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Killing the “infidel”

A Xt3 Member asked at 3:36pm on January 30th 2018
An administrator Laura Cain edited this question at 6:07am on February 6th 2018
Someone at work made a point about accusations of muslims killing infidels, then he mentioned that in the bible God says the same thing. I also read that during american colonizations, priests were told to kill whomever refused to convert to christianism!

Made me feel like crap. Read the article.




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Hi Dan, the passages referred to in that Patheos piece are from the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers, where devout Israelites are told to stone to death those among them who have turned to worshipping false gods. Putting people to death for religious differences isn't limited to Deuteronomy: A very distant relative of mine, Blessed Dermot Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, was tortured and executed in 1584 for refusing to convert to the Church of Ireland, with the last martyrdom of a Catholic in Ireland being that of St Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, hanged, drawn and quartered in 1681. Under Queen Mary, Thomas Cranmer, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, was executed in 1556 for refusing to accept Catholic teaching.

Let's get back to Deuteronomy, whose final version may be in the 7th century BC. It's got plenty of wonderful stuff, like the basic shema Israel, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one...' (6:4 - 5) quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28 - 34 as part of the great commandment. Or the laws stating that hired workers are to be paid fairly (24:14 - 15), that justice is to be shown towards strangers, widows, and orphans. (24:17 - 18) and that portions of crops are to be given to the poor (24:19 - 22). But if you want to see the difference between the Old and the New Testament attitude towards stoning, take a look at how Jesus completely goes against the Deuteronomic law when he refuses to agree to stoning to death a woman caught committing adultery (Jn 8:1 - 11). Again and again, the first Christian theologian, St Paul, points out how the Old Law has been superseded by the Gospel. So Christians putting one another to death because of their different beliefs is a scandal and anti-Christian: there's no way lethal intolerance can find any justification in the New Testament.

I've never heard of priests in America being told to put to death whoever refused to convert, so I can only ask you to check your source to see if it's reliable - the so-called Black Legend against the Spanish Empire in Latin America has long been exposed as anti-Catholic false history. Of course the various European countries who colonized the Americas have variously terrible records of mistreatment and killing of the local peoples, but, like much of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation executions of those dissenting from the ruling faith, most of it was due to political and economic rather than religious considerations. The challenge for us all is to put Jesus' teaching into practice: to be ready to lay down our lives for one another as he did for us, and to love our enemies.

At a conference held in Rome, 'Tackling Violence Committed in the Name of Religion,' Pope Frances said on February 2, 2018 that 'Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself. Such violence must be condemned by all, especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance... We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions.' Political and religious leaders, teachers and communicators must 'warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name.' Very best, Fr Brendan
Xt3's Ask a Priest answered at 5:05am on February 6th 2018 reply

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