"We would be 1,500 years ahead if it hadn't been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best minds at the stake."
-- Catherine Fahringer
*Care to explain why the exact number of 1,500 (how she arrived at those particular amount of years?)
You'd have to ask Catherine. The figure is most likely an estimate derived from the number of years progress was suppressed by superstitious religious oppression and extrapolated from progress rates with such religious tyranny.
*While at it, can you confirm that this was her opinion or if it was a factual comment?
Several people from various disiplines have commented that, without the dark ages and other suppressive superstitious judeo-xtian influences, scientific progress may have advanced by between 200 and 1500 years, (those are estimates on potentials, and yes - they're informed opinions, unlike uninformed religious beliefs).
*And, was she aiming it at a religion overall (in other words, in one box and one box only) or was there a particular sect she aimed this at?
Since she didn't specifically single out any one superstitious belief system, either she meant them all or, the one most responsible for the repression and suppression of scientific progress, (regardless of sect/cult/other moot internal divisions).
*How does this apply to today and to what you are trying to get across to the readers?
Thanking you ahead for your explanations.
Today, there are more subtle attempts at suppression/repression of viewpoints which dissent from those of superstitious religious beliefs. That insidious process includes characterizing challenges as "rude" or "impolite" in order to supress them by appealing to a one-sided 'politeness', (where rude and impolite religious opinions, sanctimonious pronouncements and self-righteous proselytizing gets a free pass).