Daily Archives: November 15, 2009

Since we are talking about the Inquisition…

…here’s an excerpt from David Currie’s book, “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic” :

It is well known that, during the Crusades, some Jews and Jewish communities were attacked by Christian soldiers. What is not so well known is that the Catholic bishops tried to stop these attacks. They preached and pleaded. It was a sin to do what those Christian soldiers did. Sometimes the bishops were able to stop the attacks; sometimes they were not. It was not the first time or the last time that the Church was ignored even though she was morally right. There was anti-Semitism, but it was not rooted in theology. The anti-Semitism was founded on historic, economic, and societal issues. Theology was used occasionally as an excuse.

The whole concept underlying the Spanish Inquisition is difficult for twentieth-century Americans to understand. Misinformation has not helped. It can be understood only in the context of a bitter eight-hundred-year war between Christians and Muslims. The temporary lulls during this long war were call the “cold war”. Spain was the entire Western front in the defense of Christian Europe. Militant Islam was on the march, and many times Islam was victorious. When victorious, Muslims could be brutal with the Christians. One of the major goals of the Spanish Inquisition was to prevent non-Christians from participating in government office. The government of predominantly Christian Spain was trying to assure the loyalty of its governmental workers before they might sorely need that loyalty under Muslim attack.

What is important for the present discussion, however, is often overlooked. The Spanish Inquisition did not apply to Jews. No non-Christian who publicly admitted his unbelief was supposed to be interrogated. That public act would disqualify him for government service, so that he could not harm the Christian government if it was attacked. The Inquisition’s purpose was to root out religious imposters in powerful positions. But because Catholic leaders, like the rest of us, can sin, the purposes and methods of the Inquisition were sometimes abused and misguided. The theology of Spanish Catholicism, however, was certainly not innately anti-Semitic (Currie 192-3).