One Century of Contrasts. While Cultural Marxism Is Predominant in the Modern Encyclopedia Britannica, Conservatism Was Predominant in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
The Encyclopedia Britannica has been a favorite source of information for homeschoolers in the United States. In fact, for more than a century, the long, stately rows of Encyclopedia Britannica have been an important presence on the shelves of many educated men and women.
Yet, homeschoolers and conservative Christians in America do not use any Encyclopedia Britannica. They use its best edition: the 11th edition, published in 1911. It is highly appreciated by its conservative value.
Modern editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica are not conservative. For example, the 2015 Encyclopedia Britannica says, in its entry “Abortion”:
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Induced abortions may be performed for reasons that fall into four general categories: to preserve the life or physical or mental well-being of the mother; to prevent the completion of a pregnancy that has resulted from rape or incest; to prevent the birth of a child with serious deformity, mental deficiency, or genetic abnormality; or to prevent a birth for social or economic reasons (such as the extreme youth of the pregnant female or the sorely strained resources of the family unit). By some definitions, abortions that are performed to preserve the well-being of the female or in cases of rape or incest are therapeutic, or justifiable, abortions.
Numerous medical techniques exist for performing abortions. During the first trimester (up to about 12 weeks after conception), endometrial aspiration, suction, or curettage may be used to remove the contents of the uterus. In endometrial aspiration, a thin, flexible tube is inserted up the cervical canal (the neck of the womb) and then sucks out the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) by means of an electric pump.
In the related but slightly more onerous procedure known as dilatation and evacuation (also called suction curettage, or vacuum curettage), the cervical canal is enlarged by the insertion of a series of metal dilators while the patient is under anesthesia, after which a rigid suction tube is inserted into the uterus to evacuate its contents. When, in place of suction, a thin metal tool called a curette is used to scrape (rather than vacuum out) the contents of the uterus, the procedure is called dilatation and curettage. When combined with dilatation, both evacuation and curettage can be used up to about the 16th week of pregnancy.
From 12 to 19 weeks the injection of a saline solution may be used to trigger uterine contractions; alternatively, the administration of prostaglandins by injection, suppository, or other method may be used to induce contractions, but these substances may cause severe side effects. Hysterotomy, the surgical removal of the uterine contents, may be used during the second trimester or later. In general, the more advanced the pregnancy, the greater the risk to the female of mortality or serious complications following an abortion.
In the late 20th century a new method of induced abortion was discovered that uses the drug RU 486 (mifepristone), an artificial steroid that is closely related to the contraceptive hormone norethnidrone. RU 486 works by blocking the action of the hormone progesterone, which is needed to support the development of a fertilized egg. When ingested within weeks of conception, RU 486 effectively triggers the menstrual cycle and flushes the fertilized egg out of the uterus.
In essence, the 2015 Encyclopedia Britannica is pro-abortion. This is the reason why, in ethical and moral subjects, homeschoolers avoid it.
In contrast, the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, loved by homeschoolers, says in its entry “Abortion”:
Among primitive savage races abortion is practised to a far less extent than infanticide, which offers a simpler way of getting rid of inconvenient progeny. But it is common among the American Indians, as well as in China, Cambodia and India.
In all the countries of Europe the causing of abortion is now punishable with more or less lengthy terms of imprisonment.
It is now a statutory offence in all states of the Union.
In essence, the 1911 the Encyclopedia Britannica is not pro-abortion. This is the reason why, in ethical and moral subjects, homeschoolers love it.
Objectivity, reason and ethics in the 1911 the Encyclopedia Britannica were defeated by the modern, politically-correct editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Pro-abortion revisionism has prevailed.
In an article titled “Wikipedia Or Encyclopedia Britannica: Which Has More Bias?” published by Forbes magazine, author Michael Blanding recognizes that topics in the modern Encyclopedia Britannica “can be quite subjective or even controversial.”
“If you read 100 words of a Wikipedia article, and 100 words of a Britannica [article], you will find no significant difference in bias,” says the article. That is, in left-wing ideology Britannica and Wikipedia are essentially equal.
In the article titled “Corruption of a Venerable Brand,” published by the National Review, author Matthew J. Franck says that “Encyclopedia Britannica Debases Itself” and that “At this rate, the editors of Britannica seem determined to make Wikipedia look good. It’s a sad declension.” Declension, according to the Oxford Dictionary of English, is an archaic term for “a condition of decline or moral deterioration.”
To treat abortion as a serious legal problem worthy to be banned and criminalized (as presented by 1911 Britannica) to a medical issue legally allowed by virtually any reason (as presented by 2015 Britannica) is sheer declension.
But the moral deterioration in Britannica is not evident only in abortion. The Inquisition is another example.
