieces with glass fragments by a hysterical Christian mob led by a Christian minister named Peter, in a church, in 415.


    * Emperor Karl (Charlemagne) in 782 had 4500 Saxons, unwilling to convert to Christianity, beheaded. [DO30]
    * Peasants of Steding (Germany) unwilling to pay suffocating church taxes: between 5,000 and 11,000 men, women and children slain 5/27/1234 near Altenesch/Germany. [WW223]
    * Battle of Belgrad 1456: 80,000 Turks slaughtered. [DO235]
    * 15th century Poland: 1019 churches and 17987 villages plundered by Knights of the Order. Victims unknown. [DO30]
    * 16th and 17th century Ireland. English troops "pacified and civilized" Ireland, where only Gaelic "wild Irish", "unreasonable beasts lived without any knowledge of God or good manners, in common of their goods, cattle, women, children and every other thing." One of the more successful soldiers, a certain Humphrey Gilbert, half-brother of Sir Walter Raleigh, ordered that "the heddes of all those (of what sort soever thei were) which were killed in the daie, should be cutte off from their bodies... and should bee laied on the ground by eche side of the waie", which effort to civilize the Irish indeed caused "greate terrour to the people when thei sawe the heddes of their dedde fathers, brothers, children, kinsfolke, and freinds on the grounde".
    Tens of thousands of Gaelic Irish fell victim to the carnage. [SH99, 225]

    Crusades (1095-1291)

    * First Crusade: 1095 on command of pope Urban II. [WW11-41]
    * Semlin/Hungary 6/24/96 thousands slain. Wieselburg/Hungary 6/12/96 thousands. [WW23]
    * 9/9/96-9/26/96 Nikaia, Xerigordon (then turkish), thousands respectively. [WW25-27]
    * Until Jan 1098 a total of 40 capital cities and 200 castles conquered (number of slain unknown) [WW30]
    * after 6/3/98 Antiochia (then turkish) conquered, between 10,000 and 60,000 slain. 6/28/98 100,000 Turks (incl. women & children) killed. [WW32-35]
    Here the Christians "did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy's] tents - save that they ran their lances through their bellies," according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres. [EC60]
    * Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine "the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians" said chronicler Albert Aquensis. [WW36]
    * Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (jewish, muslim, men, women, children). [WW37-40]
    (In the words of one witness: "there [in front of Solomon's temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes", and after that "happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour's tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude")
    * The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: "It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished." [TG79]
    * Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that "even the following summer in all of palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition". One million victims of the first crusade alone. [WW41]
    * Battle of Askalon, 8/12/1099. 200,000 heathens slaughtered "in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ". [WW45]
    * Fourth crusade: 4/12/1204 Constantinople sacked, number of victims unknown, numerous thousands, many of them Christian. [WW141-148]
    * Rest of Crusades in less detail: until the fall of Akkon 1291 probably 20 million victims (in the Holy land and Arab/Turkish areas alone). [WW224]

    Note: All figures according to contemporary (Christian) chroniclers.


    * Already in 385 C.E. the first Christians, the Spanish Priscillianus and six followers, were beheaded for heresy in Trier/Germany [DO26]
    * Manichaean heresy: a crypto-Christian sect decent enough to practice birth control (and thus not as irresponsible as faithful Catholics) was exterminated in huge campaigns all over the Roman empire between 372 C.E. and 444 C.E. Numerous thousands of victims. [NC]
    * Albigensians: the first Crusade intended to slay other Christians. [DO29]
    The Albigensians (cathars = Christians allegedly that have all rarely sucked) viewed themselves as good Christians, but would not accept roman Catholic rule, and taxes, and prohibition of birth control. [NC]
    Begin of violence: on command of pope Innocent III (greatest single pre-nazi mass murderer) in 1209. Bezirs (today France) 7/22/1209 destroyed, all the inhabitants were slaughtered. Victims (including Catholics refusing to turn over their heretic neighbours and friends) 20,000-70,000. [WW179-181]
    * Carcassonne 8/15/1209, thousands slain. Other cities followed. [WW181]
    * subsequent 20 years of war until nearly all Cathars (probably half the population of the Languedoc, today southern France) were exterminated. [WW183]
    * After the war ended (1229) the Inquisition was founded 1232 to search and destroy surviving/hiding heretics. Last Cathars burned at the stake 1324. [WW183]
    * Estimated one million victims (cathar heresy alone), [WW183]
    * Other heresies: Waldensians, Paulikians, Runcarians, Josephites, and many others. Most of these sects exterminated, (I believe some Waldensians live today, yet they had to endure 600 years of persecution) I estimate at least hundred thousand victims (including the Spanish inquisition but excluding victims in the New World).
    * Spanish Inquisitor Torquemada alone allegedly responsible for 10,220 burnings. [DO28]
    * John Huss, a critic of papal infallibility and indulgences, was burned at the stake in 1415. [LI475-522]
    * University professor B.Hubmaier burned at the stake 1538 in Vienna. [DO59]
    * Giordano Bruno, Dominican monk, after having been incarcerated for seven years, was burned at the stake for heresy on the Campo dei Fiori (Rome) on 2/17/1600.


