I was going to write something about some of the more amusing stories in the news today. After all, Pat Robertson just said that GOP voters are “too extreme” (spoiler: but only for expressing their extreme views and thus hurting Republican candidates’ ability to get elected and put them into law) and yesterday, the Los Angeles archdiocese held a mass in Hollywood celebrating the 25th anniversary of their “acceptance” of gays and lesbians (spoiler: they care about them but regard their behavior as “immoral”). However, neither of these stories raised my ire as much as a Facebook comment, possibly from an atheist, that implied Hitler might be an atheist.
Usually I hear that claim from religious folks who want to put the onus for Hitler’s anti-semitism on us (though why they think atheists would be more interested in picking on the Jews than the followers of any other religion is a mystery to me). That’s why I found the possibility that such a claim might be coming from an atheist to be so disturbing.
Here’s the set-up. Someone had posted a picture of Hitler (click on the photo at top left for a larger image) that featured the following quote:
“I believe today that I am acting
in the sense of the Almighty Creator.
By warding off the Jews
I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”
-Adolf Hitler, speech, 1936
This was followed by the message, “Not everyone who talks about God is good. And not everyone who is good talks about God.” I don’t regard the message as particularly controversial since it states an obvious truth and makes no assertion about Hitler’s religiosity or lack thereof. But even a tenuous linkage between Hitler and religion is almost guaranteed to generate plenty of response and this post was no exception. The one that caught my eye was this:
LG: From what I have read Hitler was not a Christian. He may have had to pander to christian members of the population, thus speeches like this. If Hitler believed in a Jewish God and that a Jewish Jesus was the son of God and a magician, He would have had to be insane. Hitler was probably waiting before dealing with the fact that most Europeans worshiped a Jewish religion.
In other words, LG thinks the only way a Christian could be an anti-semite is if he were insane! It’s a Christian version of the “no true Scotsman” argument and always makes me <facepalm>. I answered it thusly:
”My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.” -Hitler in a speech on April 12, 1922.
I don’t know how YOU tell the difference between sincerity and pandering but there is nothing inconsistant with being an evil sunovabitch and sincerely believing you’re a Christian. In both Germany and Austria (where Hitler was born), anti-semitism and all the discrimination that goes with it were part of the fabric of society. It was institutional and encouraged by the teachings of both the Catholic and Lutheran churches. Hitler, along with millions of others in those countries, imbibed it with their mother’s milk and few of them had any problem regarding themselves as Christians while practising it.
There are, of course, plenty of other arguments against the “Hitler was an atheist” canard and I list some of them in my essay, The single most aggravating argument against atheism. I also highly recommend the article Adolf Hitler: The world’s most famous Creationist by blogger Meg Ablond, which tackles both Hitler’s religious views and the other common theist claim that der Fuhrer was a Darwinist and committed his crimes because he believed in the theory of evolution!
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