There was a time in which news of a scandal in the Vatican shocked the world. However, as story after story is unveiled, and the global number of Catholics diminishes, the mere mention of priests, the Vatican, and even the pope himself conjures up images of corruption, decadence, and depravity. It epitomises the rotting nature of the religious institutions that have been a pillar of class society for so long.

All religions have their fundamentalists; there are Christian fundamentalists, Hindu fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, Buddhist fundamentalists and so on. They all play a reactionary role, and they are all growing in number. All of them believe they are the holders of the absolute truth, while all others are heretics or even the work of the devil himself. They are all used to sow division among toiling people around the world. The phenomenon affects all countries to one degree or another.

John Pickard’s book delves into the history of the three most important religions in the Western world, and this has profound political implications. If you think about it, religion dominates so many people’s lives from their birth to their death and yet, incredibly, so little is known about how religion, in particular Judaism, Christianity, and Islam really came about.

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