Bearing False Witness: A Prize-winning Historian Takes on Anti-Catholic Prejudice

Bearing False Witness: A Prize-winning Historian Takes on Anti-Catholic Prejudice, by Danusha Goska. A review of Rodney Stark’s 2016 Templeton Press book, “Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History.”

This edifice, Western Civilization, of which you are both participant and beneficiary, has been under assault by cultural leaders for decades… Professors have been teaching students that horrors such as the Atlantic Slave Trade and the Holocaust are the only products that Western Civilization has to offer.

In 1991, Lee Bass donated twenty million dollars to Yale to teach Western Civilization. “Yale teachers regularly bash the West and traditional American values and also ridicule and harass students who disagree,” students reported. Bass protested; Yale returned his money, and was willing to sabotage a potential further grant of five hundred million dollars.

The PC crew say they won the culture wars, and conservatives are to be treated as defeated Nazis:

Cultural Relativism is dogma. To say that one culture is superior to another is to sin and invite punishment. Given how horrible The West is, other choices on the civilizational menu are presented as tastier and more nutritious. Alternatives include Communism, Islam, and multiculturalism.

On May 6, 2016, Mark Tushnet, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard, declared that “The culture wars are over; they lost, we won.” Tushnet wants liberals to “take a hard line” and treat conservatives, people with traditional understandings of gender, and persons of faith in the same manner that the victorious Allies treated defeated Nazis.

Catholicism is part of the West:

One cannot understand the West without understanding Catholicism, its oldest institution. One cannot understand hatred of the West without understanding anti-Catholicism. …

Both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton deflected attention from jihad by dangling the bright shiny object of the Catholic boogeyman – ISIS is not that bad, nor was 9-11, because “the Crusades!”. …

In their anti-Catholicism, liberal atheists nod in agreement with Protestant right-wingers. …

Anti-Catholicism is an exaggerated Protestant narrative, now commandeered by the PC crew.

After Protestantism broke from Catholicism in the sixteenth century, Protestants busily began cranking out lurid fantasies of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch trials. Protestants generated inaccurate accounts for the same reason that all identity groups demonize their other of choice. …That is, to make membership in Protestantism more appealing, Protestants depict Catholic identity as utterly repugnant.

Alas, Protestant propaganda plays into the hands of those who would smear all Christians, all Westerners, and indeed all people of faith as sadistic, irrational, triumphalist bigots.

Anti-Catholic propaganda is hardwired into our neurons. We unthinkingly parrot the metaphors “witch hunt” and “inquisition.” We are much less likely to turn to the French Revolution’s “reign of terror” for our metaphor, though that anti-religious exercise killed about as many people in one year as died during the two hundred years of witch trials. We rarely resort to “show trial,” though the Soviet government killed perhaps a million of its own citizens during just two years of the Great Purge.

Stark takes on ten mythologized topics: anti-Semitism, suppressed Gospels, persecution of Pagans, the Dark Ages, Crusades, the Inquisition, the development of science, slavery, authoritarianism, and modernity. Stark grounds every assertion in peer-reviewed scholarship by the biggest names in their fields.

hat-tip Stephen Neil