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August 1st, 2011
08:47 AM ET

Understanding the religious history of the Knights Templar

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

The group has come to everyone's attention because of Anders Behring Breivik's killing spree in Norway, now just over a week ago. He claimed in his rambling manifesto to represent a modern-day "Knights Templar".

Ancient Knights Templar name used in modern criminal crusades

But who are they?

The name might ring a bell, especially if you've seen The DaVinci Code or National Treasure or one of any number of recent films. But these are, of course, all fictional. What are the facts?

Read more about all the latest security news in CNN's new blog Security Clearance.

The Knights Templar were a Christian military order founded in the early 12th century. Its members were said to be elite warriors who wore distinctive white mantles with a red cross. They made their reputation by winning a series of battles in the Crusades.

Read more about the Knights Templar from GPS
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Europe • Houses of worship • Mosque

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. k.

    Knights Templar "last stand’ was an island in the River Seine in Paris, Île de la Cité, just below the "Le pont Neuf" bridge on 19 March 1314. There is a park there now: Square du Vert-Galant. The "last Templars" - illiterate monk-soldier Jacques de Molay and his companion, Geoffroi de Charney, were aged 64 and 56; and advanced age for 1314. Earlier in the day the old knights had been summoned, after spending almost 7 years in prison, before a jury of cardinals to hear their sentence: perpetual imprisonment. Upon hearing the decision, de Moley and De Charney both stood, declared that they were guilty, but not of the crimes attributed to them, but of betraying their Order to save their lives. The Order was pure and holy; the charges and confessions false. "They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise): I am more; in many more labours, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often."

    August 2, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  2. prophet

    i choose to leave these comments on these pages from those who insult Our Saviour as they are just giving themselves another opportunity to make fools of themselves. So the more comments they leave on these pages the more they show themselves up to be the fools that they really are.

    August 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Actually, Jesus was the fool. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher man would do or say?

      August 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Thank you, Reality. However, I think you left out the roots of the hypocrisy we know as "The Church". James, the brother of Jesus (remember, "Mary, Ever-Virgin" had other children?) wanted to take Jesus' place He was ticked because Peter got tapped in the Garden, but as things worked out, he was able to send Peter to his death in Rome, regardless. What he didn't count on was being thrown from the temple roof, himself in 62 CE. Or being stoned and beaten and buried near the Temple, but they forgot exactly where, and the manner in which he died, apparently.

      "Mark" was likely written first, and leaves out much of the mystical nonsense. It also contains nothing of a resurrection. "John" is written in much more flowery and complex language than would likely be used by a simple fisherman. His Revelation requires either a learned writer to express such an allegory, or perhaps, an Opium trip. Perhaps it was a Middle Age monk, since it has been discovered that they also erased and wrote fairy tales over mathematical and scientific manuscripts. Besides, most people who use drugs can't remember a thing they did when they were on them.

      The most important thing to take away from this – and why Jesus was so "special", or "unique" during that time was that those lunatics in the Middle East – TO THIS DAY – kill one another at the drop of a hat. HE cared. He said "Love each other." Take all the churches and the vestments and the gold and holy days and the saints and all the screw-ball rules on when to eat meat and what songs to sing because "that's a Protestant song!" Throw it all away. That includes the greed. Those rich men who couldn't follow him? They were his own disciples! He knew that James and Peter and the rest were going to let power go to their heads. But I'll bet, as he hung on that scaffolding before he died, that he never pictured that it would come to all this.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Reality

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

      I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      August 2, 2011 at 7:18 am |
  3. prophet

    you on these pages who insult Our Saviour who came to help you, you should repent and turn To God and He will save you

    August 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  4. prophet

    we must pray for them as they really don't know what they are doing or saying, they are angry about what they are because it is unatural but this does not give them the right to insult Our Saviour.

    August 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  5. prophet

    i thionk that gays have an ilness of the conscience and this is how it ios this is why they do what they do.

    August 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
    • AGuest9

      I think you need a spell checker.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:52 am |
  6. prophet

    It si not my wish to say much against the muslims but truly Arabs are okay, its when they became muslim, a muslim doesn't always mean arab, its the religion thats the problem not the people, there are many arabs who are not muslims and they are okay.

    It is so that terroism from muslims is quite low and it is the European element that goes crazy because of the facist thing that is inherent in some europeans and the definition of a facist is someone who is too unintelligent to be wealthy and to afraid to be poor, so they are jealous of the rich and hate the poor.

    August 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  7. AvdBerg

    Make no mistake, gay Jesus will return. Go to our website to learn more http://www.gaychristian101.com

    August 1, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  8. AvdBerg

    Clearly they were a gay brotherhood. By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that people need to learn more about the gayness of Christ . The truth of Christ’s gayness is coming out more and more each day. For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to visit our website http://www.gaychristian101.com..

