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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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MadArchitect

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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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(I'm moving this discussion to the general religion forum because it's no longer really about Dawkins' book, and that thread is getting unmanageably long as it is. Here is the original discussion if you want to see the context from which these comments are drawn.)To be honest, I'm not sure what your position is -- I use position singular because it seems to me that the two of you, Frank and Mr. P, are attempting to argue from the same perspective. As an argument, it seems strangely mercurial. At times, it looks like you're arguing that religion provided both the motivation and method of the witch-crazes, ie. that it was the cause. When I make a point that seems to undermine that position, you seem to fall back to the position that religion provided the excuse that served as the kernal; in effect, that although the motivation was something else (social, political, etc.), without the justification provided by scripture and some particularly fertile hints as to how witch-hunts might be carried out, the witch-crazes would have been impossible and the impulse towards persecution frustrated completely. And at other times you seem to be arguing that the witch-crazes might have taken place anyway (which I think likely), but that the severity of the event would have been less had it not been for the pernicuous influence of religion (which I see no reason to think likely).Ultimately, I don't think the two of you hold any of those positions particularly dear. The witch-crazes are just a convenient hook on which to hang an indictment of religion. It doesn't really matter which accusation proves most damning, so long as a suitably damning accusation sticks. That's sound strategy when you're a prosecutor getting paid for a conviction (the analogy used in the legal profession is that of poking holes in the hull of a boat -- no single hole may sink it, though enough holes should), but it doesn't necessarily serve the interests of truth.Since I don't think either of you are particularly interested in revising your perception of the witch-crazes or of the role religion plays in society, both positive and negative, I'm going to hope that my responses here are of interest to some third party.me: When did the religious belief become restrictive?Frank: The moment they stated that they worshiped the one and only true god.That's not very considerate of you. I asked a question dealing with a very specific historical scenario, and all you can see fit to give me is an epithet? Maybe I wasn't sufficiently clear.Do we have any evidence that the church attendence of individuals living in European society prior to the 16th century was regularly subject to legal enforcement, and if so, did that enforcement routinely involve the prosecuted in investigations that led to their execution by the civil authorities? As far as I know, the answer is no. I'm willing to admit the possibility of isolated outbreaks of this sort of persecution, but so far as I know, it was not, until the 16th century, widespread, continuous or regularly applied.Now, why is that an important point? The issue at stake, if you'll recall, is whether or not the accusations made during the witch-crazes were motivated primarily by religious piety. If they were, then unless you could find some solid reason for supposing that previous generations were less pious (or less restrictive), you'd expect the behavior to be consistent. My contention was that previous generations were likely less restrictive, and that the specific reason for the shift in attitude was due to social pressures that associated church attendence with a person's tendency towards ideas that were, at the time, considered revolutionary: sexual license, communal life, moral relevatism, political change, etc. There's evidence for my view (some of it presented by Trevor-Roper's book): the 16th and 17th centuries were eras of radical social upheaval, and the extremity of those upheavals matches the extremity of the witch-crazes. What I don't see is the evidence that would support the view that the normal religious attitude of the witch-hunting eras was consistently like that of eras of greater social stability, like that of the preceding centuries.The most vivid case in my mind it one involving the town marshal who tried to protect the people who were already accused, he was than accused himself and died crushed by rocks on his chest, the whole time he was professing his innocence.I'm not looking for the most vivid case -- I'm looking for a pattern. When was this case? Can you give me a citation? Is it indicative of the society of the time? Were there social circumstances that might have influenced this particular episode? Surely we can agree that a solid methodology would not allow us to take one case as indicative of the whole phenomenon, at least, not without a persuasive reason.me: But the case studies presented by John Demos also demonstrate that accusations of witch-craft were often associated with genuinely malevolent, anti-social tendencies. His study concludes, for example, that New England witches tended to engage in a wide range of (secular) criminal behavior, ranging from libel to poisoning.Frank: From the above post it seems that you are arguing that the ends justify the means.No, what I'm arguing is that your portrayal of the witch-crazes as a recurring story of innocent citizens railroaded into false confessions and burned at the stake for trivial offenses is both a generalization and a distortion. It's a rhetorical effect that heightens the indignation that the uninformed feel without adding anything substanitive to their understanding of the situation. At least in America, the accused were often actively hostile to their fellow citizens and the authorities around them, and in a number of cases they could be counted upon to court prosecution by fostering the belief that they were witches. That is to say, some proportion of the accused was directly complicit in turning their communities against them, and a larger number of them were indirectly complicit simply by having legitimately earned the distrust and dislike of their neighbors. And Demos' study gives the impression that these instances were the norm rather than the exception. And that the religious nature of the problem did not add a single element of fanaticism to the mix or add a single innocent person to the death count.I wouldn't know how to calculate the hypothetical death count in a scenario that removed an actual historical factor. I suspect that you wouldn't either. What I do know is that instances of mass persecution in societies without organized religious institutions have been no less fanatical and have certainly not suffered for want of executions.We are not saying that by removing religion everything will be peachy and good, we are saying it would reduce the bad. And there does seem to be quality evidence to support our case.What evidence? That religion actually was involved?Lo and behold Mrs. Bishop was declared a witch.I do not think that situations like this could have been so easily fabricated with out the witch belief that was of course propagated by the church.You're looking at this only from the scope of the specific allegation of witchcraft. If the purpose of such a trial was not to bolster some religious piety, but rather to dispense with a woman who was taken to be social undesireable, then the specific charges of the case become less significant. They might just as easily have brought her on charges of conspiring with a hostile tribe of Native Americans, and evidence could have been construed to support the veracity of that accusation, whether or not it was true. The point that I have been trying to make is that the social pressures of the 16th and 17th century were sufficient to make those expedients viable (which is not to say justified). In a small frontier community, the survival of which is constantly challenged, the need for rooting out malcontents takes on an personal urgency, and what I've read (and seen) leads me to believe that people are willing to countenance all sorts of beliefs they might not otherwise consider pertinent if they think that it will contribute to their already tenuous well-being.If your point is merely that the scriptural sanction for executing witches was a seed just waiting to sprout, I agree. But I don't think it sprouted spontaneously, nor that it was inevitable that a Judeo-Christian community would turn witch-hunting into the national passtime (did Jewish communities have a lot of witch-purges?). These were communities that were looking for an excuse to purge themselves of some part of their own discontent, and if they hadn't had one excuse, they'd have found another.The church is completely off the hook.I'm not interested in getting the church off the hook. In my opinion, religion is one of those