Iconoclasm is a form of vandalism aimed at the destruction of sacred images and perpetrated because of religious or political conflict.
Early examples of iconoclasts are the Byzantine Emperor Leo III, the Isaurian who made the destruction of sacred images state policy and the Vikings who destroyed the churches of western Europe in the name of Wotan. Florence in the time of Savonarola revived iconoclasm, with Botticelli and Lorenzo di Credi throwing their own works into the flames.
A recent example of iconoclasm is the destruction by bombing of the Borobudur temple in Indonesia, the world's largest Buddhist shrine, in January 1985. It is thought to have been perpetrated by Muslim extremists.
Iconoclasm, while at times extreme, is largely a reaction to the worship of images. In the eighth century, for example people chose icons, not people, as godparents for their children and images were ground, mixed with water and drunk as magic medicines. In an age committed to secularism, as ours is, it is difficult to the perceive the danger not only to the social order, but to the individuals involved that worship of idols represents. This practise was perceived as threatening to fragment society into warring factions. It was also seen as condemning the worshippers to a existence far worse than death.
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