by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
Old and New Testament scriptures have been misinterpreted by Christians, causing the Christian religion to become an imperialistic war-mongering religion, whose adherents have believed that they were instructed by God to invade the homelands of non-Christian peoples, take possession of their lands and resources, annihilate many of the indigenous inhabitants as well as subjugate and exploit the remaining innocent indigenous peoples.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand bear a tragic witness to what Christian nations have done, as have also the indigenous peoples of Africa and Asia. In a fifteenth century papal bull Pope Nicolas V instructed European Christian nations to "invade, capture, vanquish" and "subdue" Indigenous Peoples, "subjugate" them and "reduce their persons to perpetual slavery" and "to take away all their possessions and property." And according to a United Nations World Conference Against Racism document, he also "declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world".
An Old Testament directive to the Jews says: "But as for the towns of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes remain alive. You shall annihilate them - the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites … - just as the Lord your God has commanded." (Deut 20:16-17)
"And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city [Jericho]. The city and all that is in it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." (Joshua 6:16-21)
Thus says the Lord of hosts, "… Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" (1 Sam 15:2-3). (Saul did not carry this command fully in that he spared some cattle as booty. For this action God rejected Saul as king of Israel (verses 8-9, 13-15, 26), and gave the kingdom to David, although even David killed only men and women in the conquered lands of other nations and spared the cattle. (1 Sam 27:8-9, cf. 2 Sam 8:2)
Arise and thresh, O daughter Zion, for I will make your horn iron and your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many nations … (Micah 4:13).
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste (Isa 60:12).
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2:8-9)
And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom [of Israel which] … shall crush all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever. (Dan 2:44)
Orthodox Jews to this present-day believe that their promised messiah will come and fully restore the Kingdom of Israel - and then God will violently annihilate all nations that will not serve their nation and messiah.
And many Christians believe that Jesus Christ will return to rule and reign over the entire world from Israel - and that all nations will [then] not only serve him but also the nation of Israel.
In the New Testament Jesus sometimes appears like a lamb, this image of Jesus is associated with only his first coming. The scriptures say that during his second advent when he will come with power and glory he will be like a "lion" (Rev 5:5, cf. Micah 5:8). The Old Testament hope of the restored kingdom of Israel, destroying or ruling other nations is transferred in the New Testament to Christ and his mighty angles: "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus". (2 Thess 1:7-8)
From the beginning of the Christian religion, Christians were suppose to imitate Jesus appearing as a lamb. However, the Christian mission has been (to some extent and for a long time) wrongly orientated to, both, the violent war-mongering Jewish pursuits of the past, pursuits associated with their Old Testament directives, to either annihilate or conquer other nations, and the violent and vengeful mission of Jesus Christ, that the scriptures say will occur during his second advent, when he and his mighty angles will inflict vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus".
"The day of wrath is coming to root out the sinners from the earth. On that day, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light." (Is.13:10)
The Bible scriptures say that after "the day of wrath" the following statement will become reality, "I heard the voices of a huge crowd, answer: Alleluia! The reign of the Lord, our Almighty God has begun!" (Rev.19:7) "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ!" (Rev.11:15)
Wrongly interpreting Old and New Testament dictates, the Western Christian nations have often put themselves in the position of the chosen Israelites while putting other nations in the place of the Amelikes, Hittites, Canaanites, etc. and have, therefore, felt justified in partially or totally destroying them with "a rod of iron" like a potter’s vessel.
President George W. Bush told an audience of his: ”When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted the words of [the Hebrew prophet] Jeremiah 51:10: ‘Come let us declare in Zion the word of God.”’ Bush also said: ”The founders of my country saw a new promised land and bestowed upon their towns names like Bethlehem and New Canaan."
Thomas Jefferson proposed that the Great Seal of the United States depict the Israelites moving into the promised land, guided by clouds and fire, thereby drawing an analogy between the chosen people of the Old Testament and the white Euro-American Christians, who were to (to some extent) treat the new Canaanites (this lands indigenous peoples) the way the Israelites treated the Canaanites when they invaded and took possession of their homelands.
