Christian Anti-Semitism For sixteen hundred years, the Jewish people have been persecuted and murdered by people who worship a Jewish man as their savior: the Christians. Why did Christian anti-Semitism, a seemingly illogical belief given that Jesus himself was a Jew, develop? How did it evolve, and why has it persisted for centuries? In the Biblical gospels, despite three of the four being ostensibly written by Jews, enemies of Jesus are referred to as “the Jews.” Early Christians found themselves in a quandary. The savior they worship, himself a Jew, purportedly was killed by Jews. Since at least the fourth century, some groups of Christians have actively practiced anti-Semitism, taking revenge on Jewish people for”murdering” the God of Christianity. Christians have called Jews devils, demons and antichrists. Persecution by church officials, both Catholic and Protestant, was consistent and deadly for over a thousand years.
Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of Jews, were massacred by so-called Christians centuries before the Holocaust. Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 312 A.D. Attributing his military successes to God, he issued the Edict of Milan, making Christianity the Roman Empire’s official religion. It was here in the fourth century that open anti-Semitism emerged. A great number of superficial converts (wanting to be on the winning side) joined the church, which was placing overwhelming emphasis on the sacraments. The sacraments were thought by many to have a magical content, supernaturally protecting against attacks from the devil.
Those outside the sacramental community — primarily unconverted Jews — became seen as people through whom the devil could work his evil purposes. (1) Jews were thought to be sorcerers, cannibals, and child-murderers. Attacks by “church fathers” became increasingly venomous. Gregory of Nyasa, a Cappadocian bishop, wrote that Jews are “Companions of the devil, race of vipers, informers, calumniators, darkeners of the mind, pharisaic leaven, Sanhedrin of demons, accursed … ” (2) St. John Chrysostom (354-407) urged Christians at Antioch to avoid the synagogue and curb their curiosity about Judaism: Brothel and theater, the synagogue is also a cave of pirates and the lair of wild beasts…
Living for their belly, mouth forever gaping, the Jews behave no better than hogs and goats in their lewd grossness and the excesses of their gluttony. (3) In 1095, the Crusades began when Pope Urban II called upon Christians to save the Holy Land from the infidels; he promised the remission of sins to all who participated. Huge armies gathered. For two centuries these armies, while making their way to the Middle East, persecuted or slaughtered any Jews they happened to encounter. (4) One mob, according to an eyewitness, “..decided to avenge Christ upon the pagans and the Jews.
This is why they killed 900 Jews in the city of Mainz without sparing the women and children…” (5) The slaughter of Jews by so-called “Christians” is historical truth, not the invention of anti-Christian humanists and historical revisionists. Hal Lindsey, the fundamentalist Bible teacher and best-selling author of The Late Great Planet Earth, admits: When the Crusaders .. captured Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, they first entered the city through the Jewish quarter. A terrible slaughter took place. The surviving Jews were sold as slaves. The Jewish community of Jerusalem was obliterated.
In all, tens of thousands of Jews were massacred in the name of Christianity as a consequence of the first Crusade. (6) Another mob of Jew-killers wandered from city to city in the German districts of Rottingen and Bavaria in the year 1298, burning Jewish communities and slaughtering any Jew who would not forcibly “convert” to Christianity. One historical chronicler suggests that they killed as many as 100,000 Jews. (7) Beginning in 1320, a group of peasants in northern France, led by friars, set out for the Holy Land in what would become known as the Shepherd’s Crusade. Pillaging as they went, they spilled Jewish blood throughout the province of Aquitaine.
Hundreds were slaughtered at the village of Verdun-sur-Garonne. (8) One priest, Peter of Cluny, wrote, “God does not want them to be destroyed, but like Cain, who murdered his brother, they are to continue to exist under great suffering and in great shame so that life may be more bitter for them than death.” (9) In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council of Pope Innocent III institutionalized the Inquisition, issuing the following decree: In the countries where Christians do not distinguish themselves from Jews and Saracens by their garments, relations are maintained between Christians and Jews or Saracens, or vice versa. In order that such wickedness in the future be not excused by error, it is decreed that henceforth Jews of both sexes will be distinguished from other peoples by their garments, as moreover has been prescribed unto them by Moses. They will not show themselves in public during Holy Week, for some among them on these days wear their finest garments and mock Christians clad in mourning. Trespassers will be duly punished by the secular powers, in order that they no longer dare flout Christ in the presence of Christians. (10) In Poland, Jews were required to wear a pointed green hat; in England, strips of cloth sewn across the chest were mandated.
(11) By the middle of the twelfth century, rumors and superstitions emerged accusing Jews of ritual murder, usually the murder of Christian children in alleged mock re-enactments of the crucifixion. It was believed that Jews needed innocent Christian blood for use in Satanic/Jewish rituals. For centuries, the unexplained murder of any Christian child could set off waves of rioting and persecution. The first recorded ritual murder allegation occurred in England in 1144. On Good Friday of that year, the body of a young Christian was found in the woods near Norwich. Accusers charged that a group of rabbis located in Narbonne had conspired to kill a Christian child every year on Good Friday in mockery of the crucifixion. Anti-Jewish riots in Norwich led to the murder of one of the city’s prominent Jews. The murdered Christian youth was canonized, and for centuries pilgrimages to his tomb were encouraged by the Church.
(12) Three years later, the corpse of another young Christian was discovered in Wurzburg. Jews were hunted down and lynched. Alleged child murders led to the burning at the stake of thirty-eight Jews in Blois in 1171; twenty years later nearly one hundred Jews were burned at Bray-sur-Seine. For centuries the pattern continued. Murdered children were canonized, pilgrimages were recommended and miracles were alleged. Nine Jews were executed at Trent in the Tyrol in 1473 for the murder of a little boy named Simon.
The Church named him St. Simon of Trent in 1582, a chapel was erected at his tomb and miracles were reported by Catholic pilgrims. Historians have records of more than one hundred similar cases right up to the 1800s. (13) The myth of the Jew as ritual child-killer has never faded. Thomas E. Watson, a Southern Baptist attorney and politician, publicly proclaimed that ritual murder was a common Jewish practice.
This type of rhetoric gained Watson a million votes as a third-party vice-presidential candidate in 1896, and it won him election to the U.S. Senate in 1920. (14) In 1928, when a four-year-old girl disappeared in Massena, New York, two days before Yom Kippur, the mayor of Massena publicly speculated that the child had been murdered by Jews who wanted to use her blood in a Yom Kippur ritual. (15) Christian anti-Semites spread the rumor that Jews had kidnapped Charles Lindbergh’s baby in 1932 for use in a ritual sacrifice. (16) When the Black Plague swept through Europe in the fourteenth century killing millions the Jews were blamed.
It was believed they had poisoned the sources of drinking water. (17) Hal Lindsey suggests that suspicions were raised because Orthodox Jews, obedient to Mosaic laws of handwashing and hygienic food handling, seldom contracted the disease. (18) Simultaneously, anti-Semitism in medieval satires, legends, ballads, sculptures and paintings was universal. Medieval plays cast Jews in the role of villain, devil and antichrist. In a Middle Ages version of historical revisionism, one playwright reinvented the pagan Roman leader Titus as a Christian knight who destroyed Jerusalem to kill its Jews in the name of the Virgin Mary. (19) In the 1600s, Pierre de Lancre executed a large number of Jews alleged to be witches by burning them at the stake in sout …