Armageddon in Italy: Mother of all Battles Begins

Forget the War on Christmas. The War on Blasphemy is over. Intelligent Design doesn’t matter anymore. Pat Robertson is now a has been — if he ever really was in the first place.

The first round in the apocalypse of online battles has just been fired, with secularists lining up against the proselytes in Italy. From Yahoo News:

An Italian court is tackling Jesus — and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

The case pits against each other two men in their 70s, who are from the same central Italian town and even went to the same seminary school in their teenage years.

The defendant, Enrico Righi, went on to become a priest writing for the parish newspaper. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, became a vocal atheist who, after years of legal wrangling, is set to get his day in court later this month.

“I started this lawsuit because I wanted to deal the final blow against the Church, the bearer of obscurantism and regression,” Cascioli told Reuters.

Cascioli says Righi, and by extension the whole Church, broke two Italian laws. The first is “Abuso di Credulita Popolare” (Abuse of Popular Belief) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second crime, he says, is “Sostituzione di Persona”, or impersonation.

“The Church constructed Christ upon the personality of John of Gamala,” Cascioli claimed, referring to the 1st century Jew who fought against the Roman army.

A court in Viterbo will hear from Righi, who has yet to be indicted, at a January 27 preliminary hearing meant to determine whether the case has enough merit to go forward.

While this is a political site and I tire of posting religious articles, I couldn’t resist this one. Perhaps we can, once and for all, settle all these silly little religious issues in court so Bush will send our boys in Iraq back home.

25 Comments
  1. This is absurd. First of all, there is ample historial and census evidence to prove that Jesus Christ lived. His divinity, and the overall existence of God is a matter of faith. That is, it can not be proved.

    PS – I’m a christian myself, and I really get sick of libertarians railling on Christians for believing in a God. I even oppose christians taking a political agenda to force their moral convictions on those who chose to practice otherwise, but libertarianism is supposed to be above such petty arguments. Live and let live.

  2. HAHAHA! Historically proven? Fact based? I thought Christians didn’t smoke marijuana!

    Are you a theologian? Who writes the history books? Are they unbiased? Oh and are you using “science” to prove the existence of this guy? Or do you discount science as heresy?

    Believe in God all you want. This IS a right… a bargaining chip for voters.

    I think that Mr. Cascioli, has a good point

    And If the Roman Catholic church is so “good” why is it that the poor die in the streets of vatican city while the PALACE is opulent and filled with “priceless” and often times stolen antiquities?

  3. Matt,

    I didn’t rail, but reported. I’ve never expressed my religious beliefs (other than pledging faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster) on this site. I covered the issue because it is of interest to many of our readers, some of whom aren’t even libertarian.

  4. Actually it was proven in 2000, that the Jesus myth was a Jewish version of the god-man born of a virgin who dies for the salvation of the souls etc etc, one of many many from the region dating back 1000’s of years. See “The Jesus Mysteries.” It was a pagan myth starting with Dionysis and Osirus, Bacchus in Greece (who is pictured on the books cover hung on a cross). Christianity has its true origins in paganism, right down to the fish…that is a dissection of two intersected circles that are a result of an equasion equaling 253, the number of fish in a story identical to the one in which jesus executes a “miracle” with the multitude of fish…

  5. The above comment is laughable. Jesus is attested to by several sources that weren’t even Christian; and the Christian sources that mention him (the four Gospels, some of Paul’s earliest letters like Galatians) are better-provenanced than Julius Caesar’s “The Gallic Wars.”

    Debate Jesus’ divinity all you like, but he was a real historical figure. Oh, and Stop Hurting America-I AM a theologian, I DO believe in science and reason, and I HAVE looked at all the facts, and when you’re done with that doobie you’re smoking I WOULD like a hit.

    Besides, this does have bearing for libertarians-someone is trying to restrict free speech, free religion and even free scholarship here. Mr. Cascioli is trying to make it a crime to teach that Jesus of Nazareth was a historical figure, which in turn legally closes the issue to scholars, and makes the Christian faith illegal in Italy.

  6. This is absurd. First of all, there is ample historial and census evidence to prove that Jesus Christ lived.

    Personally I do believe a man similiar to JC existed. However, the claim that there is ample historical evidence of JC is completely false. There is very little historical evidence of JC, if there is even any at all.

  7. What do you call all the letters written about him? Letters that date to twenty years of Jesus’ death? Paul of Tarsus could have easily been refuted by Judean citizens if his letters were wrong. Instead, the Jewish historian Josephus attests to his existence and no source in antiquity claims he never existed.

  8. My mother-in-law, a Hindu, and I discussed the divinity of Jesus once. It seems that at least the Hindu faith recognizes Jesus as a prophet. I have my own (non)belief regarding his divinity, but his existence I have never questioned.

  9. I am assuming you are referring to the letters contained in the Bible. We will probably disagree on this, but like most scholars, I don’t consider the Bible a historical source.