    * from the beginning of Christianity to 1484 probably more than several thousand.
    * in the era of witch hunting (1484-1750) according to modern scholars several hundred thousand (about 80% female) burned at the stake or hanged. [WV]
    * incomplete list of documented cases:
    The Burning of Witches - A Chronicle of the Burning Times

    Religious Wars

    * 15th century: Crusades against Hussites, thousands slain. [DO30]
    * 1538 pope Paul III declared Crusade against apostate England and all English as slaves of Church (fortunately had not power to go into action). [DO31]
    * 1568 Spanish Inquisition Tribunal ordered extermination of 3 million rebels in (then Spanish) Netherlands. Thousands were actually slain. [DO31]
    * 1572 In France about 20,000 Huguenots were killed on command of pope Pius V. Until 17th century 200,000 flee. [DO31]
    * 17th century: Catholics slay Gaspard de Coligny, a Protestant leader. After murdering him, the Catholic mob mutilated his body, "cutting off his head, his hands, and his genitals... and then dumped him into the river [...but] then, deciding that it was not worthy of being food for the fish, they hauled it out again [... and] dragged what was left ... to the gallows of Montfaulcon, 'to be meat and carrion for maggots and crows'." [SH191]
    * 17th century: Catholics sack the city of Magdeburg/Germany: roughly 30,000 Protestants were slain. "In a single church fifty women were found beheaded," reported poet Friedrich Schiller, "and infants still sucking the breasts of their lifeless mothers." [SH191]
    * 17th century 30 years' war (Catholic vs. Protestant): at least 40% of population decimated, mostly in Germany. [DO31-32]


    * Already in the 4th and 5th centuries synagogues were burned by Christians. Number of Jews slain unknown.
    * In the middle of the fourth century the first synagogue was destroyed on command of bishop Innocentius of Dertona in Northern Italy. The first synagogue known to have been burned down was near the river Euphrat, on command of the bishop of Kallinikon in the year 388. [DA450]
    * 17. Council of Toledo 694: Jews were enslaved, their property confiscated, and their children forcibly baptized. [DA454]
    * The Bishop of Limoges (France) in 1010 had the cities' Jews, who would not convert to Christianity, expelled or killed. [DA453]
    * First Crusade: Thousands of Jews slaughtered 1096, maybe 12.000 total. Places: Worms 5/18/1096, Mainz 5/27/1096 (1100 persons), Cologne, Neuss, Altenahr, Wevelinghoven, Xanten, Moers, Dortmund, Kerpen, Trier, Metz, Regensburg, Prag and others (All locations Germany except Metz/France, Prag/Czech) [EJ]
    * Second Crusade: 1147. Several hundred Jews were slain in Ham, Sully, Carentan, and Rameru (all locations in France). [WW57]
    * Third Crusade: English Jewish communities sacked 1189/90. [DO40]
    * Fulda/Germany 1235: 34 Jewish men and women slain. [DO41]
    * 1257, 1267: Jewish communities of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Lincoln, Cambridge, and others exterminated. [DO41]
    * 1290 in Bohemian (Poland) allegedly 10,000 Jews killed. [DO41]
    * 1337 Starting in Deggendorf/Germany a Jew-killing craze reaches 51 towns in Bavaria, Austria, Poland. [DO41]
    * 1348 All Jews of Basel/Switzerland and Strasbourg/France (two thousand) burned. [DO41]
    * 1349 In more than 350 towns in Germany all Jews murdered, mostly burned alive (in this one year more Jews were killed than Christians in 200 years of ancient Roman persecution of Christians). [DO42]
    * 1389 In Prag 3,000 Jews were slaughtered. [DO42]
    * 1391 Seville's Jews killed (Archbishop Martinez leading). 4,000 were slain, 25,000 sold as slaves. [DA454] Their identification was made easy by the brightly colored "badges of shame" that all jews above the age of ten had been forced to wear.
    * 1492: In the year Columbus set sail to conquer a New World, more than 150,000 Jews were expelled from Spain, many died on their way: 6/30/1492. [MM470-476]
    * 1648 Chmielnitzki massacres: In Poland about 200,000 Jews were slain. [DO43]

    (I feel sick ...) this goes on and on, century after century, right into the kilns of Auschwitz.

