A Different Kind of Blog

news and things sacred and irreverent put together by opinionated people.

Is the Inquisition Relevant Today?

Posted by 1minionsopinion on March 10, 2010

That’s the title of the Freethinker meetup I’ll be missing on the 21st. Damn those relatives with milestone birthdays who live nowhere near here but expect me to drop in for cake…

Just kidding, I like home visits. But what an interesting idea. I wonder which way they want to go with that.

I don’t know much about the Spanish Inquisition and the other ones throughout Europe over a 500 year period. A bit of poking around finds an argument that Spain’s intensive legal proceedings were far less offensive than other areas of Europe, and may have actually helped keep religious wars from breaking out.

There’s also something called the Black Legend, a ploy to paint what happened in Spain in far darker colours. It appears to be Protestant propaganda to make Catholics (and the Spanish people in general) look bad.

Well sure. All Spain did was forcibly convert Jews to Christianity and then punish them with death if they thought it didn’t stick. And then they evicted the Conversos they didn’t kill or burn in effigy. But no Protestants were harmed in the making of a Jew free Spain…

A lot of Protestants were harmed in the making of a pro-Catholic UK, though. And a lot of Catholics were harmed in return. Rev. Know-it-All pulls some numbers together.

Queen Mary Tudor who ruled England from 1553-1558 is called Bloody Mary for having executed 283 Protestants as heretics. Her little sister, Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant who succeeded her, is called Good Queen Bess. She, however, executed 800 Catholics for trying to have Mass said. If Bloody Mary was bloodthirsty, her little sister, Queen Elizabeth, was more than twice as bloodthirsty.

Another example: on September 11, 1649 Oliver Cromwell, the English dictator killed 3,500 Irish Catholics in the Massacre of Drogheda, burning women and children alive in St. Mary’s church, all in an attempt to establish Presbyterianism and wipe out Irish Catholicism. He killed more in an afternoon than the Spanish Inquisition did in 200 years, and went right on with the killing.

In the end, he had killed or exiled one quarter, perhaps one third, of the entire population of Ireland and taken 75% of the land, but I never hear anyone say, “Oh, those bloodthirsty Presbyterians.” I know Presbyterians. They are very nice people. They tend to keep their yards clean.

I think we could shine a light on any religion in any country and find history that likes to hide in the dark. Every country has had its bad rulers, bad seeds, bad ideas. Every country has had inequality, hatred and war. To point in only one direction and claim all the trouble comes from there.. well, it’s bad form.

Is the Inquisition relevant today? In terms of legal proceedings, apparently so.

Thierry Levy, a practicing attorney in Paris, observes that the procedures established during the Inquisition can still be seen in the workings of some European judicial systems today. Among the similarities, he cites: “The figure of the prosecutor, who can decide whether or not to pursue an investigation; the secrecy of the process; the provisional detention of suspects for interrogation.” He also points to the active role of the judge. The process of the Inquisition, he observes, is quite different from that of the Anglo-American judicial system, in which the prosecution and defense take active adversary positions, and the judge is a neutral arbiter.

In terms of ideology? Absolutely. I think it speaks to the risks we take allowing religious groups to have the power to influence government. Ideally, governments should make laws that help (and hinder) everyone in the same fashion, not grant one group better rights and greater latitude than the rest. Whether they want to break a country down by religious lines or racial ones, it’s still the wrong way to encourage patriotism and solidarity. Everybody does not have to be the same, but everyone does have to be considered an equal under the laws we agree as a country to uphold.

Speaking of religion and patriotism, this I quote reminds me of somewhere..but where…

But where do the guardians of orthodoxy put the blue-dotted line of damnation? Where on that sliding board do they see their colleague as no longer being a Christian?

Most Christians could easily be exposed for holding some heretical views even when judged only by the doctrine of their own sect. But they don’t care, for most Christian do not hold together the Jesus-in-their-head with theological propositions. So those Christians who worry about heresy are sort of unique.

Both from Triangulations, making a good point. The way Christians seem to view their place in their religion vs how their theology and books actually describe it. That blogger refers to the crazy “Jesus is my bestest pal!” kind of belief system that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the faith though which it developed.



7 Responses to “Is the Inquisition Relevant Today?”

  1. dorian said

    “But where do the guardians of orthodoxy put the blue-dotted line of damnation? Where on that sliding board do they see their colleague as no longer being a Christian?”

    the guardians carry a bible in one hand and the other hand pushes the damned ex-christians into the lake of fire. one of the gauges is the abortion issue. their terms are absolute and unconditional when it comes to abortion. you’re not christian if you choose the life of the mother over what is gestating in her body and it doesn’t matter if it means the mother would die. soon all miscarriages would be subject to criminal investigation, if the orthodox (fundie) christians were given the power in government. and there’s the opening for the most popular debate topic again…take it away!!


  2. Princessxxx said

    “But where do the guardians of orthodoxy put the blue-dotted line of damnation? Where on “that sliding board do they see their colleague as no longer being a Christian?”

    well, here is where glenn beck draws the line. social justice.

    Glenn Beck Urges Listeners to Leave Churches That Preach Social Justice


    apparently “social justice” is a keyword for communism and nazism.


  3. Was the inquisition ever Relevant?


  4. Princessxxx said

    oh, i thought the question was, “is the inquisition revelant?”


  5. Princessxxx said



  6. dorian said

    good link, P!

    e_e – t’was relevant to the religious conformists then and now. they are wanting to bring back the inquisition. as long as they stay out of government and the forbes world’s richest list,the country’s still safe. imagine if sarah palin had bill gates’ money.


  7. Everyone does understand that the Inquisition was nothing more than an excuse for Religious Fundamentalists to torture and publicly humiliate non-Christians and Homosexuals right? I mean the actions of the CIA, Abu Garib, and things that happened at Gitmo pale in comparison to the evil acts committed by evil men and women posing as devout worshipers of God.


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