May 23, 2009
Holy War

From Edward O. Wilson’s great 1978 book, On Human Nature:

The one form of altruism that religions seldom display is tolerance of other religions. Their hostility intensifies when societies clash, because religion is superbly serviceable to the purposes of warfare and economic exploitation. The conqueror’s religion becomes a sword, that of the conquered a shield.

Posted by Jerome Doolittle at May 23, 2009 09:36 AM
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Here's my man Edward describing the Vandal persecution of Athanasians, the “official” Roman Catholics. The Vandals under Hunneric were adherents of the Arian sect, which the Pope had declared heretical. So Hunneric passed a new law declaring all Athanasians in the area he controlled to be heretics.

In the original law, which is still extant, Hunneric expressly declares, and the declaration appears to be correct, that he had faithfully transcribed the regulations and penalties of the Imperial edicts against the heretical congregations, the clergy, and the people, who dissented from the established religion. If the rights of conscience had been understood, the Catholics must have condemned their past conduct, or acquiesced in their actual sufferings. But they still persisted to refuse the indulgence which they claimed. While they trembled under the lash of persecution, they praised the laudable severity of Hunneric himself, who burnt or banished great numbers of Manicheans; and they rejected, with horror, the ignominious compromise that the disciples of Arius and of Athanasius should enjoy a reciprocal and similar toleration in the territories of the Romans and in those of the Vandals.
Posted by: Chuck Dupree on May 24, 2009 8:33 AM
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