In a best-selling book about the history of the American West, Theodore Roosevelt wrote: "Many of the best of the backwoodsmen were Bible-readers. They looked at their foes as the Hebrew prophets looked at the enemies of Israel. What were the abominations because of which the Canaanites were destroyed before Joshua, when compared with the abominations of the red savages whose lands they, another chosen people, should in their turn inherit?"
In other words, the indigenous peoples of the New World were viewed by the founders of the United States as new Canaanites of the new Land of Canaan, a promised inheritance and everlasting possession, for some new "chosen people" - white Euro-American Christians.
The mental model of a chosen people and a promised land provides a convenient rationalization whereby one people feels entitled and justified, by divine right, to take over, possess, and profit from the lands of other peoples.
In the New Testament, Jesus gave his followers some new principles to follow.
In Matthew 5:38-39 Jesus is quoted as saying, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."
White European Christian colonists, and then (later) white Euro-American Christians, followed (to some extent) the Old Testament principle "kill every thing that breaths" when they invaded and took possession of the Native Americans' homelands. And most white Euro-American Christians still have not repented. Are they asking that the Natives’ lands and sovereign rights be returned to them? They are still following a nullified Old Testament principle and wrongly justify their and their ancestors evil war-mongering ways by comparing them with what the ancient Israelites did to the Canaanites, while following an Old Testament principle.
In a United Nations World Conference Against Racism document there are the words: "In the fifteenth century, two Papal Bulls set the stage for European domination of the New World and Africa. Romanus Pontifex, issued by Pope Nicholas V to King Alfonso V of Portugal in 1452, declared war against all non-Christians throughout the world, and specifically sanctioned and promoted the conquest, colonization, and exploitation of non-Christian nations and their territories." This document also declares: "….the subjugation of the native peoples of the New World was legally sanctioned. ‘Laws’ of ‘discovery’, ‘conquest’ and ‘terra nullius’ made up the ‘doctrines of dispossession’…" "These doctrines allowed Christian nations to claim ‘unoccupied lands’ (terra nullius), or lands belonging to ‘heathens’ or ‘pagans’." (ref.)
In the 1823 U.S.A. Supreme Court ruling Johnson v. M’Intosh, Associate Justice Joseph Story, who was on the Supreme Court at the time of the Johnson ruling, published a book in which he drew a specific connection between Christianity, the pope (the Vatican) and the ”principle” of ”discovery” adopted by the Supreme Court. And, around this same time, Supreme Court Judge John Marshall also identified the Christian doctrine of discovery behind the Johnson ruling…revealing that the Israelites’ Old Testament directed mission "to destroy or rule other nations with a rod of iron" was (by a misunderstanding of the New Testament directive) turned over to Christians, as God’s new Israelites,” who, according to Romans 2: 29, were "inwardly Jews", (they being white Europeans) wrongly believing that they had a ”God-given right and mission ” to colonize (conquer, subdue and possess) the lands of the red indigenous nations and peoples (the new Canaanites), who were not "inwardly Jews" (Christians) at the time of their discovery by the ethic cleansing and genocidal war-mongering white European Christian imperialists and colonists, who became white Euro-America Christians with the same evil intentions.
"A number of inferences follow from the Chosen People-Promised Land model (e.g., Deuteronomy 20:10 - 18) such as, indigenous peoples are to be removed (e.g., Indian Removal Act), put into a condition of servitude (e.g., enslavement of the Indians of California in the Spanish-Catholic missions), exterminated to make room for the chosen people of the United States (e.g., massacres at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee, spreading deadly deceases, including the decease of alcoholism) - a decease that is still destroying many indigenous peoples.
