The corruption of religious faith: how organized religion used propaganda to gain power from the middle ages to the Renaissance

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Topics: Middle Ages
Brandon Gillet
ENG1000CC

The corruption of religious faith: how organized religion used propaganda to gain power from the middle ages to the Renaissance

Throughout the history of the Catholic Church, many fantastical stories of spiritual beings and the afterlife have played a prominent role in conflicts of faith. From the condemnation of heresy and paganism to the bloody massacres of the crusades and the Inquisition, ideas of what is good, evil, righteous, and wicked had been drastically skewed by the Church. This essay will explore how these extreme interpretations of faith were used to increase devotion in the followers to the Church and to instill fear in the people of what awaits their soul without their guidance. It is my belief that organized religion has corrupted the beliefs of the Judaeo-Christian ethic to justify countless atrocities throughout the history of the Church.
Personifying evil
A reasonable place to begin would be with the religious depictions of evil from medieval times through the Renaissance. To understand where these depictions of evil come from, we must first understand the origin of the characters and stories that lend to them. Scripture refers to Satan being the adversary of God who was once one of God’s angels. Having fallen from grace and being, “once as beautiful as he is ugly now,” as described by Dante, most depictions generate feelings of fear or despair.1 What’s interesting is how though Satan has been both beautiful and grotesque, depictions of him before the fall from grace are virtually non-existent. It can attributed to centuries earlier when a question arose that if God created Satan, and Satan was evil, then God created evil. The question was answered by Christian Fathers that God created Satan, but Satan chose to be evil.2 Over time the symbol of Satan being the embodiment of evil and the opposition of God has been used as a guideline to judge the beliefs and actions of countless people which conflicted with the ideals



Bibliography: citations Duni, Matteo. Under the devil’s spell: witches, sorcerers, and the Inquisition. (Florence. Syracuse University. 2007.) Link, Luther. The Devil: the archfiend in art from the sixth to the sixteenth century. (New York. Harry N. Abrams. 1996.) Hashmi, Sohail H., Just wars, holy wars, and jihads Christian, Jewish, and Muslim encounters and exchanges. (Oxford University Press. 1962-2012.) Jaspert, Nikolas, The Crusades, trans. Phyllis Jestice (Hobokan, Taylor and Francis.2006.)

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