powerful social tools that can be turned equally well towards good and bad, but I also think it's a tool that requires the driving force of human interest. I'm interested in making sure that it's held accountable where it's really culpable. I happen to think that you guys have it all wrong, and I think the reason is that you're more interested in heaping derision on religion than you are in sorting out the actual whys and wherefores of the witch-crazes.misterpessimistic: Ok...but I never read anything you typed that would allude to this...at the same time, I never read anything you typed that said you do not feel this way either.I don't like to talk about what's wrong with a thing until we've sorted out what isn't wrong with it. We've just never gotten to that point in conversation. That doesn't mean that I haven't written elsewhere about the problems that do crop up with religious institutions, and the dangers to which religion is prone. There just aren't many people in this group that really need another excuse to distrust religion.Ok...so lets agree that religion is mainly a scapegoat...just for arguments sake. I say, the less scapegoats we have, the more reasoning we need to do in order to justify persectuion and killing. Religion is just too easy a tool for irrational behavior.A few points: a) I wouldn't say that it is mainly a scapegoat. I think that there are points at which religion is definitely culpable for some of the harm caused in its name; at the very least, there are points at which religious people should be more cautious with the tools their using. b) A difference that we're probably not going to agree on is my belief that religion has served an important function as the basis for constructing social and cultural institutions, and that we as a species have yet to come up with a more potent tool of this sort. Dawkins and his ilk can go on and on trying to devise a dismissive explanation for why religion has survived so long in human history; the answer that makes the most sense to me is that religion was legitimately useful and can still be so. So we could jettison religion as too easy a scapegoat, but in doing so I think we'd also lose one of the most important tools we have for shaping society.No...but thats what happens when you (the symbolic, all encompassing you representing certain portions of our society) totally play with words, meanings and concepts to make it impossible for science to even justify an attempt at addressing these things.That's turned into something of a stock response to any argument I make. It's ironic, I think, given the sheer amount of data that I've provided in this discussion, and my willingness to provide citations so that others can check my sources. What words have I played with? Science is a methodology for dealing with natural, physical elements of the world; what we're talking about when we mention values like love, honor, etc. are abstract, cultural concepts that may encompass one or more physiological reactions (blushing, say, or certain patterns of behavior, even neurological behavior) but are not limited to any of those things.If science found the exact center in the brain that promotes the feelings of love and explained it bio-chemically...you, I think, would find a way to reject it.I might agree with the correlation -- this part of the brain is active when I feel affection -- but feeling is only one aspect of love, and I'm not responsible for adding the other parts; they're the inheritence of our culture, and I doubt that we'd put the same value on love if we only thought of it as a particularly intense feeling.You and others here, if I read you correctly, even state that the definition of the supernatural makes it impossible for science or any real system of examination to touch it at all. How convenient.It's actually pretty inconvenient, which is why I prefer not to use the term "supernatural". It implies a division between aspects of our experience which I suspect is neither terribly useful nor particularly legitimate. My point all along was that by the very act of dividing claims into "natural" and "supernatural", you set up a class of things that is outside the provence of science. But that isn't something religious believers have done, however fiercely some of them may have embraced the dichotomy. So far as I can tell, the natural/supernatural dichotomy was devised by Enlightenment salon philosophers who wanted a category into which they could lump all religion so that they could reject it in toto. Which probably accounts for why the dichotomy seems so conveniently placed to make religion inaccessible to science: the philosophers who harped on the distinction were arguing that, because science couldn't assess religious claims, religion wasn't worth considering. That's an argument, incidentally, that gets revived in here on occasion.Ok...so what were the reasons for these isolated instances? What was the basis of these? Was it the same reasons as the 'Crazes'?In some cases, it probably was: albeit on a much smaller scale. As we currently have no reason to suppose that they were part of a continuous pattern, as the witch-crazes were, I wouldn't feel comfortable generalizing about all instances of pre-witch-craze persecution, and I'm perfectly willing to consider the argument that in some cases the primary cause was simply over-zealous religious fervor. If you can dig up some particular cases, we can consider them.me: They cobbled together a methodology out of traditional superstitions and assumed Biblical piety, but that methodology was essentially an innovation.Mr. P: But what makes these people different than any other source that adds to a religious tradition? The fact that it was a "bad thing" that they did? It still speaks to the fact that religion led to this idea and its perpetuation.The primary difference is their circumstances, not the result. Specific historical circumstances always contribute to the development and elaboration of a religious tradition. Sometimes those circumstances are, themselves, religious, and sometimes their another part of the culture and society of the time. A pretty interesting example of this is illustrated by Elaine Pagel's "The Origin of Satan", where she illustrates the ways in which the precariousness of the early Christian churches in Imperial Rome shaped the Gospel tradition of who was most guilty in Christ's persecution and death. Some Gospels are more critical of the Jews than others, and Pagel's historical research shows a correlation between the amount of blame attributed to the Jews and the then-current relationship between the infant Church and the Roman authorities.Getting back to the witch-crazes, my point is that the emphasis on a particular set of scripture was, in the first place, dictated by social pressures. One way to illustrate this to yourself is to ask why it is that the verse about persecuting witches appealed so much to people during that specific era, and why it appealed less in other eras. Bear in mind that this is the Enlightenment that we're talking about, a generation during which reason was stressed and dogmatism under attack. Why would that generation be attracted to Biblical verses about witches (which, you have to grant, make up a very, very small part of the Bible) when less technologically advanced, presumably less sophisticated generations did not? The period that we call the Dark Ages has abolished torture -- they never could have instituted the methodology used to extract witch confessions -- and, so far as I know, never had witch-persecutions to the extent of that of the Enlightenment.So in answer to the question of why the two differed, the solution I'd offer is that the witch-hunters of the 16th and 17th centuries had, at least, a) a motive provided by social pressure that previous generations lacked, b) a mythology that they had devised mostly themselves, c) the technology (literacy, the printing press) and precedents (the re-institution of torture) to systemize their persecution. Where they did not differ is in their religion, so it doesn't make sense to isolate that as the primary factor.Are we to just accept GOOD actions performed in the name of religion and say: See religion is GOOD!It seems like you're only willing to consider religion as black, white, or some offensive shade of gray. I don't boil it down to objectively good or objectively bad.I even have the book you recommended ready to pick up at my library!I hope you get something from it, even if you don't draw the same conclusions that I have. If you want to discuss it, I'd be willing to read through it again.Frank 013: Religions set up a mythical mindset allowing a person to believe anything from an all-powerful loving God to witches, dragons, unicorns and the devil made me do it.I think that can be both a good and bad thing. Mostly, I don't think human culture is possible apart from it. Our world is, by and large, socially constructed, and such constructions are liable to misuse.These myths were then manifested into law, (where they were really rode the edge of the fantastic) and these beliefs allowed for true abuse.We probably have more in common on this point than you'd suppose. I think that it is dangerous to have religion setting all the functional terms for a society, and in the modern context, the biggest danger is in making governance and religious synonymous. misterpessimistic: I will say that the last essay in the book is entitled "Religious Origins of the Enlightenment"...so I am already on the defensive. Again, I have not read this yet, but my first 'unofficial' thought was: Religion:Enlightenment as Slavery:Equal Rights...I hope this turns out not to be an apologia.I'm not Dissident Heart. I'm not going to try to trick you into reading religious apologia. <br>-----------------<br><i>Ain't got a name, just a current address.</i>