    Native Peoples

    * Beginning with Columbus (a former slave trader and would-be Holy Crusader) the conquest of the New World began, as usual understood as a means to propagate Christianity.
    * Within hours of landfall on the first inhabited island he encountered in the Caribbean, Columbus seized and carried off six native people who, he said, "ought to be good servants ... [and] would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they belonged to no religion." [SH200]
    While Columbus described the Indians as "idolators" and "slaves, as many as [the Crown] shall order," his pal Michele de Cuneo, Italian nobleman, referred to the natives as "beasts" because "they eat when they are hungry," and made love "openly whenever they feel like it." [SH204-205]
    * On every island he set foot on, Columbus planted a cross, "making the declarations that are required" - the requerimiento - to claim the ownership for his Catholic patrons in Spain. And "nobody objected." If the Indians refused or delayed their acceptance (or understanding), the requerimiento continued:

    I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter in your country and shall make war against you ... and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church ... and shall do you all mischief that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict him." [SH66]

    * Likewise in the words of John Winthrop, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony: "justifieinge the undertakeres of the intended Plantation in New England ... to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, ... and to raise a Bulworke against the kingdome of the Ante-Christ." [SH235]
    * In average two thirds of the native population were killed by colonist-imported smallpox before violence began. This was a great sign of "the marvelous goodness and providence of God" to the Christians of course, e.g. the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony wrote in 1634, as "for the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so as the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess." [SH109,238]
    * On Hispaniola alone, on Columbus visits, the native population (Arawak), a rather harmless and happy people living on an island of abundant natural resources, a literal paradise, soon mourned 50,000 dead. [SH204]
    * The surviving Indians fell victim to rape, murder, enslavement and spanish raids.
    * As one of the culprits wrote: "So many Indians died that they could not be counted, all through the land the Indians lay dead everywhere. The stench was very great and pestiferous." [SH69]
    * The indian chief Hatuey fled with his people but was captured and burned alive. As "they were tying him to the stake a Franciscan friar urged him to take Jesus to his heart so that his soul might go to heaven, rather than descend into hell. Hatuey replied that if heaven was where the Christians went, he would rather go to hell." [SH70]
    * What happened to his people was described by an eyewitness:
    "The Spaniards found pleasure in inventing all kinds of odd cruelties ... They built a long gibbet, long enough for the toes to touch the ground to prevent strangling, and hanged thirteen [natives] at a time in honor of Christ Our Saviour and the twelve Apostles... then, straw was wrapped around their torn bodies and they were burned alive." [SH72]
    Or, on another occasion:
    "The Spaniards cut off the arm of one, the leg or hip of another, and from some their heads at one stroke, like butchers cutting up beef and mutton for market. Six hundred, including the cacique, were thus slain like brute beasts...Vasco [de Balboa] ordered forty of them to be torn to pieces by dogs." [SH83]
    * The "island's population of about eight million people at the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492 already had declined by a third to a half before the year 1496 was out." Eventually all the island's natives were exterminated, so the Spaniards were "forced" to import slaves from other caribbean islands, who soon suffered the same fate. Thus "the Caribbean's millions of native people [were] thereby effectively liquidated in barely a quarter of a century". [SH72-73] "In less than the normal lifetime of a single human being, an entire culture of millions of people, thousands of years resident in their homeland, had been exterminated." [SH75]
    * "And then the Spanish turned their attention to the mainland of Mexico and Central America. The slaughter had barely begun. The exquisite city of Tenochtitln [Mexico city] was next." [SH75]
    * Cortez, Pizarro, De Soto and hundreds of other spanish conquistadors likewise sacked southern and mesoamerican civilizations in the name of Christ (De Soto also sacked Florida).
    * "When the 16th century ended, some 200,000 Spaniards had moved to the Americas. By that time probably more than 60,000,000 natives were dead." [SH95]

    Of course no different were the founders of what today is the US of Amerikkka.

