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Biblical Justifications for Murder and Heresy-Hunting
I've added this text as Section 3 of "The God of the Christian Bible is Evil: Evidence from Scripture and Nature" by Vexen Crabtree (2006), and section 5.3 of "Religion, Violence, Crime and Mass Suicide" by Vexen Crabtree (2009):
The Old Testament was rife with occasions when God not only sanctioned the murder, pillage and rape of the enemies of his chosen people, but, often God itself joined in, directly smiting people itself. Jeremiah 48:10 declares: "A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD's work! A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!". It is clear that violence has a divine Biblical endorsement. But for what ends? Luke 14:23 says "Compel people to come in!" for the purpose of "filling" the Church. Jesus himself declared "think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). And henceforth, Christian history contains many unfortunate chapters where Christian groups anathematized one another as heretics, and proceded to burn, torture and murder those who disagreed. Victims have been anyone who disagreed even on confusing technical points of Christian doctrine, members of other religions such as Muslims and Jews, and it seems, many other innocent victims ranging from outcasts who were accused of witchcraft ("Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" - Exodus 22:18), homosexuals and finally, a small number who have genuinely plotted against the Church.
Such attitudes are not merely disasters found in history. Even in the twentieth century, Pope Leo XII argued for violence and murder, based on religion:
“The death sentence is a necessary and efficacious means for the Church to attain its end when rebels act against it and disturbers of the ecclesiastical unity, especially obstinate heretics and heresiarchs, cannot be restrained by any other penalty. [...] If there be no other remedy for saving its people it can and must put these wicked men to death.”
Pope Leo XII