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Baphomet

Reader comment on item: Christianity Dying in Its Birthplace

Submitted by Kierkegaard (United States), Sep 14, 2005 at 19:18

It is a generally forgotten fact that when Islam first came into political collision with the Roman Catholic world ( it had arisen on the fringes of the Byzantine empire, and there is some evidence that its original gospels were taken from Syriac Christian ritual), it was viewed not only as a heresy but one directly inspired by Satan. Its rituals of sanctified slaughter, particularly the public sacrifice of goats, its physical prostrations, intolerance of saints and other divinities (such as Christ) and violent desecration of churches and synagogues were all viewed as inherently Satanic. Indeed Islam's founder, Mahomet, was transformed syncretically into the major demon, Baphomet--evidence of his worship was a major charge in the later persecution of the Order of the Knights Templar, who alone among the crusading groups had conducted scholarly studies of and what we would nowadays call cultural exchanges with Islam. An odd alliance between the Templars and the Ismaliens (called the "Assassins' after their addiction to hashish; it was they who invented the suicide assassin/martyr) who were headquartered in the Bekaa Valley and a castle in northern Iran (Marco Polo witnessed its destruction by the Mongols) had helped to maintain stability in the 'Crusader Kingdoms' until the fall of Acre, biblical Akko; after that the Templars' usefulness was ended and this alliance held against them. The Ismaliens continued as a geopolitical force long after the Mongols had attempted to exterminate them, and their modern titular leader, the Aly Khan, continues to derive his title and a portion of his wealth from them even today from his base in Pakistan. But all this is neither here nor there.

Nowadays, of course, we know that such superstitions are utter nonsense and that history is mere coincidence. Church leaders, quite rightly, reject the existence of Satan, though I understand that they respect the belief in Satan inherent in Islam ('the Great Satan' is a common term for the United States, for example), which does crop up with rather embarrassing frequency in both the Koran and the Christian Bible. Many modern American Christians feel the soubriquet, while symbolic, is well-deserved for the horrors we have, as a culture, unleashed upon the world, and in this matter mainstream American churches merely reflect the views of their ever-shrinking constituencies.
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