Prior to the recent Assembly elections and by-elections in some States, Church leaders in Gujarat appealed to their flock to vote against nationalist parties, meaning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A similar appeal was later made by the Archbishop of Delhi, followed by the Archbishop of Goa. This means two things: first, the Church opposes nationalism and second, it sees the Congress as the carrier of colonial rule, which it wants to continue. This article is written to put this obviously anti-national propaganda in historical perspective.
Christianity, like Islam, but unlike their common parent Judaism, is largely an imperial movement. Conversion is to Christianity what Jihad is to Islam – an expansionist doctrine. While Islam seeks to bring the whole world under its sway through Jihad, Christianity’s goal is to make the world Christian, or make it part of Christendom through conversion. The goal of such religions is not inner spiritual experience for the individual, which is generally denied by them, but conquering the external world for the belief.
This conversion may take many forms and shapes – service, violence, deception, political or military coup or whatever works in the situation at hand. The victim or the intended victim usually sees only one aspect, especially service, and often assumes that Christianity is mainly a religion of peace and service. This is the case in India where except in pockets like Goa, the Church was never strong enough to resort to conversion by force. So it resorted to more subtle means. This is still the case.
One area in which Christianity has excelled, absolutely without a peer, is publicity; it is without a doubt the most successful propagandist organization in history. The Church publicizes itself as a saviour of souls. It goes about this job so effectively that the victims themselves within a few generations are convinced that they have been saved, though it is not always clear from what. Since Christianity is a religion with an extremely violent record, it seeks to impose on the world, especially on its victims, a sugar-coated version of history that always shows Christianity in favourable light as a humanitarian movement. This is facilitated by the fact that Christian organizations own or control much of the media in the developing countries.
Its history makes it clear that from its very beginning Christianity was a political movement that appropriated Jewish, Greek and Gnostic ideas that were then current and adopted them to best suit its propaganda purposes. Christianity triumphed because of the political skill of its leaders, notably Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. Thanks to Eusebius’s political skills, Constantine allowed his version of Christianity, known as Nicene Christianity, to be recognized as the official Christianity.
By giving official recognition to Christianity, Constantine sounded the death knell of the Roman Empire. It soon lost its liberal and inclusive character and became a narrow theocracy unsuited to hold together a diverse people over a vast area. Constantine’s blunder found its fulfillment in Theodosius, who banned all other forms of worship. This was the beginning of the end of the unified Roman Empire. Beginning with Theodosius, the liberal and pluralistic Roman Empire became a theocratic totalitarian state. Its breakup leading to the Dark Ages was all but inevitable. The Huns led by Attila delivered the coup de grace to the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.
The next thousand years saw the Roman Empire in Europe break up into a number of smaller principalities engaged in continual wars. The Bishop of Rome, later known as the Pope, claimed power over these kingdoms as a gift from Constantine. The authority for this was a forged document known as the Donation of Constantine. It claims that the Donation was Constantine’s gift to Sylvester for instructing him in the Christian faith, baptizing him and miraculously curing him of leprosy. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits as much about the Donation:
“By this name is understood, since the end of the Middle Ages, a forged document of Emperor Constantine the Great, by which large privileges and rich possessions were conferred on the pope and the Roman Church… It is addressed by Constantine to Pope Sylvester I (314-35) and consists of two parts… Constantine is made to confer on Sylvester and his successors the following privileges and possessions: the pope, as successor of St. Peter, has the primacy over the four Patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, also over all the bishops in the world.
