“From Torquemada to Guantánamo and beyond, Cullen Murphy finds the ‘inquisitorial impulse’ alive, and only too well, in our world” (Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money).
Established by the Catholic Church in 1231, the Inquisition continued in one form or another for almost seven hundred years. Though associated with the persecution of heretics and Jews—and with burning at the stake—its targets were more numerous, its techniques were more ambitious, and its effect on history has been greater than many understand.
The Inquisition pioneered surveillance, censorship, and “scientific” interrogation. As time went on, its methods and mindset spread far beyond the Church to become tools of secular persecution. Traveling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantánamo to the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, the author of Are We Rome? “masterfully traces the social, legal and political evolution of the Inquisition and the inquisitorial process from its origins in late medieval Christian France to its eerily familiar, secular cousin in the modern world” (San Francisco Chronicle).
“God’s Jury is a reminder, and we need to be constantly reminded, that the most dangerous people in the world are the righteous, and when they wield real power, look out. . . . Murphy wears his erudition lightly, writes with quiet wit, and has a delightful way of seeing the past in the present.” —Mark Bowden, author of Hue 1968
“Beautifully written, very smart, and devilishly engaging.” —The Boston Globe
In 1998, the Vatican opened the Archivio della Congregazione per Dottrina della Fede, the Inquisition archive, thereby unveiling to the world the secrets of censorship and persecution that the Catholic Church had hidden since the Middle Ages. Journalist Murphy (The Word According to Eve) visits the archives several times and in his typically compelling style leads readers on a journey through the many inquisitions conducted by the Church over time, from the Spanish Inquisition to the Roman Inquisition of the 16th century. Murphy convincingly demonstrates that while the inquisitions most often are associated with the Church, they arise anytime an organization, state, or institution possesses and uses tools such as censorship and torture to stoke and manage suspicion, intolerance, and hatred of the other. Inquisitions require a system of law that can be administered with uniformity, the power to conduct interrogations and extract information, a bureaucracy with a large staff of individuals to administer it, a capacity to restrict the communications of others, and a source of power to ensure enforcement. Murphy powerfully shows that the impulse to inquisition can quietly take root in any system civil or religious that orders our lives.