Character Assassination – Part 1

CAI would like to cover a tactic that religion uses in order to stifle opposing or differing views. This tactic is called Character Assassination. Character assassination is one of the many weapons used against differing beliefs. It is also  used against those who expose lies or abuses in any given institution. All throughout church history, I have read countless examples of this taking place. Not only this, but religious leaders have used this weapon in the “name of God.” Early Church History not only shows us this tactic, but, it also attaches the death penalty to it. It was nothing for the church to not only shame and slander those who disagreed with their doctrinal beliefs, but it was necessary for the church to completely SILENCE those who disagreed. This is why murder was the number one weapon used on “heretics.”  Anyone that disagreed with the church and its leaders, it’s doctrines, methods and rules, were labeled as such and, put to death.

But, history also tells us that murder was not enough for these religious leaders of the early centuries. They didn’t just murder their opposition, they tortured them, sexually abused and mutilated them, they buried them alive, and did all manner of evil to them BEFORE they killed them. History shows us vividly that those that said they loved God and were his followers, committed some of the most heinous crimes against humanity the world has ever known. Many of these crimes I have cited in my book, Religion’s Cell. And, all of these crimes were done “in the name of God.”

The end result of this tactic is to get people to not believe the person that these religious leaders wish to silence.  To show the extent to which some people will go in silencing opposition in doctrine or belief or, silence a victim of abuse in the church, or silencing the TRUTH, I would like to talk about William Tyndale (1536). Everyone should know who this person is since he translated the Bible into English.

Here’s what happened to this Martyr. Let’s see if the same tactics of the church are alive and well today against God’s people who dare to disagree or expose lies and abuses. Here’s Tyndale’s story. Throughout, I will expose tactics of the clergy.

The Martyrdom of William Tyndale (1536)william tyndale

The New Foxes Book of Martyrs,

Pages 121 – 125

We now come to the story of God’s martyr, William Tyndale, who was surely chosen by God to dig up the roots and foundation of the pope’s government. Consequently, the great prince of darkness, having malice against Tyndale, left no stones unturned in his efforts to trap Tyndale, betray him, and take his life.

Tyndale was born near the border of Wales in 1494. He was educated at Oxford and Cambridge, and soon after began his life work of translating the Bible into English. when he left Cambridge, he became schoolmaster to the children of a Master Welch, a knight of Gloucestershire in England.

Master Welch served outstanding dinners, and so was often visited by the educated and high-ranking officials of the church. Being a member of the household, Tyndale ate dinner with them and joined in their discussions about such people as Martin Luther, the German theologian, and Desiderious Erasmus, the Dutch Renaissance scholar and Roman Catholic theologian — and took a hardy part in their discussions about church controversies and questions about the Scriptures.

Since Tyndale was well educated and had devoted himself to studying God’s Word, he never hesitated to give them his judgment about scriptural matters in plain and simple words. When they disagreed with him, he showed them in the Bible what the Scriptures said and how they were wrong in their beliefs and doctrines. This happened frequently at the Welch’s home, and the local clergy soon grew weary of Tyndale’s constant references to the Scriptures and criticism of their doctrines, and began to bear a secret grudge against him in their hearts.

It wasn’t too long before the clergy invited Master and Lady Welch to a banquet without Tyndale, and immediately began to expound their erroneous doctrines freely and without resistance. Undoubtedly they planned this in an attempt to turn Master Welch and his wife against Tyndale and back to their doctrines.

Tactic #1. Try to influence those closest to the victim, against him. Plant the seeds of doubt regarding his character or opposing beliefs by twisting scripture to prove yours. Use God’s judgment as a tool to incite fear and bring friends and family under the control of the clergy, causing them to turn their backs on the victim. I cannot express how many times this has been used on victims of abuse in the churches I am familiar with. Whole families were divided by this tactic. This is not a testimony becoming of anyone that names the name of Christ or, claims to believe in a holy and merciful God.

In this they almost succeeded, for no sooner had Master and Lady Welch returned home, then they began to argue with Tyndale about the things the priests had talked about at the banquet. Tyndale used the Scriptures and began to reason with them how the things they had been told were wrong.

Then Lady Welch, somewhat indignantly, said to him, “One of the doctors [of divinity] who was there can afford to spend one-hundred pounds whenever he wishes; and another, two-hundred pounds; and another, three-hundred pounds. So for what reason should we believe you instead of them?”

Tyndale saw that it would do not good to answer her, so after that he talked very little about such matters. He was a that time, however, working on a translation of Erasmus’s book, The Manual of the Christian Knight, which had been published in 1509, and he gave his master and lady a copy of this translation and asked them to read it. They did, and from then on few of the clergymen were invited to their house for dinner, and when they were invited they were not given the opportunity to expound their papal doctrine freely.

As this continued and the clergy realized that Tyndale’s growing influence with the Welch’s was the reason for it, they began to gather together and talk against Tyndale in alehouses and other places, saying that what he was teaching was heresy. They also accused him of this to the bishop’s chancellor [secretary] and some of the bishop’s officers.

