The Necessity of Atheism (Brooks)/Chapter XIV

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Instead of diminishing the number of wars, ecclesiastical influence has actually and very seriously increased it; we may look in vain for any period since Constantine in which the clergy as a body exerted themselves to repress the military spirit, or to prevent or abridge a particular war with an energy at all comparable to that which they displayed in stimulating the fanaticism of the Crusades, in producing the atrocious massacres of the Albigenses, in embittering the religious contests that followed the Reformation." (Lecky.)

Any institution that can sanction war is the most immoral institution that the mind of man can imagine. That an institution which claims to have under its guidance the moral activity of this earth, has instituted and condoned war is a known historical fact. That the Church has blessed the banners of opposing factions, and has gloried in the butchering of innocent heretics, no manner of present disregard for the facts and apology can refute and redeem. The religious and civil wars, the massacre of the Albigenses and other sects, the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, are still alive in the memories of historians and still rankle. The Crusades were a bloody blot in the none too peaceful times of the Middle Ages. Christianity hurled itself at Mohammedanism in expedition after expedition for nearly three centuries. Millions of men perished in battle, hunger, and disease, and every atrocity the imagination can conceive of disgraced the warriors of the cross. When one crusade failed, a papal bull instigated the next. Taxes were imposed to defray the expenses, and Europe was so drained of men and money that it was threatened with social bankruptcy and annihilation.

The Inquisition between 1481, and 1808 had punished 340,000 persons, and of these, nearly 32,000 had been burnt. This was the result of the declaration that "The Inquisition is an urgent necessity in view of the unbelief of the present age." The Church forgot to mention the vast amount of wealth that accrued to, her by these means. But we need not turn to the dead ages for material, for the present still firmly holds its war memories.

"Armenians massacred by Turks and Kurds; Christians slaughtered by Mohammedans is a horror as hideous in the name of religion as in the name of war. The persecution of Jews by Christians in the name of Christ is diabolical. The atrocities inflicted on Christian Belgium by Christian Germany stains the Teuton's hand as red as the Turk's, but with a difference. The Teuton outraged his own 'holy women,' despoiled and murdered his own 'sisters in Christ,' while the Mohammedan hordes perpetrated their nameless infamies on those whom they believed to be the imps of Satan. Mercifully, call these things the logical crimes of a state of war! Then we must admit that savagery still is more powerful than religion, and we must concede that no religion so far has achieved the success that one might reasonably expect of a divine institution." (Bell: "Woman from Bondage to Freedom.")

The World War proved the utter worthlessness of Christianity as a civilizing force. The nations engaged were not fighting non-Christians; Germany; Austria, Russia, England, Belgium, Servia, Italy, and the United States are all Christian nations. They all worship the same God, they are all brothers in Christ, but that did not prevent their cutting each other's throats on the battlefield. Their common religious belief did not render the war less bitter nor less bloodthirsty.

Is it not a fact that if the Christian nations of the world would only live at peace together, war would be impossible? Neither Mohammedan nations nor Japan could threaten. When the Christian speaks of the brotherhood of man, he means a brotherhood of believers only. What kind of brotherhood did Christians bestow on Jews or heretics in the Middle Ages? Was it the brotherhood of man that Christianity bestowed on the conquered Mexican and Peruvian nations, and on the Indians of our own country? If Christianity had expended as much energy in teaching its adherents the fundamentals of a sane social life, as it did to prepare mankind for a mythical life in Heaven, civilization would be today greatly in advance of where it is.

Does any one believe that Jew, Mohammedan, Catholic, and Protestant can long live in peace together? Common social needs bring mankind together but religion drives them apart. There can never be a lasting peace until the myth of God is dispelled forever from the minds of men. Then and then only, can the adjustment between economic and political forces lead to a permanent peace.