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  • Joseph McCabe


    By Punkerslut

    Joseph McCabe

         Joseph McCabe was born at the time when Ingersoll was making his greatest speeches and Reynold was being charged with blasphemy. At the age of nineteen, he became a Franciscan monk. However, shortly after joining the monastery, and beginning to live a "life of sanity" as he described it, he started to write. The topic that was most obvious to him was that of his fellow priests and how he held contempt for them and their petty dogmas. To the priesthood and Catholicism, there was no virtue and no merit. It was the epitome of cruelty and lies, full of hatred and deceit. Being perhaps one of the most prolific writers in history, he wrote volumes upon volumes on the subject of Atheism. Much of his work covers the history of Christianity as he unfolded during the wars that ravaged Europe during his lifetime and Christianity of the past. When he spoke of World War I, he said....

    "This war is one of the most deliberately aggressive, one of the most bloody and costly, and the most revolting war in history. It is not the work, of an Attila or a Genghis Khan, a man from the wilds of Asia whose barbaric dreams of conquest had never been checked by the ideals of modern civilization. It is the foul work of men who know how the race has fought during a century and a half, ever since the American and the French Revolutions, to rid its life of the last taint of barbarism and had reached at least a fair prospect of a final victory over violence and injustice: the work of loathsome hypocrites, who masked with a pretense of creating a higher social order the most monstrous greed, the most abhorrent callousness, that ever debased the human mind.

    "Historians have disputed how the guilt of the war of 1914-1918 must be distributed amongst the combatants. No historian will ever hesitate in assigning the guilt for this war. it brands for all time a relatively small number of men in Germany, Italy, and Japan. It puts upon them this infamy, that from a barbaric lust of power and "glory," which ought now to be confined to the idle dreams of young schoolboys, and from an almost insane greed of wealth for themselves and their supporters they set out to drench the planet and in blood and bring incalculable misery upon hundreds of millions of innocent men, women and children. [The Vatican's Last Crime, by McCabe, chapter I.]

         McCabe's books were often edited by the great editor Haldeman Emanuel Julius, who has edited numerous Atheistic works. McCabe started an organization -- The Black International -- under which he published numerous works. A Humanitarian and a Rationalist, McCabe refused to allow brutality any ground on humanity. In one of his works, he describes the prison conditions of Europe and the take-over by Hitler....

    "The Church followed up its victory with the customary inhumanity. All funds and buildings belonging to the workers were confiscated, and the arbitrary arrests of Socialists continued. By the beginning of 1937 there were 24,000 political prisoners, largely men and women who had had no trial, in the jails of Austria. In that year Miss Margery Fry, a very sane and respected British prison-reformer, Wm. Rackham of Cambridge University, and Professor Kimberg, a high authority on prisons, traveled over Europe on a tour of inspection. They were not permitted in any country to see how political prisoners were treated, and were not allowed to visit any jails in Austria, Italy, Germany, and Portugal. But they brought back and told in the British press a horrible story of overcrowded jails in Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Yugo-Slavia, of the use of torture and brutality by jailers and police, of semi-starvation and cruel conditions, of tens of thousands who had never had any sort of trial. On the very day on which I write this a cautious Liberal British paper (News Chronicle, September 25, 1941), describes just such brutality in Spanish jails today. And the world-press still refused to see in these things the shadow of things to come." [How The Cross Courted The Swastika For Eight Years, by Joseph McCabe, chapter III.]

         What is interesting is how McCabe noted with impeccable precision the historical events which unfolded during the time of World War II. He saw....

    "Hitler is a rotten speaker: raucous in voice, graceless in gesture, and loose in the composition of his speeches. It is not 'personal magnetism' that makes him a power with the young -- the older are mostly driven to his gatherings -- but a belief in his genius that is artificially created by years of the most elaborate and most persistent boosting. The most effective speech he ever made was on January 1, 1939, when he replied to the Vatican and world-complaint that he persecuted the Church. There was, of course, a fallacy in his argument. Unquestionably he wanted to change the Catholic Church in Germany in a sense which the Vatican could not possibly accept and of this he said nothing, but his direct reply to the charge of persecution of religion was effective.

