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Over a period of nearly two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals. Meticulously researched and courageously written, "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe examines the Church's devastating impact upon human freedom, dignity and spirituality. Written for the lay reader, this controversial book is especially rele Over a period of nearly two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals. Meticulously researched and courageously written, "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe examines the Church's devastating impact upon human freedom, dignity and spirituality. Written for the lay reader, this controversial book is especially relevant today as the religious right is attempting to assert greater influence in American politics and society. "The Dark Side of Christian History presents a compelling argument that the Church's desire to control and contain spiritually motivated its persecution of heretics, its burning of libraries, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch-hunts. This dark Christianity ahs left a legacy, a world view, which permeates every aspect of Western society. It is a legacy which fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference and the desecration of the natural environment. Helen Ellerbe is a researcher, writer, and public speaker living in the San Francisco bay area.


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Over a period of nearly two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals. Meticulously researched and courageously written, "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe examines the Church's devastating impact upon human freedom, dignity and spirituality. Written for the lay reader, this controversial book is especially rele Over a period of nearly two millennia, the Christian Church has oppressed and brutalized millions of individuals. Meticulously researched and courageously written, "The Dark Side of Christian History" by Helen Ellerbe examines the Church's devastating impact upon human freedom, dignity and spirituality. Written for the lay reader, this controversial book is especially relevant today as the religious right is attempting to assert greater influence in American politics and society. "The Dark Side of Christian History presents a compelling argument that the Church's desire to control and contain spiritually motivated its persecution of heretics, its burning of libraries, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch-hunts. This dark Christianity ahs left a legacy, a world view, which permeates every aspect of Western society. It is a legacy which fosters sexism, racism, the intolerance of difference and the desecration of the natural environment. Helen Ellerbe is a researcher, writer, and public speaker living in the San Francisco bay area.

30 review for The Dark Side of Christian History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Niharika

    The atrocities inflicted by Christians are so horrific that they are unperceivable. They tortured those who even say a single word against Church, Christ or Pope. They tortured those who did not follow Christianity. The book gives detailed account of types of torture Christians used. Christianity brutally forced the conversion of every single soul in Europe.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is, by far, one of my favorite reads. This book goes through history to show to the reader how chrisitanity has been used against it's people. From the Salem Witch Trials to Hitler, it's a fantastic read. This is, by far, one of my favorite reads. This book goes through history to show to the reader how chrisitanity has been used against it's people. From the Salem Witch Trials to Hitler, it's a fantastic read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book

