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How religion was reformed in the West
The reformation
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July 27, 2007
iranian.com

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The reformation of Christendom began in the 16th century, agreed by most, to have been started by Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk. Luther felt that over the course of the many years in power, the Catholic Church had fallen into corruption and had deviated from the truth of the Bible and Christ.

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In 1517 Luther literally nailed his "95 Theses on the Power of Indulgences" to the bulletin board on the door of the Wittenburg Castle church, which officially started the reformation process. In his Theses, he objected to the many false doctrines and malpractices, that troubled not just him, but many Christians of the time, as they saw that the Church had become distant from what many felt were the true teachings of Christ.

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Additionally, it had become a common practice for the Catholic Church at the time, to sell what were called indulgences, as well as positions of power within the Church. Luther and many felt that this endemic corruption reached all the way to the Pope, which is where things got particularly sticky for Luther and his growing followers.

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The corruption surrounding indulgences involved the payment to church leaders in return for the absolution of one's sins. So, if you committed a sin, you would pay the priest, and confess, and he would forgive you. Pay, Pray, and you can go back out and Play.

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The Protest against these corruptions and the perceived drift from Christ's original teachings, became known as the Protestant movement, and heralded the greater Reformation period of Christianity. This process roughly began in 1517, and lasted until the signing of the Munster treaty by the Catholics, and Osnabruck treaty by the Protestants, known as the Peace of Westphalia around 1648, in which, Catholics and Protestants were declared equal, and Calvinism (later to become the Presbyterians) was given legal recognition.

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All of this however, was happening during the ongoing Inquisitions. An Inquisition as its name implies, is essentially an investigation and judgment of an accusation of Heresy. Heresy was deemed to be the accusation of conversion or deviation by a baptized person, to another faith, or some equally morally objectionable practice. Inquisitions were primarily used to consolidate religious power and achieve greater Christian unity.

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There were at least 3 large scale Christian inquisitions; the Medieval Inquisition which lasted from roughly 1184-1230, the Spanish Inquisition which lasted from roughly 1476-1834, and the Roman Inquisition which lasted from roughly 1542 to1850, and included the now famous trial of Galileo Galilei in 1633, in which he defended that the Sun and not the Earth, was the center of the universe.

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The process of the Inquisitions included the persecution and death of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Moslems, Spanish Moslems or Moriscos, Hindus, Protestant Christians, and included other "crimes" such as Superstition, Bigamy, Witchcraft as well as Homosexuality, Sodomy, and Bestiality.

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In the cases of Jews and Moslems, expulsion was most often the judgment passed. Usually against entire communities, as large as 40,000, and forced the mass migration of the condemned, to other parts of the world deemed beyond the jurisdiction and reach of the Inquisition. This resulted in the group of originally Spanish Jews now found scattered around the world, known as the Sefardim.

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The tactics of the Inquisition included imprisonment and torture to elicit confessions that were then used to pass judgment. Torture techniques included, hanging from the ceiling with weights and pulleys attached to your limbs, the most famous device well known as the rack, and the sensation of drowning, were most commonly used to get confessions.

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Death sentences were typically carried out by burning the judged at the stake. If you gave in and confessed, you could in some cases repent and in a public ritual known as the Autos de Fe, reclaim your Christian self and if you knew the right people, could get off in rare cases.

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Overall the Inquisitions spanned more than 700 years. It is estimated that during the Spanish Inquisition alone, which lasted for over 400 years, more than 150,000 Inquisitions were conducted, resulting in between 3,000 to 5,000 executions. Almost all the Jews in Spain, some 150,000 were expelled. The Moslems were either force converted, executed, or repented, choosing to stay and forced to continue practicing their faith in secret.

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