"Tolerance for diversity and dissent was the aberration in Christianity’s history."

This narrative explores in minute and well-researched detail the dark side of Christian theology. From its inception as what Roman governance perceived in ancient Palestine as a Jewish cult to the many iterations of Catholic and Protestant faiths today, the author discusses what he terms "the five identifiable basic attitudes in Christian writings and actions: paranoia, authoritarianism, anti-intellectualism, apocalyptic fears and militancy."

While Sierichs never loses sight of the many peaceful expressions of Christianity or the propensity of other organized religions to foster unspeakable violence, his decades of research support his assertion that Christian philosophy contains an inherent and intense paranoia toward non-Christians that have fueled many atrocities throughout history and up to the present day, especially when the boundaries of theology and government are intertwined. Many laws enacted throughout the history of Christianity are surveyed in detail in this volume. While the human adherents of "pagan" or non-Christian spirituality were subjected to repression and persecution under legal authority, their literature and cultural trappings were also destroyed in the moment or, in some cases, many decades or even centuries later.

Christianity is responsible for a great loss of literature in the classical world, much of the Jewish literature of the medieval era, and almost all texts produced by the Mayan civilization. The fear and loathing of so-called heresy fueled great human suffering as Europeans professing to be Christian exploited regions of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands. The number of books and documents banned by Christian clergy, both Catholic and Protestant, throughout history is voluminous. The destruction of literature still appears in the twenty-first century in the form of local book burnings by extremist rightwing Christian groups in America and Europe. Even Bible burning has been embraced throughout history right into contemporary times when Christian groups disapprove of particular versions. Religious tyranny by Christian-based governments or between Christian sects has continued into modern times, from the German-led Holocaust to the Catholic-Protestant clashes of Northern Ireland and, more recently, in conflicts between Christian and Muslim nations in the Balkan region of Eastern Europe.

Sierichs explains that he's not a historian but rather an investigative journalist who spent thirty years researching the authoritarian and even fascist tendencies of Christianity. The narrative flow reflects this lack of a historian's insight in the sense that academic reflection is sometimes spare throughout the text. However, the well-documented facts and history are verified with thousands of citations and a large bibliography of scholarly work. And in fact, the author's work consists of two large volumes. In his introduction of the first volume, Sierichs muses, "I admit that this recitation of ideas and atrocities becomes monotonous; but that's part of my argument. The countless atrocities and acts of repression were in the mainstream of Christian history, not the aberration, and were inspired by its totalitarian theology." The factual material drawn from primary sources and news reports is encyclopedic in scope and can be viewed not only as a historical narrative but as a powerful reference book that documents a broad list of sources that reveals the systematic abuses of Christianity toward non-Christian cultures and viewpoints and also the suppression of dissent within the ranks of Christian believers.

The volume also examines closely the contentious relationship between the tenets of Christianity and the principles of the US democratic republic as intended by the nation's founders, a timely topic in hot political debate between conservatives and liberals today. The final chapter presents data that suggests that "the Christian obsession with controlling education, marriage, and sexuality has carried a high price for many people." Overall, this insightful study of the abuses wrought by the extant Christian fear of dissent and debate is an eye-opener for readers unfamiliar with the depth and breadth of the topic.

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