Greatest Religious Hoaxes of All Time

Humanity has a built-in desire to believe in some power greater that themselves. Religions throughout the ages have used this facet of human nature to help control and direct their society’s behavior. Despite the people’s willingness to believe the fantastical stories of the gods, the hierarchy has sought material objects to help reinforce their belief systems. In time these hoaxes have been revealed even though the truth has not always altered the belief.

One such hoax was perpetuated by the Roman Church [or was perpetrated on them] by the object called the “Shroud of Turin”. This was supposedly the cloth used to wrap Jesus’ body after the crucifixion and through a purported miracle, an image of his face and body was imprinted for all to see and venerate. This cloth has not withstood scientific investigation. The cloth itself is of a type manufactured in medieval Europe rather than the Middle East of two millennia ago. Carbon dating has confirmed this age. The process by which it was created was found in the notes of none other than Leonardo da Vinci and it is thought that the “face” in the cloth is the artist’s own.

Another great religious icon has been debunked in recent times. According to the Church of Latter Day Saints, their founder, John Smith, received the text for the “Book of Mormon” from golden plates shown him by an angel. For over a hundred years this was not questioned. However, in 1980 the LDS History Professor Stanley B. Kimball gained permission to run tests on these plates to authenticate their origin. Professor Lynn Johnson of the Materials and Science Department of Northwestern University tested a sampling of the plates using such techniques as X-ray fluorescence analysis and a scanning electron microscope. Regrettably the tests showed that the plates were not gold at all but a brass alloy of a type manufactured in the early 19th century.

Not only artifacts, but rituals as well, were subject to human manipulation. The days of the week we still use were of ancient Sumarian creation and were adopted by the Hebrew people during their enslavement in Babylon. In their religious beliefs, the seventh day, now called Saturday, was set aside as a day of rest. This Sabbath Day was specified to remember and honor God’s creation of the Earth and the heavens. As the forming Christian religion was being introduced to Rome in the first few centuries of the Common Era, anti-Semitic sentiments were so strong that the religious leaders forswore “Jewish” holidays.

Even before Constantine codified the religion in the late fourth century, the celebration of “The Lord’s Day” had become common practice. This day, celebrated on Sunday, was to honor and remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It is why the standard work week was foreshortened to five days with two days of rest. The newly formed Roman Catholic Church accepted “The Lord’s Day” and proclaimed it as a replacement for the Jewish Sabbath. However, they are two distinctly separate holy days and why, unwittingly, for nearly two millennia the hallowed “Ten Commandments” have been almost universally broken in at least the one instance of command that followers should “Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy”.


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