"A Man's a Man for all that!" - Rabbie Burns

"Religion? No thanks. I prefer not to outsource my brainwashing." - Bunc
Trying to get your average Joe creationist to understand the phrase scientific theory is as hard as getting a fish to enjoy mountaineering. Its an unimagined world for them - it requires a complete reversal of their normal modes of thinking and being. The fact that humans could explain the complexities of this world without a creating God is a world view they cannot grasp. It's like asking a tuna if it appreciates the view from the top of Mount Everest. Bunc

Sep 19, 2010

Evidence of the relationship between Nazis and Religion

In my previous post I addressed the Pope's assertion that the horrors of the Second World War and the holocaust could be put at the door of Atheism and secularism.  Leaving aside the fact that the Pope makes a category error in his assertion I pointed out that his remarks are, to put it mildly, historically and politically illiterate. The articles I linked to have numerous references to scholarly analysis about the relationship between the Nazis and religion and the nature of twentieth century dictator movements as "political religions".

I just want here to record a few additional remarks on this subject and record an interesting link to some photographic evidence..

One of the facts about the rise of anti-semitic National Socialism in Germany that the Pope conveniently ignores is that National Socialism and anti-semitism , far from being forced on the German people by nasty German atheists, was sown into a Germanic cultural soil that was already fertile with a long history of clerically led anti-semitism going back centuries.

Had there not been a widespread church inspired anti-semitism it is unlikely that the full storm of anti-semitism that culminated in the Holocaust could ever have been unleashed.

We should pause also to consider the wider political / religious context of that terrible time. Consider, for example, which birds were actually flocking together. In Catholic Italy and Spain, Catholic Hungary and other Catholic European states there was either active assistance in the Nazi "solution" to the Jewish "problem" or sometimes a turning away of the eyes. Indeed Germany itself was were the horror was unleashed was reportedly one of the most actively religious countries in Europe at that time ( largely Catholic and Lutheran).

We should also recall that it was a ( supposedly ) atheist state - Russia - that bore the heaviest burden in wiping out the threat of the Nazis and stopping their anti-semitic holocaust.  Not that the Soviet Union, with a political religion built around Marxism / Leninism , should serve us as any beacon of rationality of course.  There is another country ravaged by a leader who was crazed - not by his atheism - but by his thirst for power and control. Features that we have witnessed all too often also in religious leaders. Therein lies , of course , the category mistake that the Pope makes.

They do say though that a picture is worth a thousand words. It's interesting to explore the poor logical and evidential base for the Popes recent assertions but to save another thousand words I give you here a link to a historical archive which shows some photographic evidence of the relationship between the Church and the Nazi state in Germany. 


Delirious said...

I think the danger is that some people's logic is screwed up. They use this pattern:

"If some religions are anti-semitic, then all religions are anti-semitiic."


"If some religions are responsible for causing war, then all religions are responsible for causing war."

Not all religions are equal. And even if they all have the Bible in common, it does not mean they are equal. So the concern many of us have in reading posts like this one is that you will lump all religion together.

Bunc said...

Hi Delirious,
I was actually mainly addressing the Pope's remarks as a matter of historical fact rather than really trying to address a more general point about the role of religions in starting wars.

My point is that the Pope is factually and logically incorect about the horrors of the twentieth century being anything to do with atheism or secularism per se.

On the wider point about whether all religions cause and start wars - no not all religions ( or sects to be more precise) have done so. Depends how you define a religion I guess.

If we distingush between the different christian cults such as catholics, protestants ( in various flavours ) etc etc then christianty as a whole certainly has been culpable but not all sects have been.

I lump all religions ( theist and political by the way) together because their adherents ( christians marxists nazis maoists etc etc etc) all tend to have the same attitude that if something comes from their own particular "holy book" or is uttered by their own particular holy man / man of wisdom then it must be true.

The dynamic that drives christians to believe things just becuse they are in the bible is the sme dynamic that lead the maoist to the cultural revolution. The guys waving Gaddaffi's little green book or Moa's little red one are like the Islamists who worship the Koran and fundamentalist Christians who over interpret the bible.

I have seen and come across such thinking in many groups of people and it's very dangerous. This tendancy of people to want to believe that there are absolute answers and to invest faith in prophets ( political and religious ) is often the stuff that leads us into nightmares.

Looney said...

Disclaimer 1: Haven't read Hitler's book through yet - just some quick excerpts.
Disclaimer 2: My ancestry is part German-Jewish.

There is another argument that the Jews were viewed as capitalist bankers and wealthy businessmen. Hitler was also quite vocal about racial purity. Thus, the formula for the holocaust involved much more than religion.

The problem with the religious connection is that 19th/20th century European religion was basically a continuation of tradition devoid of theology, so that ecumenicism was all the rage among the religious elite. A fundamentalism of fecklessness just doesn't strike me as particularly dangerous!

Bunc said...

Hi Looney,
There certainly other beliefs that contributed of course.
You are right that the Jews were viewed negatively as bankers and capitalists.
You may be interested in reading about the anti-semitism preached by Martin Luther himself.

"Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security."

-Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies)

You might want to check out his other anti-semitic rantings here

Again I think this shows for how long the soil of german culture had been corrupted with anti-semitism by religious leaders.

Looney said...

I have read some of Luther's writings on this subject. One of my other history books commented that Luther would have been better remembered by history if he had died earlier, given that this was all done when he was old!

Still, it is hardly plausible that the Catholics cared about Luther's opinion, while the Lutheran church of Germany ditched Luther, Christianity and the Bible in the 19th century. Luther was restrained by other Christians. Likewise, the argument is that the Lutheran and Catholic churches didn't speak out against Hitler because they were post-Christian religious sects.

Bunc said...

Looney- there is lots more stuff available showing the long history of religiously based anti-semitism in germany. It's a subject ( German history ) that I have read a good deal about.

Religious people wher nmot the only ones spouting anti-semitism but as germany was avery religious contry the fact that the churches gave such attitudes cover and also promoted such attitudes must lay considerable blame at their door.

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