Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

History, The falsification of.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

It will be gathered from a large number of articles in this Encyclopedia that the great gain of the adoption of scientific methods in modern history and of extensive discoveries in archaeology is offset by a lamentable falsification owing to concessions to religious writers or sectarian influence. It has gravely increased the difficulty of the Rationalist education of the public that, just when science has generally succeeded in silencing "the drum ecclesiastic" (in Huxley's phrase), history is increasingly listening to it. Recent issues of the leading encyclopedias have permitted very serious alterations of historical articles or invited clerical writers to contribute articles on subjects on which they could not be expected to be impartial or accurately informed. Serious attempts have been made even to impose the new spirit of accommodation upon teachers of history in universities, colleges, and the national schools. Poynter tells of an amazing plot of this nature in his Roman Catholics and School History Books (1930). However one may analyse the motives or the influences, conscious or subconscious, the evil begins with a number of professors or writers of history of some distinction, especially in the United States. [See, for example, the articles Arabs; Christianity; Dark Age; Democracy; Middle Ages; Monasticism; Papacy; Philanthropy; Reformation; Rome; Thirteenth Century; and subsidiary articles mentioned in them.] The intellectual and moral status of pre-Christian civilizations is vindicated against ancient calumnies by virtually all modern authorities; yet in the case of Rome, while Protestant writers like Dr. E. Reich and Sir S. Dill have been generous in stating the truth, a number of recent historical writers, men who show no command of classical literature and the inscriptions, have used language in conformity with the old prejudices. This encourages theological writers to repeat their discredited claims that the Gospels brought a new and higher type of religion and ethic into the contemporary Roman world; that the Christians generally exhibited a superior type of character which attracted thoughtful Greeks and Romans; and that the acceptance - in reality enforcement - of the Christian religion was followed by a social and moral improvement. But greater evil is done by a falsification of the social history of the Christian, or at least the Catholic, era. In this respect Catholics have had a remarkable success in adulterating history. On the plea that the Protestant and Rationalist historians of the last century were moved by a prejudice against Catholicism, or that the development of psychology and of economic and social science gives the historian a new equipment for the study of earlier peoples, some historians - this does not apply to the Cambridge Mediaeval History - profess to give a new and sounder estimate of the period of solid Church influence. The title given to the first half, the Dark Age, is, largely on the quite false ground that it means the whole of the Middle Ages, declared to be unjust, and the second part, the Renaissance in the broader sense, is described more or less in harmony with the claims of Catholic writers. The historians in question betray that they have no command, as the historians of the last century had, of medieval literature. They ignore completely the immense literature which tells the licence and coarseness of life of the clergy, monks - all that they say of monasticism is to give a description of the ideal of a Benedictine abbey or describe Francis of Assisi - and people of all classes; and they profess that it is a mark of liberality to follow Catholic writers on the work of Gregory VII or Innocent III, the Massacre of the Albigensians and the Hussites, the Inquisition and the Reformation (See Coulter's Sectarian History, 1937). Admirable as it is to trace neglected social, political, and economic factors in this stretch of history, the deliberate suppression of its many evil features falsifies history and the sociological valuation of institutions. The same tendency is seen in the deliberate depreciation of the Arab-Persian civilization, which conceals the real source of the European Renaissance and confirms the preposterous claim that the Roman Church inspired it. Even in the modern period we find the same grave departure from the canons of history in the undiscriminating condemnation of the French Revolution, the suppression of the terrible injustices of French life which led to it, and especially the concealment of what Lord Acton called the savagery of the Roman Church in its fight against progress from the fall of Napoleon to 1870 (in Spain and Russia until recently). This falsification of history, at least by the suppression of facts and of relevant but distasteful contemporary documents, is one of the most unfortunate features of modern culture. The scores of articles in this Encyclopaedia in which it is exposed show that a new and thorough history of the Christian era is urgently needed.


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