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The Secrets of Faith: Examining Historical Atrocities and Modern Apologies

Faith has many secrets. This article questions our need to apologize for ancestors' actions, using "The Sisters of the Good Shepherd" as an example, and whether faith excuses historical atrocities.
Antonius "Ton" Bakker, born May 23, 1961, in the Netherlands, is a writer, speaker, and coach/trainer. With a passion for personal development, he has inspired audiences worldwide.
Antonius Bakker

Faith, any faith, has many secrets. This article explores our tendency to apologize for our ancestors' actions, questioning if we could have acted differently. It examines historical atrocities committed in faith's name, using "The Sisters of the Good Shepherd" as an example. Ultimately, it challenges whether faith is too easily used as an excuse for such actions.

Faith, any faith, has many secrets. This article is certainly not a complaint against any religion, and I hope that you can still derive much support from your faith. Many of the things I am writing about now are time-sensitive facts that perhaps we should also put in context and leave there! At this moment in time, it strikes me that we as humans increasingly want or need to apologize for our ancestors.

Picture: Omroep brabant

Can we offer sincere apologies for our past?

Our ancestors did many things differently than we might have wanted. But people like us are often very good at judging and prejudicing others outside of ourselves. Imagine you had lived somewhere in the past. What would you have done then? Had no slaves been made, had you not become involved in a war, could you have prevented all torture, had there been no casualties under your authority?

Are almost all of us followers?

Could you have prevented it? Maybe the answer to this question is yes. But would you have wanted to prevent it, and what would have happened to you? Would you have dared to speak to those responsible at that time, regardless of your own fate? The rulers and followers of that time also only had the information that was available to them at that time. The people of that time were also economically driven; they too had to survive under the pressure of others, just like we do now. Of course, many of you will deny this, but what do you do in this world without money, without respect from others, without a job that you must defend repeatedly by listening to others and just doing what they say?

Do humans or gods rule this world?

It is very helpful to blame your faith when it is convenient for you. How often are wars fought in the name of that faith? Whatever religion you profess, was it all worth it afterward, and was what you thought before the war correct? And was it all rectified afterward with the necessary apologies to the victims? My mind created this piece when I saw a broadcast on TV about a religious movement known in the Netherlands under the name "The Sisters of the Good Shepherd."

Is our lord really that renowned shepherd?

I am giving an example from a particular church, but I think this example could come from any church in the world. If we go back in time, we hear and read many of these things. Many believers will then say that it must have been "God's will" and that the almighty apparition must have had a purpose with it that we, as wretched people, will never understand. But we must accept it because he is the Almighty, our creator, and according to many, we must always be submissive out of respect.

Does this mean that in religion everything should remain possible?

What shocked me so much was a broadcast on television about "The Good Shepherd," a religious movement that had many monasteries all over the world, with many hundreds of thousands of believers. The nuns who were active in these convents behaved as educators. They said they helped children find the right direction in their lives. In my opinion, these children were treated almost the same as former slaves. They had to work from early to late in manufacturing companies such as laundries, but who got the profits? Which popular well-to-do companies did profit optimization on this? Which companies were so sacred that they made work available to help these children?

Is faith too easy an excuse?

In my youth, my parents and others constantly pointed out to me that young women who had become pregnant unintentionally were taken care of in that monastery in my village. According to the stories, the children born to these mothers would be dumped in a pit with quicklime and therefore never existed. I don't know if this really happened, but I was shocked this week by the fact that many hidden graves of teenagers or women of about twenty years old have been discovered on the grounds where the monasteries were located!

Were the mothers murdered too?

It is wonderful to believe, but remember that most of the victims on our earth fall in the battle for faith. The belief that no one can really explain anymore, but then again, that's why it's a belief, right? According to many, we must also place this story of these monasteries in the "right context." The Sisters of the Good Shepherd will have received this mission from their god. They will have carried out this assignment with great respect. Even today, there are many people who adhere to a faith, but who tells them what the only correct faith is, and whether there is a possibility of retrospective verification? An apology may also be made for these acts soon, but for whom and what? After the terrible Second World War and the persecution of the Jews, many Germans said: "We never knew." But what if the same people had known? Was it "the will of God" again? This story took place in our nineteenth century.

Antonius "Ton" Bakker, born May 23, 1961, in the Netherlands, is a writer, speaker, and coach/trainer. With a passion for personal development, he has inspired audiences worldwide.

Antonius Bakker

Antonius "Ton" Bakker, born May 23, 1961, in the Netherlands, is a writer, speaker, and coach/trainer. With a passion for personal development, he has inspired audiences worldwide.
View all posts by Antonius Bakker

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