Monotheism’s Road to Genocide

Introduction

After reading a paper on the spread of religion throughout Europe and Asia, specifically Islam and Christianity, I started thinking about the violence of religion. I even began writing on that specifically. But after further thought, I scrapped that idea because I realized that the spread of these religions was not only violent, but religious and cultural genocide. The spread of these religions worked to wipe out indigenous people, their cultures, and beliefs. Let’s Get into it.

What is Monotheism?

So, what is Monotheism? In short, monotheism is a belief in the existence of only one god. This ideology is fairly new to human history, only being a part of it for the last approximately 2% or so. Monotheism is believed to have began with Akhenaton around 1400-1300 BCE. This belief later spread to Judaism and the cult of YHWH. Which was a part of a polytheistic (Many gods revered) religion that evolved henotheistic (many gods, but only 1 is revered), and later, Monotheistic (only 1 god, others are false). Based on which prophet is more revered, Judaism split off two other groups, Islam and Christianity. Both adhere to Monotheism, though Christians revere “Jesus” as also god and have this idea of the “trinity”, one god in 3 forms.

How has Monotheism Shaped Humanity?

Monotheism has positively and negatively affected and shaped humanity. It created a unity and strength that allowed nations to grow, but also allowed them to subjugate others. Monotheism came with various ethics codes to create laws and order within societies, though, these codes were also used to force others to abide by customs that were foreign to them. Monotheism created social structures that further separated classes of people.

Monotheism has also led to major conflict like the crusades or infighting amongst Islamic people. Monotheism has both encouraged and repressed scientific exploration and discovery. Two examples of this is that Isaac Newton was deeply religious and sought to understand the divine in the natural world.

Then we have the dark ages, a period of time when the church became one of the most powerful institutions in Europe. Because of that, this period represented one of the most significant periods of cultural and scientific stagnation due to the fact that the church controlled most aspects of daily life including politics, social lives, and intellectual pursuits. The church often controlled intellectual pursuits to ensure it aligned with their religious teachings. One benefit of this is that the monks did a fairly good job at recording and preserving some earlier knowledge. For example, the monk, Theodoric, preserved records of Norwegian kings that spanned a couple hundred years. Much of this knowledge would have been lost to time if it weren’t for monks like him.

Monotheism, in its self-righteousness, began the longest streak of persecution of anyone who went against the doctrine of the church.

Religious & Cultural Genocide

The spread of monotheistic religions, such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, has left a trail of destruction in its wake. As these faiths expanded their influence, they often engaged in practices that led to the eradication of indigenous belief systems and cultural elements. This cultural and religious genocide has had long-lasting impacts on societies, contributing to the loss of unique traditions and languages.

Examples of religious and cultural genocide linked to monotheistic religions:

  1. The Spanish Inquisition: In the name of Christianity, the Spanish Inquisition targeted Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christians, forcing them to convert or face persecution and even death. This led to the mass torture and execution of thousands of individuals who did not adhere to the Catholic faith.
  2. The Crusades: The Crusades were a series of religious wars fought by Christians against Muslims in the Holy Land. These conflicts resulted in the destruction of entire cities, the massacre of civilians, and the forced conversion of non-Christians. The Crusades are often seen as a dark period of religious and cultural genocide.
  3. The Armenian Genocide: The Armenian Genocide was a systematic campaign by the Ottoman Empire to eliminate the Armenian population to solidify Muslim Turkish dominance. Armenians, who were mostly Christian, were targeted for their religious beliefs and cultural identity. It is estimated that over 1.5 million Armenians were killed during this genocide.
  4. And one of the most atrocious Cultural and Religious genocides was the forced conversions of indigenous people throughout Europe, Africa, & North and South America. In just a few hundred years, through force, many indigenous belief systems and cultural practices were completely erased.

Indigenous Pagan Movement

The modern resurgence of paganism has been working hard to uncover as much of this lost knowledge as possible. Some of these practices and beliefs were kept alive through myths and folk tales, others, shared in secret through oral history due to the fear of persecution. With global communication via the internet, many cultural practices are finally coming back to the light of day and are being shared with the world.

This movement seeks to restore and preserve the spiritual and cultural heritage of indigenous communities that have faced centuries of oppression, colonization, and forced assimilation. Some ways in which the modern pagan movement contributes to this vital effort are through:

Cultural Revitalization and Preservation

Modern pagans often engage in the revitalization of ancient traditions, languages, and rituals. By studying and practicing these traditions, pagans help to preserve knowledge that might otherwise be lost. This process includes reconstructing ancient practices based on historical texts, archaeological findings, and oral traditions. In doing so, they contribute to the broader effort of indigenous cultural preservation.

Solidarity & Support

By joining together, pagans of all beliefs and cultures can work together to create a public awareness and understanding of the vast array of beliefs and cultures.

Educational Initiatives

Modern pagans are involved in educational efforts to spread knowledge about indigenous cultures and spiritual practices. This can include writing books, conducting workshops, and creating online content that highlights the richness and diversity of indigenous traditions. By educating the wider public, they help to combat ignorance and misconceptions, fostering a greater appreciation for these cultures.

Cultural Exchange, Appreciation, & Dialogue

The modern pagan movement encourages dialogue and cultural exchange between different spiritual traditions. By creating spaces where indigenous and pagan practitioners can share their knowledge and experiences, they promote mutual respect and understanding. This exchange can lead to a deeper appreciation of indigenous spiritual practices and support efforts to keep these traditions alive.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while the spread of monotheistic religions has often resulted in violence and the eradication of indigenous cultures and beliefs, there is hope and resilience in the resurgence of modern paganism. This movement is dedicated to uncovering and preserving the rich spiritual and cultural heritage that has survived centuries of oppression. Through cultural revitalization, solidarity, educational initiatives, and dialogue, modern pagans are fostering a renewed appreciation for the diverse traditions that were nearly lost to history. By working together, they are not only reviving ancient practices but also promoting a world where all spiritual paths are respected and celebrated. This revival signifies a profound commitment to healing the wounds of the past and building a future that honors the depth and