Atheists not responsible for past genocides
Michael A Dingwall January 04, 2017 Jamaica Observer
Though I am an atheist, I do like to listen to some of the many church services that are aired – mainly for their comic relief. Recently, while listening to one, I heard the argument being put forward that virtually all of the most heinous atrocities that happened during the last century were done by “wicked atheists” like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and the like. Of course, I had a good laugh. As those who really know, these supposed atheists weren’t really atheists at all.
Perhaps the most famous supposed atheist ever to walk the Earth during the last century was Adolf Hitler. He is credited for killing millions of Jews and others and starting World War II, largely, it is being claimed, out of his atheistic hatred of anything good. Now those who really know Hitler know that that he would fly into a rage with anyone who would call him an atheist.
Hitler was anything but an atheist. His air force was decorated with Christian crosses when they went on their blitzkrieg bombing runs across Europe. The Iron cross was one of Nazi Germany’s highest national awards. One of Hitler’s main reason for invading Russia in 1941 was to rid the world of “that wicked atheistic Russia”. In fact, Hitler himself justified his extermination of the Jews by claiming that he was an instrument for God’s vengeance against them for what they did to Jesus.
Then we have the founder of Red China today, Mao Zedong. It is said by some that, on account of his atheistic convictions, he was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of his own people, in an effort to rapidly advance his country.
Now while Mao may have seen religion as a threat to making China great, he himself never professed to be an atheist. In fact, Mao was born into a devout Buddhist family and a practising Buddhist when he was young, and while he may have proclaimed China to be officially atheist, Buddhism was protected by communist policy. In fact, in a conversation he had with Pham Van Dong, Mao, talking about his illness said “…I have had a cough for some days. It is time to go to heaven. It seems that I am summoned to meet the good god…” Hardly the convictions of an atheist.
Pol Pot was the infamous leader of Cambodia during the cold war who is credited for exterminating a quarter of his country’s population. He has been branded a cruel atheist by many — very wrongly so. Pol Pot was also a Buddhist. He first studied at a Buddhist monastery and then at a Catholic institution. Again, like China’s Mao, Pol Pot never claimed to be an atheist.
Perhaps the most powerful dictator of the last century, Russia’s Josef Stalin is credited with killing millions of Russians and others, when he created the Soviet Empire. However, while Stalin did appear to strengthen atheism in Russia, there is doubt as to whether he himself was really an atheist at all.
Not many are aware of the fact that Stalin, when he was younger, actually was training to be a priest – yes a priest, before he became a “rebel”. Some have said that the earlier religious convictions that he had then may have contributed to his iron fist rule of the Soviet Empire. I, however, am not too sure.
Now, I want to make the point that I am not here saying that just because these leaders of the last century were obviously religious people or greatly influenced by religion was the reason why they did the things that have been ascribed to them. Not at all. You see, in any group, you will always find both good and bad. Atheists, like theists, are very much capable of doing things that will be seen as very bad. However, the past atrocities, and especially the very notable ones of the last century, had nothing to do with atheists.
Those who are responsible for genocides are humans who fell prey to gross delusional thoughts! They reserve loving kindness and compassion to only those whom they feel are deserving of them, whatever criteria depending on the depth of their delusional thought.
However, these people do not exist in a vacuum, there conditions leading to the acquiescence and compliance of such values. You need believers to carry out such acts. And the things in the background, both historical and contemporary leading to such atrocities.
One thing is for sure, these people have "enemies",both real and imagined.