Karen Armstrong, on the witch hunt:

“The repressions of Western culture are nowhere more clearly shown than in then great panics of persecution that erupt from time to time with astonishing violence and subside just as suddenly leaving everybody bewildered and embarrassed by the temporary madness that has gripped society. The Nazi persecution of the Jews and McCarthy’s persecution of communists and homosexuals for un-American activities are obvious examples. The craze of persecution is not directed at real culprits or real enemies of society, but the victims act as scapegoats for neuroses which society has repressed and can only express in this violent and irrational way. We often call these crazes ‘witch hunts,’ because of the great craze for persecuting witches…It is a classic example of these irrational panics and has named them with good reason. Yet the great Witch Hunts did more than give a name to a curious and disturbing Western phenomenon. They have profoundly damaged the relationship between the sexes in our society.

The Witch Hunts brought together all the buried sexual fears that had been developing the Christian West. By the late 15th century the Church had clearly impressed Europe with a terror of sexuality and hatred of women that exploded in the first sporadic Witch Hunts….The Witch Hunts were a religious phenomenon and were engineered by the Church and supported both by the beliefs of devout people and the fears of the ‘witches’ themselves. There was no political or commercial motive such as contributed to the persecution of the religious order of the Templars or the persecution of the Roman Catholics during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The Witch Hunts were purely the product of Christian zeal. It was an exclusively Western phenomenon…”

-Karen Armstrong, The Gospel According to Woman 

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