From “Submit to God!” to “Choose For Yourself” the False Dilemma Between Middle Eastern Religions Evolutions Christiani​ty, Judaism and Islam

For Your Recollection  (FYR)’s_Day_massacre

Every Middle Eastern Religion, including Christianity, has proselytes and proselytism, at its core.   We are in the middle of a comeback of sectarism and its consequences.   Even though Western Civilization should be well aware of its cataclysmic genocidal history.   Everybody forgot about, among many traumatic others: the Inquisition(s), the Reconquista (particularly the treatment of Jews and Muslims under Christians in medieval Spain and Europe) the Saint Barthelemy   “Secularization (or secularisation) is the transformation of a society from close identification with religious values and institutions toward non-religious (or “irreligious”) values and secular institutions. Secularization thesis refers to the belief that as societies “progress”, particularly through modernization and rationalization, religion loses its authority in all aspects of social life and governance.The term secularization is also used in the context of the lifting of the monastic restrictions from a member of the clergy.”   “The word laïcité has been used, from the end of the 19th century on, to mean the freedom of public institutions, especially primary schools, from the influence of the Catholic Church in countries where it had retained its influence, in the context of a secularization process. Today, the concept covers other religious movements as well.”   “Proponents assert the French state secularism is based on respect for freedom of thought and freedom of religion. Thus the absence of a state religion, and the subsequent separation of the state and Church, is considered by proponents to be a prerequisite for such freedom of thought. Proponents maintain that laïcité is thus distinct from anti-clericalism, which actively opposes the influence of religion and the clergy. Laïcité relies on the division between private life, where adherents believe religion belongs, and the public sphere, in which each individual, adherents believe, should appear as a simple citizen equal to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities. According to this conception, the government must refrain from taking positions on religious doctrine and only consider religious subjects for their practical consequences on inhabitants’ lives. Supporters argue that Laïcité by itself does not necessarily imply any hostility of the government with respect to religion. It is best described as a belief that government and political issues should be kept separate from religious organizations and religious issues (as long as the latter do not have notable social consequences). This is meant to protect both the government from any possible interference from religious organizations, and to protect the religious organization from political quarrels and controversies. Critics of laïcité argue that it is a disguised form of anti-clericalism and infringement on individual right to religious expression, and that, instead of promoting freedom of thought and freedom of religion, it prevents the believer from observing his or her religion. Another critique is that, in countries historically dominated by one religious tradition, officially avoiding taking any positions on religious matters favors the dominant religious tradition of the relevant country. They point out that even in the current French Fifth Republic (1958–), school holidays mostly follow the Christian liturgical year, even though Easter holidays have been replaced by Spring holidays, which may or may not include Easter, depending on the years. However, the Minister of Education has responded to this criticism by giving leave to students for important holidays of their specific religions, and food menus served in secondary schools pay particular attention to ensuring that each religious observer may respect his religion’s specific restrictions concerning diets. Other countries, following in the French model, have forms of Laïcité – examples include Mexico and Turkey.”   “The strict separation of church and state which began with the 1905 law has evolved into what some see as a “form of political correctness that made bringing religion into public affairs a major taboo.” President Sarkozy has criticised this approach as a “negative laïcité” and wants to develop a “positive laïcité” that recognizes the contribution of faith to French culture, history and society, allows for faith in the public discourse and for government subsidies for faith-based groups. Sarkozy sees France’s main religions as positive contributions to French society. He visited the Pope in December 2007 and publicly acknowledged France’s Christian roots, while highlighting the importance of freedom of thought, hinting that faith should come back into the public sphere. Sarkozy publicly declared the burqa “not welcome” in France in 2009 and favored legislation to outlaw it, following which, in February 2010, a post office robbery took place by two burqa-clad robbers, ethnicity unknown, who after entering the post office, removed their veils. In line with Sarkozy’s views on the need for reform of laïcité, Pope Benedict XVI on September 12, 2008 said it was time to revisit the debate over the relationship between church and state, advocating a “healthy” form of laïcité. Meeting with Sarkozy, he stated: “In fact, it is fundamental, on the one hand, to insist upon the distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the state toward them.”  He went on: “On the other hand, [it is important] to become more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to – among other things – the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society.” Following March 2011 local elections strong disagreement appeared within the governing UMP over the appropriateness of holding a debate on laïcité as desired by the President of the Republic. On 30 March a letter appeared in La Croix signed by representatives of six religious bodies opposing the appropriateness of such a debate. A law was passed on April 11, 2011, with strong support from political parties as well as from Sarkozy, which made it illegal to hide the face in public spaces, affecting a few thousand women in France wearing the niqab and the burqa.”   “Whosoever will come after me—It seems that Christ formed, on the proselytism of the Jews, the principal qualities which he required in the proselytes of his covenant. The first condition of proselytism among the Jews was, that he that came to embrace their religion should come voluntarily, and that neither force nor influence should be employed in this business. This is also the first condition required by Jesus Christ, and which he considers as the foundation of all the rest:—If a man be willing to come after me. The second condition required in the Jewish proselyte was, that he should perfectly renounce all his prejudices, his errors, his idolatry, and every thing that concerned his false religion; and that he should entirely separate himself from his most intimate friends and acquaintances. It was on this ground that the Jews called proselytism a new birth, and proselytes new-born, and new men; and our Lord requires men to be born again, not only of water, but by the Holy Ghost. See John 3:5. All this our Lord includes in this word, Let him renounce himself. To this the following scriptures refer: Matthew 10:33; John 3:3, 3:5, 2 Corinthians 5:17. The third condition on which a person was admitted into Judaism as a proselyte was, that he should submit to the yoke of the Jewish law, and bear patiently the inconveniences and sufferings with which a profession of the Mosaic religion might be accompanied. Christ requires the same condition; but, instead of the yoke of the law, he brings in his own doctrine, which he calls his yoke, Matthew 11:29: and his cross, the taking up of which not only implies a bold profession of Christ crucified, but also a cheerful submitting to all the sufferings and persecutions to which he might be exposed, and even to death itself. The fourth condition was, that they should solemnly engage to start in the Jewish religion, faithful even unto death. This condition Christ also requires; and it is comprised in this word, Let him FOLLOW me. See the following verses; and see, on the subject of proselytism, Ruth 1:16-17”   “Many Christians consider it their obligation to follow what is often termed the Great Commission of Jesus, recorded in the final verses of the Gospel of Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” The Acts of the Apostles and other sources contain several accounts of early Christians following this directive by engaging in individual conversations and mass sermons to spread the “good news”. Evangelical Christians often use the term “witnessing” to mean discussing one’s faith with another person with the intent of proselytism. Most self-described Christian groups have organizations devoted to missionary work which in whole or in part includes proselytism of people of other faiths (including sometimes other variants of Christianity).”   “The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis (inquiry on heretical perversity), was the “fight against heretics” by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy. Inquisition practices were used also on offences against canon law other than heresy.”   “Historians distinguish four different manifestations of the Inquisition: the Medieval Inquisition (1231–16th century) the Spanish Inquisition (1478–1834) the Portuguese Inquisition (1536–1821) the Roman Inquisition (1542 – c. 1860) Because of its objective — combating heresy — the Inquisition had jurisdiction only over baptised members of the Church (which, however, encompassed the vast majority of the population in Catholic countries). Secular courts could still try non-Christians for blasphemy; most witch trials went through secular courts. Different areas faced different situations with regard to heresies and suspicion of heresies. Most of Medieval Western and Central Europe had a long-standing veneer of Catholic standardisation over traditional non-Christian practices, with intermittent localized occurrences of different ideas (such as Catharism or Platonism) and periodic anti-Semitic/anti-Judaic activity. Exceptionally, Portugal and Spain in the late Middle Ages consisted largely of multicultural territories fairly recently re-conquered from the Islamic states of Al-Andalus control, and the new Christian authorities could not assume that all their subjects would suddenly become and remain orthodox Catholics. So the Inquisition in Iberia, in the lands of the Reconquista counties and kingdoms like Portugal, Leon, Castile and Aragon, had a special socio-political basis as well as more conventional religious motives. With the Protestant Reformation, Catholic authorities became much more ready to suspect heresy in any new ideas, including those of Renaissance humanism, previously strongly supported by many at the top of the Church hierarchy. The extirpation of heretics became a much broader and more complex enterprise, complicated by the politics of territorial Protestant powers, especially in northern Europe. The Catholic Church could no longer exercise direct influence in the politics and justice-systems of lands which officially adopted Protestantism. Thus war (the French Wars of Religion, the Thirty Years War), massacre (the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre) and the educational and propaganda work of the Counter-Reformation came to play larger roles in these circumstances, and the judicial approach to heresy represented by the Inquisition became less important overall. Inquisition tribunals only functioned in Catholic territories, but secular law in both Catholic and Protestant countries could address the criminal offences of heresy and witchcraft.”   “During the Islamic administration, Christians and Jews were allowed to retain their religions by paying a tax (jizya). Penalty for not paying it was death: It was considered as an attack on the supremacy of Islam, and since the tax was for protection from outside invasions, refusal to pay was considered to weaken the empire. Attitudes towards dhimmis were variable, as well. During the time of the Almoravids and especially the Almohads some were treated badly, in contrast to the policies of the earlier Umayyad Caliphs and later Emirs. The new Christian hierarchy demanded heavy taxes from non-Christians and gave them rights, such as in the Treaty of Granada (1491) only for Moors in recently Islamic Granada. It expelled the Jews. In 1496 the Alhambra decree under Archbishop Hernando de Talavera dismissed the Treaty of Granada and now the Muslim population of Granada was forced to convert or be expelled. In 1502, Queen Isabella I declared conversion to Catholicism compulsory within the Kingdom of Castilian. King Charles V did the same to Moors in the Kingdom of Aragon in 1526, forcing