*************************************************************

“God has no religion.”

(Mahatma Gandhi)

Dark side of Religion (NEW PAGE)

1209, attack on Beziers, France 22nd July on the pope's orders

Religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.  Many people have different beliefs and faiths and in early civilisation, when people were more spread out and little was known about each other it was not really a problem. As time has gone on and as history has shown religion has played an increasing role in conflict between person to person and country to country.

Looking through the history of war and eventually, you will discover that, to one degree or another, religion has played an influential role, even shaping the course of entire civilizations.  Religions have sparked military and persecution campaigns that have brought terror, misery, destruction, poverty, torture, forced confessions, compulsory conversions and countless deaths.  Here are a few examples:

* Crusades alone is estimated to be 9 million people dead

* Lowest estimate death toll in WW2 40 million people dead

* Lowest estimate death toll in WW1 15 million people dead

* 2 million died in the French wars of religion 1562-1598

It's not just deaths either, Religious harassments (2006-10) in the BBC News Magazine, showed the number of countries where religious groups were harassed:

Christians         145

Muslims            129

Jews                90

Others             75

Hindus             32

Buddhists         23

One particular religion associated with Mary Magdalene is of course Christianity and as we have seen they did not put Mary into a positive light.  Having a woman in such a high position was unacceptable and only today is the role of women in the church being addressed.  Then there was the problem of Mary being too close to Jesus, the church did not want to see Jesus looking too human in their pursuit of him being looked upon as divine only. On top of that, they seemed to have ignored Mary's spiritual insight, marking out the possibility that she too carried the Christ consciousness in female form, equal to the male of Jesus.

In 1209. Pope Innocent III ordered Christian crusaders to launch an assault on Beziers in the south of France where Mary Magdalene's significance and status survived through the knowledge of the Cathars.  The pope's men had been ordered to deal with 200 Cathars but ended up killing 20,000 townspeople as they went willingly to their deaths as they sided with the Cathars.  This was all done deliberately on Mary Magdalene's feast day on the 22nd July.  This is an example of how persecution of people over others can result in horrific consequences and all because they were not allowed to have their own belief despite their peaceful intentions.

Conform to the church?

Hieroglyphs Deciphered Jean-François Champollion, Stamp 1972,
Magdalene Vault

The church has a history of dealing with people who did not conform with their beliefs such as the scientist Galileo who, in the 17th century was convicted of heresy for suggesting that the earth was not at the centre of the universe.  Jean Francois Champollion, 1790-1832, deciphed hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt and as a result irrated and worried the church as they did not want Champollion to reveal his findings to the public which would contradict the teachings of the church.  The church harassed Champollion as the dating of Egypt would challenge the creationist account in the bible, most notably the biblical flood.

Of course it would be wrong to single out one religion over the others.  In todays world for example the focus has been on Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS who have been responsible for ethnic cleansing,  ill treatment of civilians, who had apparently been targeted on the basis of their religion or ethnicity, sexual abuse and enslavement, mass executions and terrorism.

Our world seems to be one of religious divisions, . Jew against Muslim, Muslim against Hindu, Christian against Jew and Muslim against Christian... this list can go on and on and doesn't even touch upon the sectarian divisions and conflicts that exists within the same religion!   If unification of religions is not going to ever happen, then at least  a possible solution to stop clashes among various religions is to make people more tolerant. Educate them to embrace differences. Two beliefs/groups can be different without anyone being superior.