Thursday, March 24, 2011

35 (or 100) Million Inquisition Victims?: A Typical Example (in Live Chat) of Absurd Anti-Catholic Exaggerations and Prejudice

Pastor David T. King: King of the Anti-Catholic Whopper and Dripping Disdain of Catholics

[This is yet another paper resurrected from the archives (see the original, from Internet Archive); originally posted on 4 July 2000. "skyman" = Pastor David T. King: a vocal anti-Catholic Presbyterian pastor and associate of active online anti-Catholic Protestants James White, John Bugay, and Eric Svendsen. Notes added later will be in blue]

* * *

[mostly original introduction] This pathetic exchange took place in the public chat room of the website (Alpha and Omega Ministries) of the prominent anti-Catholic polemicist James White, on 29 June 2000. I think it splendidly illustrates the sad, deluded, bigoted tendencies of many anti-Catholics. When I simply asked for references for the ridiculous historical numerical claims, I was promptly kicked out of the forum (as you will see at the end). Skyman's words will be in purple. Statements of various other Protestant commenters will be in red. One chatter appears to have been a Catholic. His words will be in brown. He, too, was kicked out for ostensibly exceedingly minor "transgressions." My own words (I went by "Bo") will be in plain black. Some extraneous material has been deleted; whenever a comment appears it is unedited. I pick up the discussion after some 20 minutes or so of innocuous, light, non-theological banter.