    The Dark Side of Christian History by Helen Ellerbe “The Dark Side of Christian History" is an interesting expose of the dark side of Christian history. Researcher and writer, Helen Ellerbe, provides the readers with an often ignored part of history. This book is provocative, concise and unrelenting. This insightful 221-page book includes the following eleven chapters: 1. Seeds of Tyranny, 2. Political Maneuvering: Making Christianity Palatable to the Romans, 3. Deciding Upon Doctrine: Sex, Free The Dark Side of Christian History by Helen Ellerbe “The Dark Side of Christian History" is an interesting expose of the dark side of Christian history. Researcher and writer, Helen Ellerbe, provides the readers with an often ignored part of history. This book is provocative, concise and unrelenting. This insightful 221-page book includes the following eleven chapters: 1. Seeds of Tyranny, 2. Political Maneuvering: Making Christianity Palatable to the Romans, 3. Deciding Upon Doctrine: Sex, Free Will, Reincarnation and the Use of Force, 4. The Church Takes Over: The Dark Ages, 5. The Church Fights Change: The Middle Ages, 6. Controlling the Human Spirit: The Inquisition and Slavery, 7. The Reformation: Converting the Populace, 8. The Witch Hunts: The End of Magic and Miracles, 9. Alienation from Nature, 10. A World Without God, and 11. Conclusion. Positives: 1. Straightforward prose. A concise, concentrated expose of a book. 2. A fascinating and often ignored topic. 3. To say that this book is thought-provoking is an understatement of biblical proportions. 4. Presents the dark legacy of Christianity in an unrelenting manner. "The Church, throughout much of its history, has demonstrated a disregard for human freedom, dignity, and self-determination." 5. Clearly defines Orthodox Christians and drives the dark part of their history home. "Orthodox Christians believe that fear is essential to sustain what they perceive to be a divinely ordained hierarchical order in which a celestial God reigns singularly at a pinnacle, far removed from the earth and all humankind." 6. The immediate impact of a Church takeover is revealed and the dark history is exposed. "As it took over leadership in Europe and the Roman Empire collapsed, the Church all but wiped out education, technology, science, medicine, history, art and commerce." 7. Great quotes, "One’s beliefs about God have impact upon one’s beliefs about society." 8. Misogyny rears its ugly head. "Orthodox Christians held women responsible for all sin." 9. A brief history of how Christianity went from a cult into the official religion of the Roman Empire. How the Bible and in particular the New Testament was compiled. 10. Eye-opening facts, "Constantine, a man who had his own son executed and his wife boiled alive,17 saw in Christianity a pragmatic means of bolstering his own military power and uniting the vast and troubled Roman Empire." 11. The Church doctrines, their purpose and impact. "The Church formulated its doctrine regarding sex, free will and reincarnation in response to early heretics. In each case, it chose ideological positions which best justified Church control over the individual and over society." Hereditary transmission of original sin. 12. The critical role that the Church played in taking Europe to the Dark Ages. 13. The Crusades and here we go..."The crusades provided an opportunity to vastly increase the influence of the Catholic Church." "In the roughly 200 years of crusades, thousands, if not millions, were killed. Invading crusaders destroyed in much the same way as the Church had at the onset of the Dark Ages. They burned any books they found." 14. It gets uglier...the Inquisition and gasp, slavery. "The Inquisition took countless human lives in Europe and around the world as it followed in the wake of missionaries. And along with the tyranny of the Inquisition, churchmen also brought religious justification for the practice of slavery." Oh the atrocities... 15. The interesting history of the Reformation. "Together the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter Reformation converted the people of Europe to orthodox Christianity." 16. The ugly that is the witch hunts. "It was the 300 year period of witch-hunting from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, what R.H. Robbins called “the shocking nightmare, the foulest crime and deepest shame of western civilization,” that ensured the European abandonment of the belief in magic." 17. If that wasn't enough, nature takes a backseat. "Christianity has distanced humanity from nature. As people came to perceive God as a singular supremacy detached from the physical world, they lost their reverence for nature. In Christian eyes, the physical world became the realm of the devil." List of Pagan traditions to Christian adaptation. 18. Finally, the enlightenment. "Sir Isaac Newton. His scientific laws of gravity and motion lent validation to the orthodox Christian belief that God no longer worked miracles or intervened in the physical world." 19. Excellent conclusion that brings Ellerbe's main thoughts together. "Ignoring the dark side of Christian history allows the beliefs which have motivated cruelty to go unexamined." 20. Notes and Bibliography provided. Negatives: 1. Missed opportunities to cover other historical topics of interest: the Church and the Holocaust, and hot-button political issues driven by the religious right (interracial and gay marriages, abortion, women's movement) to name a few. 2. For the most part Ellerbe stays on topic and is true to the title; where she loses focus is when she inexplicably inserts quantum mechanics in the latter part of the book. In short, her science was weak. " Scientific discoveries, most notably in quantum mechanics, have shown classical physics to be severely limited in its capacity to explain the workings of the universe." Severely? Not true. Ellerbe would have done herself a favor had she left her limited understanding of science out of it. 3. The book in general is well-cited but there were citations missing when one would be expecting one. 4. The book lacks scholarship and at times comes across as sensationalized. In summary, this book delivers the goods in a concise almost unrelenting manner. The book is full of eye-opening facts that are guaranteed to raise your blood pressure. It's thought provoking, dark and exposes a part of history that the Church wants no part of but is necessary to know so as to avoid repeating the theocracies of the past. Is all this history accurate, has it been embellished, is it portraying just the dark history of Christianity? Ellerbe makes it clear, "This book is, as the title suggests, only an exploration of the dark side of Christian history." I'm not a scholar, I'm just a student of the world but there is plenty here to provide food for thought...I highly recommend you read this book if you dare have the stomach for it. Further suggestions: "Holy Horrors (Great Minds Series)" by James A. Haught, "The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics" by Elaine Pagels, "Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 years" by John Philip Jenkins, "A Dark History: the Popes: Vice, Murder, and Corruption in the Vatican" by Brenda Ralph Lewis, "Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are" by Bart D. Ehrman, "Why I Became an Atheist A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity by Loftus, John W. [Prometheus Books,2008] (Paperback)" and "The End of Christianity" by John Loftus, "Man Made God: A Collection of Essays" by Barbara G. Walker, "Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization" by Stephen Cave, and "The Invention of God: The Natural Origins of Mythology and Religion" by Bill Lauritzen.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jody Mena

