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The Great Awakenings

The Essence of Contemporary American Religion

Part Eleven


By Shlomo Phillips © 1989
(most recent update February 24, 2015)

The Holy Inquisitions

Beginning in 1232 (by order of Frederick II) the Christian rulers seriously sought to quell the spread of what they considered renewed ancient heresies. Sanctioned Catholic terrorism had been in effect for decades, but now the heat was turned up on all who refused to submit to the Vatican. The Catholic Bishops ordered their subjects to disavow all non-Catholic beliefs and practices on pain of torture and death.

On the Continent, this attempt brought in the infamous Inquisitions. This increase in violent persecution was not only directed at the Pagans (note 10). It also extended to Jews, Muslims and what were known as Judaizers, i.e. those spiritual descendents of Bishop Arius (250 or 256 - 336 CE) who sought to maintain or rediscover the monotheistic Jewish origins of their Christian faith. By this point the Way sect was long since lost. There were always sincere Christians seeking to rediscover the original sect and restore it, or some version of it. During this period more and more Christians were openly questioning the god-man dogmas or other required Church beliefs. Islam was making noise about Christian polytheism and some Christians were leaving the Church and joining the deen of Islam. The Jews remained quiet for the most part. More troubling to the priests were those Christians who were seeking the Jewish roots of their faith. Christianity could not intellectually defend itself in this area and so the Church decreed Judaizing a capital offense. It was declared illegal for Christians to seek rabbinic guidance or to even consider Jewish interpretations of the Tanach (i.e. the Hebrew Bible). Persecution of the European Jews was heating up again. Many Jews fled into the Muslim East for safety. Muslims during this period mainly viewed the Jews as misguided cousins while the Church sought to eliminate them.

In 1252 torture was being employed by order of Pope Gregory IX. Now the Dark Days were growing darker. In 1479 as the Jews were becoming enraptured in Kabbalistic thought, Ferdinand and Isabella, in conjunction with the Pope, issued the notorious Inquisition as an assault on the Marranos (i.e. the forced Jewish converts to Christianity) and Moriscos (i.e. the forced Islamic converts to Christianity). Many of these Marranos (literally "pigs" in Spanish) maintained their ancestral Jewish traditions while publicly professing Roman Catholicism hoping to escape the growing persecutions.

Likewise, the Moriscos ("people of the moors") were externally converts from Islam but like the Jews, they did so only out of fear. Both these Jews and Muslims secretly continued to observe their beliefs. This word, Morisco, is similar in meaning to the derogatory term Heathen that referenced those of the British Isles who maintained the Old Religion in secret. Heathens were rural people of the "heath" or outlaying areas who continued to worship Odin and other gods. The term came to mean any unapproved (by the Church) religious practices (not necessarily Pagan or nature based). There were also many Pagans (or nature worshippers) who underwent mock conversions for the same reasons. The Church was not fooled! Now they were seeking them out. False conversions would no longer guarantee safety from the all consuming Church. The Inquisition was later extended to include Protestants and other so-called undesirables. Now even religiously lapsed Catholics were are risk.

In 1542, Pope Paul III established the Order of the Holy Inquisition as the highest court in the Land. The Spanish Inquisition was not abolished until 1814 (DRP 337,338).

This darkest period of Christian if not world history is dated in various ways. It can be argued, taking the various inquisitions as one, that the Holy Inquisition lasted from the 12th century, beginning in the South of France with the Church persecution of the Zoroastrian-inspired (dualistic) Cathars (or Albigenses), through the Witch Trials, the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, and continued until 1965 when the name was formally changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Under this new name the Office of Holy Inquisition continues to exists. Today the authority of the scandal ridden Vatican continues to decline. The office is thankfully without any real power to enforce its views today but that it still exists surely says something.

Despite Vatican claims of ecumenism the essential beliefs of the "Mother Church" remain the same, it just lacks the teeth to enforce them. Consider the following from The Official Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church (published during the reign of the popular Pope John Paul II: 1978- 2005):

It was not until the reign of Queen Mary I (i.e. Mary Tudor, half sister of Protestant Queen Elizabeth I) that serious religious persecution began in the land of Shakespeare. When Mary Tudor ascended the British Throne (July 6, 1553), many 'radical Protestants' were forced to flee to Calvinistic strongholds such as Strasbourg, Geneva and Zurich. Bloody Mary, as she is sometimes known, had almost three hundred religious dissenters executed. She brought a reign of Catholic terror to the previously "liberal" Anglican English haven. Under previous reigns, the Pagans were allowed limited freedom, but once Mary proclaimed Britain a Catholic country things quickly changed and the Inquisition entered.

It is commonly believed among Pagan historians that after Mary's death and the ascension of Elizabeth I ("the Virgin Queen") to the throne of England and Ireland as the final Tudor Dynastic monarch, that when the Protestant dissidents returned to England from the Continent, they brought with them a fear and hatred of the Pagans they had previously not held. Regardless of the accuracy of this view, beginning in 1563 Witch persecution in England, Wales and Ireland began in earnest.

Considering the fierceness of the Pagan persecutions on the Continent and the relative safety in England, the British Witches, assuming they had if not popular support then at least the tolerance of their British neighbors, continued to come 'out of their broom closets' as the Protestant exiles returned. They saw no reason Protestants and Pagans could not live together in peace and mutual respect as allies against their common Roman (Catholic) enemy. This mistaken assumption resulted in a major but short lived revival of the Old Religion. This revival is demonstrated by John Jewel's (the Bishop of Salisbury and one of Queen Elizabeth's advisors) warning to the Queen, at some point between November 1559 and March 1560, that:

...this kind of people (I mean witches and sorcerers) within the last few years are marvelously increased within your grace's realm. These eyes have seen the most evident and manifest marks of their wickedness. Your grace's subjects pine away even unto death, their color fadeth, their flesh rotteth, their speech is benumbed, their senses are bereft. Wherefore, your poor subjects' most humble petition unto your highness is, that the law touching such malefactors may be put in due execution. For the shoal of them is great, their doings horrible, their malice intolerable, the examples most miserable. And I pray God they never practice further than upon the subject [sic] (The Works of Jewel, ed. Parker Society, 1845-50).

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