Well, the Rational Heathen has been trolled by a Christian, who either is terribly misinformed, or just a troll. Christians, he believes, converted barbaric Heathens peacefully. According to him, Heathens were just mass killers and rapists. Now, if that got you bristling, good. Here are the facts behind so-called peaceful Christians and barbaric pagans.
Before I get started, let me point out there were so many instances that they just don’t fit in a single
post. So today I’m just going to talk about forced conversions and just touch on the witchcraft trials and other lovely situations like burning at the stake. If you’re really interested in the background behind my assertions, (and the gory details–literally), that’s going into a premium post which you can access for just $1.
Let’s Talk “Peaceful Conversion”
Let me point out that Christians were exceedingly barbaric once they got into power. From Constantine on, both sides of the Roman Empire (East and West), began systematic elimination of pagan practices, most which were punishable by death. Pagan temples were regularly looted and closed by the government. While there were a few emperors who turned a blind eye to pagan traditions, others would come along that would close pagan temples and colleges, loot the temples and strip the priests and Vestal Virgins of their pay, and outlaw sacrifices to pagan gods which would cause the practitioner to be put to death. Another interesting practice outlawed with the death penalty as punishment was reading the entrails of fowl or sheep to predict the future. Constantine looted temples; his successor, Constantius II carried on a crusade against pagans. Eventually Theodosius I made paganism illegal and many Jews as well as pagans were forced to convert or suffer loss of their possessions, buildings, or even their lives.
Desecrate Sacred Places
Pope Gregory I knew there were still pagans among the Christians who practiced their own religion in secret. To crowd them out, he decreed that the Church should take over their sacred glens, grottoes, caves, and mountains and put Christian altars and relics there. The idea was to remove all pagan symbolism and to establish it as being Christian and not pagan. You can probably imagine how the pagans felt seeing their own holy areas desecrated in such a fashion.
If you’re a Christian, imagine how you might feel seeing your church replaced by a pagan temple and you’ve been told that the pagan gods are the only true gods, and that you can’t worship your god there. Wow. I bet that just blew your mind. Never mind that Heathenism doesn’t do that, nor do most pagan religions, but think about it. What if you could not worship your god and if you did, be put to death? Yes, there are some countries that treat Christians badly, but imagine this was across the world as you knew it: the Roman Empire.
In Fear for One’s Life and Freedom
Once Christianity took hold, Christians were just as barbaric to pagans as the Christian troll stated the pagans were to Christians. In many places, a Christian owning Christian slaves was forbidden, but it was a-okay for Christians to own pagan, Muslim, or Jewish slaves. (Now, granted the same was true with other beliefs: Muslims generally would not own Muslims, Heathens would usually not own Heathens, etc. As long as you were of the “other,” castrating you and sending you into slavery was just fine.) The Vikings had a huge slave trade economy, but then so did the Italians, the Muslims, and other faiths. Eunuchs were big business and there were special eunuch houses designed just for that purpose.
If that isn’t enough to make you shudder, consider Charlemagne. During the Saxon wars, he forced the Saxons to convert and those that didn’t were put to death. The Massacre of Verden saw the death of 4500 pagan Saxons alone because they refused to convert.
Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
After Spain drove out the Moors, the rest of the non-Christians were forced to convert or be executed. They then had to endure the Spanish Inquisition which tortured and put to death many of the forced converts who were under suspicion of practicing their former religion in secrecy. It’s estimated that about 30,000 to 50,000 people were burned at the stake in a 300 year period by the Inquisition alone. If you confessed to your “sins” you would be strangled before being burned to show mercy. Either way, dead or alive, you were going to get torched. Remember, these are the followers of the so-called “Prince of Peace.”
Burning Witches and Other Horrid Practices
Now, whether you want to split hairs about whether the people burned were heretics or whether they were actually pagans is pretty immaterial. Burning at the stake was a common method of “saving” people’s souls. I ran into one site that claims in the 16th and 17th centuries about 200,000 people were burned to death just for witchcraft. That’s pretty horrible. Now, granted not all of them were pagan or claimed to be witches, but these were people who died horrible deaths. Oh, and I saw some statement that burning was considered different than being immersed in boiling liquid. (Death by boiling.) Fuck that shit. Christians were cruel.
I’m not saying our Heathen ancestors were lily-white either. But those who live in glass houses should never throw stones.