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Adolf Hitler can hardly be called catholic, much less a devout one. While he was catholic by birth, there is ample evidence that he never celebrated mass* after leaving home and found Christianity to be “unfit” for “Aryans”, suitable only for the populations that would, after Germany winning the war, serve the German people as slaves or something similar.**

Not that it would be damning of the religion if he had been a “devout” catholic, Christians of all stripes have done horrible things, as have atheists, Buddhists and adherents of every sort of religious affiliation and disaffiliation.

But I don’t like historical revisionism, and this false claim that the monster was some kind of super catholic is just horribly ill researched and devoid of most any kind of truth.

*Or any other sacrament of the church, including marriage. He married just a couple days before committing suicide and no priest officiated, despite clerical availability. Hardly the actions of a devout catholic.

**Just so it’s clear what I am saying, Hitler did profess to be a catholic, but like most leaders before, and since, he recognized the power of religion (or any strongly held popular beliefs) and made use of it to his own ends. We see the same thing with politicians here, who get hunting licenses only once they start running for office, that they may be seen to identify with “the common man”. This no more makes Hitler a devout catholic, whatever he may have said in public, than it makes Mitt Romney a hunter.

Look at what communism did with atheism! Atheism is a bit different, as it does not really have any dogma or proscriptions. What atheism does do is to leave a traditionally filled “void”, a perfect thing when you want to replace church with state. Atheism can be used in much the same way as religion, to control people and/or gain power. Despite this, neither atheism or religion is predetermined to lead to, or facilitate violence. Much like any weapon, religion and atheism can be tools, and the outcome of that usage has much more to do with the person holding it than it does the weapon itself. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and so it is with religion.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. 2012/04/14 at 22:16

    I agree that Hitler didn’t do what he did because he was a Christian, however, I’m quite tired of this Not A True Christian bullshit that gets thrown around. Just say what you mean: “Hitler did shitty things and I don’t want to associate him with what I believe, therefore I reject that he was sincere.”

    Religion isn’t some passive nothingness that people use when they’ve independently determined that it’s useful. Billions of people sincerely believe in their religion and billions have acted on that belief. Many millions, if not billions, of those actions have been for the worst. When they’re for the better, it’s an example of attempted usurption of ethics and a morality humans already possess. People only do good in the name of religion. They do evil because of it.

    Furthermore, you don’t get to admit that atheism is descriptive and then compare it to religion, something which is explicitly normative.

  2. 2012/04/15 at 03:40

    I didn’t make a “no true scotsman” argument. I was merely making the case that if one is going to claim about devoutness, than one needs to consider what is typically meant by devout. I’m also drawing my claims about his sincerity from his own words, which starkly contrast with his big ticket, fire and brimstone speeches.

    I also didn’t claim that religion is passive, I said that what comes of religion is completely dependent on the person in question, not on the particular religion or what it has for dogma. Unlike your totally unsupported mention that, “Many millions, if not billions, of those actions have been for the worst.”. Thats quite the claim.

    As is, “People only do good in the name of religion. They do evil because of it.” Here I have been all this time thinking that you require substantial evidence for substantial claims.

    I don’t know why you are going on about what I can’t compare atheism to. I only said that atheism can be used as a tool just as religion can be, to acomplish one’s own ends. It doesn’t end there though, practically anything people identify with can be so manipulated, and I even tossed in a decent example.

    I find it hard to beleive that you truely don’t think that, the USSR for example, used state sponsored atheism to acomplish a goal, to take religion out of competition with the state. When that didn’t work out so well, as I’m reasonably sure you know, the Soviet government changed course and began using religion, eastern christianity, as a tool to extend their control of the people.

    It makes no difference whether something is descriptive or normative in these cases. The only question is, “can this or can this not be used to further my goals?”.

  3. 2012/04/16 at 16:08

    There is a inherent contradiction in attempts by religious critics to depict Hitler as accepting any sort of orthodox Christianity.

    It’s a historical fact that the official theology of the NAZI party was so-called Positive Christianity, an ideology itself derived from the Higher Criticism which sought to separate the historical Jesus and the divine Jesus. It also sought to remove excize the Old Testament texts all together.

