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a question by Oct 15, 2010
Fear of crosses or other religious items? Fact or fiction made up by the church to attempt to control hysteria?
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answered:    October 17, 2010
This would depend from which cultural viewpoint we are looking at. Vampires are cursed creatures, and if one looked at a from a Biblical standpoint, I doubt the fear of crosses would even be relevant. I think the fear of crosses would have to be fiction.
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answered:    October 15, 2010
Well, this is an interesting question.
In vampire myths from around the world, there have always been particular items used to repel vampires or to weaken them. In the case of the crucifix, holy water, bible pages, religious relics, etc., I think that this came about for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the growth of the church and of Christianity in Europe made it inevitable that the church would want to wipe out pagan and pre-Christian beliefs. So they vilified the older religions and superstitions. That vampires suddenly become sensitive to Judeo-Christian symbols is not really surprising. In the eyes of the church, this was a way to show that Judeo-Christian values would rise above all earlier ideologies and prove victorious, so therefore the unholy vampire which represents paganism and ungodliness is weakened and destroyed by icons of God.

Secondly, in today's more scientific and secularist worldview, vampires often aren't susceptible to religious icons. This is partly because the church is less in control of religious beliefs, as well as media, but it also comes from the same sentiment as above. Those who dislike or resist against the beliefs of the church have chosen to symbolically show the vampire representing atheism or paganism as having no reaction to these items. In other words, the vampire has established its own power over that of religion and therefore religious symbols hold no threat.

Thirdly, there is a special use of blood in vampire legends. Vampires feed off of blood, which is both a physical and metaphysical substance. It sustains life, but it also can take life away. With vampires, they must feed off of blood to survive and to maintain their power. Yet, if you look throughout the history of Christendom, blood also plays an important element. For it is through Jesus' crucifixion and death that mankind is redeemed. It's through his shedding of blood that we are saved and this symbolically makes the cross an emblem of purification and therefore it represents a real spiritual danger to vampires.
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answered:    December 30, 2010
I think this was invented by Bram Stoker in his Dracula novel. I think prior to that book, people never really considered vampire lore much.
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answered:    October 18, 2010
I'm not sure that control of hysteria had a lot to do with the use of crucifixes. I think that religion and religious symbols served for centuries as wards against all threats; from disease to droughts to foreign invaders and highwaymen. In the absence of science, religion (or superstition) was the only recourse people had in the face of frightening things they had no power over and did not understand. Vampires certainly meet that criteria. Two things have changed since those days. First, science has explained in a perfectly understandable way things like disease and unfavorable weather. Psychology has helped us to understand where criminal minds come from and modern infrastructures with functional police forces seem a far better assurance against crime than lighting candles in a church. Religion has lost its power over our post-industrial world and so religious icons are impotent against our modern vampires of literature and movies. I'm pretty sure a crucifix was every bit as useless against vampires 300 years ago as it would have been against cholera. But I'm sure people clung to them, hoping for the best. The other part of this is that our popular view of vampires have changed. Nineteenth century vampires (like the beliefs of the previous centuries) were seen as Satanic, living "beyond the grace of God". As mainstream society has drifted from the church the literature reflects this. Of all the vampire modern (1970's and forward) books I've read only Laurell K. Hamilton and I think Stephen King portrayed their vampires as being repelled by crucifixes and one assumes then, agents of Satan, or at least, certainly working in opposition to Heaven. It seems vampires of our modern literature and media are quite unaffected by religious ions, implying that they are not an affront to God, and by extension, the vampires of ancient legend probably were not as well. But (oddly) we don't have a lot of documentation to support this. ;o)
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