Conservative Magazine Defends Spanish Inquisition, Calls It ‘Ahead Of Its Time’

    The prominent conservative magazine National Review published an op-ed defending the Spanish Inquisition, lamenting that most opinions of it were formed by Elizabethan propaganda.

    Ed Condon, a writer and practicing canon lawyer, argued that northern European kingdoms worked to “paint the Spanish Empire as constitutionally evil; not just a political, religious, and military rival but an existential threat to all that was good in the world.” The Spanish Inquisition, which he wrote became “byword for oppression and abuse dressed up as law,” became the lead example.

    Condon claims that the Inquisition was “ahead of its time” and a “pioneer of many judicial practices we now take for granted.” He argued that the legal concept of “inquisition” is not sinister, but because it was a religious court based primarily on heresy trials, it gained the reputation of an “ecclesiastical thought police run by religious fanatics who trapped innocent laymen with theological technicalities.”

    The inquisition led to the conversion or expulsion of Spain’s Jews upon penalty of death, an event that is commemorated on Tisha B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar. Those who converted were subjected to enhanced investigation by the inquisition, and “lived in fear of denunciation as ‘secret Jews’ and could have their property seized and their lives ruined,” Condon admitted.

    But he added said the jails of the Inquisition were known to be hygienic and well maintained and not run as places of punishment. He acknowledged the inquisition’s use of torture, but said it is often placed out of context.

    He concluded that while the Spanish Inquisition was not “something to be proud of or remembered fondly…it was also, by the standards of the time, in many ways superior to almost all other courts.”

    Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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    Conservative Magazine Defends Spanish Inquisition, Calls It ‘Ahead Of Its Time’

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