* * * * *

    Bo ( has joined channel #ProsApologian Users on #ProsApologian: Bo solomondo spinster amylu crstofr Brando skyman` @Logos @NAaway @RightWing @X _Aram StevenD The-Ox RTSstudnt tefedur RefDoc -NAaway- (~NA27@hybrid-024-221-118-154.phoenix.speedchoice.c om) Welcome to ProsApologian. This channel is for the respectful discussion of Christian apologetics. Please review the guidelines for this page at: [. . . ]
    You guys ever visit Steve Ray's bulletin board?
    [a prominent Catholic apologist and author of two books and good friend of mine, who had recently been slandered and accused of deliberate deceit by the chat room manager James White]
    I have once. Why would we waste our time with Steve Ray's garbage. :) I got in trouble too.
    To refute it, if you disagree with it, of course.
    Bo: Unfortunately, error is too wide for universal refutation from me.
    No need to refute the nonsense they put forward there.
    Someone said he had just converted to the RCC, I sent him a reply asking why he would do such a stupid thing like that for. I have better things to do.
    Romanists always talk about converting to the Church...never to Christ.
    Yep. You'd think there is no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved but Rome. ~KJV Acts 4:12 Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)
    No, saying one is converting to a particular Christian church presupposes that one is converting to Christ . . . Not either/or, is it?
    I was expecting that from you, Bo. :-)
    Yeah right.
    Cut out the middle man.
    I thought the Reformed were big on ecclesiology, no? More so than your average evangelical today...... Calvin certainly liked the idea of "church."
    I bet bishop likes ecclesiology. [big grin]
    /\/\/\/\ Hi bishop3! /\/\/\/\ Ecclesiology???? Hey RW. Yeah, they were running down the church as the "middle man" above..... Well, RefDoc was, anyway. *** RefDoc is not paying attention I thought James [White] was gonna stop using "Romanism" ? Go Ecclisia..rah rah :-\ LOLOL Go Bo..rah rah rah. :-) Well I don't know what else to call Romanism but Romanism. Go bishop go! Rofl. ["rolling on the floor laughing"] :-) [smile] No, James White stated somewhere that he was gonna stop using the term, because it is considered pejorative....then I saw it on the front page today. Why, because Romanists say so? Whatever the reason; he said that, so I was surprised. It is a silly term in the first my opinion. What's better? catlickers? I think it's very descriptive. Sure! big improvement! LOL Catlickers??? Hmmmm...bish gets out his Strong's[Concordance]. Well, if Romanist is one who follows Rome over against the Bible, then Calvinist must be one who follows Calvin over against the Bible :-) My folks were Dutch immigrants, their term was similar to 'romanist.' I mean Rome Sweet Home sounds pretty Romanist to me. That's what [Catholic apologist Dr. Scott] Hahn titled his book. [For an in-depth discussion of this issue of polemical titles for one's theological opponents, see my paper: "Roman Catholic" vs. "Catholic" (Proper Titles) (with Jimmy Akin) ] Fee Fei Fo Fine, I smell the slaves of Rome on-line!
    The pope lives there.
    The entire Church says "Rome says so." I don't see how it's pejorative. Naw, he lives in Vatican City......separate municipality :-) Give me a break. Why call him pope? It means papa right? He ain't my papa. Then why would James stop using it? Maybe you opt for papist? Ask him Bo.
    [I did, in a personal letter later that night, but James White refused to answer the question, stating that we should keep our interaction at a minimum]
    Is he here? I don't give a rip why James did or did not quit using it. Maybe yes, maybe no, who wants to know? Why not call his book The Romanist Controversy? LOL [The actual title is The Roman Catholic Controversy] I didn't title it; ask him. Roman Catholic has a far better ring to it. Like I said, is he here? Maybe yes, maybe no, who wants to know? RW, Roman Catholic is very contradictory. Skyman`: indeed. "Roman Catholic" was first developed by the Anglican polemicists in the 16th century. Before that it was simply "the Catholic Church" (as far as I know, anyway). Amen sky. Agreed, I like the term "Romanist" better...It's far more descriptive. As do I. So you guys disagree with James on that point? Beats me. I don't know what he thinks about it. Don't really care. <---- Likes papist ... more pugnacious. :) I see. Hehehe... Well what does the Bible say about which term ought to be used? ;) Call em what Gov. Bradford called em.... "papist trash." That title can be found in the first history book of the Mayflower settlement, by the way. RW> Christian charity at its finest. The Bible speaks of one body, one faith, etc. "Catholic" meaning "universal" - I find that rather biblical myself, saying that there is one universal church. The-Ox, you want to talk about Christian charity you hypocrite? Your Church is responsible for the murder of thousands. The-Ox: yep... Some charity! Go read What Gov. Bradford said... They settled here to get away from ROME. No, most of the Pilgrims were escaping Anglican or other Protestant persecution in England; Catholics had no power there at that time. skyman> Certainly an example of grave sinfulness, as I have said to you on numerous occasions. The-Ox, then shut up about charity. And, correction skyman, far more than thousands, we are talking millions. skyman> Well, uh, I didn't murder anyone. The-Ox: you put your money in the coffers of a Church that does. The-Ox, no but you love and support the church that did. Bo: please refer to what he said in the book. RW> skyman said it right: "did." You can have your murdering hypocritical church. All Christians are complicit in past Christian crimes........ skyman> You are just as hypocritical if you think your church is without sin. I strongly question the past tense. RW> Then take it up with skyman. The Protestant witch hunts were far worse than the Inquisition. The-Ox has been kicked off #ProsApologian by X ((skyman`) bye hypocrite). You beat me to it. Bo, hardly. "Protestant witch hunts"? Yes, the witch mania was far more a Protestant phenomenon (Salem was at the tail end of it...was far worse in Europe). You mean that thingy in Salem where all of 5 or 6 people were burned and the Puritans attempted to stop it? Bo: many historians on both sides has said Rome killed as many as 35 million, others say 1/10th of a billion. [i.e., 100 million] Already answered you [iustafide]. Name one [historian], and give me a source. Bo, one Church has been responsible for wholesale murder, guess which one? Wow...35 million! [ever] hear of St. Bartholemew's massacre? Hmmm, Schaff, Dollinger. Dollinger taught RC history for 47 years and he was Roman Catholic.
    [Dollinger was excommunicated after refusing to accept the dogma of papal infallibility, defined at the First Vatican Council in 1870].
    Name of work and pages please, so I can check it out? Bo: I am not a human library here. These guys are saying 35-100 million huh? Voice of the Martyrs also has the same information. Wow, that is incredible. Then don't make the claim, with numbers RW. I say it is nonsense; you disagree, then give me reputable historians and exact references.

You [that's me!] have been kicked off #ProsApologian by RightWing (You
give me evidence of your first) [sic]

Boy, what a show of confidence! I ask for references for such an extraordinary claim, and I get kicked off by the very person I was asking to back up his ridiculous historical assertions.