    Interesting and informative. This is a book that every one needs to read, if for no other reason than that if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it. The history presented is straightforward and unbiased, though I'm sure it would upset some people to read these facts about Christian history. Much of the information here was history I had already read about in other books, and was here corroborated, filled out and supported with primary sources, but there was also a lot to be learned, and Interesting and informative. This is a book that every one needs to read, if for no other reason than that if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it. The history presented is straightforward and unbiased, though I'm sure it would upset some people to read these facts about Christian history. Much of the information here was history I had already read about in other books, and was here corroborated, filled out and supported with primary sources, but there was also a lot to be learned, and many concepts were presented and explained in new and interesting ways that helped the reader to better understand them. It also provided a lot to think about. Something very interesting, and honestly somewhat frightening, was the development of the common conception of God, Nature, humanity, etc, as the Church acted upon the Western world; it drastically affected humanity's very perception of the world around us, and this influence still holds today, so ingrained in our social structure that we are rarely even aware of it. I was particularly fascinated by Chapter 10, "A World Without God", which demonstrated how the Christian and Atheist world views are essentially very similar in nature, and how this transformation of the way most people view the world is responsible for the hierarchical, conflict-based structure of our modern society, governments, economics and many other factors that one would not usually associate with religion. This book was a fascinating read, I had a hard time putting it down and the pages just flew by. It was not only entertaining, but extremely relevant, and I think everyone could benefit from it and enjoy reading it! Pick it up if you get a chance!

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Corbet

    I would not say this book is a must read, but it is an interesting read. She does set out from the beginning with the clear agenda to find and support all the bad things the church did over the ages. And she certainly found what she was looking for. But if it happened with the intention and cruelty that she depicts is another question all together. There is no doubt that religions (of any sort) have been used to control people and populations. And the reason it is that way is because religions a I would not say this book is a must read, but it is an interesting read. She does set out from the beginning with the clear agenda to find and support all the bad things the church did over the ages. And she certainly found what she was looking for. But if it happened with the intention and cruelty that she depicts is another question all together. There is no doubt that religions (of any sort) have been used to control people and populations. And the reason it is that way is because religions are made up of humans, humans seek security and power. And then they learn to abuse that power to maintain control. There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus, or the church, that dictates the kind of violence and hate portrayed in this book unless twisted to do so. And we have seen much twisting over the ages. I think a more balanced approach, that is striving to understand the historical and cultural contexts in which much of this history takes place, will help to better understand why things came about the way they did. Much of that history is overlooked in this book in order to find the conclusions she is looking for.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Signy

    The book serves well as an overview of the history of imperial Christianity (called Orthodox Christianity in the book) and how they actively wiped out native cultures, which often emphasized a multi-faceted view of divinity and a deep respect for the natural world, and created a new one based on strict adherence to male authority. It is far from comprehensive, though perhaps because a more complete history would have required a much larger project. The book presents a good review of the ideologic The book serves well as an overview of the history of imperial Christianity (called Orthodox Christianity in the book) and how they actively wiped out native cultures, which often emphasized a multi-faceted view of divinity and a deep respect for the natural world, and created a new one based on strict adherence to male authority. It is far from comprehensive, though perhaps because a more complete history would have required a much larger project. The book presents a good review of the ideological battles of early & middle age Christianity. While some mention is given to the torture & murder of those of indigenous European cultures during the Inquisition, and of women in general during the height of the witch hunts, much is left out. Charlemagne’s destruction of the sacred Irminsul and genocide of thousands of continental Germanic tribespeople does not even get a mention, even though it is one of the more well-known cases of Anglo-Roman Christian genocide against Europe's native cultures. Also not mentioned are Olaf the Lawbreaker’s (aka Olaf Tryggvason) crimes against those of native Norse culture. The book continually references native cultures and spiritualities as if none of those peoples still exist, even though some of us are indeed left. For example, “Pagans also observed the cycles of the moon.” There are still some of us left observing the moon even today, more than 1000 years after the Roman Christian colonization of Northern Europe (even longer ago for Southern European traditions, such as Hellenism). We are beginning to make a come back in this age even, as people slowly decolonize themselves. Near the end of the book, it gives a very good overview of how Christian ideology has strongly shaped what has come to be called Western society (though such would more appropriately be called modern Anglo-Roman society). This includes even modern perspectives on government, economics, and science. It feels safe to call this book required reading for all those looking to make the world a better place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donald Fox