“The Lateran basilica at Rome, built by Constantine, shall surpass all churches as their head, similarly the churches of St. Peter and St. Paul shall be endowed with rich possessions. The chief Roman ecclesiastics (clerici cardinales), among whom senators may also be received, shall obtain the same honors and distinctions as the senators. Like the emperor the Roman Church… The pope shall enjoy the same honorary rights as the emperor, among them the right to wear an imperial crown, a purple cloak and tunic, and in general all imperial insignia or signs of distinction…” (Emphasis added)
In other words, the Pope in addition to being the head of all the churches in Christendom gets all the power and privileges of the Emperor. Thank to this daring forgery, the Roman Church becomes the Roman Empire with the Pope as emperor! This is not the only forgery by the Church, only the most famous. While the Donation has little relevance today, the Decretum by Gratian of Bologna continues to exercise its influence over Church policy and practices. Peter de Rosa, a Catholic scholar and former priest has this to say about it:
“… the documents forged in Rome at this time [before 1100 AD] were systematized in the mid-1100s at Bologna by Gratian, a Benedictine monk. His Decretum or the Code of Canon Law was easily the most influential book ever written by a Catholic. It was peppered with three centuries of forgeries and conclusions drawn from them, with his own fictional additions. Of the 324 passages he quotes from Popes of the first three centuries, only eleven are genuine.” (Emphasis added)
As an example we may again quote the Catholic Encyclopedia: “A list of sixty… letters or decrees attributed to the popes from St. Clement (88-97) to Melchiades (311-314) inclusive. Of these sixty letters fifty-eight are forgeries;… This correspondence was meant to give an air of truth to the false decretals….”
No wonder the Greeks for centuries called Rome the home of forgeries. The thousand years from Theodosius to the beginning of the European Renaissance conveniently dated to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, is called the Dark Ages. This period saw religious wars in Europe, the Crusades, the persecution of thinkers like Galileo and Giordano Bruno (who was burnt at the stake), the Inquisition, witch hunts and other such acts in the name of God and Christ.
This period saw incessant struggles between the Church and the State, due to the Vatican’s efforts to control the kingdoms that had emerged from the remains of the Roman Empire. There was also a self-styled Holy Roman Empire, led by an elected emperor usually from the Hohenzollern dynasty, which was constantly at loggerheads with the Church. Voltaire dismissed the Holy Roman Empire as “neither holy, nor Roman nor an Empire.”
The popes excommunicated several of its rulers, notably Emperor Frederick II. Frederick II was a complete disbeliever in the Vatican’s divine claims, and in fact a disbeliever in all religion. He is famous for the statement: “World has known three imposters – Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.” It is no wonder he was excommunicated by the Pope, but the real reason was that Frederick II asserted his political authority and refused to bend to the Pope’s demands.
It was a similar story in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Once Christianity became the state religion, its leaders went on a rampage destroying centers of Greek learning in places like Alexandria and Athens. The great Greek civilization that gave sages like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and a host of others over a thousand years, was totally destroyed. The murder of the neo-Platonic scholar Hypatia in 415 AD by a Christian mob led by ‘Saint’ Cyril may be seen as the beginning of the Dark Ages in the east. The Eastern Roman Empire, known as the Byzantine, was unable to check the expansion of Islam and finally disappeared.
However, the Eastern or Orthodox Church is older than the Western or Roman Catholic church that was not really organized until the time of Charlemagne in the eighth century. The Orthodox churches today, which include the Greek, Russian, Armenian, Egyptian and Syrian do not accept the Pope, the mass and other pillars of the Roman Catholic church.
Most if not all progressive movements in Europe were anti-Church; most of them were battles waged by the people and the rulers to free themselves from the Church’s stranglehold. These include the Renaissance, the Reformation (led by Martin Luther and John Calvin) and the Enlightenment, which sought to place reason ahead of faith and superstition. The Church was opposed to all these and created the Inquisition to suppress free thinking. Gradually, European kingdoms broke free of the Vatican’s control and evolved into nation states. It culminated in England’s break with Roman Church with King Henry VIII declaring himself head of the Church of England.
The Protestants rejected the pope and the church, the use of icons and even the figure of the Virgin Mary. Unfortunately they turned the Bible into the literal word of God, which brought in another form of intolerance into their thinking, which remains to the present day in Evangelical groups.
Thanks to England’s break with the Vatican, the U.S., Canada and Australia are progressive countries with democratic governments. Those colonized by the Catholic powers, Spain and Portugal – Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and others countries in the Americas, are mired in military rule and Church tyranny. Also, in spite of being rich in natural resources, these countries are poor because the Catholic Church controls much of their wealth. Essentially, Christian expansion for these countries brought only plunder and genocide.
(To be concluded…)
-N S Rajaram
(The author is a mathematician, scientist, analyst of contemporary affairs and Contributing Editor of Folks Magazine)