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Publisher's Summary

As we all know, and as many of our well-established textbooks have argued for decades, the Inquisition was one of the most frightening and bloody chapters in Western history, Pope Pius XII was anti-Semitic and rightfully called "Hitler's Pope", the Dark Ages were a stunting of the progress of knowledge to be redeemed only by the secular spirit of the Enlightenment, and the religious Crusades were an early example of the rapacious Western thirst for riches and power. But what if these long-held beliefs were all wrong?

In this stunning, powerful, and ultimately persuasive book, Rodney Stark, one of the most highly regarded sociologists of religion and the best-selling author of The Rise of Christianity, argues that some of our most firmly held ideas about history, ideas that paint the Catholic Church in the least positive light, are in fact fiction. Why have we held these wrongheaded ideas so strongly and for so long? And if our beliefs are wrong, what is the truth? In each chapter Stark takes on a well-established anti-Catholic myth, gives a fascinating history of how it became the conventional wisdom, and presents a startling picture of the real truth.

©2016 Rodney Stark (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A majestically argued, gorgeously written, and essential book by one of the truly indispensable minds of our time. Bearing False Witness is one more gift to history from Rodney Stark. It should in turn be given to and read by students and professors everywhere, whatever their beliefs." (Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Enlightening

Very well done. Learned things I wish I'd learned years ago. Nothing like understanding history to give meaning to today.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Historical Accuracy needed in modern world

As a former protestant and now a new convert to the Catholic faith, I found the information very valuable in explaining some of the prejudices I have encountered since becoming a Catholic

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Convincing refutations

I really enjoyed this book. I especially love that a Protestant wrote it, though I'm a Catholic myself. That is to say, I enjoyed reading something from the perspective of one interested in the truth rather than one simply reinforcing an official viewpoint for its own sake.

Stark is an excellent writer, spirited and entertaining. His wit is dry, crisp, and refreshing as he refutes errors and sets the record straight. The narrator, while not ideal for the subject, was competent, though he does have a tendency to pronounce Latin as if it were modern Italian.

The subjects address are varied and fascinating. These include: historical accusations of anti-Semitism, a discussion of the alternative supposedly suppressed extracanonical (mostly Gnostic) texts, the myth that peaceful pagans were persecuted by the Church, the idea that the Church put the Dark in the Dark Ages, the idea that the Crusades were a land grabbing insult to Islam, the lies about the Inquisition, the allegation that the Church squashed scientific progress, the question of slavery, the accusation that the Church supports totalitarian states, and resistance to Protestant modernity.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Excellent and much-needed history.

This book is very much in line with other books by Rodney Stark. It addresses many very important misconceptions still commonly believed in our world today. As an amateur historian, and as someone who cares about the truth, I highly recommend this book.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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This book is very exacting and informative

this book as much detail what is necessary to clearly illustrate what and how the biases affect history

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great book about historical lies. The performance, not so much.

This would be a 5 star book, except for the narrator. I think this book would sound only slightly worse if read by a computer. His phrases are choppy and his tone doesn't flow. Think a computerized reading. It's hard to follow the narrative of the author because of this reading.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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A Mostly-Compelling Work to Restore History

The audiobook quality itself is excellent. Great narrator. For those who cannot trust Roman Catholics scholarly works themselves, this Protestant-minded work does much to undo the rampant exaggerations and lies that have cropped up against the Roman Catholic Church in the past few centuries. Some of you will need to hear this sitting down...

As a Catholic who has read much on many of these topics, I was disappointed that at times the author seemed to fall back upon Protestant myths in order to paint what he thought was a complete picture of the Catholic Church at various points in history. At other times, like with his explanation of the issue involving Galileo and the church, it seemed that he had not read much more comprehensive, contemporary works on the subject. Perhaps he was just being cautious. Or avoiding Catholic scholarship.

However, the overwhelming majority of this book seems to be good secular/protestant scholarship with credible sources to back his often shocking claims (especially if one was raised protestant and/or attended secular schools). His writing on some of the most controversial topics is his best.

There are better books on the topic, but if you can't bring yourself to read Catholic scholars yet, start here. This book might blow your mind. And help you better understand the history of the west. And, I hope, help you to see that Catholocism isn't the wicked institution that so many still make it out to be.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fixing propagandist history

Stark does a good job fixing propagandist history about the Roman Catholic Church. Eye opening for those open minded enough to see past enlightenment propaganda.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read to balance out stereotypical views

this is a great book to balance out the stereotypical views of the catholic church

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Oodles of documented facts

I selected this book because of a friend's high recommendation. She was right. This book is filled with so much information that I will definitely listen to it again! Thank you for writing this!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gone to Texas
  • 11-12-17

Explains the vicious lies directed at Catholicism

Rodney Stark debunks anti-Catholic lies and propaganda.

The so-called "Enlightenment" was a bigoted and anti-intellectal cult which itself hindered progress and contributed nothing positive.

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  • Elon Jepsen
  • 09-02-17

extremely eye opening

so much information that was completely new to me, but a very serious and convincing case was presented. A must read!!!

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  • Phil D
  • 05-26-17

Not a history buff but...

this book changed my outlook on church history. An amazingly accessible and readable book which clarifies and demolishes anti church biases that many take for granted.