The 2015 Encyclopedia Britannica says, in its entry “Inquisition”:
All of the institutional inquisitions worked in secrecy, except for closely regulated public appearances. Their secrecy permitted those who opposed them to speculate about and often fictionalize dramatically their secret activities, producing many of the myths about inquisitions that are found in European literature from the 16th century to the present.
While past editions of Britannica addressed “The Inquisition,” the 2015 Britannica talks about “inquisitions,” as usual in the revisionist perspective. In fact, one of the main authors in the article about “inquisitions” in the 2015 Britannica is the notorious revisionist author Edward Peters. If modern Britannica can be revisionist on abortion, why not on the Inquisition too?
Revisionism is an essentially socialist concept. The Oxford Dictionary of English, in its entry “Revisionism,” says:
“n. [mass noun] often DEROGATORY a policy of revision or modification, especially of Marxism on evolutionary socialist (rather than revolutionary) or pluralist principles. The theory or practice of revising one’s.”
Before the politically-correct, revisionist trend, what did the 1911 Britannica say on the Inquisition? Historian Toby Green defined the Inquisition in the title itself of his book, “Inquisition: The Reign of Fear” (Macmillan Publishers UK, 2007). And the 1911 Britannica defined it as “reign of terror,” saying about the crusade against Albigensian, created by inquisitors: “These executions en masse certainly created a definitive precedent for violent repression.”
Britannica defined it,
THE INQUISITION (Lat. inquisitio, an inquiry), the name given to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction dealing both in the middle ages and in modern times with the detection and punishment of heretics and all persons guilty of any offence against Catholic orthodoxy.
Random excerpts from the 1911 Britannica show:
The punishment of death by burning was much more often employed by the Spanish than by the medieval Inquisition; about 2000 persons were burnt in Torquemada’s day.
[In the 1700s,] a great number of [Jews] were denounced, sent to the galleys, or burnt, for having returned to their ancestral religion, on the flimsiest of evidence, such as… abstaining from swine’s flesh.
During the 16th and 17th centuries the Inquisition in Spain was directed against Protestantism. The inquisitor-general, Fernando de Valdés, archbishop of Seville, asked the pope to condemn the Lutherans to be burnt even if they were not backsliders, or wished to be reconciled, while in 1560 three foreign Protestants, two Englishmen and a Frenchman, were burnt in defiance of all international law. But the Reformation never had enough supporters in Spain to occupy the attention of the Inquisition for long.
Countless numbers of… men and women, clerks and laymen… perished in the fires or the dungeons of the Inquisition.
Mateo Pascual, professor of theology at Alcala, who had in a public lecture expressed a doubt as to purgatory, suffered imprisonment and the confiscation of his goods.
In 1521 the Inquisition took upon itself the examination of books suspected of Lutheran heresy.
In 1558 the penalty of death and confiscation of property was decreed against any bookseller or individual who should keep in his possession condemned books. The censure of books was eventually abolished in 1812.
the inquisitors… played the part of absolute dictators, burning at the stake, attacking both the living and the dead, confiscating their property and land, and enclosing the inhabitants both of the towns and the country in a network of suspicion and denunciation.
Already in 1210 massacres of Jews had taken place under the inspiration of Arnold of Narbonne, the papal legate.
In 1278 [Pope] Nicholas IV commanded the general of the Dominicans to send friars into all parts of the kingdom [of Spain] to work for the conversion of the Jews, and draw up lists of those who should refuse to be baptized.
In the 14th century the massacres increased, and during the year 1391 whole towns were destroyed by fire and sword, while at Valencia eleven thousand forced baptisms took place.
In the 15th century the persecution continued in the same way; it can only be said that the years 1449, 1462, 1470, 1473 were marked by the greatest bloodshed.
The emperor Frederick II defined his jurisprudence more clearly: from 1220 to 1239, supported by Pope Honorius III, and above all by [Pope] Gregory IX, he established against the heretics of the Empire in general a legislation in which the penalties of death, banishment and confiscation of property were formulated so clearly as to be henceforth incontestable.
The pope no longer hesitated as to the principle or the degree of repression.
Women, children or slaves could be witnesses for the prosecution, but not for the defence, and cases are even to be found in which the witnesses were only ten years of age.
No witness might refuse to give evidence [against the accused individuals], under pain of being considered guilty of heresy.
The next step was the torture of witnesses, a practice which was left to the discretion of the inquisitors.
Moreover, all confessions or depositions extorted in the torture-chamber had subsequently to be “freely” confirmed. The confession was always considered as voluntary. The procedure was of course not litigious; any lawyer defending the accused would have been held guilty of heresy.
In effect, handing [the accused individual] over to the secular arm was equivalent to a sentence of death, and of death by fire. The Dominican Jacob Sprenger, provincial of his order in Germany (1494) and inquisitor, does not hesitate to speak of the victims ‘quas incinerari fecimus’ (“whom we [the inquisitors] caused to be burnt to ashes”).