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Quote:MadAs an argument, it seems strangely mercurial. At times, it looks like you're arguing that religion provided both the motivation and method of the witch-crazes, i.e. that it was the cause. Sometimes it was, but not exclusively which was what were trying to say and is probably the source of your perceived inconsistencies. Quote:MadWhen I make a point that seems to undermine that position, you seem to fall back to the position that religion provided the excuse that served as the kernel; in effect, that although the motivation was something else (social, political, etc.), without the justification provided by scripture and some particularly fertile hints as to how witch-hunts might be carried out, the witch-crazes would have been impossible and the impulse towards persecution frustrated completely.This is mainly an issue of terminology; one can hardly hunt witches without the witch myth now can they? Quote:MadAnd at other times you seem to be arguing that the witch-crazes might have taken place anyway (which I think likely), but that the severity of the event would have been less had it not been for the pernicious influence of religion (which I see no reason to think likely).I never said that the witch crazes would have taken place without religion.I believe that there still would have been political friction and injustice but the atrocities that accompanied the witch hunts would have been harder to carry out without religion because they would lack the convenient legal excuse offered up by the religious mythical mindset and witch myth. Quote:MadThat's not very considerate of you. I asked a question dealing with a very specific historical scenario, and all you can see fit to give me is an epithet? Maybe I wasn't sufficiently clear. You asked a blanket question and I offered a blanket answer. But the fact is when many religions existed side-by-side with equal respect these crimes were virtually non-existent. It wasn't until monotheist religions started claiming dominion over all of creation and all of its inhabitants that the real ugly side of the beliefs started to show up.Individuality was dangerous to the church and it was forbidden in many ways. Quote:MadI'm willing to admit the possibility of isolated outbreaks of this sort of persecution, but so far as I know, it was not, until the 16th century, widespread, continuous or regularly applied.The point is that it happened, when is irrelevant. Quote:MadMy contention was that previous generations were likely less restrictive, and that the specific reason for the shift in attitude was due to social pressures that associated church attendance with a person's tendency towards ideas that were, at the time, considered revolutionary: sexual license, communal life, moral relevatism, political change, etc.Nearly all of the above examples are religiously imposed morality, and without the church imposing its morality on the masses these issues would likely not have been considered deviant. This is one example of the restrictive nature of church doctrine. Quote:MadI'm not looking for the most vivid case -- I'm looking for a pattern. When was this case? Can you give me a citation? Is it indicative of the society of the time? Were there social circumstances that might have influenced this particular episode? Surely we can agree that a solid methodology would not allow us to take one case as indicative of the whole phenomenon, at least, not without a persuasive reason.This happened in Salem Ma. and was a pattern, (the town marshal who tried to protect the people who were already accused,)Quote:MadI wouldn't know how to calculate the hypothetical death count in a scenario that removed an actual historical factor. I suspect that you wouldn't either. What I do know is that instances of mass persecution in societies without organized religious institutions have been no less fanatical and have certainly not suffered for want of executions.So you are saying that the religious nature of the subject did not negatively influence these events in any way? Quote:MadWhat evidence? That religion actually was involved?No, that modern secular societies and cultures with less religion are more tolerent and fair.Quote:MadYou're looking at this only from the scope of the specific allegation of witchcraft.We are talking about witch trials aren't we? Quote:MadIf the purpose of such a trial was not to bolster some religious piety, but rather to dispense with a woman who was taken to be social undesirable, Which might never have happened without the restrictive religious dogma and bigotry common place at those times. What other reason besides religion does someone have for invading the private lives of their neighbors when dealing with people who have not done harm to others?Quote:Madthen the specific charges of the case become less significant. They might just as easily have brought her on charges of conspiring with a hostile tribe of Native Americans, and evidence could have been construed to support the veracity of that accusation, whether or not it was true.True but actual evidence or testimony based on real life events would have had to be fabricated, and could be countered with alibis and other defensive tactics.Once the mythical element was introduced and accepted by the courts stories of spell work and pacts with the devil were as admissible as any other material and often given more weight. Quote:MadIf your point is merely that the scriptural sanction for executing witches was a seed just waiting to sprout, I agree. Great.Quote:MadBut I don't think it sprouted spontaneously, nor that it was inevitable that a Judeo-Christian community would turn witch-hunting into the national pastime.I do not think it was inevitable either but the fact remains that it did happen.Quote:MadI'm not interested in getting the church off the hook.It sure seems that way.Quote:MadI'm interested in making sure that it's held accountable where it's really culpable. I happen to think that you guys have it all wrong, and I think the reason is that you're more interested in heaping derision on religion than you are in sorting out the actual whys and wherefores of the witch-crazes.This is where I disagree completely, religions have gotten off way to easy over the last couple of thousand years, calling attention to their ills is simply overdue equilibrium. They command more respect than they deserve and the only way to level the playing field is to show the general public the ugly side as well.Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 3/29/07 12:55 pm
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Quote:MadGetting back to the witch-crazes, my point is that the emphasis on a particular set of scripture was, in the first place, dictated by social pressures. One way to illustrate this to yourself is to ask why it is that the verse about persecuting witches appealed so much to people during that specific era, and why it appealed less in other eras.I know this question was not directed to me but I have a response.Why indeed? Why is the Anna Nicole Smith thing such a big deal, is it the political atmosphere? Fad? Rampant stupidity? There are other reasons for change of priorities among people beside political pressure, there are fads, fear, charismatic leaders, the list goes on.I personally think that the witch craze was at least partly inflamed by fear, of witches and the authorities. Finger pointing seemed commonplace and one reason for that is often exoneration of oneself motivated by fear.It is possible that the atmosphere was self-feeding as the witch hunters began their work curiosity about them and their methods was undoubtedly raised. The church would have been filled with parishioners asking questions about witches and how to recognize them. The church did and often still does, attempt to control behavior through fear. This would have been reflected in sermon, and the accusations could begin.Later &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Frank 013: But the fact is when many religions existed side-by-side with equal respect these crimes were virtually non-existent.Do you have some evidence to back that claim, or are you drawing a conclusion from the testimony of silence?The point is that it happened, when is irrelevant.When definitely is relevant, especially since the incidence and extent of witch persecution was neither consistent nor continuous throughout the history of European Christendom. The question of when contributes to an analysis of the reasons for the outbreak of a centralized, systematic form of witch persecution, and contributes to our understanding of why isolated, sporadic outbreaks of zeal turned into a program that swept across most of Europe during a period we associate with growing rationalism.Nearly all of the above examples are religiously imposed morality, and without the church imposing its morality on the masses these issues would likely not have been considered deviant.No, they're civically and legally imposed morality, or popular revolt, made in reference to religious norms. There's a considerable difference.Me: I wouldn't know how to calculate the hypothetical death count in a scenario that removed an actual historical factor. I suspect that you wouldn't either. What I do know is that instances of mass persecution in societies without organized religious institutions have been no less fanatical and have certainly not suffered for want of executions.Frank: So you are saying that the religious nature of the subject did not negatively influence these events in any way?What I'm saying is that there's no way, based on the evidence itself, to determine how many deaths would have accrued if religion had been removed from the circumstances. To speculate is simple idle.me: What evidence? That religion actually was involved?Frank: No, that modern secular societies and cultures with less religion are more tolerent and fair.They are? Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died during 200 years of witch-craze spread over the entire continent of Europe. Compare that to modern instances of persecution and genocide. Millions of people were killed in Yugoslavia over a period of about a decade, and while religious differences were involved, they were only part of a more general, politically-driven program of "ethnic cleansing" that had enough fuel to run without any word of religion being spoken. Millions have died in African genocides over the last 100 years, and there religion was even less operative a factor in programs of ethnic and political cleansing. Those cleansings were preceded by genocides and mass enslavement motivated almost entirely by political and economic concerns. Millions of people disappeared and were executed for political dissidence during the 50 years of Maoist rule in China. The Spanish Civil War was fought partly in the name of secularism, and was prosecuted in part by targetting civilian church-goers and clergy. The list goes on an on.If anything, modern persecutions have become more methodical and widespread as society as a whole has become more secular. That isn't to say that secularism is more culpable than religion, but it does undermine the argument that the very presence of a strong religious institution is de facto evidence of that religion's contribution to persecution and hysteria.We are talking about witch trials aren't we?I'm talking about witch-trials as an outlet for an impulse towards violence that would have been vented one way or another. You're talking about witch-trials as though they were the only possible outlet.me: If the purpose of such a trial was not to bolster some religious piety, but rather to dispense with a woman who was taken to be social undesirable,Frank: Which might never have happened without the restrictive religious dogma and bigotry common place at those times.Only if religious difference was the only reason for finding such a person to be socially undesirable. But that wasn't the case. I've argued it over and over again, and I've provided sources: the reason that so many people were taken to be enemies of their local social environment is as much a matter of political and philosophical differences, not to mention outright social antagonism, as it was a matter of their religious behavior. Even if the townspeople had ignored church attendence altogether, they likely still would have had reason to dispense with some part of their population, and would have found some other pretense on which to do so.What other reason besides religion does someone have for invading the private lives of their neighbors when dealing with people who have not done harm to others?That's just the point, Frank. Some of these people had done harm to their neighbors -- palpable harm. That, in fact, was a part of the normative profile for accused witches in the American milieu. They were slanderous, libellous, often violent, incurred vast debts, occasionally resorted to poisoning and so on. Even when they weren't outright antagonistic, they were often seditious in other ways, seeking to politically subvert the established social and civil order (this was a more prominent motive in Europe), or fomenting civil disobendience and revolt.True but actual evidence or testimony based on real life events would have had to be fabricated, and could be countered with alibis and other defensive tactics.How does that differ from the witch-trials? I don't see how it would make the situation any more difficult.The church did and often still does, attempt to control behavior through fear.I think you give the Church too much credit for control. It borders on the sort of omnipotence that conspiracy-theorists attribute to the Elders of Zion or the Illuminati. The Church bungled as often as it manipulated, and I think a great many of the ills it perpetuated were as much the result of lack of foresight as they were the result of Machiavellian competance.
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Quote:MadDo you have some evidence to back that claim, or are you drawing a conclusion from the testimony of silence?Take a look at the ancient Roman culture, hundreds of religions coexisted side by side in relative peace.Quote:MadWhen definitely is relevant, especially since the incidence and extent of witch persecution was neither consistent nor continuous throughout the history of European Christendom. So what?Quote:MadThe question of when contributes to an analysis of the reasons for the outbreak of a centralized, systematic form of witch persecution, and contributes to our understanding of why isolated, sporadic outbreaks of zeal turned into a program that swept across most of Europe during a period we associate with growing rationalism.No I simply care that the church 1. made up a tale, 2. got people to believe it was true, 3. allowed people to die over it.That's all. weather it was isolated instances in the 11th century or happening by the thousands in the 16th.Quote:MadNo, they're civically and legally imposed morality, or popular revolt, made in reference to religious norms. There's a considerable difference. Lets review shall we? sexual license, this is defiantly a church inspired issue. communal life, another church inspired idea. moral relevatism, who besides the church has been quite so fanatical about controling private behavior? political change, etc. this happened regularly throughout history but rarely was the result quite the same as when the church was in charge.Quote:MadI'm talking about witch-trials as an outlet for an impulse towards violence that would have been vented one way or another. You're talking about witch-trials as though they were the only possible outlet.I never said anything of the kind, I said that it made it overly convenient, legal and unjust, that's all. Quote:MadOnly if religious difference was the only reason for finding such a person to be socially undesirable. I see this all the time even now, its not a stretch at all to see it happening back then. And of course many of the trial records show that as well. Quote:Madthe reason that so many people were taken to be enemies of their local social environment is as much a matter of political and philosophical differences, not to mention outright social antagonism, as it was a matter of their religious behavior. So what percentage is this to other possibilities? How many of the total trial records points to this cause as opposed to any other? What's the ratio?Quote:MadThat's just the point, Frank. Some of these people had done harm to their neighbors -- palpable harm. Is that church harm or actual harm, or possibly imaginary harm? And I noticed you did not say all of them. Quote:MadThat, in fact, was a part of the normative profile for accused witches in the American milieu. Ratio please, of all witches killed how many can be placed firmly under this normal profile? Quote:MadThey were slanderous, libellous, often violent, incurred vast debts, occasionally resorted to poisoning and so on. Even when they weren't outright antagonistic, they were often seditious in other ways, seeking to politically subvert the established social and civil order (this was a more prominent motive in Europe), or fomenting civil disobedience and revolt.Again this is entirely meaningless; there was already a legal system in place for those types of behaviors. Furthermore without a ratio of innocent to guilty deaths in the witch trial files, any comment as to their reasoning is pure speculation. What little we do know about every witch trial is that they were all based off of a religious myth that was enacted into law.Quote:MadHow does that differ from the witch-trials? I don't see how it would make the situation any more difficult.How do you defend against the charge of spell-casting (not real in the first place) when the judge and jury believe it is possible and the result of your evil has been demonstrated (girls acting) to them by the victims who named you?Later