    Naming the sin indeed (October 31, 2008) I flew through this amazingly interesting book and am sure that the majority of conservative Christians will be upset or at least frustrated by its clear presentation of Christian historical wrongdoings. It will make some fundamentalists shake with fear as it demonstrates to us that Christianity did not suddenly appear on earth and that the idolization of power has been ever-present in church doctrine and action. If not taken as a threat, this work will ul Naming the sin indeed (October 31, 2008) I flew through this amazingly interesting book and am sure that the majority of conservative Christians will be upset or at least frustrated by its clear presentation of Christian historical wrongdoings. It will make some fundamentalists shake with fear as it demonstrates to us that Christianity did not suddenly appear on earth and that the idolization of power has been ever-present in church doctrine and action. If not taken as a threat, this work will ultimately strengthen Christian conviction to see the "plank" in its own eye, namely the evil that many Christians have done, supported, or not fought against in the name of the Church and its deity. So much has already been written by other reviewers, that I will keep my comments on a more personal level. I was excited to see the connections that Helen Ellerbe makes between the origins of Christianity and the other "pagan" religions that surrounded it. It was wonderful to read her deconstruction of the accumulation of power in the Church and to see how the institutional church has used its power to threaten and subdue any serious adversaries. I was impressed by the notes and while I agree with others that it is biased, I was not surprised at all by the author's conclusions since the title of the book reflects exactly where Ellebe takes the reader. This is an excellent piece of writing for those serious Christian readers who want to build on their faith in a way in which reason is an acceptable gift of God. The information can be misused in attempts to vilify the Church, but does little in any purported swipes at the Gospel.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    This is must read for every Christian. It shows how the religion we practice today has evolved from good to horrific practices and is continuing to evolve back to the true teachings of Jesus. It explains how powerful men corrupted Christian beliefs to meet their own agendas with devastating results to humankind. The last chapter helped me tremendously to understand why racism became the norm. It left me with hope that we will continue to grow and become the people Jesus wanted us to be.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zweegas

    This book does does not bash Christianity. It merely discusses a lot of the mental and societal outcomes that have been a consequence of the Christian idea of God -- omniscient, singular rather than plural, male instead of female, etc..

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo J

    If you want knowledge, you need to read both sides of the story, and I say story because history is what it should be, but stories is what we get. A key point in the book that perhaps summarizes the book is that for the Church it has been essential to monopolize both: 1) Access to God. They insist that it should be through them, and not directly or through another religion, thus, even though not necessarily the point of the book, all the problems with mystics, and of course with sister religions If you want knowledge, you need to read both sides of the story, and I say story because history is what it should be, but stories is what we get. A key point in the book that perhaps summarizes the book is that for the Church it has been essential to monopolize both: 1) Access to God. They insist that it should be through them, and not directly or through another religion, thus, even though not necessarily the point of the book, all the problems with mystics, and of course with sister religions. Those two should be partners in a common goal (spirituality), not enemies, and 2) The definition of God. The Catholic Church went to far as to make a lot of dogmas, or fixed truth about God, as if we humans can define the infinite, as if the infinite can be grasped and made to fit in our limited concepts... Some of these dogmas were drafted by Emperor Constantine, who was not even Catholic, at least not until at his deathbed, and that if you believe the father who was with him and was the only one who know if he did convert or not. Any way, to give an idea of who Constantine was, it should suffice by indicating that he killed his father in law, his brother in law, his wife and his own son. And he made the dogmas in between these assassinations (after the father and brother in law, before the wife and son). Not very blessed, it seems. In following these 2 objectives the Church has insisted that, as the exclusive franchisee of God on earth (or perhaps the universe, have not read the franchise agreement, and for a good reason, there is none), they somehow have sovereign over us, humans. MAde quite clear through 600 years of Inquisition. That has been a grave error, it is us humans who were made at the image of God. The Church, in my opinion, is like a waiter, giving us, humans, a service, that we can take if we want, but should not be in any way forced to take. This presumption that we are the way, that only the Church has the keys of heaven, as if God is ours (and not the other way around), well, that is tribal arrogance. If you want to read of the Church from the Church itself, read the Manual for the Inquisitor. There you will see what they (the Church) think of us humans. You will not like it, not a bit.

