...But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis—as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace.

~ Winston S. Churchill

Religious intolerance is an idea that found its earliest expression in the Old Testament, where the Hebrew tribe depicts itself waging a campaign of genocide on the Palestinian peoples to steal their land. They justified this heinous behavior on the grounds that people not chosen by their god were wicked and therefore did not deserve to live or keep their land. In effect, the wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian peoples, eradicating their race with the Jew's own Final Solution, was the direct result of a policy of religious superiority and divine right. Joshua 6-11 tells the sad tale, and one needs only read it and consider the point of view of the Palestinians who were simply defending their wives and children and the homes they had built and the fields they had labored for. The actions of the Hebrews can easily be compared with the American genocide of its native peoples - or even, ironically, the Nazi Holocaust. With the radical advent of Christianity, this self-righteous intolerance was borrowed from the Jews, and a new twist was added. The conversion of infidels by any means possible became the newfound calling card of religious fervor, and this new experiment in human culture spread like wildfire. By its very nature, how could it not have? Islam followed suit, conquering half the world in brutal warfare and, much like its Christian counterpart, it developed a new and convenient survival characteristic: the destruction of all images and practices attributed to other religions. Muslims destroyed millions of statues and paintings in India and Africa, and forced conversion under pain of death (or by more subtle tricks: like taxing only non-Muslims), while the Catholic Church busily burned books along with pagans, shattering statues and defacing or destroying pagan art - or converting it to Christian use. Laws against pagan practices and heretics were in full force throughrout Europe by the sixth century, and as long as those laws were in place it was impossible for anyone to refuse the tenets of Christianity and expect to keep their property or their life. Similar persecution and harassment continues in Islamic countries even to this day, officially and unofficially.

~ Richard C. Carrier

If the Pentateuch be true, religious persecution is a duty. The dungeons of the Inquisition were temples, and the clank of every chain upon the limbs of heresy was music in the ear of God. If the Pentateuch was inspired, every heretic should be destroyed; and every man who advocates a fact inconsistent with the sacred book, should be consumed by sword and flame.In the Old Testament no one is told to reason with a heretic, and not one word is said about relying upon argument, upon education, nor upon intellectual development—nothing except simple brute force. Is there to-day a christian who will say that four thousand years ago, it was the duty of a husband to kill his wife if she differed with him upon the subject of religion? Is there one who will now say that, under such circumstances, the wife ought to have been killed? Why should God be so jealous of the wooden idols of the heathen? Could he not compete with Baal? Was he envious of the success of the Egyptian magicians? Was it not possible for him to make such a convincing display of his power as to silence forever the voice of unbelief? Did this God have to resort to force to make converts? Was he so ignorant of the structure of the human mind as to believe all honest doubt a crime? If he wished to do away with the idolatry of the Canaanites, why did he not appear to them? Why did he not give them the tables of the law? Why did he only make known his will to a few wandering savages in the desert of Sinai? Will some theologian have the kindness to answer these questions? Will some minister, who now believes in religious liberty, and eloquently denounces the intolerance of Catholicism, explain these things; will he tell us why he worships an intolerant God? Is a god who will burn a soul forever in another world, better than a christian who burns the body for a few hours in this? Is there no intellectual liberty in heaven? Do the angels all discuss questions on the same side? Are all the investigators in perdition? Will the penitent thief, winged and crowned, laugh at the honest folks in hell? Will the agony of the damned increase or decrease the happiness of God? Will there be, in the universe, an eternal auto da fe?

~ Robert G. Ingersoll

Do not make passion an argument for truth! - O you good-natured and even noble enthusiasts, I know you! You want to win your argument against us, but also against yourself, and above all against yourself!and a subtle and tender bad conscience so often incites you against your enthusiasm! How ingenious you then become in the outwitting and deadening of this conscience! How you hate the honest, the simple, the pure, how you avoid their innocent eyes! That knowing better whose representatives they are and whose voice you hear all too loudly within you, how it casts doubt on your belief- how you seek to make it suspect as a bad habit, as a sickness of the age, as neglect and infection of your own spiritual health! You drive yourself to the point of hating criticism, science, reason! You have to falsify history so that it may bear witness for you, you have to deny virtues so that they shall not cast into the shade those of your idols and ideals! Coloured pictures where what is needed is rational grounds! Ardour and power of expression! Silvery mists! Ambrosial nights! You understand how to illuminate and how to obscure, and how to obscure with light! And truly, when your passion rises to the point of frenzy, there comes a moment when you say to yourself: now I have conquered the good conscience, now I am light of heart, courageous, self-denying, magnificent, now I am honest! How you thirst for those moments when your passion bestows on you perfect self-justification and as it were innocence; when in struggle, intoxication, courage, hope, you are beside yourself and beyond all doubting; when you decree: 'he who is not beside himself as we are can in no way know what and where truth is!' How you thirst to discover people of your belief in this condition - it is that of intellectual vice - and ignite your flame at their torch! Oh your deplorable martyrdom! Oh your deplorable victory of the sanctified lie! Must you inflict so much suffering upon yourself? - Must you?

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Father Brendan Flynn: A woman was gossiping with her friend about a man whom they hardly knew - I know none of you have ever done this. That night, she had a dream: a great hand appeared over her and pointed down on her. She was immediately seized with an overwhelming sense of guilt. The next day she went to confession. She got the old parish priest, Father O' Rourke, and she told him the whole thing. 'Is gossiping a sin?' she asked the old man. 'Was that God All Mighty's hand pointing down at me? Should I ask for your absolution? Father, have I done something wrong?' 'Yes,' Father O' Rourke answered her. 'Yes, you ignorant, badly-brought-up female. You have blamed false witness on your neighbor. You played fast and loose with his reputation, and you should be heartily ashamed.' So, the woman said she was sorry, and asked for forgiveness. 'Not so fast,' says O' Rourke. 'I want you to go home, take a pillow upon your roof, cut it open with a knife, and return here to me.' So, the woman went home: took a pillow off her bed, a knife from the drawer, went up the fire escape to her roof, and stabbed the pillow. Then she went back to the old parish priest as instructed. 'Did you gut the pillow with a knife?' he says. 'Yes, Father.' 'And what were the results?' 'Feathers,' she said. 'Feathers?' he repeated. 'Feathers; everywhere, Father.' 'Now I want you to go back and gather up every last feather that flew out onto the wind,' 'Well,' she said, 'it can't be done. I don't know where they went. The wind took them all over.' 'And that,' said Father O' Rourke, 'is gossip!

~ John Patrick Shanley

Attitude Is EverythingWe live in a culture that is blind to betrayal and intolerant of emotional pain. In New Age crowds here on the West Coast, where your attitude is considered the sole determinant of the impact an event has on you, it gets even worse.In these New Thought circles, no matter what happens to you, it is assumed that you have created your own reality. Not only have you chosen the event, no matter how horrible, for your personal growth. You also chose how you interpret what happened—as if there are no interpersonal facts, only interpretations.The upshot of this perspective is that your suffering would vanish if only you adopted a more evolved perspective and stopped feeling aggrieved. I was often kindly reminded (and believed it myself), “there are no victims.” How can you be a victim when you are responsible for your circumstances?When you most need validation and support to get through the worst pain of your life, to be confronted with the well-meaning, but quasi-religious fervor of these insidious half-truths can be deeply demoralizing. This kind of advice feeds guilt and shame, inhibits grieving, encourages grandiosity and can drive you to be alone to shield your vulnerability.

~ Sandra Lee Dennis