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Post Info TOPIC: Enforcing the Faith – Missionaries or Murderers?


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Enforcing the Faith – Missionaries or Murderers?

Enforcing the Faith

– Missionaries or Murderers?

Christians get a lot of mileage out of the aphorism of 'turning the other cheek', a sentiment originating at least as early as Pythagoras in the fifth century BC. Yet both in theory and in practice, Christians have honoured the principle of murdering their opponents. The word, it seems, came from the very top. Apparently Jesus himself said:

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." – Luke 19.27

(Not the word of the Lord? Oh yes it is!)

The Christian Heaven may have been a vain folly but the Christian Hell was real enough. For more than a thousand years sadists in the uniform of Christ terrorised and brutalised a continent and then exported that terror to the four corners of the globe.

The Church, which, with a satanic twist of humour, claimed to be the instrument of 'Christ's loving kindness' , taught a brutalised and impoverished people new meanings to the words pain and suffering...

For those who dared to be different:

Incarceration – starvation – psychological torment and terror – laceration – mutilation – strangulation – suffocation – crushing – choking
– burning – garrotting
 – slow and agonizing death.

Welcome to a Christian Europe!




Breaking on the Wheel

The naked heretic had each limb and joint broken precisely to avoid any fatal blows. He was then 'braided' into the spokes of the wheel and hoisted on to a post. There he was exposed to the elements – or left to be twirled by passers by who wanted to join in the fun.


The Pope's Pears

The vaginal pear was used on woman who had sex with the Devil or his familiars. The rectal pear was used on passive male homosexuals and the oral pear was used on heretical preachers or lay persons found guilty of unorthodox practices. Inserted into the mouth, anus or vagina of the victim, the pear was expanded by use of the screw until the insides are ripped, stretched and mutilated, almost always causing death. The pointed ends of the 'leaves' were good for ripping the throat, intestines or cervix open.


The Judas Cradle

The victim is raised up by the rope or chain and then lowered until the vagina, anus or the coccyx rests on the point. The torturer could vary the pressure by hanging weights from the victim or rocking or raising and dropping the victim from various heights.



Iron Spider

The iron would usually be heated to red-hot and then used to slowly rip the breasts from the body. It would be used for such crimes as heresy, adultery, self-induced abortions, blasphemy and other "hideous" crimes.



Designed to dislocate the shoulders of a victim by hoisting him off the ground, allowing him to fall, and stopping him suddenly before he touched the ground. To add to the torment, weights (varying from 50 to 500 pounds) were tied to the victim's body to dislocate a greater number of bones.








Cat's Paw

A clawed rake, used to rip the person's flesh and tear the flesh from the bones of any part of his or her body.

Slow Burn

This pivoted pole was a 16th century device calculated to lift the victim in and out of the fire, roasting him alive slowly instead of burning him all at once. 

 Quick Burn in Holland






Extreme Makeover

The rack – everybody's favourite. Well, perhaps only of Inquisitors for whom it was the instrument of choice after the pulley had failed.

For the helpless victim dislocation of every joint in the body and elongations up to 12" were possible. 'Surgeons' might reset joints to allow the torture to be repeated. Severe lacerations and loss of blood would result from racking even without the additional use of red hot pincers to tear off nipples, tongues, ears, noses, and genitals.

A sadist's banquet – and of course it brought the wretched heretics closer to God.





















The Holy Trinity

When a sinner had 'blasphemed the holy name of god', or when he had perhaps told some truth about the local priest, it was customary to apply the holy trinity.

The Iron mask was heated in an open fire until red hot, then put upon his head. The scourge, also red hot, was then applied to his back. After the mask had cooled, it was removed from the sinner, taking skin (and usually eyeballs) with it. The prisoner's mouth was then opened and red hot pincers were used to remove the prisoner's tongue.

It is interesting to note that the Holy Trinity was designed not to cause death, so that the maimed, blinded and mute prisoner could live out his days as a burden to his family and as a testimony to what happens when one lets his tongue wag too freely.










Luke 19.27 Not the word of the Lord? Oh  yes it is!

Christian apologists squirm and wriggle over this infamous command of Jesus to murder his enemies. "It's not Jesus," they say, "It's the 'harsh master' in the parable." But is it?

Luke builds to JC's big finish in Jerusalem by having his meandering hero tell a series of parables along the way. Luke 19 is the link from Jericho to the Temple itself. In verses 1-10, near Jericho, the godman invites himself into the house of a dwarfish publican called Zacchaeus and rewards the guy with salvation after Zac' says he is going to give half his goods to the poor.

At verse 11 a new scene is set: JC is about to depart  (and of course he knows crucifixion awaits him); his audience think the Kingdom of God is at hand.

JC responds with the infamous parable, which is actually an attempt by 2nd century gospel writers to deal with issues raised by the "delayed kingdom". The believing brethren have the "good news" but what are they to do with it?

The parable starts with the words "A certain man of noble birth went far to receive a kingdom. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds." Is this JC? The answer is to be found in an earlier version of the same yarn – in Matthew:

"For the Kingdom of Heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods." – 25,14

 tells his version of the story using just 3 servants (they represent the Christian brethren, "servants of the Lord'). "After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh" (25.19). There is a reckoning (the Day of Judgement). The lord is well pleased with 2 of them who have successfully "earned interest on his money."

"Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."  – 25,21.

The third servant however, who denounces his lord as harsh, says he was "afraid" and simply hid the lord's investment. A displeased lord turns on him as a "wicked and slothful servant" (25:27).

The point of the story? This is how Matthew rounds it off:

"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." – 25.29,30.

In other words this so-called Parable of the Harsh Master / Parable of the Talents is a story about what Christians are to do with the "gospel" as they wait for the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. They are to spread the word ("grow the Lord's money"), not hide it away. Correctly understood, this is the parable of the slothful servant, threatened with "outer darkness."

When Luke copied Matthew's efforts he added a new element: "reluctant citizens" of the new kingdom (no doubt he had in mind recalcitrant pagans).

"But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us." – 19.14.

 followed closely Matthew's story but replaced the final bit threatening "outer darkness" to lazy brethren with a more immediate and tangible injunction aimed at "enemies":

"I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." – 19.27.

Where did Luke get his inspiration? A nobleman "travelling far to receive a kingdom" is a rare enough event. Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews - Book 17, chapter 11 maps the story and also provides all the ingredients for both 19.14 and 19.27.

With the death of Herod the Great, his son Archelaus – of noble birth – journeyed to Rome to "receive his kingdom" from Emperor Augustus. But at the same time an embassy of the Jews petitioned Caesar that "out of their hatred to him" Archelaus not "be set over their kingdom". Archelaus had slaughtered 3000 of his enemies at the Temple. The emperor eventually removed him and sent him into exile in 6 AD.

Josephus wrote Antiquities of the Jews around 93 AD so whoever "Luke" really was, he was certainly writing his fable later than that.






Alan Hall, The History of the Papacy (PRC, 1998)
Alice K. Turner, The History of Hell (Robert Hale, 1995)
Brian P. Levack, The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe ((Longman, 1995)
A.F. Ide, The Popes... (AAP, 1987)
George Scott, A History of Torture (Senate, 1995)
Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History (Morningstar & Lark, 1995)
The Medieval Crime Museum
 Rothenburg (Video)

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