  11. 5 out of 5

    USS

    A must read. Ellerbe presents statements of fact rather than opinion with citations galore, and by far the most compelling of these is the fact that monotheism and Christianity have fostered and forced misogyny, racism, slavery, and intolerance of diversity. Having one "God" with only one face, that of a male and in most cases European in heritage, has created millenniums and a legacy of intolerance where all other faces of the divine in pre-Christian and pre-Abrahamic history are shut out (fema A must read. Ellerbe presents statements of fact rather than opinion with citations galore, and by far the most compelling of these is the fact that monotheism and Christianity have fostered and forced misogyny, racism, slavery, and intolerance of diversity. Having one "God" with only one face, that of a male and in most cases European in heritage, has created millenniums and a legacy of intolerance where all other faces of the divine in pre-Christian and pre-Abrahamic history are shut out (female deities, non-European deities, homosexual deities). Most scathing was the church also going after other Christians that they deemed "heretics," such as the Albigensian Crusade and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, bloodbaths of murder among so many others they sponsored and carried out. Any group that was perceived as a threat to the monopoly of power and money that the "church" held was suppressed and destroyed (i.e. the Knights Templar, Jewish people, the list goes on). Ellerbe collects here the long history of abuses, frauds, holocausts, forced hierarchies, inquisitions, destruction of pre-Christian art, and the extermination of natives of the New World for the cross that most Christians ignore with a smile or try to justify. The legacy still pervades the Western world's consciousness today even among non-Christians. A page turner that also details the suppression of science that the church has been responsible for (turning back the clock on science and empirical evidence and findings for an estimated 1500 years), and should be read by anyone in comparative religious studies courses and any Christian who wants to know the censored history of their religion. The book also tactfully acknowledges the good Christians in the world, of course, but also implores that the history and grave legacy of their faith should be known.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aonarán

    I wish more people knew about this book - a really good general overview of the repressive history of the church. I stumbled upon this book tucked away on a shelf in a used bookstore. The crazy, sensationalist cover was almost too much for me, but it's been increasingly hard to find radical history past the 1500's and so have been turning more and more to histories of heretical groups, which this book touches on. I read it over the course of a few days and really grew to appreciate Ellerbes analys I wish more people knew about this book - a really good general overview of the repressive history of the church. I stumbled upon this book tucked away on a shelf in a used bookstore. The crazy, sensationalist cover was almost too much for me, but it's been increasingly hard to find radical history past the 1500's and so have been turning more and more to histories of heretical groups, which this book touches on. I read it over the course of a few days and really grew to appreciate Ellerbes analysis, touching on most of the things I wanted her to: the church having an increasing hierarchy and centralized power; the depreciation of woman; the encouragement of people feeling alienated from one another, their suroundings and their own bodies; the establishment of the immediate, patriarchal family; the recuperation and suppression heretical and non-christian groups; the depreciation of the natural world; the church being not about spirtuality or adressing existential questions but wanting control. And most of all (I was holding my breath throughout the whole book hoping she wouldn't fall into the rationalist trap)Ellerbe doesn't see the enlightenment as oppositional to and the end of the church's mentality, but the extension and realization of some of it's most repressive ideas - excellent! So many people who don't like the traditional church become obsessed with stupid enlightenment ideas, I'm so glad she didn't ruin the end of the book with that. She does from time to time cheerlead certain ideas that the church crushed that I don'k think are worth supporting, but overall does a good job. I also really enjoyed hearing about the specific events that lead to certain church dogma. 4.5

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stan Shelley

    This book is written from the point of view of someone who is into some kind of nature religion - call it metaphysical, call it pagan, call it New Age. So the criticisms of Christianity are not objective. In the first chapter she criticizes the result whereby what became orthodox Christianity won out over heresies. The orthodox actually became dominant because of the exceptionally good scholarship of Christian leaders in the first few centuries. She then presents the ho-hum argument that Christia This book is written from the point of view of someone who is into some kind of nature religion - call it metaphysical, call it pagan, call it New Age. So the criticisms of Christianity are not objective. In the first chapter she criticizes the result whereby what became orthodox Christianity won out over heresies. The orthodox actually became dominant because of the exceptionally good scholarship of Christian leaders in the first few centuries. She then presents the ho-hum argument that Christians caused a period of dark ages. She is just regurgitating the claims of the Enlightenment which have been thoroughly refuted by Rodney Stark's Victory of Reason. The author rightly criticizes Christianity for the inquisition. Also she improves the argument made so often about witches. Most critics focus on the Salem Witch Trials where that actual loss of life was less than the average Islamic terrorist attack made several times per year every year. This author wisely spreads to critique to other accusations of witchery. The real problem with the book is that the author is so prejudiced from the get go that she makes some really ridiculous charges. Like: "Orthodox Christianity fostered humanity's shift towards a world view that pays little heed to the idea of divinity." HUH?

