On Burning Churches

I’ve seen a few supposedly leftist pages celebrating or laughing about the catastrophic fire that destroyed the historic cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris today. One particularly loathsome meme inappropriately uses a Buenaventura Durruti quote which says “the only church that illuminates is the one that burns in flames.”

Really? Well then would these self described “leftists” say that burning Black churches in the American south is “illuminating?” What about mosques bombed by the US or its allies? Or the destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban? Or how about the desecration of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries by neo-Nazis?

One can criticize and condemn the institutions of authoritarian religion, its repressive and abusive practices, its patriarchy and hierarchy, and its systemic support of reactionary government and societal trends. But to not recognize the value of place, or culture, or history, or art, or community, or strength that many of these places engender is the height of hubris. And to celebrate their destruction lacks basic humanity and the principle of solidarity. In short, it is far from leftist. It is fascist. But sadly today too many can no longer make the distinction.

Kenn Orphan   (2019)

Photo is of a Black church burned by white supremacists in the American South courtesy of Getty Images.

1 thought on “On Burning Churches

  1. Dermot M O Connor

    It’s also spectacularly ignorant of the complex history between religion & science, and the contribution made to the present by those medieval christians (and muslims).

    The mostly young male new atheist types who believe that religion was the enemy of science / knowledge are parroting some nasty 17th century tripe. Historians like Duhem and Haskins began to debunk the ‘backward medieval church’ trope in the 1920s. But these modern ‘secularists’ who would claim to love science and knowledge prefer to get their history from the 17th century, for some reason. Never saw a Puritan pamphlet they didn’t believe.

    Tim O Neill’s site ‘History for Atheists’ is an excellent resource for Conflict thesis myth-busting (but from reading comments from these ‘Cult of Reason’ types, they’re beyond reason).


    The great historian Edward Grant wrote the excellent ‘Science & Religion’:

    The late David C. Lindberg’s ‘God & Nature’ also useful:



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