Irish Independent, Friday 22 September 2006:
'Have you heard of the Inquisition? Stupid question. Of course you have. Have you heard of the Crusades? Ditto. Did you also know that when Crusader forces took Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred the inhabitants? Perhaps.
But have you heard of the Committee for Public Safety? Or the massacre of the people of the Vendee in France during the French Revolution? Or did you know that when Muslim forces captured the last Crusader stronghold of Acre in 1291, they massacred the inhabitants? The answer to all these questions is, almost certainly you haven't.
If you know the answer to the first set of questions, but not the second, it is because you are most likely the victim of historical propaganda which presents to the public a demonised version of Christian history, and a carefully sanitised version of what can loosely be called secular history.
In the last 200 years, and especially over the last century, secular ideologies such as Nazism and communism have been responsible for the deaths of an estimated 150 million people. That is more than all the wars of religion in all history. Communism, let it be remembered, presented itself as a humanistic ideology.
I mentioned the Committee for Public Safety a few paragraphs back. It presided over the Terror that was unleashed to 'save' the French Revolution from its enemies. The French Revolution represented the first major appearance of secular thought in history. It managed to kill more people over a few months than the various Inquisitions did over 300 years.
It killed all these people in the name of reason. But why, pray-tell, is the Inquisition a by-word for hatred and intolerance, and the far worse Committee for Public Safety is not. The reason, to borrow a cliche, is that history is written by the victors. The architects of the French Revolution, and their successors to this day, have managed to put their stamp over our history books. The people of the Vendee, incidentally, were massacred because they rose up against the brutal suppression of the Catholic Church by the revolutionaries, again in the name of 'reason'. Between one hundred thousand and two hundred thousand of them were killed for their troubles.
While the majority of Christians by now have some idea about the sometimes brutal history of their faith, the majority of secular-minded people believe implicitly in the sanitised version of their own history. If they knew a bit more about their own history they would be less ready to assume that it is only Christians who have something for which to apologise. '