    "The German government has always subsidized the Churches but Hitler had more than trebled the subsidy. Between 1933, when he took office, and 1938 it rose from 1,50,000,000 Marks to 500,000,0,00 a year. What was your subsidy to the Churches, he asked of France, Britain, an America? He had never closed a church, and he left the Roman Church the richest land-owner in south and west Germany. It drew 1,500,000,000 Marks a year from its property alone. (German papers give its wealth as $20,000,000,000). All that he asked was that priests should behave themselves as respectably as other citizens. "Paederasty and the corruption of children," he said, "are punished by law like other crimes in this state." The roars of applause in this case expressed the sentiment of practically the whole of Germany." [How The Cross Courted The Swastika For Eight Years, by Joseph McCabe, chapter IV.]

         As a prominent writer and reformer, he traveled all over the world to many nations, often speaking on Atheism. Fluent in several languages, he translated many books, including The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School, by Francisco Ferrer, who was executed at the orders of the Catholic Church. McCabe recalls an incident he remembers from a Spanish city....

    "Some years ago I strolled on a summer day through the drowsy streets of Toledo, an ancient city in the center of Spain. A thousand years ago it was one of the richest and most populous cities in Europe. More than a quarter of a million vivid, prosperous, bright-eyed folk had filled its narrow streets and bought luxuries from every part of the world in its teeming stores. Such was the fame of its craftsmen that the 'Toledo Blade' was sought from end to end in Europe and is still famous in literature. How high Spain would have risen if men had continued to build on that superb foundation of that old Moorish civilization! But in 1923 I found only 30,000 folk, mostly poor and illiterate, living within the ancient walls; and I smiled sadly, when, as I passed along the almost deserted streets, a boy offered to show me where his ancestors had hanged 'those wicked devils the Moors.' It is worse today." [The Vatican Buries International Law, by Joseph McCabe, chapter I.]

         As well as a historian who studied the current times, McCabe was known to study ancient history, tracing the religion and morals in ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, among other countries. To the Middle Ages, he has said...

    "That is the Middle Ages: a stretch of a thousand years during which crime, vice, violence, drunkenness, disease, mortality, brutality, exploitation, and injustice were immeasurably worse than in the preceding or in our own time. Hourly we repeat the division of time into two parts, B.C, and A.D., and millions still think that B.C. means Benighted Chaos and A.D. means Age of Delight. In history we divide time into three parts, Ancient Times, the Middle Ages, and Modern Times; and we consider the Middle Ages (as we ought to say) a period of dark and turbulent semi-barbarism lying between two phases of civilization, ancient paganism and modern paganism." [The Story Of Religious Controversy, Chapter XXI, by Joseph McCabe, "The Dark Ages."]

         As well as writing numerous volumes on ancient and modern history, he also composed countless books on subjects of science. He wrote the very descriptive and lengthy The Story Of Evolution. He also wrote The Evolution of the Mind, where he used the entire teachings of four or five branches of sciences to, as McCabe puts it, "to throw light on one single issue: whether mind is a function of the nervous system and how, as such, it came into being." He also wrote The Psychology of Religion, which is a mix of both religious criticism and science. Being the historian that he was, he had a keen eye for truth and objectivity. In doing so, he largely criticized many encyclopedias which held false information. In The Columbia Encyclopedia's Crimes Against The Truth, McCabe questioned the validity of the Columbia Encyclopedia in numerous matters -- The French Revolution, Communism, Democracy, Voltaire, the Jesuits, Galileo, among other things. In that book, he criticized how the Columbia Encyclopedia portrayed the burning of heretics...

    "When we cross the chronological line of the year 1600, which we did at the close of the first part of this work, an important point to consider is whether the foul practice of imposing penalties, especially the death-penalty, for criticizing the traditional creed continued in what the historians called Modern Times. Some of our historians blunt the edge of the indignation of their readers at the horrors of the Inquisition -- if they have been conscientious enough to tell these -- by reminding them that the Protestants as well as the Catholics now punished or executed men for heresy. Some go so far as to insist that Catholics, having so exalted an opinion of their creed, were logical and consistent in doing so, while the Protestants, being free to read both sides and less peremptory, had no right to inflict such penalties. To all such Sophistry in the mouths of laymen we moderns reply that the papacy and the hierarchy were mainly defending their own privileges by such outrages on the most precious of all freedoms, the right to form and assert one's own convictions. And it is, in any case, most unjust to Protestants to suggest that as long as they had the power to do so they were equally guilty with the Catholics of torturing and murdering men who differed from them." [The Columbia Encyclopedia's Crimes Against The Truth, by Joseph McCabe.]

         Keeping with his nature to question the authority which claims to have a monopoly on knowledge, McCabe wrote Lies And Fallacies Of The Encyclopedia Britannica. In one part of the Encyclopedia Britannica, it describes the Jesuits. McCabe critiques the article...

