Since the unprecedented leak of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the American Left has very publicly lost its mind. For many conservatives and pro-life democrats, the sight of so many liberals who are enraged that fewer babies will die is disturbing. Such an attachment to the slaughter of the innocents is so unusual, many of us think.
However, this phenomenon is much more the rule as opposed to the exception in the history of human civilization. In fact, only with the advent of Judaism and its fulfillment in Christianity does one see a reversal of the all-too-common attachment to child sacrifice. Many notable civilizations over the centuries practiced some form of sacrifice, such as the Canaanites, the Greco-Romans, the Aztecs, and the Celtic Druids. A brief examination into each of these helps us realize that the Christian tradition finds itself as the exception when it comes to this form of brutality.
Though one can find examples across ancient Mesopotamia of human sacrifice, one of the clearest documented, and condemned, was that of the Canaanites who sacrificed their children to the god, Moloch. Though some scholars quibble over whether the term “Moloch” refers to a pagan deity or the ritual of the sacrifice itself, one thing is clear: ancient Canaanites sacrificed children in fire to appease some demonic force.
Whether modern pro-abortion advocates realize it or not, in essence their attachment to the slaughter of the unborn is an allegiance to Moloch. Not that pro-abortion fanatics attend secret gatherings to worship the half-man half-cow demon, or that they even have little Moloch statues on their mantels; but the devil knows the most appealing way to tempt people. Without a doubt, the love for abortion is the direct work of Satan’s minions conspiring to divert people from the good, the true, and the beautiful.
The cultural pioneers of Western Civilization, the Greeks and Romans, practiced child exposure. While child exposure in this case was not meant to appease some petting zoo styled demon, it contains an uncanny similarity to modern abortion—convenience.
At the birth of an ancient Spartan, the parents brought the child before a group of elders who inspected the child for deformities. Plump and healthy children were allowed to live, and sickly or deformed children were brought to caves, left to die. This practice came about because Spartans considered children property of the state and not the parents, sound familiar?
The Romans also left deformed children to die, sometimes in dung heaps or garbage piles. Another eerie similarity to today’s abortion arguments is that the Romans sometimes justified child exposure to limit the size of families. Increasingly, today we hear pro-abortion advocates justifying the killing of the unborn as a means of reducing carbon footprints in the name of stemming climate change.
Other non-Western civilizations were also famed for practicing human sacrifice. The Aztec civilization perhaps finds itself as the best-known example of this. Many Spanish authors, both conquistadors and friars, wrote of astonishing numbers of people sacrificed in Aztec temples. One account of the consecration of the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan claimed over 80,000 sacrificial victims died over the course of four days.
While many scholars disputed the accuracy of these claims over the years, recent archaeological research has found several examples of mass graves of sacrificial victims of the Aztecs. And while the Aztecs did not necessarily prefer children for sacrifice, one scholar, Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxóchitl, believes that one in five Mexica children were killed annually in the Aztec Empire.
Even early European peoples practiced human sacrifice. When Julius Caesar first encountered the Celtic people of Britain, he noted that the people he encountered there sacrificed war prisoners to their gods. The historian Pliny the Elder added to the record that the Celts practiced cannibalism, eating the flesh of their sacrificial victims. Such rituals do not necessarily target the innocent; however, the Druids would sometimes resort to sacrificing an innocent if no prisoners were available. Though firsthand accounts of such sacrifices do not survive, one may suspect that they may have resorted to children for the “innocents” in question here.
As history shows, many more societies celebrated or tolerated the slaughter of children than opposed it. Both contemporary society and the Greco-Romans left children to die because of disabilities or “family planning” purposes. In other instances, people celebrate the killing of children, whether it was the Canaanites celebrating a sacrifice to Moloch, or the ghastly “shout your abortion” movement we see today. As the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9).
In the meantime, let us Catholics of faith continue to pray that the justices on the court maintain the fortitude to make the right decision. Let us also pray that the law enforcement officers tasked with protecting the justices remain safe as well. And let good Catholic men continue to protect the doors of our churches from the pro-abortion mobs gathering around them.