Ah, the inquisition wasn’t that bad.

Prolix, our all too infrequent blogger, called me this morning incensed about a story in the opinion section of the Dallas Morning News by Steve Blow.  I look forward to his insights on this page soon. http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/localnews/columnists/sblow/stories/090510dnmetblow.19e1646.html The link to the story also contains a link to the video of Rev. Robert Jeffress of Dallas’s First Baptist Church.

As the columnist says – where do you begin with so much nonsense?

Let me start where I always do – me. My boy wanted to go to church with his friends today. And I had to think about it. Do I really want him exposed to that? I truly want him to decide on his own what he believes. Yet, I worry. My tortured relationship with religion has made me gun shy. I let him go and fully expect that it will lead to a conversation later on this evening. For the record, the church he attended today was Catholic.

With that as the frame work, now take Rev. Jeffress. To hear him state that, sure, the inquisition and the crusades were bad, but that it had all been blown out of proportion was disturbing. He states that more people were killed on 9/11/2001 than during the entire inquisition. Being no expert on the subject I had to resort to a search. Really, the numbers simply cannot be verified and no one agrees on the human toll of the inquisition. The figure of 2,000 is given in some places and is based on the records in Spanish archives of 48,000 trials during that time period. So, if you only count those with specific records of execution, then the figure he gives is accurate. Other accounts estimate the count as 125,000 people, however. Looking beyond just the numbers, there really are no similarities here. The inquisition spanned centuries, it was a product of powerful governments and inflicted terror on uneducated masses. By contrast, 9/11/2001 was one incident, in a series of events, where by a small band of extremist perpetrated a crime on innocent people. It is as heinous and horrible as can be. Still, Al Qaeda is not a powerful nation. It is not even a nation. The Taliban even while in power were rulers of Afghanistan, one of the poorest and underdeveloped nations on the globe. They are not mighty. They are not reigning down fear on people that are illiterate – except in their own small portion of the world. While both the past atrocities of Christians in collusion with state power and current atrocities of a radical few in the name of Islam are terrible perversions of religion, the scale is simply not comparable. The term for what Rev. Jeffress was doing is white-washing.

But, he was not done. He says, rightly, that nowhere in the New Testament does it say you should kill in the name of Christ. Basically, our holy book is better than theirs. He states that there are 35 passages in the Qur’an that are used to justify violence. Ok. I cannot claim a knowledge of the Qur’an either. I did go to church 3 times a week growing up, though. While the New Testament is “turn the other cheek”, the Old Testament is “slaughter everyone in that city because I said you could have it”. It is highly disingenuous to claim the Bible has no call to violence. No one in Christendom has disowned the Old Testament as part of the religious text. It is all “the Word of God”. Most modern Christians pick and choose what they use and believe of the Bible, whether they even know it or not. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t eat shellfish for example, because it is listed as one of the “don’ts” in Deuteronomy or Leviticus – those two crazy books that are like your crazy uncles that you never want to talk about.

He also claims that Islam oppresses women. He is correct it does. So does Christianity. Women are to be subject to their husbands, according to the Bible. Paul, in all of his wisdom, proclaims that “women should be quiet in the churches”. What is that line from the Holy Book? Do not pluck the splinter out of your neighbor’s eye until you have removed the plank from your own?

Still, he was not done. The most incendiary portion of the clip is where he explains that Islam is a promoter of pedophilia. He says that Mohammed had sex with a nine-year-old and thus today Muslim men have sex with four-year-olds, taking them as their wife. If it was ok for the prophet, it is ok for them. This claim is based on the story of A’isha, daughter of Abu Bakr, who the prophet took as a wife when she was nine. There is debate in Islam over whether he consummated the marriage with A’isha at that age. Still, it is truth that there are horrendous things done to women in the name of Islam, including child brides. But, as referenced above, while not on the same scale, Christianity is not blameless here either. While Morman’s are the stepchildren to most Christians, they still believe in Christ and as has been in the news, sects are periodically prosecuted in court for marrying underage girls to older men. While Rev. Jeffress is a Baptist, and if it is anything like it was when I was young, Baptists don’t think of Catholics as true Christians. Nevertheless, he blast Islam for their atrocities while the atrocities of the Catholic church harboring pedophiles all across the globe is plastered across the world media. See again the reference to removing splinter from your neighbor’s eye.

He ends his little speech by saying it is time for Christians to take off the gloves. Sounds like he is spoiling for a holy war to me. The church audiences stands and cheers.

I wish I had never said it was ok for my boy to go to church. It is a dangerous place to be.


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