conversions of its Muslim population during the Revolt of the Germanies. These policies were not only religious in nature but also effectively seized any wealth of the exiled. Most of the descendants of those Muslims and Jews who submitted to compulsory conversion to Christianity rather than exile during the early periods of the Inquisition, the Moriscos and Conversos respectively, were later expelled from Spain and Portugal when the Inquisition was at its height. The expulsion was carried out more severely in Eastern Spain (Valencia and Aragon), due to local animosity towards Muslims and Moriscos where they were seen as economic rivals by the citizenry. A major Morisco revolt happened in 1568, and the final Expulsion of the Moriscos from Catilan in 1609, and from Aragon in 1610. Because some Muslims and Jews shared ancestors in common with some Christians, it was difficult to expel all of those with any non-Christian ancestors from Castile or Aragon. However the Crowns, with the techniques of the Spanish Inquisition, killed, imprisoned, or expelled the converso “Moriscos” and Marranos. Those descended from Muslims or Jews practicing at the time of the Reconquista’s close were perpetually suspected of various crimes against the Spanish state including continued practice of Islam or Judaism, and any survivors were finally all expelled by the close of the next century.”   “The many advances and retreats created several social types: The Muladi: Christians who converted to Islam after the arrival of the Moors. The Renegades: Christian individuals who embraced Islam and often fought against their former compatriots. The Mozarabs: Christians in Muslim-held lands. Some of them migrated to the north of the peninsula in times of persecution bringing elements of the styles, food and agricultural practices learned from the Moors, while they continued practicing their Christianity with older forms of Catholic worship and their own versions of the Latin language. The Marranos: Jewish conversos. Jews who either voluntarily or compulsorily converted to Catholicism. Some were Crypto-Jews who continued practicing Judaism secretly. All remaining Jews were expelled from Spain in Treaty of Granada of 1491, and Portugal also. Converso Jews often became victims of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions. The Mudéjar and Moriscos: Muslim conversos. Muslims who were compulsorily converted to Catholicism. Most were Crypto-Muslims who continued practicing Islam secretly. They ranged from successful skilled artisans, valued and protected in Aragon, to impoverished peasants in Castile. After the Alhambra Decree the entire Islamic population was forced to convert or leave, and within a century most, if not all, were expelled. ”   “The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion. Traditionally believed to have been instigated by Catherine de’ Medici, the mother of King Charles IX, the massacre took place six days after the wedding of the king’s sister Margaret to the Protestant Henry III of Navarre (the future Henry IV of France). This marriage was an occasion for which many of the most wealthy and prominent Huguenots had gathered in largely Catholic Paris. The massacre began two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. Starting on 23 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle) with murders on orders of the king of a group of Huguenot leaders including Coligny, the massacres spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre extended to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead vary widely between 5,000 and 30,000 in total. The massacre also marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its prominent aristocratic leaders, as well as many re-conversions by the rank and file, and those who remained were increasingly radicalized. Though by no means unique, it “was the worst of the century’s religious massacres.”  Throughout Europe, it “printed on Protestant minds the indelible conviction that Catholicism was a bloody and treacherous religion”.”   “The French Wars of Religion (1562–98) is the name given to a period of civil infighting and military operations, primarily fought between French Catholics and Protestants (Huguenots). The conflict involved the factional disputes between the aristocratic houses of France, such as the House of Bourbon and House of Guise (Lorraine), and both sides received assistance from foreign sources. The exact number of wars and their respective dates are the subject of continued debate by historians; some assert that the Edict of Nantes in 1598 concludes the wars, although a resurgence of rebellious activity following this leads some to believe the Peace of Alais in 1629 is the actual conclusion. However, the Massacre of Vassy in 1562 is agreed to begin the Wars of Religion and the Edict of Nantes at least ended this series of conflicts. During this time, complex diplomatic negotiations and agreements of peace were followed by renewed conflict and power struggles. At the conclusion of the conflict in 1598, Huguenots were granted substantial rights and freedoms by the Edict of Nantes, though it did not end hostility towards them. The wars weakened the authority of the monarchy, already fragile under the rule of Francis II and then Charles IX, though it later reaffirmed its role under Henry IV.”   “Toleration is “the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as “to bear or endure” or “to nourish, sustain or preserve”. Toleration may signify “no more than forbearance and the permission given by the adherents of a dominant religion for other religions to exist, even though the latter are looked on with disapproval as inferior, mistaken or harmful”. There is only one verb ‘to tolerate’ and one adjective ‘tolerant’, but the two nouns ‘tolerance’ and ‘toleration’ have evolved slightly different meanings. Tolerance is an attitude of mind that implies non-judgmental acceptance of different lifestyles or beliefs, whereas toleration implies putting up with something that one disapproves of. Historically, most incidents and writings pertaining to toleration involve the status of minority and dissenting viewpoints in relation to a dominant state religion. In the twentieth century and after, analysis of the doctrine of toleration has been expanded to include political and ethnic groups, homosexuals and other minorities, and human rights embodies the principle of legally enforced toleration.”



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