Discrimination of alternative beliefs/medicine


Another excerpt from Why we believe what we believe:

The propensity to believe that other people’s values are misguided has fostered centuries of animosity throughout the world. When the early Christian missionaries first observed shamanic rituals practiced by indigenous tribes outside Europe, they usually thought of these rites as the devil’s work. They believed that punishment and conversion were essential for the salvation of the natives’ souls. The French Franciscan priest Andre Thevet, when visiting Brazil in 1557, noted in his diary:

I cannot cease to wonder how it is that in a land of law and police, one allows to proliferate like filth a bunch of old witches who put herbs on their arms [and] hang written words around their necks…to cure fevers and other things, which are only true idolatry, and worthy of great punishment.”

How would such priests react today if they were to wander down the aisles of an American health-food store filled with exotic tinctures and herbal preparations? The sheer numbers of Proestants alive would no doubt make them long for another Inquisition.


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