    Secularists often point out positively the Thomas Jefferson held a similar view of the historical Jesus which they claim demonstrates his secular bona fides. If that is the case, then the religion of the NAZI’s can hardly be associated with any sort of traditional Christianity.

  4. 2012/04/17 at 11:34

    Fire and brimestone. How un-Christian. Wait…wait.

    So, what comes of religion is dependent upon the person, not the religion? How you don’t think you just said religion is passive is amazing.

    There are billions of actions people do on the basis of their religion every day. That you think that over thousands of years of relatively recent history not more than a handful of those actions have been for the worse is the huge claim here. Do people often do bad things? Do they often do those bad things as a result of their religion? The clear answer is yes in each instance. The only issue is the number of times. Billions of actions by billions of people over thousands of years tells me there’s a damn good chance we have billions of bad actions.

    Religion has never been a source of morality. Our morality is purely independent of religion, only being usurped by the likes of Christians and Muslims in recent times. (There is plenty of evidence of people making the same moral choices across cultures which have no knowledge of various religious teachings.) So when people choose to do good things, they have some independent source for those choices. When they choose to do evil, though, they are acting on a perversion of morality. See 9/11.

    By your logic I may as well say botany can be used towards evil ends just like religion. That doesn’t sound like a very fruitful discussion to me, though.

    Lenin and Stalin used Communism to stamp out religion, not atheism. Atheism can’t be used to stamp anything out anymore than the belief that lava is hot can be used to convince people that frogs are good.

  5. 2012/04/17 at 12:08

    So when people choose to do good things, they have some independent source for those choices. When they choose to do evil, though, they are acting on a perversion of morality. See 9/11.

    I actually agree with this 100%

  6. 2012/04/19 at 20:43

    I don’t have much time to spend on this at the moment, but Michael, any idea, regardless of what it is or where it coes from can be used to justify almost anything, it’s one of the “great” features of the human mind.

    Stalin can take atheism and attempt to enforce it to gain control of his people and Hitler can take and use christian ideas to bolster his power. Obama can do likewise, Bush can do likewise.

    A set of ideas, whether from a religion or from a secular sort of view point like humanism can be used for great good or great evil dependent on the person and what conclusions and ideas they form around those ideas. Some “creeds” may be more open to “perversion” than others, but none are predetermined to do so.

    I often hear the question asked “what conclusion can you come to through religion, that I couldn’t come to with none?”, or words to that effect. The answer, of course, is none. Not one. That goes for horrible things as well as the good. I’m sure there were concentration camp guards that were atheists and I’m sure some were catholics and there was likely to have even been the odd budhist or something, and all of them were rotten to the core, without regard to their religious leanings.

    So yes, it’s dependent on people, not sets of ideas, of any kind.

  7. 2012/04/22 at 22:55

    I don’t recall ever reading where Stalin took atheism to do anything. In fact, he couldn’t have. That’s part of the whole descriptive thing. He took Marxism and used the aspect of it which denigrates religion.

    …dependent on the person and what conclusions and ideas they form around those ideas.

    Again, these aren’t just passive ideas that float around randomly until a person with some other pre-made conclusions usurps them.

    …and all of them were rotten to the core, without regard to their religious leanings.

    That ignores a whole bunch of history where groups of people have acted in systematic ways under the name of religion.

  8. 2012/04/22 at 22:55

    So yes, it’s dependent on people, not sets of ideas, of any kind.

    I didn’t realize people weren’t composed of ideas in the first place.

  9. 2012/05/07 at 14:41

    “which denigrates religion”

    I kind of forgot about this in my commenting freeze, but I’m reading what you have written and seeing that it is a lot of splitting hairs. Since I’m like two weeks behind, I won’t drone on and on, but you haven’t illustrated what I’ve said to be incorrect. People are sets of ideas, and what they do with those ideas is dependent on the person.

    By your reckoning, the violence committed by some anti-theists should tar the whole concept of anti-theism as destructive. I just don’t agree. Ideas do nothing on their own, an individuals interpretation of ideas or concepts is where the trouble arises.

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