    [Respected non-Catholic historian Edward Peters, in his work, Inquisition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 87), states:
      The Spanish Inquisition, in spite of wildly inflated estimates of the numbers of its victims, acted with considerable restraint in inflicting the death penalty, far more restraint than was demonstrated in secular tribunals elsewhere in Europe that dealt with the same kinds of offenses. The best estimate is that around 3000 death sentences were carried out in Spain by Inquisitorial verdict between 1550 and 1800, a far smaller number than that in comparable secular courts.
    Utilizing these ballpark figures, the claims above are exaggerated by a ratio of either 11,667 to 1 or 33,333 to 1, depending on which grotesque, ludicrous numerical figure is believed. See the link from Van Hove below, and the Catholic Encyclopedia link: section: The Number of Victims. Edward O'Brien ("A New Look at the Spanish Inquisition") writes:
      Fray Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor whose very name is now a symbol of ruthless cruelty, actually checked the excessive zeal of the earlier inquisitors in many ways, including the limiting and mitigating of torture. Walsh thinks that torture under Torquemada was no worse than that used by American police in the 1930s. Also, under Torquemada's entire tenure as Grand Inquisitor (1483-1498), 100,000 prisoners passed before his various tribunals throughout Spain. Of this number, less than 2% were executed. In Barcelona, from 1488 to 1498, "one prisoner out of 20 was put to death" (23 executions). Torquemada is not the monster of the Black Legend; still, he was responsible for, as an estimation, between 1,000 and 1,500 deaths. And by burning, the common method for those times.
    True, we may not be dealing with Boy Scout leaders here, but these men were far closer to that than they were to Hitler, Mao, and Stalin!
    Likewise, Ellen Rice ("The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition") comments:
      The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition, a 1994 BBC/A and E production . . . is a definite must-see for anyone who wishes to know how historians now evaluate the Spanish Inquisition since the opening of an investigation into the Inquisition's archives. The special includes commentary from historians whose studies verify that the tale of the darkest hour of the Church was greatly fabricated.
      In its brief sixty-minute presentation, The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition provides only an overview of the origins and debunking of the myths of torture and genocide. The documentary definitely succeeds in leaving the viewer hungry to know more. The long-held beliefs of the audience are sufficiently weakened by the testimony of experts and the expose of the making of the myth.
      . . . In 1567 a fierce propaganda campaign began with the publication of a Protestant leaflet penned by a supposed Inquisition victim named Montanus. This character (Protestant of course) painted Spaniards as barbarians who ravished women and sodomized young boys. The propagandists soon created "hooded fiends" who tortured their victims in horrible devices like the knife-filled Iron Maiden (which never was used in Spain). The BBC/A and E special plainly states a reason for the war of words: the Protestants fought with words because they could not win on the battlefield.
      The Inquisition had a secular character, although the crime was heresy. Inquisitors did not have to be clerics, but they did have to be lawyers. The investigation was rule-based and carefully kept in check. And most significantly, historians have declared fraudulent a supposed Inquisition document claiming the genocide of millions of heretics.
      What is documented is that 3000 to 5000 people died during the Inquisition's 350 year history . . . As the program documents, the 3,000 to 5,000 documented executions of the Inquisition pale in comparison to the 150,000 documented witch burnings elsewhere in Europe over the same centuries.
      . . . Discrediting the Black Legend brings up the sticky subject of revisionism. Re-investigating history is only invalid if it puts an agenda ahead of reality. The experts - once true believers in the Inquisition myth - were not out to do a feminist canonization of Isabella or claim that Tomas de Torquemada was a Marxist. Henry Kamen of the Higher Council for Scientific Research in Barcelona said on camera that researching the Inquisition's archives "demolished the previous image all of us (historians) had."
    Even Henry Charles Lea, the first major American Inquisition historian and no fan of the Catholic Church, says of the calculations of victims:
      There is no question that the number of these has been greatly exaggerated in popular belief, an exaggeration to which Llorente has largely contributed by his absurd method of computation....
    (A History of the Inquisition of Spain, volume 4, p. 517)
    Lea calls Llorente's guess-work "reckless" and "entirely fallacious." ]


Ben m said...

BBC video on the Myth of the Spanish Inquisition

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for that link!

Ben m said...

You're welcome, Dave!

scotju said...

Oh Dave, have you ever read Henry Kamen's "The Spanish Inquistion"? Kamen is a Jewish scholar who's work totally demolished the "Black Legend' so beloved by anti-Catholic bigots like King. If yo haven't read it, you should get a copy so you can hurl the true information in it at bffons like king.

Dave Armstrong said...

Sounds great. Thanks for the recommend.

Jordanes551 said...

Kamen appears in the BBC video linked by Ben m.