David Barton continues to spew absurdities, and Right Wing Watch caught his latest, this being a reference to burning Christians at the stake, though there is no actual record of anyone other than Christians burning Christians at the stake. The persecuted Christian meme is never crazier than when wielded by the King of Fake History. According to Barton, speaking on WallBuilders Live about how “religious liberty is under attack in a way that is reminiscent of England in the 16th and 17th centuries, ”
This is a really important thing, to be able to have the presence of religion there but now we’re seeing a hostility that we’ve not [seen before.] This is like England back in the fifteen and sixteen hundreds, quite frankly. Now, we’re not burning people at the stake yet, but we are imprisoning people for their faith and to say that in America, that’s unbelievable.
Barton fails to explain in what way America is similar to England in the 1500s to 1600s but that is the least of his problems: the only people in England persecuting Christians since the tenth century have been other Christians.
The weight of atrocity in the Western world in the 1500 to 1600s belongs to Christendom, from slavery of blacks and Native Americans to wholesale destruction of Native American cultures and civilizations, to the burnings of women – women – at the stake for no other reason than they were women (though most accused witches were actually hanged).
Let’s look at the Christian history of burning people to death (from Wikipedia unless otherwise noted) – the list is necessarily abbreviated because history shows Christians LOVED to burn people, David Barton:
- In 1184, the Roman Catholic Synod of Verona legislated that burning was to be the official punishment for heresy;
- “Peter of Aragon, 1197, banished heretics from his dominions or threatened them with death by fire”; (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- At the Synod of Paris in 1209 “a number of Amaury’s followers were seized and examined by the bishops. Eight priests and William the Goldsmith, called also one of the seven apostles, were burnt.” (from Christian Classics Ethereal Library);
- “It is also supposed that Waldenses were among the heretics ferreted out in Strassburg in 1212, eighty of whom were burnt, twelve priests and twenty-three women being of the number.”(Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- This decree was later reaffirmed by the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215;
- “1224, the [Holy Roman] emperor condemned them [heretics] to the penalty of being burned, or having their tongues torn out at the discretion of the judge”; (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- This decree was affirmed again by the Synod of Toulouse in 1229;
- During the Inquisition in France, the Dominican Robert le Petit ”In one term of two or three months…burnt fifty of both sexes another account more than one hundred and eighty—‘a holocaust very great and pleasing to God’ as the old chronicler put it.” (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- Luciferians (who held that Lucifer was unjustly cast out of heaven!) “were burnt in Passau and Saltzburg, 1312-1315 and 1338, and as late as 1395 in other parts of Austria.” (from Christian Classics Ethereal Library);
- “1316 that a Waldensian was sentenced to perpetual imprisonment and another to death by burning. Three years later, twenty-six were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and three to death in the flames.” (Christian Classics Ethereal Library);
- “During the administration of Bernard Guy, as inquisitor of Toulouse, 1306-1323, forty-two persons were burnt to death”; (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- In England, “burning heretics, passed in 1401, was directed against the followers of Wyclif and the Lollards. It was not till the days of Henry VIII. that the period of prosecutions and burnings in England for heresy fully began”; (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
- Burning was also used by Roman Catholics and Protestants during the witch-hunts of Europe. The penal code known as the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (1532) decreed that sorcery throughout the Holy Roman Empire should be treated as a criminal offence, and if it purported to inflict injury upon any person the witch was to be burnt at the stake.
- In 1572, Augustus, Elector of Saxony imposed the penalty of burning for witchcraft of every kind, including simple fortunetelling;
- Among the best-known individuals to be executed by burning were Jacques de Molay (1314), Jan Hus (1415), St. Joan of Arc (30 May 1431), Savonarola(1498) Patrick Hamilton (1528), John Frith (1533), William Tyndale (1536), Michael Servetus (1553), Giordano Bruno (1600) and Avvakum (1682). Anglican martyrs Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley (both in 1555) and Thomas Cranmer (1556) were also burnt at the stake;
- In Denmark the burning of witches increased following the reformation of 1536. Especially Christian IV of Denmark encouraged this practice, which eventually resulted in hundreds of people burnt because of convictions of witchcraft;
- This special interest of the king also resulted in the North Berwick witch trials with caused over seventy people to be accused of witchcraft in Scotland on account of bad weather when James VI of Scotland (later James I of England), who shared the Danish king’s interest in witch trials, in 1590 sailed to Denmark to meet his betrothed Anne of Denmark;
- Edward Wightman, a Baptist from Burton on Trent, was the last person to be burnt at the stake for heresy in England in the market square of Lichfield, Staffordshire on 11 April 1612.
The Inquisition was so crazed that burning living people wasn’t enough; they would dig up the bodies of dead heretics and burn them. Inquisitor Bernard Guy, mentioned above, had sixty-nine bodies dug up and burned between 1306 and 1323.
David Barton cannot show us one Christian burned at the stake by secular powers because secular powers did not exist until the United States Constitution established one. In fact, what Barton is proving (unwittingly of course) is the danger of state-sponsored religion, the very same dangers that motivated the Founding Fathers to established our government as a secular government wherein one religion does not have the sanction of the state to suppress and torture and kill those of other religions.
For David Barton to pretend it was government that burned all those people is disingenuous at best; it was CHRISTIAN GOVERNMENTS and a Christian Inquisition that burned all those people and the vast majority of those people will guilty of nothing more than refusing to believe what the Christian authorities insisted they believe.
State-sponsored Christianity is, of course, the goal of Barton and other religious fundamentalists. If burnings are in our future, rest assured Inquisitor David Barton will be among the cheerleaders as part of a privileged caste of fundamentalist Christians.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.