How to Debunk The Hitler, Stalin Mao argument

The Argument

Religion is imperfect, to be sure, but 20th-century history has shown us that abandoning religion can be absolutely devastating. Murderous regimes like those of Hitler, Stalin and Mao are examples of what can happen when people no longer believe in god, and think they can do anything they want.

How to Debunk It

  1. Stalin and Mao were indeed atheists but Hitler wasn’t. He talked and wrote at length about god, providence, Catholicism, Jesus and his regime’s eradication of atheism in Germany. Christianity was quite established in Germany, and at least a quarter of SS members were practicing Catholics. Hitler himself talked about how much he hated the Russians’ godlessness. Atheism isn’t a common denominator here, since both theists and atheists are capable of extreme evil. The argument is false.
  2. The vast majority of wars, genocides and other atrocities, even just in the 20th century, have been committed by non-atheists. The Armenian genocide was perpetrated by Muslim Turks. The atrocities committed by the Japanese during the 1930s and 1940s were carried out in the name of imperial Buddhism, led by an emperor who was considered to be a demigod. The atrocities in the former Yugoslavia were mostly carried out by Orthodox Christians and Catholics. The majority of Poles, Germans, Ukrainians and other Europeans who committed atrocities during World War II were Christians. As Nazi Germany invaded all of Poland, and then large parts of the Soviet Union, many of the churches that were closed by the Soviets were reopened by the Nazis, just in time for the Holocaust to shift into high-gear. Hitler actually installed a Catholic priest, Jozef Tiso, as president of the New Slovak Republic, who then went on to aid with the effort of exterminating the Jewish population there (he was executed after the war in the newly formed Czechoslovakia for war crimes and crimes against humanity). The genocide in Rwanda—one of the most Christian nations in Africa—was carried out by Christians, aided and facilitated by ordained religious leaders (mostly Catholics). The bloody partition of India and its ongoing fighting and ethnic cleansings were perpetrated by Muslims and Hindus, having just been liberated from two centuries of Christian British rule. From East Timor to Iraq, from Mongolia to Sudan, from Afghanistan to El Salvador, most genocides and crimes against humanity have no connection to atheism.
  3. Since the time of Hitler, Stalin and Mao, levels of religiosity in most developed nations have only dropped. There are more atheists in Germany and China now than there were during the times at which the worst atrocities were committed. German leaders, though largely secular, have been loosely affiliated to various forms of Christianity, but many Russian and most Chinese leaders are just as irreligious now as Stalin and Mao were back then. And yet, even though they are far from perfect, the situation today is nowhere nearly as bad as it was during the 20th century.
  4. Once you realize that all religions are irrational human ideas that have been turned into ideologies, you’ll notice that it doesn’t make much difference whether the irrational ideology has a made-up supernatural deity at its core. You find the same kinds of leader-worship, “thought crime,” witch hunts, heresy trials, demonization of “others,” strict dogmatic ideology, propaganda, superstition and fear-mongering among all deadly regimes. Since it’s all fabricated by human beings, the dichotomy isn’t between religious and non-religious, it’s between rational and irrational. Show me a single deadly regime that has supported political and social diversity, free thought, skepticism, debate, free media, and the idea that policies must be supported by reason and evidence.
  5. There’s no reason to theorize about the idea that atheism doesn’t produce genocides and war. There are, and have long been, many atheistic heads of state who, far from leading their people down the path of war and genocide, have promoted peace and freedom. Mikhail Gorbachev—a Nobel peace laureate—is a good example, along with India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, the UK prime ministers Clement Attlee and James Callaghan, Australia’s prime minister Julia Gillard, Uruguay’s president José Mujica and many more heads of state from Scandinavia, Italy, Ireland, Russia, Poland, Romania and elsewhere. The fact that Stalin and Mao were atheists is overwhelmed by the number of other atheistic heads of state who didn’t commit any atrocities.
  6. Some of the least religious nations today (Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Norway) are among the most peaceful and prosperous nations in the world. There isn’t even a slight correlation to be found between atheism and genocide, let alone a causal relationship.

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8 thoughts on “How to Debunk The Hitler, Stalin Mao argument

  1. Oh man so many historical inconsistencies and misunderstanding of what happened in the Communist countries. When the atrocities happened in the Commumists countries, as you say in the beginning, it doesn’t matter that there were more religious people. The atrocities were conducted by one political party. The only one allowed to exist. The Communist Party. They conducted the atrocities against their own people. They did their best to destroy religion. But couldn’t. Authoritarian regimes have tried to destroy religion but have never been able to.

    You say that now there are less atrocities committed in China than before. Just how much? It looks like you have been living like a hermit somewhere in the jungle without listening to the news.

    1. You seem to have misinterpreted one part of my argument, and completely missed the others.
      1. I never said that China has less than a terrible human rights record at the moment, but as bad as it’s now, it was much – MUCH – worse in the bad-old-days when tens of millions of people died.
      2. The Chinese and Russian communist parties were indeed atheistic, but the Nazi party wasn’t. This means that genocidal atrocities come both from atheism and from theism. Hitler actually bragged about eradicating atheism from Germany.
      3. China, Russia and Germany are even more atheistic now than they were in the 20th century. And yet, no more genocides. Atheism doesn’t even correlate with genocide, much less has a causal relationship with it.

  2. You can also consider the fact that Stalin *replaced* the Christian deity with himself. Where once there were crosses were then pictures of Stalin, statues of Stalin all over hell and back. Even to this day. Same thing with North Korea and their supreme leaders and and China with Mao.

    1. How many times are these bullshit claims going to have to be debunked? Look up history for atheists, a blog by a well known atheist historian.
      Your post doesnt even fit the description of revisionism.

      It’s a well known fact that Hitler despised Christianity, and Himmler’s SS was actively explicitly persecuting Catholics all accross Europe.
      So much nonsense, honestly delete your blog in shame. No one tell him that the Nazi Germany and the Vatican had a literal Concordat to avoid utter extermination and suffer the same fate as the jews.

      1. 1. Hitler declared himself a Christian man.
        2. Hitler’s regime made its very first agreement (the Reichskonkordat) with the Vatican.
        3. Around a quarter of SS officers were confessing Catholics.
        4. The famous “Rat Line” that smuggled many Nazi criminals to South America AFTER the war was largely aided by the Catholic church.

        I can keep going, but it’s clear you haven’t looked into the relevant history deeply enough.

      2. Drew, your statements are patently incorrect. Check the actual history of Adolph Hitler. He considered himself, until the day he died, a devout Catholic. The Nazis did persecute some Catholics across Europe, but all of the persecuted were political dissidents who criticized the Nazi regime. They weren’t attacked for their religion, but for their political stances. EVERY known atheist was attacked. Even to this day, many violent white supremacists worldwide consider themselves “good Christians”. Not one claims to be a non-believer. In fact, one of the largest proponents of racial hatred and violence in the world is a Russian Orthodox named Alexander Dugin, who is a close personal friend of Vladimir Putin, another well known Russian Orthodox, racist and known murderer.

  3. That the actions of X led to more dead people than the actions of Y does not necessarily mean that X is more evil than Y. It could also be that X had more money/resources/technology at his disposal.

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