I am constantly amazed by the fringe obsession with the Catholic Church and its supposed power to suppress history worldwide. The same Church that was not able to stop Islam from conquering half its territory, or the Eastern Orthodox Church from entering into schism, or Martin Luther from launching the Protestant Reformation, or Darwin from publishing The Origin of Species, or even the Kingdom of Italy from annexing the Papal States, somehow exercises such universal power that every person on Earth, save for a few brave fringe historians, bows before it.
So, where does this hatred come from? Protestant evangelicals are responsible for quite a bit of the Anti-Catholic conspiracy nonsense, stoked on the flames of the Reformation and fired in the furnace of the efforts to maintain WASP supremacy in the United States. Ant-Catholicism has a long history in America, and though it seems laughable in a world where religious leaders routinely (and falsely) pretend to act as a unified Religious Right, the truth is that Catholics are still viewed with suspicion among many far right.
This fault line in the Religious Right was on full display Monday on a web-exclusive edition of Sky Watch TV, an evangelical broadcast. Tim Alberino, the producer of Steve Quayle’s new documentary about Giants and the Vatican, The Unholy See, was on to babble about giants, and the stated topic of the half-hour show is the documentary’s assertion that the Vatican is masterminding a cover-up of giants in order to suppress the “truth” about the antediluvian world of Genesis 6, when the Nephilim were on the Earth.
In clips from the documentary, Quayle claims that the Vatican and its agents have known about giants “for centuries.” “The Vatican knows all the secrets,” he said.
His claims of a cover-up are prima facie ridiculous. Not only did a number of the Church Fathers write about giants, but Catholics across Renaissance Europe were convinced that they were on the trail of Giants, both among the fossils dug up in Western Europe and among the Native Americans they encountered during the exploration of the New World. Catholic prelates (Antoine Augustin Calmet among them) composed treatises on Giants, and actively supplied the Holy See with so-called “Giant” fossils for the Popes’ collections. Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, a chaplain to their Catholic Majesties in Spain, wrote an honest-to-goodness letter to Pope Adrian VI informing him of the discovery of a “Giant” in New Spain: “A short time after your Holiness had departed for Rome, the licentiate Allyón, one of the jurisconsults of the Hispaniola Senate, bought this thigh bone to the city of Victoria. This I had in my house for some days: From the knot of the hip to the knee it is five spans long, and proportionate in accordance with its great length” (Decades 5.9, my trans.).
So why does Quayle believe in a conspiracy against facts? “The Vatican is secretly preparing for the arrival of alien saviors,” he said. “Only the truth can prepare us for the [Catholic] lie that’s coming.” The subtext is clear: Catholics aren’t real Christians and are in league with Fallen Angels and demons that Quayle believes masquerade as space aliens.
On the show itself, Alberino incoherently rants about how secular and Catholic officials both are suppressing evidence of a “superior race society” from before Noah’s Flood, whose evidence is the architectural wonders usually attributed to pagan Natives of the past few millennia. Sharon Gilbert, one of the hosts of the show, with her husband Derek Gilbert, interjects that an unnamed “they” won’t allow “us” to know the truth about Giants created by Fallen Angels having sex with human women, and she adds that “they,” if they “allow” any of the story to come out, will allege that space aliens had sex with “Neanderthals” to produce anatomically modern humans. That would be a neat trick since anatomically modern humans lived alongside Neanderthals and interbred with them, according to scientific evidence.
Alberino goes on to say that his “research” has indicated that the bodies of Giants, in both Peru and Sardinia, were buried with “vast amounts of gold,” which was the reason that the Catholics tried to appropriate them for the Church. This goes back to the old Protestant anger that the Church was too materialistic and too obsessed with money, here removed to a mythic realm where the Church’s vast wealth isn’t the result of landholdings, tithes, and investments but rather the ill-gotten gains of raiding the tombs of demon-spawn for Satan’s own cash.
“There’s an underground black market that deals in the trade of these ancient artifacts,” Alberino said, “including bones of Giants and other entities that existed in the Pre-Flood world.”
Funny he should say that, since the primary collectors of alleged Giant bones and the bodies of mythical creatures like demon-fairies seems to be Nephilim researchers and ancient astronaut theorists like L. A. Marzulli, Brien Foerster, and other fringe figures!
Alberino and the Gilberts went on to speculate about the genetic corruption of what they see as all hybrid creatures on the Earth, since the Fallen Angels were apparently into bestiality. Alberino alleges that Nimrod and the Sumerians (he conflates Sumer with Babylon) attempted to rebuild the antediluvian world, and that all ancient mystery schools are attempts to channel Satan’s power to resurrect the monstrous world of the Watchers.
Derek Gilbert asks Alberino why a Christian organization wouldn’t want the whole world to know this, and Alberino admits that he and Quayle are adherents of rabid nineteenth-century Anti-Catholic propaganda. He says that the two of them believe that “the roots of Rome, of the Church of Rome, go back to the Tower of Babel and the Babylonian priesthood.” This is the angry allegation published in 1853 by the Rev. Alexander Hislop as The Two Babylons; Or, the Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife. Alberino takes his claims directly out of Hislop’s book, citing the “connection” between the Pope’s miter and the god Dagon, all but quoting Hislop, who ranted about the Pope wearing the “very mitre worn by Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines and Babylonians.”
Hislop’s book has previously been used by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Identity racist groups, and Anti-Catholic activists.
Using material from Zecharia Sitchin, Alberino also alleges that the Babylonian fishy culture hero Oannes (whom he falsely identifies as the Philistine god Dagon) and the Watchers survived the Flood by hiding under the sea, because God only killed the creatures that lived on land. Ancient sites, he adds, are portals to the demon dimension.
Alberino went on to say that Gilgamesh is actually Nimrod, whose biography he accepts from extra-biblical sources that identify him as the builder of the Tower of Babel and an evil giant rebelling against God. (In Genesis, this material is absent.) It seems silly until you remember that in the nineteenth century, scholars thought that the cuneiform tablets unearthed in Mesopotamia would prove the Bible true. Early scholars thought that the Epic of Gilgamesh was the story of Nimrod. The first scholar to publish fragments of the Gilgamesh Epic, George Smith, working from a Biblical framework, wrote in 1875 that “These tablets record primarily the adventures of a hero whose name I have provisionally called Izdubar. Izdubar is, however, nothing more than a makeshift, and I am of the opinion that this hero is the same as the Nimrod of the Bible.” From this, scholars like Paul Haupt accepted Smith’s identification of Izdubar with Nimrod, declaring the Gilgamesh poem to be Das Babylonische Nimrodepos (“The Babylonian Nimrod Epic”) in 1884. For the most part, this idea went by the wayside after the 1890 discovery that Izdubar’s real name was Gilgamesh and a more complete reading of the cuneiform tablets showed that Gilgamesh was not a mighty hunter and shared little in common with the Jewish lore about Nimrod. References to Nimrod persisted in William Muss-Arnolt’s 1901 translation, but by the early twentieth century, scholars had almost universally abandoned the idea. But of course the Nephilim theorists who consider Hislop’s Victorian Anti-Catholic propaganda to be cutting edge would also favor Victorian Assyriology.
The episode finishes with the false story about the U.S. military capturing a Bible Giant in Afghanistan.
I think that it’s fairly clear that beneath the blather about Giants and demons, Quayle and Alberino are old-fashioned, unreconstructed Protestant extremists who fear and loathe the Pope and the Catholics. Odd, isn’t it, that such conspiracy theorists never seem to accuse the coequally ancient Greek Orthodox Church of hoarding secret truths? They must feel left out.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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