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    Big gifts in small packages. Ellerbe condenses 2000 years of church history into 188 small pages but covers the ground solidly and completely, citing dozens of references in each chapter. As the title suggest, this is no fair-and-balanced treatment… she leaves the up side to others. Being reasonably well read in history, I was surprised at how much I learned. The story of the Dark Ages, Middles Ages, Inquisition and Reformation atrocities (including witch hunts) is laid out with power, if not gr Big gifts in small packages. Ellerbe condenses 2000 years of church history into 188 small pages but covers the ground solidly and completely, citing dozens of references in each chapter. As the title suggest, this is no fair-and-balanced treatment… she leaves the up side to others. Being reasonably well read in history, I was surprised at how much I learned. The story of the Dark Ages, Middles Ages, Inquisition and Reformation atrocities (including witch hunts) is laid out with power, if not great style. A large percentage of the text are actual historical quotations, thoroughly footnoted. The included artwork brings a richness to the story being told. Interestingly, I recently finished “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscious” (by Ronald Sider) and wrote a scathing review of Sider’s (and Christianity’s) grossly inadequate scope of morality. Ellerbe shows the history of the western church to be not lacking in morality, but hideously immoral in thought and deed. Ellerbe does a credible job of linking evolving orthodoxy with the institution's behavior. This book did nothing to change my long held belief that all religion has been and continues to be a source of evil in our world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Sulzby

    this is an amazingly succinct history of the parts of Xity that had been so hidden. I found this book by following links on the history of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. That coincided with my curiosity about torture, burning at the stake, stoning, etc., within Xity and Islam. More to come. . . . I see I never posted more about this book but it is now 2018 and I will comment about the cases of sexual abuse during the 20th-21st century. Pope Francis, in spite of his generally positive this is an amazingly succinct history of the parts of Xity that had been so hidden. I found this book by following links on the history of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. That coincided with my curiosity about torture, burning at the stake, stoning, etc., within Xity and Islam. More to come. . . . I see I never posted more about this book but it is now 2018 and I will comment about the cases of sexual abuse during the 20th-21st century. Pope Francis, in spite of his generally positive leading from within Vatican politics, is under heavy fire for not moving against and in some cases actually protecting abusive priests. In Chile he was protested against in the streets and in some articles in the press. A court case in which a priest was accussed of years of abuse in Pennsylvania has ended in a conviction. Since the high visibility of cases brought for sexual abuse, there have been lots of cases, public outcry, and some convictions. I keep watching, reading, speaking out for victims.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book confirmed all the things I have known deep down inside for years. "The dark side of Christian history was not an unavoidable result of human nature; it was the result of very specific ideology and belief structure. As we have ignored the horror of Christian history, so we have ignored scrutiny of Christian beliefs and their pervasiveness in our seeminglt godless modern world. Without scrutiny, the destructive patters have continued to alienate people from God, the natural environment, This book confirmed all the things I have known deep down inside for years. "The dark side of Christian history was not an unavoidable result of human nature; it was the result of very specific ideology and belief structure. As we have ignored the horror of Christian history, so we have ignored scrutiny of Christian beliefs and their pervasiveness in our seeminglt godless modern world. Without scrutiny, the destructive patters have continued to alienate people from God, the natural environment, and each other."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Onyx

    At the time I first read it, it was late in the year of 1996. I felt it was a good book back then. I would have to read it again to see if my feelings have changed since then. But for now, I give it five stars. And I would also like to say that this is the side of Christian history that most ministers would rather play down, if they talk about it at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brett

    Excellent overview of some of the more devastating results of Christianity throughout history. Excellent read for those who think Christianity has done more harm than good throughout history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lee Harmon

    This is a rather discouraging look at Christianity through the last 20 centuries. The book’s value is not in the strength of its research (which is one-sided and sometimes shallow) but in its provocative imagery. You won’t forget it. “The Church had a devastating impact upon society,” Ellerbe insists at the beginning of chapter four as she dives into the dark ages. While historical atrocities such as the crusades and the Inquisition are indeed embarrassing to the Christian side of the ledger, on This is a rather discouraging look at Christianity through the last 20 centuries. The book’s value is not in the strength of its research (which is one-sided and sometimes shallow) but in its provocative imagery. You won’t forget it. “The Church had a devastating impact upon society,” Ellerbe insists at the beginning of chapter four as she dives into the dark ages. While historical atrocities such as the crusades and the Inquisition are indeed embarrassing to the Christian side of the ledger, one gets the sense from this book that Christianity is at the root of racism, illiteracy, poverty, plague, violence, slavery, and everything else wrong with the world. Do not imagine you are reading a book about Christian faith; Ellerbe’s focus is on the human abominations done in the name of religion, not on its creeds or principles. We all know that the example Christ left was one of nonviolence. Ellerbe’s take is not that Christianity is evil in itself, but that monotheistic religion is flawed, and simply cannot produce positive results over the long haul. A monotheistic religion naturally leads humanity to the “dark side.” Ellerbe’s bias is easily detectible. She does, however, make some intriguing points and provide some graphic examples, not least of which is the treatment of accused witches, whose emphasis within the book is probably no coincidence. Though not clearly stated (or so I didn’t notice), Ellerbe’s religious sympathies appear to lie that direction; she bemoans Christianity’s “alienation from nature.” The horror of witch hunts knew no bounds, she says. “Sexual mutilation of accused witches was not uncommon. With the orthodox understanding that divinity had little or nothing to do with the physical world, sexual desire was perceived to be ungodly. When men persecuting the accused witches found themselves sexually aroused, they assumed that such desire emanated, not from themselves, but from the woman. They attacked breasts and genitals with pincers, pliers and red-hot irons.” Read the book for an eye-opening overview of the topic, but with a little grain of salt.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Larry Cahoon

