Since Rome adopted Christianity as their national religion in the 4th Century, Christianity has spread with missionary zeal. The Catholics killed and tortured tens of thousands of people in the Crusades and the Inquisition, all in the name of saving souls from Hell. Then, the Protestant Reformation triggered the 100 years of war between the Protestants and Catholics, and with it many more thousands of lives lost. Then the Spanish took their religious fervor to the New World where they tortured and killed many native Americans, in the pursuit of making them civilized Christians, like them.
Then, men of the Enlightenment, like John Locke and Voltaire, became fed up with the bloodshed and decided that mixing religion with government was the cause of the wars and that there was a better way. Several students of the Enlightenment like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine, and Benjamin Franklin brought the ideas of the Enlightenment to the New World and started a new nation that was based on freedom, including freedom of religion. And the way freedom of religion was assured was by making sure government was neutral on the subject of religion.
However, the Christian religious zeal was insatiable as demonstrated in slavery, treatment of Native Americans, and The Mexican War. Slavery was endorsed by the Christian bible and slaveholders used the bible to justify enslavement. The Christians felt they were saving the souls of slaves and civilizing them to be good Christians like them. The Christians also wanted to civilize the Native Americans, but were less successful than with the slaves.
What inspired me to write this blog was my reading about the Mexican War and Manifest Destiny. President Polk wanted the United States to go to war with Mexico so that there would be more land for American settlers. He sent troops into Mexican territory to provoke them. When the Mexicans attacked to defend their land, the U.S. was launched into a war. There were some dissenters like Abraham Lincoln, but much of America was thrilled about taking Mexico because they needed the land and they thought Mexicans were uncivilized and less worthy of occupying Texas than the civilized Christian Americans. They believed in Manifest Destiny, which is the idea the God wanted good Christian Americans to occupy the Western U.S. so that good people would be there and not “uncouth Mexicans.”
I am benefiting from the missionary zeal of Christians because I live in a country of freedom and abundance of material wealth, yet I am ashamed of my country’s history of brutality. Christians continue to try to dominate the culture by trying to take away women’s rights, suppressing science, and preventing marriage equality. I am going to do whatever I can to fight the hegemony of Christianity in America. On April 28th, for example, I will be protesting the Catholic Church’s efforts to take away women’s reproductive rights. http://www.meetup.com/atheists-561/events/60663742/