    As for Paul, it is widely accepted that he never even met Jesus. His only “meeting” with Jesus was a vision that he supposedly had.

    The only historical reference that could be attributed to Jesus is Josephus’ mention of a similiar name.

  10. Response to a few of the above points:
    1. There is no “census evidence to prove that JC lived.”
    2. To say the four gospels attest to JC’s existence is like saying that Robin attests to Batman’s existence.
    3. Paul of Tarsus never met the Jesus he’d heard of, nor did he know of Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John. He saw the connections between his previous religion (the ever-popular Mithraism) and the latest Jewish Messiah cult, and reconciled all that appealed to him, as is the case w/ all new religious teachings.
    4. Josephus Flavius did NOT attest to JC’s existence – until Eusebius, a known ‘forger for God’ inserted one out-of-context awkwardly-written paragraph into Josephus’s writing in the 4th century; it curiously wasn’t in there prior to then. And other writers of antiquity, such as Celsus, DID claim that Jesus was a fictional character.
    5. Most Judean citizens never heard of Paul of Tarsus, and had no reason to try and refute him, as Messiah cults were dime-a-dozen.

  11. As so many attest, I too am familiar with the god-man born to a virgin and laid in a manger who worked miracles and had twelve followers, hosted a final sacramental meal, gave himself as the final blood sacrifice so others could be redeemed, and rose the third day. Of course, I liked the story better a few centuries *before* this Jeebus dude, when he was called Mithra. Huh? You’re a Christian and you’ve never heard of him? Don’t tell me, you also totally dig Harry Connick Jr., but you’ve never heard of Frank Sinatra?

  12. The thesis that Jesus was based upon a mythological figure
    was soundly tossed aside in most scholarly circles around the 1980s. Since most of the supposed paralles were far-fetched, many debunkers had to abandon this idea. Now the bulk of the arguments focus on the historicity of Christ.

  13. Just another quick post (sorry): These debates are good,but it frightens me that there is such a level of arrogance on both sides. Most of the people here share similar political beliefs, so we do have some common ground. Our discussions should be based on the factual aspects of the posts, not focusing on the intelligence of other commentors.A few of the Christians here have not approached the table like Jesus would have: with love and patience.Mr. Gordon obviously didn’t mean to offend anyone.

  14. Not being a religious person myself, I really don’t care if Jesus actually existed or not – I’ve no agenda either way – but being a curious person, I try to examine the evidence, which mostly suggests that he probably didn’t. But if he did, cool… I just await a sound argument to that effect.

    What’s disturbing to me is that people like J, in comment 13, try to argue by mere naysaying and contradiction, rather than actually engaging any of the points made by other posters.

    If the Mithraic source of the Christ myth is bogus, I’d like to know how so. Even early church fathers such as Justin Martyr resorted to a laughable counterargument on this: that the “devil” had plagiarized Christianity by anticipating the story centuries in advance.

    If “scholarly circles around the 1980s” (not just sophist theologians) debunked the idea that Jesus was based upon someone else, we need to know their counterarguments. There’s a lot of reaction, but a dearth of fact and logic.

  15. James, your point is extremely well taken, and I admit that my point was a little vague and not entirely helpful. My basic point about the mystery religions was summed up in comment 13:” the parallels were far-fetched”. That may sound arrogant, and certainly I tried to avoid sounding that way,but that is my paraphrasing of a few works I have read.
    This may sound defeatist, but I really never intended to engage in an argument. I just wanted to throw my two-cents in, and walk away. I find it impossible to have a rational debate on-line (at least for me), and I think that everyone’s comments, including my own, don’t convey enough of what they truly mean.And I also admit that for an atheist, to say I believe in a Jewish carpenter that existed two-thousand years ago is intellectually bizarre.
    The thing I wanted to stress may be that which I missed:there’s a lot of common ground here politically.Let’s be proud of it. So,thanks James for your criticism.I’ll think more before I post.

  16. I FEEL REALLY SORRY FOR ALL NON BELIEVERS AND ATHEISTS WHO ARE TRYING TO HIDE FROM THEIR SINS AND TRANSGRESSIONS BY DENYING JESUS EVER EXISTED. ( GOD BLESS YOUR SOUL ).YOU PROBABBLY BELIEVE IN HITLER,KHAN,STALIN,HUSSEIN,BUSH , CRUEL WORLD LEADERS. YOU NEVER MET THEM,ONLY HEARD AND READ OF THEM.THEY ONLY PREACHED MURDER AND HARM.YET, YOU INSIST THEY EXISTED . WITH NO REAL PROOF IN FRONT OF YOU ,WITH NO REASON TO BELIEVE, YOU NEVER BEEN TO A CONCENTRATION CAMP YET YOU BELIEVE. WHY THEN IS IT SO HARD TO BELIEVE AND FOLLOW A “MAN” WHO ONLY PREACHED LOVE. IS IT TO BORING FOR ATHEISTS? MAYBE WE WOULDN’T BE IN IRAK IF ALL WE DID WAS FOLLOW HIS TEACHINGS. THEY ARE FREE AND HARMELSS. MAYBE THATS THE PROBLEM . THEY ARE FREE. LETS KILL PEOPLE AND MAKE THE NEWS SO WE CAN BLAME GOD OR JESUSU FOR THEIR INNOCENT DEATHS. THINK OF ONE SMALL THING BEFORE YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS IF JESUS EVER EXISTED. THE PHENOMENON OF THE STIGMATA WHICH IS VERY ACTIVE AND IN THIS WORLD STILL TODAY.