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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MadSo let me get this straight you say that without Christianity, something similar to the witch trials would have happened due to the political climate of the time?And this is based off of what again? The fact that some of the accused admitted that they were witches?This is hardly very supportive of your argument; consider the method of questioning witches.Thumbscrews, leg vices, red hot iron pinchers, scalding lime baths, prayer stools furnished with sharp pegs, racks, stone pressing, swimming the witch, (dropping them into deep water with both the hands and feet tied) The questioning was usually along the lines of what crimes of witchcraft the accused had performed, not weather or not they were actually guilty. Quote:Besides torture, certain "proofs" were taken as valid to establish that a person practiced witchcraft. Quote:The diabolical mark. Usually, this was a mole or a birthmark. If no such mark was visible, the examiner could claim to have found an invisible mark. This seems fair and reasonable with no possible opening for abuse. NOT!Quote:Diabolical pact. This was an alleged pact with Satan to perform evil acts in return for rewards.I suppose that the document was entered into evidence, maybe they also accepted oral contracts? Quote:Denouncement by another witch. This was common, since the accused could often avoid execution by naming accomplices. Again, no chance of misuse here.Quote:Relationship with other convicted witch/witches Hmmm, I hope no one you know is accused.Quote:BlasphemySeems petty, but hey so does the mole thing.Quote:Participation in Sabbaths So, no partying. Quote:To cause harm that could only be done by means of sorceryCareful who you shock with those wool socks on! Quote:Possession of elements necessary for the practice of black magicLook!!! She owns a broom! Quote:To have one or more witches in the familyGuilty by association, that sucks! Quote:To be afraid during the interrogatoriesLook, you have been accused of witchcraft, there is a 90% conviction and execution rate, but don't be worried. Quote:Not to cry under torment (supposedly by means of the Devil's aid)But you can't blaspheme either so what the heck are you supposed to say? Quote:To have had sexual relationships with a demon Does my ex-girlfriend count? Another of your theories involves "most" of the accused being undesirable members of society. But none of the above evidence necessitates a person doing anything "actually" wrong or being an unwanted member of the society. While it does seem that the initial people accused were often undesirable, this is not a true representation of the overall type of people accused. Any family, friends or other people that the accused named as accomplices (often under torture) would soon suffer the same fate.Furthermore people who showed open skepticism towards any accusers or the trial in general often found themselves accused. This often included many respected members of the community. From reading some material on the Salem witch trials it appears that some 95% of witches were of the accomplice type and could range from family or friends to neighbors.Of the some 175 to 200 people accused and the 25 who died only the first 4 were of the undesirable type.The others included Giles and Martha Corey a farmer and his wife.Quote:Martha Corey, ever an outspoken woman, was skeptical about the credence of the girls from the start and scoffed at the trials, unfortunately drawing attention to herself.Quote:Dorothy Good, the daughter of Sarah Good, was only 4 years old, and easily manipulated by the magistrates to say things that were taken as a confession, implicating her own mother. In order to be with her mother after the accusations, she claimed to herself be a witch, thereby she was arrested. The charges against Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey greatly disturbed the community. Martha Corey was a full covenanted member of the Church in Salem Village, as was Rebecca Nurse in the Church in Salem Town. A quick search turned up 4 respected members of the community that had been accused of these 2 were executed. Quote:Sadly, not even in death were the accused witches granted peace or respect. As convicted witches, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey had been excommunicated from their churches and none were given proper burial.That brings the ratio to 50/50 and I am not even trying, the whole political climate theory seems pretty weak. Even some animals were accused of witchcraft, so I am forced to wonder why they were shunned by the community? All quotes were taken from Wikipedia.orgLater
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Frank 013: Take a look at the ancient Roman culture, hundreds of religions coexisted side by side in relative peace.Great example, since the Roman Empire severely restricted the practice of any religions that weren't sanctioned by the state.Even if it weren't true that the Roman's restricted religious practice, one instance isn't enough to establish it as a general historical principle that the monotheist religions were the first and only traditions to restrict religious practice. If I were you, I'd just drop that whole argument.me: When definitely is relevant, especially since the incidence and extent of witch persecution was neither consistent nor continuous throughout the history of European Christendom.Frank: So what?So -- again -- the fact of fluctuations in the organization and prosecution or witch hunts, contrasted with the persistence of a single religious authority, suggests that some factor other than religious authority accounts for the huge increase in witch-hunting during the 16th and 17th centuries.If you want to get right down to it, the Church abolished witch-burning and declared witch-belief unchristian in the 8th century, and didn't reopen the case on witches. As late as the 12th century the clergy was rejecting the witch's sabbat as a fantasy. Witch belief persisted, but only as popular superstition, unsupported by religious authority. The capitulum Episcopi was only overturned at the end of the Middle Ages, and the bull of Innocent VIII which opened the witch-crazes by commissioning the Dominicans to expunge the witches from Germany was requested by the German Dominicans themselves, and so conflicted with Innocent VIII humanistic leanings that it was procurred only through social and political duress. All of this comes courtesy of Trevor-Roper's book on the subject.No I simply care that the church 1. made up a tale, 2. got people to believe it was true, 3. allowed people to die over it.The church is culpable for the 3rd in your list, and I think it speaks poorly for both Protestantism and Catholicism that they did so little to stop the crazes and, in some cases, stoked the fires. But the church itself cannot be said to have made up the tale, and as an institution it did what it could, over a period of more than 600 years, to discourage witch belief. Certain individuals within the Church can be blamed for lending credence to witch-belief -- St. Augustine, for instance -- but the within the tradition of the Church these were exceptions rather than the rule.me: I'm talking about witch-trials as an outlet for an impulse towards violence that would have been vented one way or another. You're talking about witch-trials as though they were the only possible outlet.Frank: I never said anything of the kind, I said that it made it overly convenient, legal and unjust, that's all.I don't see how it was convenient. The process of making it legal and calling it just required the people involved to overturn several hundred years of precedent, and to put it into practice they had to elaborate and organize a mythology that didn't exist within the Church itself. What was convenient was a mass of popular and local superstitions which could serve to provide the basis for the mythology embodied in the "Malleus". But the Church had a long tradition of specifically repudiating those beliefs, and getting the Church to open up some wiggle room was far from convenient. It took almost 200 years of popular and political pressure to get Rome to overturn the Episcopi.me: Only if religious difference was the only reason for finding such a person to be socially undesirable.Frank: I see this all the time even now, its not a stretch at all to see it happening back then. And of course many of the trial records show that as well.You'd only expect the trial records to show explicit accusations, not underlying motives. That's why the life histories provided by John Demos are so valuable. Outside of their witch-craft trials, most Europeans persecuted as witches left little in the way of records of their life -- sometimes a date of birth and some minor lineage, and unless they were a public figure of repute, that was about it. American witches left more of a paper trail, and that's why it's possible to make an assessment of their character apart from the specifics of their witch-craft trails. And in nearly every case that Demos examined, the citizens accused of witch-craft were agitators on a large scale, giving their accusors plenty of non-religious reasons for distrusting them and wanting them gone. That doesn't justify their deaths, but it goes some way towards explaining how the circumstances of their death took that particular form.me: the reason that so many people were taken to be enemies of their local social environment is as much a matter of political and philosophical differences, not to mention outright social antagonism, as it was a matter of their religious behavior.Frank: So what percentage is this to other possibilities? How many of the total trial records points to this cause as opposed to any other? What's the ratio?In America, if Demos' sample group is a fair representation, the number of witches who had established themselves as social malcontents and legitimate dangers to their society is close to 100%. Politics in America had not, at that time, taken as definite a form as they had taken in Europe, so overt support of a socially tabu political form was not as prevalent an issue in America as it was in Europe.In Europe, during the early part of the witch-craze, the persecutions were directed mostly against rustics living in the mountaines. Feudalism had never taken hold in the mountains as it had in the plains, and there were an indeterminate number of non-feudal social forms being practiced in the Pyranees and Alps at the time. That means that, in the early stages of the witch-craze, the incidence of witch-accusations levelled against social non-conformists was probably close to 100%.Later, the witch-craze became a domestic affair, but Trevor-Roper notes that the peaks in witch-hunting coincide with the major events of the Reformation, peaking with the Thirty Years War. Protestant groups argued not only for a reliance on personal conscience and Biblical foundation rather than the authority of a central Church; many groups also argued for the political reorganization of society. Communal living with no civil authority was espoused by some Anabaptists, and the abolition of marriage and personal property was another common theme. Religious differences could be taken as the primary motive for accusations of witch-craft during this period, since Protestant minorities often bore the brunt of the accusations in Catholic societies, and vice versa. But because revolutionary politics were associated in the popular conscience with Protestantism, and authoritarian conservativism with Catholicism, there's no way to rigorously dissociate political suspicion from religious difference. What that means is that for every instance of a society persecuting as a witch an individual or group that differed religiously from the whole society, there is also the possibility of a political motive. As a possible motive, politics figures in the vast majority of witch-persecutions during this period, even if it's less explicit than in the American or earlier European cases.me: That's just the point, Frank. Some of these people had done harm to their neighbors -- palpable harm.Frank: Is that church harm or actual harm, or possibly imaginary harm? And I noticed you did not say all of them.Poisoning livestock, sometimes people; theft; libel; physical assault -- I'd say that's actual harm. I don't have the figures in front of me, but I said "most" only to allow for the one or two solitary exceptions.Ratio please, of all witches killed how many can be placed firmly under this normal profile?I'm not even talking about all of the witches killed. Believe it or not, an accusation was not a death sentence, and many of these people were acquited. Of the ones that were accused (and this is, again, in the American colonies, where the records allow us some perspective on the matter), all but a few of the cases Demos examined fit this pattern.Again this is entirely meaningless; there was already a legal system in place for those types of behaviors.That's true, and most of these individuals had been on trial for particular instances unrelated to witch-craft. Most of them had also been plaintiff in as many, and often more, cases, accusing their neighbors. The witch-trials were not ways of dealing with specific behaviors, but ways of dealing with the person themselves. All of those behaviors contributed to a social attitude towards the person as someone who had set themselves against good, fair, moral society.What little we do know about every witch trial is that they were all based off of a religious myth that was enacted into law.Good tactic. Dismiss all the other evidence and concentrate on the one bit of information that halfway supports your thesis. Never mind that nearly every other piece of evidence serves to moderate that thesis.So let me get this straight you say that without Christianity, something similar to the witch trials would have happened due to the political climate of the time?And this is based off of what again? The fact that some of the accused admitted that they were witches?No; confession has nothing to do with my conclusion. It's based, rather, on an observation of the intense social pressures of the period, and the observation that similar social pressures have, in periods with no totalistic religious authority, led to similar outbursts of persecution and mass execution. That establishes the possibility that a similar panic could have happened without the Church -- we've seen instances of it in a number of modern, secular societies, so it obviously needs no explicitly religious doctrine to support it. That social forces apart from the Church are responsible for said pressure is suggested by the non-continuous nature of witch-persecution, and by an observation of the slow, reluctant process that led the Church itself to moderate its long-standing rejection of witch-belief and its opposition to witch-persecution. That establishes that the popular desire for witch-persecution preceded the Church's involvement, and up to a certain point, conflicted with the Church's explicit interests.While it does seem that the initial people accused were often undesirable, this is not a true representation of the overall type of people accused. Any family, friends or other people that the accused named as accomplices (often under torture) would soon suffer the same fate.That fits comfortably in with the rest of the social explanation. Friends and family of a convicted "witch" would be suspect along the same lines -- not as witches, but as politicos and so forth. The same practice was common in Maoist China, when the political motivation was very much explicit.It should also be noted that the solicitation of confession by torture was not uniformly practiced. Some regions were more equitable than others, and most regions fluctuated in their zeal. Whenever and wherever the witch-craze peaked in hysteria, you could expect torture, but that wasn't necessarily the norm. In America, for instance, the Salem witch trials were unique in their extremity. Most witch-trials tended to put more weight on testimony received under oath, rather than under thumb-screws. The more mundane trials are less memorable, perhaps, but they were also more common. None of which has anything to do with whether or not religion was primarily to blame.From reading some material on the Salem witch trials it appears that some 95% of witches were of the accomplice type and could range from family or friends to neighbors.I don't doubt it. But the Salem witch trials were exceptional for American witch-hunts. They're emblematic of what's generally called a "hysteria" -- a rapid outbreak of uncharacteristically zealous witch-hunting, usually attended by spontaneous confession and widespread suspicion and panic -- and this specific panic has over within a year. What's true of Salem doesn't necessarily hold true of the general pattern of American witch persecution. In fact, what's true of the Salem witch trials probably doesn't hold true of witch trials in Salem as a whole. They continued to try witches after January of 1693, but those later trials are more prone to fit the pattern described by Demos. Even in so specific a region as the town of Salem, this represents a departure from the usual trend of witch accusations and trials; it's even less characteristic of those practices on a nation-wide scale.The same can be said of the peaks of European witch-hunts; the behavioral patterns differ in significant ways from witch-trials as they were performed during the rest of the witch-craze period, and you can't make accurate assessments about the whole practice by taking it's most uncharacteristic moments as emblematic.The mistake you've made here is one of taking the part for whole. A broader historical perview would clarify that. But then, you claim that it doesn't really matter when or where these things are happening.