    * Although none of the settlers would have survived winter without native help, they soon set out to expel and exterminate the Indians. Warfare among (north American) Indians was rather harmless, in comparison to European standards, and was meant to avenge insults rather than conquer land. In the words of some of the pilgrim fathers: "Their Warres are farre less bloudy...", so that there usually was "no great slawter of nether side". Indeed, "they might fight seven yeares and not kill seven men." What is more, the Indians usually spared women and children. [SH111]
    * In the spring of 1612 some English colonists found life among the (generally friendly and generous) natives attractive enough to leave Jamestown - "being idell ... did runne away unto the Indyans," - to live among them (that probably solved a sex problem).
    "Governor Thomas Dale had them hunted down and executed: 'Some he apointed (sic) to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked and some shott to deathe'." [SH105] Of course these elegant measures were restricted for fellow englishmen: "This was the treatment for those who wished to act like Indians. For those who had no choice in the matter, because they were the native people of Virginia" methods were different: "when an Indian was accused by an Englishman of stealing a cup and failing to return it, the English response was to attack the natives in force, burning the entire community" down. [SH105]
    * On the territory that is now Massachusetts the founding fathers of the colonies were committing genocide, in what has become known as the "Peqout War". The killers were New England Puritan Christians, refugees from persecution in their own home country England.
    * When however, a dead colonist was found, apparently killed by Narragansett Indians, the Puritan colonists wanted revenge. Despite the Indian chief's pledge they attacked.
    Somehow they seem to have lost the idea of what they were after, because when they were greeted by Pequot Indians (long-time foes of the Narragansetts) the troops nevertheless made war on the Pequots and burned their villages.
    The puritan commander-in-charge John Mason after one massacre wrote: "And indeed such a dreadful Terror did the Almighty let fall upon their Spirits, that they would fly from us and run into the very Flames, where many of them perished ... God was above them, who laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to Scorn, making them as a fiery Oven ... Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling the Place with dead Bodies": men, women, children. [SH113-114]
    * So "the Lord was pleased to smite our Enemies in the hinder Parts, and to give us their land for an inheritance". [SH111].
    * Because of his readers' assumed knowledge of Deuteronomy, there was no need for Mason to quote the words that immediately follow:
    "Thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy them..." (Deut 20)
    * Mason's comrade Underhill recalled how "great and doleful was the bloody sight to the view of the young soldiers" yet reassured his readers that "sometimes the Scripture declareth women and children must perish with their parents". [SH114]
    * Other Indians were killed in successful plots of poisoning. The colonists even had dogs especially trained to kill Indians and to devour children from their mothers breasts, in the colonists' own words: "blood Hounds to draw after them, and Mastives to seaze them." (This was inspired by spanish methods of the time)
    In this way they continued until the extermination of the Pequots was near. [SH107-119]
    * The surviving handful of Indians "were parceled out to live in servitude. John Endicott and his pastor wrote to the governor asking for 'a share' of the captives, specifically 'a young woman or girle and a boy if you thinke good'." [SH115]
    * Other tribes were to follow the same path.
    * Comment the Christian exterminators: "God's Will, which will at last give us cause to say: How Great is His Goodness! and How Great is his Beauty!"
    "Thus doth the Lord Jesus make them to bow before him, and to lick the Dust!" [TA]
    * Like today, lying was OK to Christians then. "Peace treaties were signed with every intention to violate them: when the Indians 'grow secure uppon (sic) the treatie', advised the Council of State in Virginia, 'we shall have the better Advantage both to surprise them, & cutt downe theire Corne'." [SH106]
    * In 1624 sixty heavily armed Englishmen cut down 800 defenseless Indian men, women and children. [SH107]
    * In a single massacre in "King Philip's War" of 1675 and 1676 some "600 Indians were destroyed. A delighted Cotton Mather, revered pastor of the Second Church in Boston, later referred to the slaughter as a 'barbeque'." [SH115]
    * To summarize: Before the arrival of the English, the western Abenaki people in New Hampshire and Vermont had numbered 12,000. Less than half a century later about 250 remained alive - a destruction rate of 98%. The Pocumtuck people had numbered more than 18,000, fifty years later they were down to 920 - 95% destroyed. The Quiripi-Unquachog people had numbered about 30,000, fifty years later they were down to 1500 - 95% destroyed. The Massachusetts people had numbered at least 44,000, fifty years later barely 6000 were alive - 81% destroyed. [SH118] These are only a few examples of the multitude of tribes living before Christian colonists set their foot on the New World. All this was before the smallpox epidemics of 1677 and 1678 had occurred. And the carnage was not over then.
    * All the above was only the beginning of the European colonization, it was before the frontier age actually had begun.
    * A total of maybe more than 150 million Indians (of both Americas) were destroyed in the period of 1500 to 1900, as an average two thirds by smallpox and other epidemics, that leaves some 50 million killed directly by violence, bad treatment and slavery.
    * In many countries, such as Brazil, and Guatemala, this continues even today.