    GOD BLESS

  17. SO WHAT DOES AN ATHEIST REALLY BELIEVE? THE BIG BANG? EVOLUTION?WE WERE MONKEYS ONCE EATING BANANAS?
    HOW DO YOU MOVE ON EVERY DAY NOT BELIEVIG WHEN ITS IN FRONT OF YOUR NOSES. DESTRUCTION. WAR,FAMINE,POLLUTON,DISASTERS, IF YOU DONT BELIEVE IN GOD YOU MUST BELIEVE IN MAN. SO HURRY UP THEN FIX THE PROBLEMS YOURSELF AND LETS ALL STOP PRAYING AND STOP ALL PROBLEMS AND LIVE HAPPY. OK LETS GET TOGETHER STOP IRAK FIX NEW ORLEANS INVENT CURES FOR ALL ILLNESS, GLOBAL WARMING ( NOT REAL PROBLEM ACCORDING TO THE HIGHLY EDUCATED AMERICANS) . PLEASE INFORM ME WHEN YOU ARE READY TO SAVE ME FROM ALL THESE EVILS , THEN AND ONLY THEN WILL I PUT JESUS CHRIST ON THE BACK BURNER BECAUSE I WOULD NEED HIM, I HAVE THE ALL MIGHTY SCIENTIFICAL ATHEIST WHO WILL GUIDE ME TOWARDS THE RIGHT PATH. ALSO IF JESUS NEVER EXISTED NEITHER DID MOSES,MOHAMMAD,HITLER,HUSSEIN,MUSOLINI,FRANCO,KHAN,ELVIS, WHY SHOULD THEY, I NEVER SAW THEM SEE TO BELIEVE , ISN’T THAT WHAT NON BELEIVER REALLY IS? SO SORRY THEY NEVER EXISTED.

  18. I DONT WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE CRAP ABOUT SCIENTIFIC DATA WHEN ALL YOU ATHEISTS ARE REALLY TRYING TO DO IS PROOVE A POINT THAT YOU CAN NOT DEFEND. “{STIGMATA)”
    STIGMATA
    STIGMATA
    STIGMATA

    PLEASE FIGURE THIS OUT FOR ME SCIENTIFICALLY AND PLEASE REMEBMER THAT DOCTORS,SCOLARS,TEACHERS,SCIENTISTS HAVE ALL BEEN CALLED AROUND THIS PHENOMENON AND HAVE RULED IT ” SUPERNATURAL”.
    WOW A SCIENTIST CALLING SOMETHING SUPERNATURAL , DO I SENSE SOME BELEIFE OR JUST TOTAL IGNORANCE AND LACK OF COMMON SENSE ON A ATHEIST LEVEL.

    PLEASE I BEG FOR AN EXPLANATION BECAUSE I AM STOOPID, NOT AS SMART AS MY FELLOW ATHEIST.

    ” STIGMATA” EXPLAIN.

  19. The intelligent have spoken and represented their side of this little debate well… BONUS…. he found CAPS to do it!

  20. that’s it? so much chatter and thats your proof. please . stop insulting the faithfull and their intelligence. go read some more science books and come back to me later. i write in small letters now because the caps confused you .sorry oh mighty intelligent one.
    god loves you laughable morons.

    robert

  21. personally, i think Cascioli is a genius. how else would you end the pointless agrument of “does jesus exist or not”? i am a christian. i do go to church, i celebrate easter and christmas on the religious aspect, but i personally dont think jesus exits. im intelligent, and im also “faithfull” (robert)i have no problem going to church every sunday and listening about how im going to hell. :D i dont mind sacrificing chocolate for lent. and yet, i still say he doesnt exits. religion is childplay. when your young, you think dying is ok because you end up with little wings with your loved ones and live ona cloud!! your petrified of cartoon red and horny little devils. armed with pitch forks!!! GET WITH THE PROGRAM .
    god and jesus can never be proven alive or never to have existed. god/jesus can only be proven with religious experiances… and since im only 16, iv never had a religious experiances,so i see no point in believing in a grown up fabrication of the easter bunny!

  22. BULLSHIT!

    [ed- congratulations, you know how to curse. Care to offer something with actual insight or substance next time?]

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