Monday, December 13, 2010

Lessons From the Spanish Civil War

Many people today don't know much about the causes of the Spanish Civil War.  For decades, the truth was repressed by the Catholic Fascist government of Spain.  But after General Franco died, and King Juan Carlos both championed and protected a real return to democracy, the facts began to come out.  A recent two part article from Luis Granado's blog and reprinted in Secular New Daily is a real eye opener:

The war was caused by the fact that secular humanists won the national elections "despite the Church’s circulation of a catechism declaring it to be a mortal sin to vote for any candidate who supported freedom of religion, the press, or education".  Apparently, when the Spanish clergy says "god forbid that people should be free", it's in deadly earnest.

Now, think about what that means.  A freely elected government in a Western democracy tried to remove the Catholic Church from its favored position (nothing more--no persecution) and give greater freedoms to individual citizens, and the Catholics in the military found this so intolerable that they overthrew the government. 

The humanists didn't try to make religion illegal or impose communism, they merely tried to bring Spain into the 20th Century.  Here is another quote from the first part:

"The constitution Azaña helped produce pointedly refused to recognize Catholicism as the official religion of the state. On the contrary, it infuriated the Church by its explicit toleration of all varieties of religious belief. Control over marriage, cemeteries, and education was transferred from the Church to the civil government, and Church doctrine was further violated by allowing women full rights of citizenship, including the right to divorce. As Azaña put it on the floor of the Cortes: 'Spain has ceased to be Catholic.'”

"Explicit toleration of all varieties of religious belief"?  Full rights for women?  Government running education?  Obviously the church could not allow all that to happen.  At the urging of the church, conservative elements in the army (sound familiar?) began a war to overthrow their own government.

During the war an estimated 180,000 civilians were killed by the fascists, often on the mere suspicion of being a progressive.  At the end of the war at least another 500,000 Spaniards were executed by their countrymen for having the wrong opinions about religion and society--i.e., thinking progressively.

Another 400,000 were put into slave labor camps and another 400,000 beyond that were driven into exile.

Consider the following chilling thought in light of the current situation in the U.S. military, which is now firmly in the control of religious fanatics who see their duty to god as paramount even to their duty to their country:

"Why did a government that enjoyed majority support lose the war? The simple reason is that it was outgunned. Franco’s rebels received massive aid from Hitler and Mussolini. But the western democracies, including America, would not even sell weapons to the legitimate Spanish government. This was part of the larger strategy of appeasement; it is no coincidence that the Spanish war ended two weeks after Hitler consolidated his control over Czechoslovakia."

That paragraph and the ones following it contain yet another chilling bit of information:

"To a larger extent, though, western democracies refused to help Spain because of the political influence of the Catholic Church.

In the United States, Franco’s Catholic champion was Father Charles Coughlin, the powerful “Radio Priest” whose pro-Fascist broadcasts had to be silenced during World War II. In 1936, though, Franklin Roosevelt had no stomach for a fight with Father Coughlin. Roosevelt announced a “moral embargo” on arms sales to both sides, elevating the military rebels to the same moral plane as the democratically elected government. Enforcement was selective; the pro-Nazi President of Texaco, Thorkild Rieber, received a slap on the wrist fine for supplying the rebels with millions of dollars of oil on credit, while the Martin Aircraft Corporation was prevented from shipping planes and parts that had already been purchased by the Spanish government.

Harold Ickes wrote in his diary: 'He [Roosevelt] said frankly that to raise the embargo would mean the loss of every Catholic vote next fall. . . . This proves up to the hilt what so many people have been saying, namely, that the Catholic minorities in Great Britain and America have been dictating the international policy with respect to Spain.'”
If there is any doubt in anyone's mind that religion is the enemy of freedom and democracy, this story should lay those doubts to rest.

For all non-believers, this story should serve as a warning, and a chilling one at that.  Who is to say it can't happen again?

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