    More Glorious events in US history

    * Reverend Solomon Stoddard, one of New England's most esteemed religious leaders, in "1703 formally proposed to the Massachusetts Governor that the colonists be given the financial wherewithal to purchase and train large packs of dogs 'to hunt Indians as they do bears'." [SH241]
    * Massacre of Sand Creek, Colorado 11/29/1864. Colonel John Chivington, a former Methodist minister and still elder in the church ("I long to be wading in gore") had a Cheyenne village of about 600, mostly women and children, gunned down despite the chiefs' waving with a white flag: 400-500 killed.
    From an eye-witness account: "There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed ..." [SH131]
    More gory details.
    * By the 1860s, "in Hawai'i the Reverend Rufus Anderson surveyed the carnage that by then had reduced those islands' native population by 90 percent or more, and he declined to see it as tragedy; the expected total die-off of the Hawaiian population was only natural, this missionary said, somewhat equivalent to 'the amputation of diseased members of the body'." [SH244]

    20th Century Church Atrocities

    * Catholic extermination camps
    Surpisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveli, a practising Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children!
    In these camps - the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar - orthodox-Christian serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi "Sicherheitsdient der SS", watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them. [MV]
    * Catholic terror in Vietnam
    In 1954 Vietnamese freedom fighters - the Viet Minh - had finally defeated the French colonial government in North Vietnam, which by then had been supported by U.S. funds amounting to more than $2 billion. Although the victorious assured religious freedom to all (most non-buddhist Vietnamese were Catholics), due to huge anticommunist propaganda campaigns many Catholics fled to the South. With the help of Catholic lobbies in Washington and Cardinal Spellman, the Vatican's spokesman in U.S. politics, who later on would call the U.S. forces in Vietnam "Soldiers of Christ", a scheme was concocted to prevent democratic elections which could have brought the communist Viet Minh to power in the South as well, and the fanatic Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam. [MW16ff]
    Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to Catholics alone, Buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to Catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was Roman Catholicism.
    The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read:
    o "Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp."

    Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in "detention camps." Out of protest dozens of buddhist teachers - male and female - and monks poured gasoline over themselves and burned themselves. (Note that Buddhists burned themselves: in comparison Christians tend to burn others). Meanwhile some of the prison camps, which in the meantime were filled with Protestant and even Catholic protesters as well, had turned into no-nonsense death camps. It is estimated that during this period of terror (1955-1960) at least 24,000 were wounded - mostly in street riots - 80,000 people were executed, 275,000 had been detained or tortured, and about 500,000 were sent to concentration or detention camps. [MW76-89].
    To support this kind of government in the next decade thousands of American GI's lost their life.
    * Christianity kills the cat
    On July 1, 1976, Anneliese Michel, a 23-year-old student of a teachers college in Germany, died: she starved herself to death. For months she had been haunted by demonic visions and apparitions, and for months two Catholic priests - with explicit approval of the Catholic bishop of Wrzburg - additionally pestered and tormented the wretched girl with their exorcist rituals. After her death in Klingenberg hospital - her body was littered with wounds - her parents, both of them fanatical Catholics, were sentenced to six months for not having called for medical help. None of the priests was punished: on the contrary, Miss Michel's grave today is a place of pilgrimage and worship for a number of similarly faithful Catholics (in the seventeenth century Wrzburg was notorious for it's extensive witch burnings).
    This case is only the tip of an iceberg of such evil superstition and has become known only because of its lethal outcome. [SP80]
    * Rwanda Massacres
    In 1994 in the small african country of Rwanda in just a few months several hundred thousand civilians were butchered, apparently a conflict of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
    For quite some time I heard only rumours about Catholic clergy actively involved in the 1994 Rwanda massacres. Odd denials of involvement were printed in Catholic church journals, before even anybody had openly accused members of the church.
    Then, 10/10/96, in the newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany - a station not at all critical to Christianity - the following was stated:
    o "Anglican as well as Catholic priests and nuns are suspect of having actively participated in murders. Especially the conduct of a certain Catholic priest has been occupying the public mind in Rwanda's capital Kigali for months. He was minister of the church of the Holy Family and allegedly murdered Tutsis in the most brutal manner. He is reported to have accompanied marauding Hutu militia with a gun in his cowl. In fact there has been a bloody slaughter of Tutsis seeking shelter in his parish. Even two years after the massacres many Catholics refuse to set foot on the threshold of their church, because to them the participation of a certain part of the clergy in the slaughter is well established. There is almost no church in Rwanda that has not seen refugees - women, children, old - being brutally butchered facing the crucifix.
    According to eyewitnesses clergymen gave away hiding Tutsis and turned them over to the machetes of the Hutu militia.
    In connection with these events again and again two Benedictine nuns are mentioned, both of whom have fled into a Belgian monastery in the meantime to avoid prosecution. According to survivors one of them called the Hutu killers and led them to several thousand people who had sought shelter in her monastery. By force the doomed were driven out of the churchyard and were murdered in the presence of the nun right in front of the gate. The other one is also reported to have directly cooperated with the murderers of the Hutu militia. In her case again witnesses report that she watched the slaughtering of people in cold blood and without showing response. She is even accused of having procured some petrol used by the killers to set on fire and burn their victims alive..." [S2]
    * As can be seen from these events, to Christianity the Dark Ages never come to an end.

