Is Catholicism the only religion with true Martyrs, as we define it?
What about the pagans who resisted conversion and were executed by Catholics in the late Roman Empire?
What about Protestants who were massacred by Catholics in the Wars of Religion? For example in France in the late 16th century, if any Huguenot had simply renounced their heresy and gone to Mass, they would have been spared; but many chose to defy the faith and risk death by remaining in their confession.
Or what about famous trials and executions such as Jan Hus?
Or what about Muslims? Are there no examples of Christians slaughtering Muslims who refused to convert? Perhaps during the Crusades?
Any other religions? Not necessarily killed by Christians or Catholics: Sikhs slaughtered by Hindus; Tibeten Buddhists executed by Chinese Communists etc. etc.
The reason I ask is if other faiths can be demonstrated to have had believers give their lives rather than renounce–wouldn’t that take away from the force of witness that the Church gives to her own Martyrs?
Martyrdom isn’t even unique to religion – plenty of people have surrendered their lives instead of capitulating to other pressures, political, social, ethical, sexual, you name it. Being right is not what martyrdom is about, it’s holding belief higher than one’s own life.
That said, I can’t think of any religion with more than a handful of adherents without martyrs.
Well,… if “martyrdom” is simply taking whatever consequences occur from continuing to hold one’s beliefs, then “martyrdom” can’t be limited only to Catholic’s.
The important thing about martyrdom is that one held one’s beliefs perpetually. The beliefs themselves are not relevant to the issue.
To admit that there are martyrs who aren’t Catholic doesn’t “take away from” the righteousness of Catholic martyrs.
It merely brings into question the reason for anyone’s martyrdom.
Were they martyred for the truth, or for something they only thought was truth?
I think you’ll find that most non-Catholic martyrs didn’t die, if that was the consequence of their perseverance, truly as martyrs,… but as “marked men”,… meaning they had been identified as an enemy of some (rather unChristian) power who decided to execute them for their political identity.
In other words, they WOULD have “changed sides” if they could have, but weren’t offered the opportunity in any real way.
And it wouldn’t be Christian to kill someone for not “changing sides”, so those who SAID they were giving the heathen the choice of Christainity or death wasn’t being Christian in the first place.
Mahalo ke Akua…!
E pili mau na pomaikai iaoe. Aloha nui.