    August 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Preach it AVDBERG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    Breivik faced the Islamic threat by wrong means. He, indeed, acted like an Islamist by killing ordinary people.

    Breivik should have founded a own party, in order to face the Islamic problem. By launching laws the state is able to damp down the Islam.

    By the way, Egypt is about to become an Islamic theocracy like Iran (some weeks ago everybody was happy to see Egypt becoming a democracy, but we obviously made a mistake). Look at Pakistan. It is only a matter of time that the Islamists will seize rule. I suppose: Within a short time also Turkey and Syria will become hyper-Islamic again. The Islam is a demonic power, which we usually underestimate.

    Best weapon against Islam: We must embrace Christianity again, then God will protect us against the devil and his hosts. Let us daily live the Christian life in Christ's power.

    At any rate we must recognize that the Islam is dangerous and harmful in itself. The separation between Islam and Islamist is a nonsense.

    Why?

    Very simple: Islamist are model Muslims, because they exactly do, what the Koran requires them to do. Killing Jews and Christians is the most honorable job for a believer, taking the Koran serious.

    August 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  10. AvdBerg

    By reading the comments on this Blog it seems very obvious to us that people need to learn more about the gayness of Christ . The truth of Christ’s gayness is coming out more and more each day. For a better understanding of this scriptural verse we invite you to visit our website http://www.gaychristian101.com

    August 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  11. Peace2All

    From the Article:

    "The European Union's 2010 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report has some fascinating findings. It showed that of the 294 terror attacks committed in Europe in 2009, (only one) was conducted by Islamists. That's a third of one percent.
    The most recent statistics show there were 249 terror attacks in Europe in 2010. (Only three) of those attacks were carried out by Islamist terrorists. Again, that's about one percent. Most of the attacks were by (separatist groups or anarchists)."

    Interesting... I'm curious to know a bit more about these statistics and what they considered to actually fall under the umbrella of "terror attacks"...?

    I haven't checked yet, but at face value, potentially there seems to be a lot more "terror attacks" coming from radicalized crazies in general, including apparently crazy christians, separatists and anarchists, but very low on the crazy wing-nut radicalized muslim's.

    Again, I am curious to find out a bit more about this.

    Peace...

    August 1, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Frogist

      @Peace2All: Here's a link to the report. And it seems the majority of the violent acts in Europe come from the Basque separatists and IRA organizations. Funny how their home-made bombs, extortion, and slave-trading seem to just fly under the radar.

      https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/publications/te-sat2011.pdf

      August 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  12. Reality

    Knights Templar – another group Bred, Born and Brainwashed in their religion – aka the 3 B Syndrome.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  13. FaithSkunkScentProphetAdelbrainMuzzleMePlease

    I wish I could just shut up.

    August 1, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  14. Nonimus

    Very interesting!!!
    From the full article:
    "The European Union's 2010 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report has some fascinating findings. It showed that of the 294 terror attacks committed in Europe in 2009, only one was conducted by Islamists." (http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/31/what-is-the-knights-templar/)

    August 1, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  15. prophet

    the pope and his clergy are leading people astray all for the sake of their own power, its sad that they are as this. They could easily turn their welath to doing good and yet they gorge themselves on their own greed and have deprived many an innocent.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Peace2All

      @prophet

      Arguably, clergy from the ~38,000 denominations of Christianity are leading people astray the reason you suggested above.

      I would also like to seem them doing good with their excessive wealth.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  16. prophet

    Even now the vatican sayb they have secrets from God but if they no Love and no Compassion then they have nothing, they are waterles rivers

    August 1, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  17. prophet

    why do people kill others and then say its god, maybe but whose god are listening to.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  18. prophet

    christianity and muslim religions are based on this and yet we really shouln't be doing this.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  19. prophet

    people still search for the holy grail, but really this is not importnat, its not about mysticism and magic, this leads to nowhere, its about Love and kindness.

    It seems ironic that in the Bible It Is written thou shalt not kill and yet the pope at that time instructed people to do this.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  20. prophet

    well this is a subject but it was the pope who started all this at the time the muslims took over Jerusalem and he set up the crusade to protect christian pilgrims, but what the crusaders also did was not just try to keep away the muslims, they also killed thousands of innocent Jewish people, this is fact, but information then is not what it is now and they had little idea of whjat they were really doing, and the bad person here was the pope at that time.

    King Richard was actually frineds with suliman the muslim leader and when Ricahrds wife was ill and he had to go back to England they both agrred to suspend the disagreements i.e the Crusade until Richard got back, and suliman even sent gifts with Richard to his wife and then when Richard came back he too bought gifts for suliman.

    The crusade was really an attempt to de-judaize on behalf of the pope at that time. Antisemitism is the same then as it is now. which is sad and yet Our Saviour came to teach Compassion and this is what we must all do is Have Compassion for one another and ourselves.

    Let us leran to live in paece regardless of Nation but we can only do this by Believeing in Our Saviour.

    August 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.