Tactic #2: Spread slander and gossip to everyone you know in order to rally others to your cause against the “heretic.” (Today, this would be done via the internet, through blogs and social media.)

As a result, the chancellor ordered the priests to appear before him, and ordered Tyndale to be there also.Tyndale had little doubt that the session was not called for the priests, but to make accusations and threats against him. So on the way he prayed hard and silently to God that He would give him the strength to stand fast in the truth of His Word.

When the time came to appear before the chancellor, he was threatened, reviled, and talked to as though he were a dog. Many things were charged against him, but no one came forth to prove the charges, even though all the priests from the area were there. So Tyndale escaped out of their grasp and went back to Master Welch.

Tactic #3:  Deceptively lure the heretic into a group meeting designed to attack and defame him. Treat and talk to him like he is of no value. Make him feel worthless and guilty. Accuse him of all manner of impropriety and sin. Do this in front of everyone so the group can gang up on him. (This is emotional abuse, by the way.)

Many of the leaders in the cult I came out of have pulled this stunt. They call a meeting with the person that is in opposition or, exposing abuse, and the person unsuspectingly shows up to a room full of people ready to attack and accuse.

Living near the Welchs was a doctor of divinity and former secretary to the bishop who had been friendly toward Tyndale for some time. Tyndale went to him and explained the many things he saw in the Scriptures that were contrary to papist doctrine and that had caused him his problems with the local clergy and the bishop, for he wasn’t afraid to open his heart to this man. Whereupon the doctor said to him, “Don’t you know that the pope is the very Antichrist that the Scriptures speak about? But be careful of what you say, for if anyone finds out that you are of that opinion, it will cost you your life.”

Not long after, Tyndale disputed with a certain theologian about the truth of the Scriptures until the man cried out in frustration these blasphemous words, “We would be better without God’s laws than without the pope.”

When Tyndale heard this, his godly zeal burst forth and he replied, “I defy the pope, and all his laws! If God spares my life, it will not be many years before I will cause every boy who works on a farm plowing fields to know more of the Scriptures than the pope does!”

As time passed, the priests increasingly railed against Tyndale and accused him of many things, saying that he was a heretic.

Tactic #4: Label the individual as a “heretic”. By placing a label on the individual, clergy is attempting to dehumanize him so that dismissing him or his opinions is much easier. Choosing not to address someone individually who challenges the toxic faith places a blanket negative label on all who would agree with that person. Those who disagree with what is taught are labeled as “detractors,” “malcontents” and “traitors”, who would destroy the ministry or organization. These labels then become rallying points under which other followers can be moved to action to hurt the individual. Once the label has been placed, it becomes more difficult to see the person as a human with real needs and the potential for good judgment. This is why church leaders today still use labeling against those that disagree or expose abuses within their institutions.

The pressure of the attacks became so great that Tyndale went to Master Welch and said that he desired to leave his employ and go to another place. “I am certain,” he said, “that I won’t be allowed to stay here much longer, and that you won’t be able to keep me out of the hands of the clergy, even though I know you would try. But only God knows what harm might come to you if you keep me here, and I would be sorry for that.” So Tyndale left with the blessing of Master Welch, and went to London and there preached for a while, as he had done in the country.

Tactic #5: Make the harassment so bad that the person labeled as a heretic has to flee for safety. (In the fundamentalist cult I came out of, abuse victims who spoke out about their abuses have had to literally move to another city to get away from the harassment of the clergy and church members.)

Not long after arriving in London he thought about Cuthbert Tonstal, then bishop of London, and especially Erasmus’s note in his book in which he praised Tonstal for his learning. He felt that he would be quite happy if he could somehow work for Tonstal. Tyndale wrote a letter to the bishop and then went to see him, taking with him a copy of the oration of Isocartes, the Athenian orator and teacher, which he had translated out of Greek into English, but the bishop gave him various reasons why he had no work for him, and advised him to seek work elsewhere in London. Believing that God in His providence had shut this door for a reason, Tyndale then went to see Humphrey Mummuth, an alderman of London, and asked for help. Mummuth took him into his home, where he lived for about a year. While he was there, Mummuth said, “Tyndale lived like a good priest, studying night and day, eating only plain meals and having but one beer with them, and wearing the simplest of clothing.”

During that year, Tyndale felt an increasing urge to translate the New Testament from Latin into a plainer language. But as he saw how the preachers boasted about themselves and claimed total authority in spiritual matters, and how vain the bishops were in everything they did [many clergy act this same way even today], and how much he was disliked by them all, he realized that there was no place he could do it in London or England. Soon God provided him sufficient money through Mummuth and some other men so he could leave England and go to Germany, where Martin Luther had just finished translating the New Testament into German (1521), and was working on many tracts and catechisms and a translation of the entire Bible.

. . . Click here for Part 2.

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