Hitler Aimed Blow
At 'Godless' Move
From: Mike Arrowood
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Date: Sunday, April 01, 2001 7:38 AM
Dear Mr. Walker:
In regard to the letter entitled "Have Godless Societies Killed More People": Correct me if I am wrong but I am quite sure that Adolf Hitler was a devout Catholic. I will include an article and link. Anyway I would like to thank you for your efforts in maintaining a great website.
From the Lansing State Journal newspaper (Lansing, Michigan) of February 23, 1933.
HITLER AIMS BLOW AT 'GODLESS' MOVE
BERLIN, Feb. 23 (AP) -- A campaign against the "godless movement" and an appeal for Catholic support were launched Wednesday by Chancellor Adolf Hitler's forces. They struck at two of his formidable opponents in the March 5 elections, the first at communists and the latter at the allied Catholic parties.
Meanwhile five more persons were killed and scores were injured Tuesday night in the incipient civil war which has been waging since Hitler's rise to power. This brought the number of deaths in political clashes since the first of the year, when Hitler began negotiations for the chancellorship, to about 70.
A campaign against the "godless movement" was announced by Bernard Rust, nazi commissioner for education and culture in Prussia, in an address Tuesday night before students at the technical university here. He said the details would be revealed in the next few days. In his speech opening the campaign for the reichstag and Prussian diet elections, Hitler attacked communists for the spread of atheism.
An appeal to Catholic nazis was printed Wednesday in Hitler's Voelkischer Beobachter, assailing the Catholic centrist and populist parties. It recalled the papal encyclical of January 9, 1928, which admonished priests to serve the religious interests of the nation and not to affiliate with political parties. Hitler, himself, is a Catholic.
Nazis invaded a centrist campaign meeting at Trier but were repulsed after a stiff fight. Several persons were injured at Kiel and Opladen in nazi-reichsbanner clashes.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Mike Arrowood
Subject: Re: Positive_Atheism_Letters_Section
Date: Sunday, April 01, 2001 9:02 PM
I have made no small study of Hitler's religious rhetoric (as have several atheistic activists), and as far as I can tell, it is not possible to show Hitler to have been an closeted atheist. In fact, one would have a much easier time painting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as closet atheists than portraying Hitler as one, as the Americans mentioned at least left some clues, but Hitler left none. I can find nothing to show that Hitler did what he did for any reasons other than obedience to his faith (as twisted as his understanding of that faith may have been).
The only sense in which Hitler can be considered an atheist is in the Roman Catholic sense, which pronounces as atheist any disobedient Roman Catholic (or any non-Catholic, for that matter), because one who does not obey the Roman Catholic ogre-god cannot be said to really believe that this vindictive monster exists (otherwise, you'd shape up real quick). But, this is a patently unfair portrayal of atheism under any logic other than that practices by Roman Catholic theologians.
While converting the back-issues of our print magazine and her predecessor into PDF format during the month of April, I came across this little ditty from the November, 1995, issue:
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 and who, God's truth, was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.
In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison.
Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.
As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.
And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have for their wages only wretchedness and misery.
When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and exploited.
What we must keep in mind is that Hitler exploited the Christian religion to his own ends, and culled out all the anti-Semitic passages (which are legion in the New Testament, particularly Christ's words in the Gospels of Matthew and John) to whip the populace into a frenzy. Hitler also exploited science, namely evolution, to his own ends; Bible fundamentalists point to these statements for the purpose of placing Hitler in the atheistic camp -- twisting Hitler's words in the same way that they accuse Hitler of twisting the words of Christ.
While it's true that the Bible requires the death of anybody who does not believe the Bible religion(s), very few Christians or Jews take those passages seriously any more. And modern Protestantism now tends to favor premillennialism, which holds out hope for the eventual Christianization, en masse, of the entire Hebrew race (during the "Great Tribulation" depicted in Tim LaHaye's Left Behind novels and films), replacing the rabid anti-Semitism which marked Christianity from the days of the apostle Paul through Luther and Calvin and beyond. Premillennialism also runs with a theme that premillennialists attribute to historian Edward Gibbon, to the effect that no nation which has gone up against the Jews has failed to suffer moral damage (though I cannot find this statement in Gibbon's writings, and I can easily show it to be untrue even if Gibbon did say it). So to call Hitler a Christian in the warm-and-fuzzy sense of modern Protestantism is unfair; to call him Roman Catholic in the modern sense is also unfair, as the Church has renounced the Inquisition, and is today no more or less hostile to Judaism than it is to any non-Roman Catholic sect.
But, Hitler did use Christian rhetoric to gain favor with the masses, and this fact we must always keep in mind.
We must always beware of any political leader who brings religion into the picture of public life, or suggests that our culture's problems are due to our culture's lack of faith. Never has a political leader done this without causing grave damage to the legal system of that culture. It's one thing for a John F. Kennedy or a Jimmy Carter or a Barry Goldwater or even a Calvin Coolidge to proclaim that he's religious, but then say:
If my church attempted to influence me in a way which was improper or which affected adversely my responsibilities as a public servant sworn to uphold the Constitution, then I would reply to them that this was an improper action on their part. It was one to which I could not subscribe.
-- or --
I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way.
-- or --
By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars. Throughout our two hundred plus years, public policy debate has focused on political and economic issues, on which there can be compromise.
-- or --
We cannot permit any inquisition either within or without the law or apply any religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must be forever free.
But when the politician's personal faith becomes the "faith of the nation," we're all in big trouble:
And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves who creates us equal in His image.
-- or --
Those who are quick to feel disrespected often have a spiritual vacuum in their lives, because they feel disconnected to the love of their Father in Heaven.
-- or --
The Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. We are, after all not just another nation, but "one nation under God."
-- or --
Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus.
-- or --
No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God.
-- or --
God, the source of all knowledge, should never have been expelled from our children's classrooms.
-- or --
Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity.
-- or --
The parents have a right to say that no teacher paid by their money shall rob their children of faith in God and send them back to their homes skeptical, or infidels, or agnostics, or atheists.
-- and on back to the days of King George III, whose abuses in this respect sparked a Revolution that effectively ended the collusion between state and religion in this part of the world for almost 180 years. Whenever a government or a government representative uses the words God and we together in a sentence, we're all in deep, deep trouble.
In short, it doesn't matter whether Hitler was actually an atheist disguising himself as a Christian or a Roman Catholic, because the issue here is the way Hitler exploited religion and policy decisions based upon religion. It's his pronouncements that come to play, not his actual beliefs. Besides, many Christians and Roman Catholics have shown due respect to plurality and to the Constitutional separation of religion from government. It's not Christian versus atheism but a respect for the Establishment Clause that makes the difference. If Hitler was a closet atheist, he sure did a lot to bring the Christian religion to play in his policy-making decisions. And his religion was not private, like that of Kennedy, Goldwater, and Carter, but was public along the lines of Reagan, Bush I, Gore, Lieberman, and Bush II.
Fundamentalist manifestations of monotheistic religions tend toward exclusivism and what Colin Wilson called the "Right Man" mentality. It is the public expressions of these religious manifestations, incorporated into political life and enacted as law, that have caused the most damage to societies. For this reason, we need to beware of all public expressions of all manifestations made at the official government level. If someone becomes a public servant, that person forfeits the right to use that office for the purpose of furthering one's personal religious views, or even those of one's constituents -- because this is One Nation of Many (E Pluribus Unum).
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