    "The article 'Society of Jesus' -- even the title has been altered from 'Jesuits,' a word which does not smell so sweet -- ought to have been a happy hunting ground for this Catholic corrector of false dates, but from the older editions of the Britannica it had already in the 11th edition been rewritten by a Jesuit. There are, however, or used to be, Jesuits and Jesuits, and the Father Taunton who initials the article assured me that in private he went far, but one did not look for that in his professional work. His article, endorsed and relieved of any leaning to candor, is still just one of those religious tracts that the Encyclopedia offers the reader instead of seriously informing and neutral articles on controverted points. It is a travesty of the real history of the Society, a touching fairy- tale, mostly based upon what the Jesuit professes to be.


    "Much of this, he [Father Taunton] explains, is due to the superior virtues of the Jesuits and the dishonesty of their critics. He even ventures to include the austere and most virtuous Pascal in a group of critics who are described as 'not scrupulous in their quotations.' He cuts out the serious criticism of Jesuit education (in the old article) in order to protect the fiction, which modern Jesuits have spread, that they were great educators." [Lies And Fallacies Of The Encyclopedia Britannica, by Joseph McCabe.]

         McCabe eventually composed the magnificent work The Story Of Religious Controversy. This unbelievably large work examines with clarity and reason the progression of religion in societies and particular aspects that deserve special consideration. It is significantly longer than Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan. Some of the chapters of The Story Of Religious Controversy are still sold today, but as individual booklets. Available from the AK Press today are A History Of Satanism, Christianity And Slavery, Horrors Of The Inquisition, How Christianity Grew Out Of Paganism, Judeo-Christian Degradation Of Woman, and The Forgery Of The Old Testament. In concern to the Jesuits in this lengthy work, McCabe stated...

    "So far the Jesuits had not been the chief instruments of the Popes. Ignatius, it is true, whose stern asceticism did not move him to protest against the semi-pagan frivolity and license which the Papal Court still maintained, is known to have been one of the chief instigators of Paul III in reorganizing the bloody apparatus of the Inquisition in Rome; though even Roman Catholic historians admit that the records of the Roman Inquisition are still kept in secrecy (or destroyed), and we do not know how much blood it shed or how much property it confiscated. After Ignatius, however, and except under the reign of Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), who hated and endeavored to suppress the Jesuits, they found increasing favor with Popes and princes, and they were the chief stimulators of the fiery sectarian hatred which again reduced Europe to a state of semi-savagery. Almost alone the Jesuits denounced the Peace of Westphalia which closed the war. They had, I may add, fiercely attacked Richelieu for keeping France out of the war, yet they induced him, through the king, to stipulate with the Protestant princes that their property should be spared whenever a Catholic town was taken." [The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, chapter 29.]

         McCabe was objective when searching through history and recording what he saw. He placed an emphasis on using original documents; he called history a science. It can be no wonder then that upon looking at the Inquisition, he was disgusted, as any humane person would be. He describes the process of the Inquisition...

    "On a Sunday morning they gathered the culprits, the clergy, and the people in some great church or public square, and read out the sentences. The unrepentant were then handed over to the secular authorities with a recommendation to mercy -- and a stern assurance, from the Pope, that unless those men and women were burned at the stake within five days the magistrate or prince would be excommunicated and the city or kingdom laid under the appalling blight of an interdict. Then the Dominican or Franciscan agents of the Pope washed their hands, and these modern Catholic apologists ask us to observe how clean they were." [The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, chapter 23.]

         McCabe also wrote in this book about slavery and how Catholicism tied in with it. To quote the book...

    "Pope Gregory, my Catholic friend, was the greatest slave-owner in the world in the sixth century. Announcing that the end of the world was to come in 600 A.D., he kindly allowed land-owners and slave-owners to hand over their property to the Church -- God would not damn the Church for its wealth -- and enter monasteries. The Papacy soon had an income from land, of about two million dollars a year; a stupendous sum in those impoverished days. Enormous numbers of slaves tilled the eighteen hundred square miles of the Church's property. Gregory freed them occasionally: when they got money. He never condemned slavery. He would not allow any slave to become a cleric, and he expressly reaffirmed (Epp. vii, 1) that no slave could marry a free Christian." [The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, chapter 19.]

         In his book, Is The Position of Atheism Growing Stronger?, McCabe wrote a large amount on the subject of Materialism and its future. To quote the book...