    An easy read. Be aware that Ellerbe starts by clearly stating that she is not trying to give a balanced view of Christianity in the world. Rather she intended to only deal with the "dark side." But even with that perspective there remains the question of how dark is dark. At times she seemed to go beyond what was what I would call and description of the normal bad behavior, deeds, etc. within Christianity to focusing on the extremes. The behavior the church was bad enough, as Ellerbe amply descr An easy read. Be aware that Ellerbe starts by clearly stating that she is not trying to give a balanced view of Christianity in the world. Rather she intended to only deal with the "dark side." But even with that perspective there remains the question of how dark is dark. At times she seemed to go beyond what was what I would call and description of the normal bad behavior, deeds, etc. within Christianity to focusing on the extremes. The behavior the church was bad enough, as Ellerbe amply describes, that bringing in the worst of the worst was unnecessary. A major weakness of the book in my mind comes up in the final two chapters where Ellerbe brings science into the discussion. Her understanding of science seems weak and at times uninformed. She describes science in such a way as to assume it has a position on the existence, behavior, and character of god when it fact god is pretty much out of the equation. Science does not deal with that for which there is no evidence. And at this point they have not seen evidence of any supernatural realm. One must first define the supernatural, whatever it is, and find a way to measure it. An definition which in essence says it is something we do not understand within nature is no different than the ancient Greeks blaming Zeus for thunder. It is a god of the gaps argument that has no place in science. In this way Ellerbe is then assuming a god and then imposing that god on the science and what it reveals about the universe and its workings. It is a subtle assumption, and many in the religious community may well miss the assumption. But it has a profound impact on how she view science in those final two chapters. The book would have been much better had Ellerbe not strayed from of stated goal of describing the dark side of Christianity.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ragy Nekhela

    I think it's very important to know that Christianity has been misunderstood and misused over the past twenty one centuries. Many concepts that have no any biblical references have been added by the Christian leaders to take control of the people's lives. Quoiting a passage of the conclusion on the last chapter: "dark as moments of Christian history have been,awareness of them need not lead to a complete rejection of Christianity. There have been Christians throughout its history who have foug I think it's very important to know that Christianity has been misunderstood and misused over the past twenty one centuries. Many concepts that have no any biblical references have been added by the Christian leaders to take control of the people's lives. Quoiting a passage of the conclusion on the last chapter: "dark as moments of Christian history have been,awareness of them need not lead to a complete rejection of Christianity. There have been Christians throughout its history who have fought against the tyranny of orthodox beliefs and behavior. There have been countless Christians who valued love and forgiveness over fear and punishment, who encouraged personal empowerment and understanding over submission and blind faith."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rick Reitzug

    A bit difficult to wade through in parts, but a thought-provoking discussion of Christian history, especially its negative impact on our society. The author concludes the book as follows: "As we have ignored the horror of Christian history, so we have ignored scrutiny of Christian beliefs… efforts to convince us that God demands our fear and unquestioning submission are in fact efforts to control us and to contain our spirituality…. [additionally] the belief in a singular supremacy lies at th A bit difficult to wade through in parts, but a thought-provoking discussion of Christian history, especially its negative impact on our society. The author concludes the book as follows: "As we have ignored the horror of Christian history, so we have ignored scrutiny of Christian beliefs… efforts to convince us that God demands our fear and unquestioning submission are in fact efforts to control us and to contain our spirituality…. [additionally] the belief in a singular supremacy lies at the root of chauvinism, racism and totalitarianism."

