Jody asked:

I've noticed a lot more people in age group, I'm 23, now consider themselves to be atheists or agnostic. Their reasoning is because organized religion now a days is the reason for a lot of wars, hate, a lot of condemning other people for their beliefs.

My response to them is it's not the religion that is saying that it's okay to do it, but it's the people who are misreading what their religion is trying to tell them. Because I've always heard from the Catholic church telling everyone to love people for who they are, be kind. But it seems like this argument of ours keeps going around in circles. Is there another way I should be talking to them about this?

Tim Staples replied:

"I believe it was Jon Sorenson, one of our guys here at Catholic Answers, that did a blog post on this as far as the myth ... you'll hear it in various different contexts ... the myth that ... religious wars, the Spanish Inquisition and all of these things have been the source of so much death and so forth ...

In fact according to historical sources we're talking about a few hundred people that were actually put to death through the Spanish Inquisition over hundreds of years. In fact we know historically that people would go to court, in the secular courts in Spain and blaspheme God on purpose just so their case would be sent to the inquisition because it was known to be so fair. That's incredible isn't it? That's a historical fact. What happened is anti-Catholics took the inquisition and have blown the thing up into something that it's really not. Not that some bad things didn't happen, but comparatively speaking the Spanish Inquisition ... was known for its fairness. Of course the Church never put anyone to death. The Church declared whether someone was a heretic or not and it was the secular state that put them to death.

Well similarly when it comes to war, you get these outrageous numbers about how religious wars caused all this death and sometimes the numbers are given that are larger than the numbers of people on the planet at the time! When in fact, when we look at in reality, the wars just look at the twentieth century where more people, there were more Christian martyrs than any other century, more people killed in war than all the other centuries combined. And what were the wars fought over? They were secularist from World War I to World War II. We had the Communists who were atheists. We had Hitler and the fascists who were socialists and atheists that were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. That had nothing to do with religion.

I think what we have to try to do is bring some facts to the floor instead of just accepting what our culture will popularly relate to us ... As a matter of historical fact this whole idea that religion is the source of, I'm not going to say all evil but the majority of evils is so far foul. It is simply not true.

Then maybe turn, sort of pivot as you were talking about in sharing the positive thing about religion. The Catholic church in particular, our Catholic Christian faith is the source of western civilization. Hospitals. Where did that come from? The Church. Universities. Our western civilization in general. Beginning from Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, the entire world was transformed by the goodness, the truth and the beauty that Jesus Christ alone has brought into this world and the Church has taken that message and literally transformed the world. It's going to be a paradigm shift for those that are listening so I recommend you do a little research on this. On we have a lot of tools for you to do that. Check out the blog there."

Source material:

The Myth of the Spanish Inquisition

Is Religion REALLY the Number One Cause of War?


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: October 8, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Tim Staples

Question appeared in show: 15:02

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