"Religion And The Witch Craze": Accusations, Trials And Executions

1312 words - 6 pages

Religion has always played a key role in establishing the accepted views and beliefs of society. The church's enormous influence has caused many societal changes throughout history. Among them was the influence of the church during the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The church, striving for conformity, as it still does today, played a key role in enhancing the lengths to which the judicial system of the time would go in order to rid the world of its evil. This need for religious and political conformity spawned a number of different issues for the time, many of them based on the belief that the problems of the world or even their neighbors were the works of ...view middle of the document...

This opened the door for a whole new world of accusations and executions to take place. Due to the churches strict guidelines, those who felt they fell short of "Gods will" often felt extremely guilty which led to more accusations of witchcraft stemming from a need to release the guilt they felt as a result of failing the church. Those feeling extremely guilty would often try to place the blame elsewhere and that often meant on someone else. The Catholic priests thought that their sexual guilt was related to the witches. Women were thought to have power over man because their beauty and sexual prowess could be used as a means to convert an innocent. The Protestant clergy thought that if you did not follow their strict rules then you would succumb to the power of the devil. If animals died or children became sick, it must be the devil at work through a witch.The church often spoke more the repercussions of worshipping the devil and of his many forms more than the sermons pertained to God as a means of forcing conformity among the community. The Protestant Reformation established the Bible as the sole source of religious truth and it had been translated into several different languages and most took the translations literally as in Exodus 22:18. It did not matter that the translated version did not mean what it was originally intended to mean. The translation of it took on an entirely new meaning to which the word "witch" now meant a sorcerer that had made a pact with the devil from simply meaning someone who works in darkness and mutters things. The change in the translated meaning was the meaning that was taught by the clergy to society as a means of reinforcing the "truth" of what the church was teaching. The clergy used the "Wrath of God" for committing sins to instill fear into the people. This along with the idea of what it meant to sin and the guilt associated with the act and repercussions of committing a sin was a large catalyst in intensifying the search for evil and eradicating it from society all stemming from the enormous influence the church had over the people during this period in time.The passage of the ability to prosecute witch trials from the ecclesiastical courts to the secular courts had an extremely negative effect on those who were accused. The judicial systems of rural areas were bias against most who were accused of witchcraft As a result of the churches overwhelming influence on political issues. Most of the judges in the rural areas were untrained and unknowledgeable which left most of the accused to fight a losing battle. The judges simply held the same beliefs as the church, whether...

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