    If today Christians talk to me about morality, this is why they make me sick.

    K.Deschner, Abermals krhte der Hahn, Stuttgart 1962.
    K.Deschner, Opus Diaboli, Reinbek 1987.
    P.W.Edbury, Crusade and Settlement, Cardiff Univ. Press 1985.
    S.Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders, Madison 1977.
    H.C.Lea, The Inquisition of the Middle Ages, New York 1961.
    M.Margolis, A.Marx, A History of the Jewish People.
    A.Manhattan, The Vatican’s Holocaust, Springfield 1986.
    See also V.Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.
    J.T.Noonan, Contraception: A History of its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, Cambridge/Mass., 1992.
    Newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany, 10/10/96, 12:00.
    D.Stannard, American Holocaust, Oxford University Press 1992.
    German news magazine Der Spiegel, no.49, 12/2/1996.
    A True Account of the Most Considerable Occurrences that have Hapned in the Warre Between the English and the Indians in New England, London 1676.
    F.Turner, Beyond Geography, New York 1980.
    H.Wollschlger: Die bewaffneten Wallfahrten gen Jerusalem, Zrich 1973.
    (This is in german and what is worse, it is out of print. But it is the best I ever read about crusades and includes a full list of original medieval Christian chroniclers' writings).
    Estimates on the number of executed witches:

    * N.Cohn, Europe's Inner Demons: An Enquiry Inspired by the Great Witch Hunt, Frogmore 1976, 253.
    * R.H.Robbins, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, New York 1959, 180.
    * J.B.Russell, Witchcraft in the Middle Ages, Ithaca/NY 1972, 39.
    * H.Zwetsloot, Friedrich Spee und die Hexenprozesse, Trier 1954, 56.

    Now, this is all excruciatingly well-documented, kiddies. It is also extremely incomplete. For example, it mentions nothing of the abhorent violence of the Borgias and the Farneses, etc.. It leaves out the kidnapping of Jewish chidren for forced conversion under the first INFALLIBLE Pappy: Pio Nono.

    So, I agree that some horrible stuff has been done in the name of Islam. But I'm not quite sure that even the brutal histiry of Islam can stand a comparison to ALL OF THIS.

    And, no my real name is not Francesco, it is Bill Shakespeare, for christ's sake. What the hell kind of question was that??

    (You know, this blog is hard to get to: I can't boomark it directly. What's with that?)

  52. "So, I agree that some horrible stuff has been done in the name of Islam. But I'm not quite sure that even the brutal histiry of Islam can stand a comparison to ALL OF THIS."

    I think when it all shakes out we all stand alone in terms of our ethics and morals. I only mentioned the case of my brother because I wanted to give you some hope. Hope that SOME people are exactly what they say they are.

    Because of what my bro does
    I'll be able to attend a gathering of two Indian Nations (that have not gotten along in the past) in a few weeks. They are, of course, making peace with each other. So if you see things like that happening in the world, that is where God is.

    At he moment tho I need to take off in a few and go help my beautiful, (and also intelligent) eldest daughter sign up for classes that will set her up to work on her teaching major.
    And of course I am not biased or anything, ;)but I do think she'll be an outstanding teacher. She is able to get kids who are really naughty under control, and most importantly, she knows "STUFF" about stuff.

    Isn't that he most important thing? ;)



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