Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No Gods, No Masters

Blasphemy and Anticlerical Violence During the Spanish Civil War

"If God existed, only in one way could he serve human liberty by ceasing to exist."  – Mikhail Bakunin, God and the State

Claimed as “the greatest clerical bloodletting Europe has ever seen,”1 the early days of the Spanish Civil War saw nearly 7,000 members of the Catholic clergy systematically executed as hundreds of churches, convents and monasteries were burnt to the ground. Religious icons were profaned, the tombs of saints desecrated, and "public acts of unspeakable blasphemy” were performed to the approval of jubilant crowds.

While much of the outside world was shocked by the anti-religious “red terror” that swept over the country, in reality these iconoclastic acts were the culmination of nearly five hundred years of popular resent. By the 20th century, the Catholic Church was seen by many as a fundamentally corrupt institution, which served the interests of the rich and powerful while keeping the poor in moral servitude. Militant anticlericalism became widespread,
2 and with the revolutionary floodgates opened by civil war there was no holding back the popular fervor to “reclaim the soul of Spain" from this centuries-old theocratic grip.