As sort of sequel to my previous post, i want to tell a story about Bogomils (or Patarens as they were also called. Cathars from Western Europe, which were exterminated in a massive genocide - the first ever internal crusade, were pretty much the same thing too).
I translated from Serbian one text which nicely sums up the most important facts about these interesting people, who suffered immensely from both eastern and western churches throughout centuries, and are now history, mainly as a result of their (eastern and western churches) actions. Bogomils were burned alive, skinned alive, impaled and everything else you can or cannot imagine, just because of their belief, a belief which posed a great threat to "good shepherds" from 10th to 13th (i think) century.
So, here it goes (sorry for errors, writing something is one thing, but translating something is…huh)
Respect for life was the basis of Bogomil ethics.
They were against the killings of not only humans but "everything that breathes and moves" - their diet was vegetarian, and they were pacifists in political views.
The custom of drying fruits in Bosnia, for keeping them throughout the winter is by some scientists considered a remnant of the Bogomil culture.
Bogomil ethics rejected every lie, and with time this evolved into despise of trade "which by default leads to lies, frauds and perjuries".
They also avoided using titles (vocations, ranks) and avoided politics.
Mainly, they practiced agriculture, crafts and arts (they were known as good sculptors). They believed that "everyone should live from his own hands/work". They felt an equal shame when alms were given or received, so they didn't have any beggars. They also contempt forced or too hard labour, saying that one shouldn't work too hard on material things.
It is assumed that the rate of literacy among them was extremely high, and that it "far surpassed the European level at the time". Everyone was encouraged to read the Bible, not just the clergy, so they taught each other to read and write.
It is believed that women have gained a high degree of social emancipation in the Bogomil movement, which allowed them to become literate, to preach in their own language, to read the Bible and the Apocryphs. Men and women lived together in Bogomil communities - "hiža(s)" (houses). Women weren't viewed as creatures subservient to men, because they too were merely souls trapped in the earthly body.
The main aspiration of Bogomils - leaving the material world and returning to the spiritual reality - placed both men and women in the same position of the radical rejection of earthly existence.
Women had the right to ordain, to listen to confessions, to grow spiritually and to become perfect, which especially enraged Orthodox and Catholic clergy.
According to some estimates, the ratio between the "sovršitelji" and "sovršiteljke" (male and female Bogomil devotees) was three to one.
Some believe that Cathar women on the west founded the first charities which are found in medieval towns much later.
They didn't have any special buildings intended for worship, instead, they prayed together in nature, or in their homes.
They chose the teachers between themselves, and they had no priests.
They confessed to each other, like the early Christians who confessed in public, for reconciliation with the whole community.
They did not accept the writings of the church's fathers/theologists, they considered it a novelty and deviation from original Christianity.
They rejected God's service (liturgy) and the sacraments, because they believed that Jesus did not introduce them, that they were a church's invention.
Like the earlier Byzantine iconoclasts, the adoration of icons was considered an idolatry.
Worshiping of bones of saints (relics) was considered a superstition.
Baptism was only done to mature men and women, and it didn't involve water, it was instead done spiritually, with a book.
They were against baptism of infants, who do not recognize the significance of this act.
For them, a cross was not a holy symbol, but instead a torture device on which the greatest representative of good was crucified.
They denied the belief in resurrection of the body, believing that only soul can be resurrected.
Also, they did not believe in the literal transformation of wine into the blood of Christ, nor bread into the body of Christ.
Basically, they placed the religious symbolism into boundaries of the common sense.