For centuries Christian nations - while going in the way of their misguided Chosen People-Promised Land world domination, imperialistic, war mongering mission - have been brutally terrorizing one Muslim nation after another. In the Middle Ages they came to Muslim countries as crusaders. They colonized many Muslim countries and tried to destroy their cultures and religion. The French Christians killed about a million Muslims in Algeria because they wanted independence from their white European Christian colonists oppressors. Our Christian nation has killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim Iraqis. Christian Serbs killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims and raped thousands of women in Bosnia and Kosovo. Israel has been for half a century destroying the Palestinian Muslim people with the help of arms as well as financial and moral support provided by our [American] Christian nation.
Muslims ruled Spain for about 850 years and during this time they lived with Jews and Christians in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation. But the moment Christians took over and the Muslims consequently became the weaker segment of the population, the hate in the Catholics’ hearts came out with a vengeance. Muslims were either killed, converted, or forced to leave Spain and their heritage was destroyed.
In South Africa the inhuman system of apartheid was maintained by the church-going white community with the blessing of the churches and indeed the apartheid was practiced by the churches themselves.
In Rwanda the tribe that perpetuated a holocaust of another tribe follows the Catholic religion. The most cruel tyrant in history [Hitler] came from a Christian country and there has been no shortage of other somewhat less ruthless dictators in Christian countries, especially in South America and Africa. Western Christian nations fought two world wars with tens of millions dead and untold misery for the living. For each victory in these two wars the church bells rang in the victorious countries. The first nation to make a weapon of mass destruction and the only one to use it is a Christian nation [America], and it was used to annihilate innocent civilians. And no apology has been offered to the nation that was bombed.
And where is the document that presents a papal granted moral right for indigenous peoples to own land and be independent sovereign nations? What has the Roman Catholic hierarchy and other Christian Church leaders had to say about the 60,000,000 to 80,000,000 indigenous inhabitants of the Western hemisphere who had perished by the end of the 16th century? And what have they had to say about the probable 100,000,000 native peoples who have been killed in the course of the on-going Christian ‘civilization’ of the Western hemisphere"?
In the Book of Revelation it is prophesied that the "great Babylon” will be cast down like a great millstone hurled into the sea. I believe that the “great Babylon” is the immoral and apostate Christian culture of Western nations. During a Mass at the start of a month-long synod of Roman Catholic bishops from around the world, come amid growing concern about the decline in church attendance and interest in religion in many Western nations Pope Benedict XVI said: "Today, nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture."
During a mass at Yankee Stadium, Pope John Paul II said: "It is not right that the standard of living of the rich countries should seek to maintain itself by draining off a great part of the reserves of energy and raw materials that are meant for the whole of humanity." In the summer of 2004, Pope John Paul II lectured American bishops about how their people were" hypnotized by materialism, teetering before a soulless vision of the world."
The Western Christian nations’ globalization mission, by which economies of different countries are oriented to a global market and are controlled by mostly American influenced multinational and global financial institutions, is not only an economic process; it is also a cultural process that creates a mono-culture - a culture ruled by the rich and powerful. It destroys the earth’s life supporting eco-systems and radically exploits third world nations. It steals their natural resources and makes their masses of poor people wage slaves who work for almost nothing. From the perspective of poor and indigenous peoples, it is nothing else but another variety of the evil Western Christian nations’ colonialism and imperialism.
For too long the U.S.A. has been sickened by what American Indian historian, Jack Forbes terms soul-sickness. It is a disease that historically has allowed a majority of Euro-American Christians to believe that God has chosen them to lead the rest of the world into the light, permitting the United States to employ massive military might in achieving that so-called mandate. It is the Bush-Cheney doctrine, a doctrine that has drawn the particular ire of the entire world - because it permits the United States to unilaterally attack any nation with massive force or to attack any target within any nation, regardless of civilian casualties. This soul-sickness is what sustains the myths of this nation. It is what defines this nation.
