Dipak Basu, in his May 2 letter, “Signs of ‘Christian’ Influence,” offers nothing to dispute the argument that the area of the world where human rights are most entrenched mirrors the historic orbit of Judeo-Christian influence.
Not surprising: Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World 2013” would visually demonstrate that it does. What is surprising is Basu’s evidence for the “cruelty of Judeo-Christianity.” Saint Francis Xavier committed “mass murders” in India? The only supporters of such an absurd claim are a few Hindu nationalist sites.
The pope “sanctified” the killing of natives by the Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America? Colonial Spanish and Portuguese could be nasty characters. They revolted against the Leyes Neuvas issued by Spain’s King Charles V in 1542 — law protecting the rights of natives based on Pope Paul III’s … ban on the enslavement of native Americans on pain of excommunication.
The worst turn of events for native Brazilians was the expulsion of the Portuguese Jesuits, who had protected them from slave traders. The expulsion was ordered by the anti-clerical regime of the Marquis de Pombal, a great “Enlightenment secularist.”
Winston Churchill deliberately caused the Bengali famine of 1943? Well, mainstream historians think the Japanese invasion of Burma and the inefficiency of provincial Indian governments had something to do with it, but if Churchill did it, Madhusree Mukerjee’s “Churchill’s Secret War” places the main blame on Churchill’s science adviser Lord Cherwell, a secular German emigre who embraced eugenics.
Far from making the case for Christianity’s cruelty, these facts reinforce the point in my April 25 letter (“Christian witness to abolitionism”) that it is the retreat from Christian principles of the dignity of human life toward a pretended scientific materialism that carries the greatest risk of cruelty.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.