The Inquisition preferred to draw its revenues from heresy.
Soon the papacy managed to gain a share of the spoils, even outside the states of the [Catholic] Church, as is shown by the bulls ‘ad extirpanda’ of [Pope] Innocent IV and [Pope] Alexander IV, and henceforward the inquisitors had, in varying proportions, a direct interest in these spoliations.
In Spain this division only applied to the property of the clergy and vassals of the [Catholic] Church, but in France, Italy and Germany, the property of all those convicted of heresy was shared between the lay and ecclesiastical authorities.
At first they tried a compromise; the unfortunate victims had to pay twice, to the pope and to the Inquisition. But the payment to the pope was held by the Inquisition to reduce too much its own share of the confiscated property, and the struggle continued throughout the first half of the 16th century, the Curia finally triumphing, thanks to the energy of [Pope] Paul III.
Besides, this system of wholesale confiscations might reduce a family to beggary in a single day, so that all transactions were liable to extraordinary risks.
But it is undeniable that [the Inquisition] frequently tended to constitute a state within the state. At the time of their greatest power, the inquisitors paid no taxes, and gave no account of the confiscations which they effected; they claimed for themselves and their agents the right of bearing arms, and it is well known that their declared adversaries, or even those who blamed them in some respects, were without fail prosecuted for heresy.
The [Inquisition] allowed the accused an advocate chosen from among the members or familiars of the Holy Office; this privilege was obviously illusory, for the advocate was chosen and paid by the tribunal, and could only interview the accused in presence of an inquisitor and a secretary.
Napoleon, on his entry into Madrid (December 1808), at once suppressed the Inquisition.
In 1816 the pope abolished torture in all the tribunals of the Inquisition.
The [Catholic] Church was originally opposed to torture, and the canon law did not admit confessions extorted by that means; but by the bull ‘Ad extirpanda’ (1252) [Pope] Innocent IV approved its use for the discovery of heresy, and [Pope] Urban IV confirmed this usage, which had its origin in secular legislation (cf. the Veronese Code of 1228, and Sicilian Constitution of Frederick II. in 1231).
St John Chrysostom considered that a heretic should be deprived of the liberty of speech and that assemblies organized by heretics should be dissolved, but declared that “to put a heretic to death would be to introduce upon earth an inexpiable crime.”
An effort to sanitize the Inquisition would be akin to an effort to sanitize legal abortion. This is just what the modern Britannica has done!
Why is a pro-life website advocating the revisionism of the Inquisition? Christians defending the Inquisition are like Christians defending abortion and Christians defending abortion are like Christians defending the Inquisition.
Yet, this is just what LifeSiteNews, the largest Catholic pro-life website in the world, has been doing.
LifeSiteNews published an article titled “Debunking the anti-Christian myths about the Spanish Inquisition,” by Joseph Pearce. This title is malicious because the cruelties, tortures and executions of the Inquisition were never “myths,” and it is completely anti-Christian to treat the Inquisition as a “myth,” just as it is anti-Christian to treat the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews as “myth.” By the way, both the Inquisition and the Holocaust preferentially tortured and killed Jews.
So if LifeSiteNews treats the Inquisition as a “myth” this is not different at all from what Muslims do to their own genocide against Christians. The Islamic website Islamicity has an article titled “Untangling the truth from the myth of the ‘Armenian Genocide’” that says,
“The controversy surrounding the so-called Armenian genocide has again been stirred up by no less an important individual than the Catholic Pope Francis himself when he called it ‘the first genocide of the 20th century.’ The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has vehemently criticized the pope’s remark. ‘The pope’s statement, which is far from the legal and historical reality, cannot be accepted,’ he tweeted.”
Just as Muslims do not accept what they did to Christians, LifeSiteNews does not accept what the Catholic Inquisition did to Jews and Protestants.
It is significant that in Spain the Jews, who frequently were persecuted by the Inquisition, were called “Marrano” — Spanish for pig.
The LifeSiteNews article mentioned President Obama’s reference to the Inquisition at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC in 2016 by exploiting it on behalf of historical revisionism, which is usually loved and used by the Left.
In answer, I quote Franklin Graham, a conservative adviser to Trump who said,
“Today at the National Prayer Breakfast, the President implied that what ISIS is doing is equivalent to what happened over 1,000 years ago during the Crusades and the Inquisition. Mr. President, many people in history have used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish evil things for their own desires. But Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Muhammad, on the contrary, was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Muhammed emulate Muhammed.”
Advocacy of the historical revisionism of the Inquisition is compatible with the left-wing mindset, but incompatible with pro-life principles. I agree with Graham: the Inquisition emulated Muhammed and his violent spirit.