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rui Coelho

    Short ant clear text about the crimes of the Christian church(es). It covers questions as discipline, sexuality, terror, holy wars, inquisition, witch hunts and colonialism. It is written from a pro-pagan perspective and is not always consistently anti-autoritharian.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McFarland

    Everything your pastor doesn't want you to know! Everything your pastor doesn't want you to know!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sidney Schwartz

    A very well researched book exploring the history of the Catholic Church intolerance for non-believers.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Rizzo

    A pretty wonderful book that chronicles the dark past of Christianity quiet well. However, there have been some scientific updates since it has been written, particularly in the findings of quantum mechanics, which undermines her argument on duality. The author seems to take on a Pantheistic view of the world, god is present in everything, but seems to suggest a belief in a real and tangible god which I think, and science has posited, is not only unlikely but unnecessary. The author also connects A pretty wonderful book that chronicles the dark past of Christianity quiet well. However, there have been some scientific updates since it has been written, particularly in the findings of quantum mechanics, which undermines her argument on duality. The author seems to take on a Pantheistic view of the world, god is present in everything, but seems to suggest a belief in a real and tangible god which I think, and science has posited, is not only unlikely but unnecessary. The author also connects science with orthodox Christianity which is an unfair and contradictory comparison, suggesting that both somehow challenge shared authority, cooperation and support. A true scientific understanding does no such thing. I do appreciate that she encourages us to scrutinize these ideologies, although she seems to suggest at the end that there’s nothing inherently wrong with Christian ideology which, as her own writing shows, is not the case. At last; she provides no evidence that a physical world is conscious, yet this takes up the majority of her final argument which again, I find irrelevant and perhaps merely an addition based on her own personal desire to believe. Overall, a good history book with some great information on the tragedies caused at the hands of christians.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jsrott

    The book is pretty strongly biased, as should be recognized from the title. There is a lot of referenced citations in this short book, which is good for a history book, especially when it cites original quotations. However, there were several times when my sense was that the author was using the writings of some of the more obscure members of the Church and extrapolating that these writings represented the philosophy of the Church overall. In some cases I think it was warranted, in others not so The book is pretty strongly biased, as should be recognized from the title. There is a lot of referenced citations in this short book, which is good for a history book, especially when it cites original quotations. However, there were several times when my sense was that the author was using the writings of some of the more obscure members of the Church and extrapolating that these writings represented the philosophy of the Church overall. In some cases I think it was warranted, in others not so much. The argument that the early Church quickly went from being oppressed to being the oppressor I thought was strong, but the idea that the Church as an entity was responsible for almost every horrible aspect of European history since is a stretch. The later chapters on science dipped rather precariously close to pseudo-scientific meanderings on consciousness and quantum mechanics.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Walker

    This book was written to expose the Christian religion, I assume. It fails miserably, chiefly because the author is woefully ignorant of her topic. I expected a more robust attack, but she resorted to the usual shibboleths, half-truths, and misunderstandings. Shallow.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    This is a blistering indictment of Christianity and all the evil that Christianity has done in this world - “in the name of god”. Christianity as we know it did not exist in the time of Jesus. Almost from day one there were nine+ sects of the religion - all fighting with each other for supremacy. Ellerbe takes us slowly from 1st Century C.E. right up to the present. Everything she shares is heavily documented. At the start of Ch. 3 she states, [the church] “chose ideological positions which bes This is a blistering indictment of Christianity and all the evil that Christianity has done in this world - “in the name of god”. Christianity as we know it did not exist in the time of Jesus. Almost from day one there were nine+ sects of the religion - all fighting with each other for supremacy. Ellerbe takes us slowly from 1st Century C.E. right up to the present. Everything she shares is heavily documented. At the start of Ch. 3 she states, [the church] “chose ideological positions which best justified Church control over the individual and over society. The Church also developed a doctrine which justified it use of force in order to compel obedience." Hundreds of thousands killed in the crusades. Hundreds of thousands killed by the Inquisition. Hundreds of thousands killed in the witch hunts. In the book’s conclusion she uses a quote from Thomas Jefferson to summarize: “Millions of men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” Knowing what I now know, I cannot support such a religion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drew Martin

    As some of you may know from other reviews, I’m not a fan of organized religion. Any organized religion, and there’s plenty of reasons. This includes Christianity, for those who believe in a “man” who taught “to love one another,” there’s a huge, dark history of doing the exact opposite to “fellow men, and women.” Not once, but many times throughout the ages, and always on a grand scale. Helen Ellerbe’s 1995 book, The Dark Side of Christian History, touches on these times acting as an introducti As some of you may know from other reviews, I’m not a fan of organized religion. Any organized religion, and there’s plenty of reasons. This includes Christianity, for those who believe in a “man” who taught “to love one another,” there’s a huge, dark history of doing the exact opposite to “fellow men, and women.” Not once, but many times throughout the ages, and always on a grand scale. Helen Ellerbe’s 1995 book, The Dark Side of Christian History, touches on these times acting as an introduction. I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would, but that’s just me. I wanted more than an introduction. Ellerbe’s book serves as an average read for me, but could serve many of you better... To read the rest of this review go to https://drewmartinwrites.wordpress.co...

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