It can be no irony that those that initiated the invasion and occupation of Iraq - in defiance of the UN - were the United States, Britain & Spain. In the past 500 years, these predominately Christian nations are the world’s leading imperialists and colonialist nations. Essentially, they have been the world’s architects of the policies of dehumanization - feeling entitled by God and blinded by greed to trample over the lands, bodies and rights of peoples [of color] worldwide.
The story of the Christian Inquisition against the Hindus in Goa is also a dismal record of Christian barbarism and cruelty; tyranny and injustice; avarice and corruption, repression of Hindu thought and culture, and promotion of obscurantism. The conversion of Hindus of Goa to Christianity was one of the main activities of the Portuguese Rulers in close association with the Missionaries — Society of Jesus, Franciscans and others. Fraud, force and favoritism were the standard methods of ’saving souls’ or ‘conversion’ employed by the Christian missionaries in Goa. From available data we can see that more than 200,000 Hindus were tortured and killed and more than 500,000 Hindus were forcibly converted to Christianity from 1560 to 1812.
Perhaps because of all these anti-Hindu acts, Mahatma Gandhi wrote very clearly in his autobiography "The Story of My Experiments with Truth": "I had started disliking Christianity. This was not without any reason. In those days Christian missionaries used to stand in a corner near the High School in Rajkot and used disgraceful words against Hindus and their Gods/Goddesses. I could not bear this."
Christians need to be aware of their history, and be cognizant of the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism which is endemic to the Christian tradition and has been the legacy of Christianity for almost two thousand years.
The Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches honor John Chrysostom as a saint (feast day, November 13) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30). He is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint and a Doctor of the Church. Churches of the Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Lutheran church, commemorate him on September 13. In the 4th century he proclaimed in homilies that the Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and decide and added that they continued to rejoice in Jesus’ death. He compared the synagogue to a pagan temple, representing it as the source of all vices and heresies. He described it as a place worse than a brothel and a drinking shop; it was a den of scoundrels, the repair of wild beasts, a temple of demons, and the cavern of devils, a criminal assembly of the assassins of Christ.
Martin Luther, a German theologian and religious reformer, initiated the Protestant Reformation. In his 1543 book, "On the Jews and their lies" (A precursor to Nazism) Luther took Jewish hatred to a new level when he proposed to set fire to their synagogues and schools, to take away their homes, forbad them to pray or teach, or even to utter God’s name. Luther wanted to "be rid of them" and requested that the government and ministers deal with the problem. He requested pastors and preachers to follow his example of issuing warnings against the Jews. He goes so far as to claim that "We are at fault in not slaying them" for avenging the death of Jesus Christ. Hitler’s Nazi government in the 1930s and 40s fit Luther’s desires to a tee.
Without the centuries of Christian oppression and contempt of Jews, Nazi ideology could not have taken hold nor could it have been carried out. Christian anti-Semitism ultimately played a dramatic role associated with the cause of World War II.
The same notion of creating space for the "master race" is as germane to the ideological framework of Hitler’s Lebensraumpolitik as it is to the U.S. government’s doctrine of Manifest Destiny: In each instance, the extermination of "inferior races" is justified in the interest of making way for a "superior race" of peoples. According to Hitler biographer John Toland, the Führer is known to have "expressed admiration for the ‘efficiency’ of the American genocide campaign against the Indians, viewing it as a forerunner for his own plans and programs." The "depopulation of the New World" was a "salient precursor" to the Nazi Holocaust. The Christian instigated and promoted American Indian Holocaust is the prototype for the extermination of the Jews in Europe.
While the Christian German nation’s Nazi Holocaust of the Jews was indeed unique in scope and in kind to the twentieth century, the colonizing European Christian nations’ holocaust of the Western hemisphere’s indigenous peoples, combined with the colonizers’ successor Christian nations’ holocaust of the Western hemisphere’s indigenous peoples, was far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world.
Christian history is a great scandal to the human race. Christianity has NOT been a religion of love, peace and justice, although it can, should and will (I believe) become a religion of love, peace and justice.