Via Rosa Rubicondior:
Read this to be reminded of what Christians did and what Christianity justified with scripture and even advocated when they had the power to do so. And be thankful for those liberal humanists and secularists who took away those powers from a kicking and screaming church and forced them to behave in a civilised way.
And be afraid. There is nothing to stop them doing the same again if ever they regain the power to do so.
From Carl Sagan’s A Demon-Haunted World:
Witchcraft of course was not the only offense that merited torture and burning at the stake. Heresy was a still more serious crime, and both Catholics and Protestants punished it ruthlessly. In the sixteenth century the scholar William Tyndale had the temerity to contemplate translating the New Testament into English. But if people could actually read the Bible in their own language instead of arcane Latin, they could form their own, independent religious views. They might conceive of their own private unintermediated line to God. This was a challenge to the job security of Roman Catholic priests. When Tyndale tried to publish his translation, he was hounded and pursued all over Europe. Eventually he was captured, garroted, and then, for good measure, burned at the stake. His copies of the New Testament (which a century later became the basis of the exquisite King James translation) were then hunted down house-to-house by armed posses—Christians piously defending Christianity by preventing other Christians from knowing the words of Christ. Such a cast of mind, such a climate of absolute confidence that knowledge should be rewarded by torture and death were unlikely to help those accused of witchcraft.