In another article, titled “Refuting anti-Catholic falsehoods,” LifeSiteNews said,
“The Spanish Inquisition, for example, suffered literally from very bad press. Among the first works churned out by the early printing presses of Protestant Holland and England were hundreds of false accounts of the Inquisition murdering tens of thousands of Jews, Moors and Protestants. Bad historians since then have inflated the death count…”
If the Inquisition “suffered” — the lunatic view is always that the oppressor, not its victims, “suffered” — “very bad press,” what about abortion in the 1911 Britannica? What about socialism and Nazism? Did they also suffer “very bad press”? In the perspective of pro-abortion activists, socialists and Nazis, abortion, socialism and Nazism suffered “very bad press.”
LifeSiteNews makes appear like the Protestant Holland and England were exclusively responsible for “false accounts of the Inquisition murdering tens of thousands of Jews, Moors and Protestants.” LifeSiteNews rules out the fact that even if there were no Protestant in the world, for centuries there have been independent Jewish writers and historians recording the torture and death of thousands of Jews under the Inquisition.
The father of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a massive work of 1,500 pages titled “The Origins of the Inquisition,” published in 1995. Does LifeSiteNews think that Netanyahu’s book is “bad press” to make the Inquisition suffer? If I burn this book, will it reduce the “suffering” of the Inquisition and its advocates and revisionists? Does LifeSiteNews think that Netanyahu’s book was influenced by the “false accounts” of the Inquisition from the Protestant Holland and England, instead of independent Jewish historic accounts?
If LifeSiteNews alleges that “bad historians inflate the death count,” is Netanyahu a “bad historian” who has inflated the death count of Jewish victims? Are also historians who denounce abortion, socialism and Nazism “bad historians” who have inflated the death count of their victims?
To help the Inquisition not “suffer,” should we give it only good press? Also, to help pro-abortion activists, socialists and Nazis not to “suffer,” should we give abortion, socialism and Nazism only good press?
The gathering of data 100 years ago was not so good as it is today. Muslim Turks use it to say that the Armenian Genocide, committed by them against about 1,500,000 Christians 100 years ago, was not genocide and that the numbers were very small. Radical Catholics use the same expediency and time of 500 years ago is actually a very favorable expediency for them. They say the same thing about the Inquisition, even though Independent Jewish historic records show that what LifeSiteNews and other Catholics call “myth” and “bad press” was actually a historic fact.
From the Muslim Turkish perspective, talk of Armenian Genocide is just “bad press” against Islam or Turkey. For them, such “bad press” makes Turkey and Islam “suffer.” So radical Catholics are not alone in their complaints of “bad press.”
A pro-Inquisition Catholic Church has no moral to denounce abortion. But the current Catholic Church has not defended the Inquisition. Only some of its more recalcitrant members have done it.
How can such recalcitrant Catholics denounce legal abortion and its torture and death of innocent unborn babies if they excuse, minimize and even defend the same reality in the Inquisition?
As a conservative pro-life evangelical, I will do what U.S. homeschoolers and other conservatives are doing. I will use the 1911 Britannica to defend a conservative stance on abortion and on the Inquisition. I totally reject the modern Britannica and its revisionism of both abortion and the Inquisition.
But since LifeSiteNews is pro-life, it should be consistent. If it wants the conservative 1911 Britannica and its pro-life stance on abortion, it should accept its conservative stance on the Inquisition. If it prefers the modern liberal Britannica and its revisionism of the Inquisition, it should also accept its equal revisionist stance on abortion. Basically, the modern Britannica sees the torture and death of abortion and the Inquisition as equally “myths.”
The 1911 Britannica is consistent in its conservative stances against abortion and the Inquisition.
The modern Britannica is consistent in its revisionist stances equally defending abortion and the Inquisition.
LifeSiteNews has not been consistent; it has accepted the revisionism of the modern Britannica on the Inquisition, but not on abortion.
LifeSiteNews and the minority of recalcitrant Catholics should choose which consistency they prefer: Conservative or revisionist and liberal.
Pro-abortion activists use millions of poor explanations, studies and research to excuse, minimize and defend abortion. Recalcitrant Catholics should stop using less than one dozen of poor revisionist explanations, studies and research to excuse, minimize and defend the Inquisition.
Conservapedia, a conservative “Wikipedia” owned by a Catholic writer, treats the Inquisition much more realistically, and less revisionalistically, than LifeSiteNews does by not labeling it as a “myth” or another term to hide its historical monstrosity.
In so serious ethical topics as abortion and the Inquisition, which involve the human rights of an untold number of innocent victims who suffered torture and death, the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, which is steeped in conservatism, is a much better guide than the modern Encyclopedia Britannica, infected by cultural Marxism and its revisionism.
Portuguese version of this article: Aborto, Inquisição e revisionismo na Enciclopédia Britânica
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.