Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Poll Analyses
Share on Facebook 8 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Believers Kill Skeptics

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   No comments
Author 514931
Message James Haught

Throughout history, a clear pattern is visible: Religious believers sometimes kill doubters or throw them into prison as criminals.

It began in Ancient Greece, the first known place where scientific-minded thinkers questioned supernatural claims. Socrates was sentenced to death for "refusing to recognize the gods" of Athens. Aspasia, beloved mistress of Pericles, was tried for "impiety." Stilpo of Megara, charged with saying that Athena was "not a god," joked at his trial that she was a goddess instead. He was exiled. Even the mighty Aristotle was accused, and fled Athens. Others charged included Protagoras, Anaxagoras, Theophrastos, Alcibiades, Andocides and Diagoras.

The Bible demands execution of anyone who criticizes the holies. Leviticus 24 commands: "He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him." Jesus taught that blasphemers must never be forgiven.

As Christianity grew, so did killing of nonconformists. Hypatia, brilliant director of the famed Alexandria library, was beaten to death by followers of St. Cyril in 415 C.E.

Under Catholicism, the Holy Inquisition tortured and burned "heretics" and Protestants later did likewise. Physician Michael Servetus, who discovered that blood flows from the heart to the lungs and back, was burned in John Calvin's Geneva in 1553 for doubting the Trinity and other dogmas. (Each year, youths at my Unitarian congregation hold a Michael Servetus Weenie Roast in his memory.)

In 1600, Italian thinker Giordano Bruno was burned for teaching heresies such as the infinity of the universe and that Planet Earth circles the sun. Italian thinker Galileo barely escaped the same fate.

In Great Britain, the last person hanged for blasphemy was a 20-year-old Scot named Thomas Aikenhead, who was convicted in 1697 of doubting Christ's miracles and other parts of the Bible.

In 1766 at Abbeville, France, rebellious adolescent Francois-Jean de La Barre was charged with marring a crucifix, singing irreverent songs and wearing his hat as a church procession passed. He was sentenced to have his tongue cut out, be beheaded and burned. Voltaire tried to prevent the hideous punishment, but failed. A copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary was nailed to the youth's body.

The rise of The Enlightenment gradually erased the power of believers to kill doubters in the West. But blasphemy laws continued sending them to prison. In the early 1800s, poet Percy Shelley was expelled from Oxford and denied custody of his two children because he wrote a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism. American preacher Abner Kneeland, who grew disenchanted with supernatural dogmas, was jailed in 1838 by a judge who called him "an inflexible heretic." As a young rebel, flamboyant P.T. Barnum printed a weekly paper that denounced religious "blue laws." He was jailed for libeling church leaders. Upon release, the future circus king staged a homecoming parade for himself.

Although killing skeptics faded in the West, no such relief occurred in Muslim lands, where slaughter remains common. Currently, 13 Islamic nations decree death for atheism. Any allegation of blasphemy can bring horror if not by courts, then by mobs of enraged believers.

Bangladesh is notorious for Muslim assassinations of skeptic bloggers. Secular writer Shahzahan Bachehu was shot to death in 2018. Popular secularist Avijit Roy was hacked to death in 2015. That same year, two other anticlerical bloggers, Faisal Dipan and Niloy Neel, were murdered. Authorities say an Islamic extremist group had a "hit list" of skeptics to be killed.

Pakistan suffers recurring blasphemy horrors. Lawyers or others who help blasphemy suspects risk murder.

A Pakistani university student, Mashal Khan, was lynched by classmates in 2017 because he wrote vaguely agnostic thoughts on social media.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Rate It | View Ratings

James Haught Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's largest newspaper, The Charleston Gazette-Mail. He can be reached by phone at 304-348-5199 or e-mail at Email address.)James A. Haught is editor emeritus of West Virginia's (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Megachurch Mess

Feeding 7.7 Billion

Religion-Tinged Politics

Coal Mine Wars

Sagan: Brilliant Skeptic

The Dreams that Stuff is Made Of

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   


You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.

Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 

Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

No comments  Post Comment

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment