If there is a hierarchy to urban legends that skeptics use to try to discredit the Catholic Church, the Spanish Inquisition is probably at the top. It’s an easy one, because most people think they know enough about it to not ask questions, and the knee-jerk reaction to the images brought to mind of thousands being tortured or killed for their beliefs are usually all one needs to make the point: the Church is untrustworthy at best, and genuinely evil at worst.
However, it turns out most of what people think they know about the inquisition is simply not true. The urban legends surrounding the Spanish Inquisition span from Reformation-era England to modern-day Fundamentalism, and are unfortunately so widespread that even many Christians believe them. To put it up front: yes, there were abuses done in the name of the Church—some committed by members of the Church. The urban legends concern the nature and extent of the abuses, as well as who was responsible for them. Although the evils present during various phases of the Inquisition were very real, should not be defended, and have been admitted by the Church, many historical misunderstandings and falsehoods based in anti-Spanish or anti-Catholic propaganda remain to this day.
This was shared to me in the comments over at According to Hoyt– and I am tickled pink, because this is exactly the way it should be spread.
I’d said something without link that was mildly debunking a Common (but Incorrect) Knowledge comment with a digression, and the guy gave me TWO different links! Haven’t read the second one yet, but just started on this one and oh my, it is good.