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Quote:MadGreat example, since the Roman Empire severely restricted the practice of any religions that weren't sanctioned by the state.It is a great example because it shows... 1. That religions can coexist with relatively little friction when none are considered to have a superior claim than another.2. That within this atmosphere religions are kept in check and do not allow any one mythology to affect a population as a whole. Quote:MadEven if it weren't true that the Roman's restricted religious practice, one instance isn't enough to establish it as a general historical principle that the monotheist religions were the first and only traditions to restrict religious practice. First of all I think you have put way to much emphasis on Rome's restriction of religion, for most of Rome's existence the restriction consisted mostly of tax paying and keeping their worshipers in line, and through Rome's history this stance was sometimes just barely enforced especially with the plethora of foreign cults that came and went through the area.There was only one state sponsored religion and that was the roman pantheon, until Constantine changed it to Christianity. Secondly I never said that the monotheistic religions were the first or only ones to abuse their powers, as they got overly powerful. I said that where religions existed side by side with equal status that these crimes were virtually nonexistent, I chose Rome as an example (which you asked for) because there are very few examples of different religions coexisting with equal status in the same region.It is probably Rome's policies and restrictions that allowed it to be possible in the first place. And while there was injustice in Roman society you did not see people accused of being griffons and carried off to jail. Quote:MadIf I were you, I'd just drop that whole argument. Well I am glad that you are not me, because then I would be a quitter.Quote:MadSo -- again -- the fact of fluctuations in the organization and prosecution or witch hunts, contrasted with the persistence of a single religious authority, suggests that some factor other than religious authority accounts for the huge increase in witch-hunting during the 16th and 17th centuries.The slow build up of authority by the church over those years could not have been a factor then?Quote:MadIf you want to get right down to it, the Church abolished witch-burning and declared witch-belief unchristian in the 8th century, and didn't reopen the case on witches. As late as the 12th century the clergy was rejecting the witch's sabbat as a fantasy. Witch belief persisted, but only as popular superstition, unsupported by religious authority.This is true but Christianity was still just getting its footing at this point and official doctrine was still incomplete. Later as scripture was more and more "interpreted" and the power of the church was massing the rules became more and more strict, control tighter and tighter. Quote:MadThe church is culpable for the 3rd in your list, and I think it speaks poorly for both Protestantism and Catholicism that they did so little to stop the crazes and, in some cases, stoked the fires.Now see was that so hard? Quote:MadBut the church itself cannot be said to have made up the tale,This is actually true, the witch myth was around before Christianity and there were many kinds of witches according to myth, both good and bad, but Christianity was the first to demand all of their deaths. Quote:Madand as an institution it did what it could, over a period of more than 600 years, to discourage witch belief. Except when they were endorsing it, which seems to be most of the time.Quote:MadI don't see how it was convenient.I was not referring to the process of getting the law passed by the church and state (although the fact that they could do that is disturbing in its own right) I was referring to after it was accomplished. Witch accusations were baseless and un-provable much of the evidence was spectral or imaginary and the sentence was often death. You can try to deny it but the fact is that it was a law set up by the church, the same church that encouraged "mythical" beliefs. These combined with the general religious and cultural clashes at the time led to massive abuse. Quote:MadOutside of their witch-craft trials, most Europeans persecuted as witches left little in the way of records of their life -- sometimes a date of birth and some minor lineage, and unless they were a public figure of repute, that was about it.So how does one conclude that these people were actually criminals of the real sort?Quote:Madin nearly every case that Demos examined, the citizens accused of witch-craft were agitators on a large scale, giving their accusers plenty of non-religious reasons for distrusting them and wanting them gone.But you just said that the vast majority of cases do not have this information, so why the broad conclusion?And from the cases I have looked at this does not seem to be entirely true, in fact it looks to be the very opposite with the reasoning for most accusations being motivated by self-preservation, personal grudges, or in some cases simply association. Quote:MadThat doesn't justify their deaths,No it doesn't Quote:MadIn America, if Demos' sample group is a fair representation, the number of witches who had established themselves as social malcontents and legitimate dangers to their society is close to 100%. Politics in America had not, at that time, taken as definite a form as they had taken in Europe, so overt support of a socially taboo political form was not as prevalent an issue in America as it was in Europe.This seems to contradict the fact that America was a relatively late bloomer in the witch craze with it becoming more prevalent as the social norms were set into place with even minor infractions being considered deviant. Quote:MadWhat that means is that for every instance of a society persecuting as a witch an individual or group that differed religiously from the whole society, there is also the possibility of a political motive. As a possible motive, politics figures in the vast majority of witch-persecutions during this period, even if it's less explicit than in the American or earlier European cases. Quote:MadThere existed the possibility of a political motive... What no proof?And I suppose we should ignore the obvious here right? I will again direct you to the obvious, these people probably would not have been very different politically had it not been for the conflict of their religious views. Quote:MadPoisoning livestock, sometimes people; theft; libel; physical assault -- I'd say that's actual harm. I don't have the figures in front of me, but I said "most" only to allow for the one or two solitary exceptions.So were these people found guilty for these crimes? Or were they simply accused and when the other charges were not provable or proved insufficient witchcraft was slapped on to seal the deal.Quote:MadThat's true, and most of these individuals had been on trial for particular instances unrelated to witch-craft. Most of them had also been plaintiff in as many, and often more, cases, accusing their neighbors. The witch-trials were not ways of dealing with specific behaviors, but ways of dealing with the person themselves. All of those behaviors contributed to a social attitude towards the person as someone who had set themselves against good, fair, moral society.All this tells me is that witchcraft charges were used to settle personal grudges, (abuse) and since both parties had been charged in the past how can you be sure that the one accused for witchcraft was not in fact the innocent party.Quote:MadGood tactic. Dismiss all the other evidence and concentrate on the one bit of information that halfway supports your thesis. Never mind that nearly every other piece of evidence serves to moderate that thesis. Thanks! Because it really does say it all. We know that every witch that was accused, tried and executed was indeed innocent of those charges. No matter what other reasons might have been behind each individual case the charge and its punishment were unwarranted. And for you to deny that the church was responsible fore most of the uglier situations is simply baffling, look at your own data, in nearly every case whenever the church got involved things got tremendously worse Quote:MadThe mistake you've made here is one of taking the part for whole. A broader historical preview would clarify that. But isn't that exactly what you are doing? You said yourself that the types of people accused throughout the early witch-hunts have no surviving records, yet you lump them all into the undesired category with the bare minimal amount of hard evidence. Quote:MadBut then, you claim that it doesn't really matter when or where these things are happening.Religious Injustice is still injustice and these actions shed some light on the character of those institutions. Later