    "Given the conditions for the operation of the historic law -- freedom and knowledge -- Atheism will in this century be the common attitude of civilized people. Non-Christians are the great majority in every free country today. Atheists number tens of millions, quite apart from Communist activity, in such countries. Let us get those facts recognized before it is too late. Sooner or later the despairing Churches will try to get a world-alliance with something like Fascist tyranny to check the growth of Atheism. It is their one hope. Let our young folk act in defense of the liberties that have been won for them and break up this fabric of lies." [Is The Position of Atheism Growing Stronger?, by Joseph McCabe, chapter VI, section 3.]

         Since Joseph McCabe wrote over 250 books, translated over 30 books, and claims to have given three or four thousand speeches, I am incapable of truly and fully exposing the dedication this man had for Materialism and Rationalism. Tirelessly and relentlessly, he did as much as he possibly could for the cause of Freethought. He educated those he could, strove for the Socialist agenda, and did as much as possible to curtail the power of the Roman Catholic Church. Having been a member of their clergy, he saw firsthand the brutality and ignorance that they spread and fostered. Having realized this, Joseph McCabe dedicated his life to the destruction of the Roman Catholic Church. He only believed in doing what was humane and rational. He left nothing from logical investigation. His book The Popes and Their Church: A Candid Account, resulted in much criticism. The twentieth Big Blue Book was suppressed by the United States government. The British Rationalist Association expelled him in 1928, because -- as John R. Burr described -- of McCabes' aggressive frankness and skepticism which seemed to offend everyone. Some of McCabe's works include: The Artistic Sterility Of The Church, Atheist Russia Shakes The World, A Biographical Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers, The Church Defies Modern Life, The Church The Enemy Of The Workers, How The Pope Of Peace Traded In Blood, How The Cross Courted The Swastika For Eight Years, Hitler Dupes The Vatican, Is The Position Of Atheism Growing Stronger?, The Story Of Evolution, The Tyranny Of The Clerical Gestapo, Why I Believe In Fair Taxation Of Church Property, The Totalitarian Church Of Rome, Rome's Syllabus Of Condemned Opinions: The Last Blast Of The Catholic Church's Medieval Trumpet, among many others. Seemingly, such a great and influential author, reformer, campaigner -- I am sure there is no single title that fits everything that McCabe did -- yet for someone who did so much, he is considerably forgotten. In chapter 18 of The Story Of Religious Controversy, he declares how he was forgotten...

    "I AM what is called a Feminist. Thirty years ago I left a monastery and began a sane human existence. Within two or three years, I find, I was defending the rights of women. Twenty-five years ago I sat in the lobby of the British Parliament with two of the oldest women-fighters, awaiting the issue of a 'Suffrage Bill.' The cause was not then respectable, and I was the only writer who associated with them. Now it has the blessing of the church; and my services are not required or mentioned. It is successful. Only a few weeks ago I attended a great women's meeting in the central park of London. There were a hundred orators, and half of them introduced Jesus and the Bible. Church banners glittered on the platforms. Pretty parsons evoked ripples of laughter and tears of sentiment. And I hung, unknown, on the fringes of the great crowds and smiled -- rather cynically." [The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe, chapter 18.]

         For a man who did considerably much, he was not even recorded in the Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Collier's Encyclopedia, or Online Britannica. It is truly a tragedy that someone who did so much for the advancement of humanity has been so forgotten. In 1955, Joseph McCabe died. On his grave is marked just as he requested, "He was a rebel to his last day." To include only an entry of Joseph McCabe in a list of Freethinkers does not do justice to this great man or his great deeds. It would require several books to cover everything that McCabe did for the cause of Rationalism. Being a person who scrutinized every institution he found despicable, it's no wonder McCabe spent much of his life destroying religion. The innumerable reforms he worked for in society and the numerous achievements that he has accomplished are all, unfortunately, forgotten. What McCabe did does live on in all of us, having formed the society that we lived in. To those of us who wish to remember how we got to where we are, who the great Rationalists and Humanitarians were, we will inevitably look back and see the face of Joseph McCabe.


    Joseph McCabe Links
  • Wikipedia: Joseph McCabe
  • Wikipedia: Joseph McCabe
  • Gutenberg.org: Joseph McCabe Collected Works
  • Collected Works at Infidels.org
  • Collected Works at PositiveAtheism.org
  • List of "Little, Blue Books" by Thomas McCabe
  • Collected Works at EnglishAtheist.org

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