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Frank: It is a great example because it shows... 1. That religions can coexist with relatively little friction when none are considered to have a superior claim than another.2. That within this atmosphere religions are kept in check and do not allow any one mythology to affect a population as a whole.[/i]How does it do that? The Roman's suppressed nearly every religion that wasn't their official state religion. That hardly seems like peaceful coexistence to me, unless Pax Romana fits your criteria.Secondly I never said that the monotheistic religions were the first or only ones to abuse their powers, as they got overly powerful. Review the thread. I asked when religions became restrictive, and your answer was essentially "when they became monotheistic."The slow build up of authority by the church over those years could not have been a factor then?The Church was already at the peak of its power and authority prior to the demise of the Middle Ages, and even during the period of its greatest authority it frowned on witch persecution.me: The church is culpable for the 3rd in your list, and I think it speaks poorly for both Protestantism and Catholicism that they did so little to stop the crazes and, in some cases, stoked the fires.Frank: Now see was that so hard?I've said all along that my interest was in making sure that we were holding the church responsible for the right problems.me: and as an institution it did what it could, over a period of more than 600 years, to discourage witch belief.Frank: Except when they were endorsing it, which seems to be most of the time.So, by most of the time do you mean the period between 800 CE and 1300 CE when the Church was almost uniformly discouraging it?You can try to deny it but the fact is that it was a law set up by the church, the same church that encouraged "mythical" beliefs.All of the evidence I've seen says that the laws were set up by secular power, even against the resistence of the Church, and that the centralized clergy was, on the whole, ambivalent towards the witch-crazes rather than directly involved in encouraging it. Give me evidence to the contrary and I'll consider it, but blanket assertions do nothing to further your case.me: in nearly every case that Demos examined, the citizens accused of witch-craft were agitators on a large scale, giving their accusers plenty of non-religious reasons for distrusting them and wanting them gone.Frank: But you just said that the vast majority of cases do not have this information, so why the broad conclusion?Most of the European cases, yes; the American cases involve person's whose lives are otherwise fairly well documented, and my comments to that end were specific to the American practices.So were these people found guilty for these crimes? Or were they simply accused and when the other charges were not provable or proved insufficient witchcraft was slapped on to seal the deal.They were found guilty in some trials, acquitted in others. The fact that they were involved in so many accusations (sometimes numbering in the 100s) indicates that, even if they weren't guilty of all of them, they were providing their neighbors with some reason to be suspicious.And for you to deny that the church was responsible fore most of the uglier situations is simply baffling, look at your own data, in nearly every case whenever the church got involved things got tremendously worseActually, the Church wasn't routinely involved, and in the later eras of the witch-craze, the Church was less involved, leaving the cases to secular courts that were, if anything, more zealous in their prosecution of the cases.But isn't that exactly what you are doing? You said yourself that the types of people accused throughout the early witch-hunts have no surviving records, yet you lump them all into the undesired category with the bare minimal amount of hard evidence.That isn't at all what I've said. What I said was that Americans left more complete records of their lives apart from the witch trials than did Europeans, that the early European witches were almost all associated with marginal regions, and that later European witches were almost all subscribers to marginal social ideas or assocated with groups that were believed to be that. Religious Injustice is still injustice and these actions shed some light on the character of those institutions.The character that you're ascribing to the institution is more justly attributed to the secular culture in which it operated. You've obscured that by treating over a thousand years of church history as though it were monolithic and unvariant, by misattributing secular and political behavior to the church, and taking the assumption of pious motivation as clearer evidence than any factual information that might complicate your view. That's a pretty dim light to shed.
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Re: Witch-Crazes and Religion

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Quote:MadHow does it do that? The Roman's suppressed nearly every religion that wasn't their official state religion.That state religion consisted of many other foreign gods incorporated into it. Temples to each existed in peace as long as they maintained equal standing. Quote:MadThat hardly seems like peaceful coexistence to me, unless Pax Romana fits your criteria.The Romans did suppress religions from time to time (the Celtic druids, Christianity) but these were considered rebellious religions and this was not the preferred state of affairs. The Romans knew that it was best to let conquered people keep their religious beliefs and when they could do so without risk of rabble rousing they did. Quote:MadReview the thread. I asked when religions became restrictive, and your answer was essentially "when they became monotheistic."Quote:I said... The moment they stated that they worshiped the one and only true god.This implies much more than simply becoming monotheistic, it also implies that the believers held their belief above others and the inherent bigotry associated with that belief. Which is a far more important point than how many gods were worshiped. Quote:MadI've said all along that my interest was in making sure that we were holding the church responsible for the right problems.You maintain that you want to see the church held accountable for its crimes yet you seem to want to clear it from all possible wrongdoing at the same time.like it or not the church was part of the problem. Yet you seem intent on clouding the subject with doubt, as usual.Quote:MadSo, by most of the time do you mean the period between 800 CE and 1300 CE when the Church was almost uniformly discouraging it?No more like 1300 to 1900 Quote:1944, Helen Duncan was the last person to be convicted under the British Witchcraft Act, authorities fearing that by her alleged clairvoyant powers she could betray details of the D-Day preparations. She spent nine months in prison. The Act was repealed in 1951.Wikipedia.orgQuote:MadThey were found guilty in some trials, acquitted in others. The fact that they were involved in so many accusations (sometimes numbering in the 100s) indicates that, even if they weren't guilty of all of them, they were providing their neighbors with some reason to be suspicious.I think it's interesting that you failed to answer the related question Quote:I asked...Since both parties had been charged in the past how can you be sure that the one accused for witchcraft was not in fact the innocent party?Quote:MadThe character that you're ascribing to the institution is more justly attributed to the secular culture in which it operated. A culture that the church was largely responsible for creating. You must be aware that the political and religious elements of those times were intertwined and you can't blame one and leave the other in the clear. Later Edited by: Frank 013 at: 4/2/07 11:12 pm
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