Is Hitler Really the Best Example?

Atheists love to use Adolf Hitler as the prime example of Christianity’s big failure. In fact Hitler’s name gets thrown out there way too often in the most inappropriate contexts imaginable (i.e. comparisons of living political figures, etc.) That’s just immature. The problem I have with quoting Hitler is the practice of using Hitler quotes as an example of how every Christian in the world thinks. In fact Hitler is a good example of a person who claims to be a _________ (insert religion here) but is only using that religion as a tool to politicize his own mad visions of society. Religion is a tool; a weapon of mass destruction, so to speak, in order to get one’s own way. It’s blatantly unfair to attribute this tactic to all Christians and it’s scaremongering of the worst sort. It’s a prime example of the tit-for-tat schoolyard taunting of our childhood days. In this kind of “fight” atheists trot out Hitler and theists trot out Stalin or Mao as prime examples against each others belief systems. I will concede that if you eliminate the byline from any one of Hitler’s quotes, you can almost hear some of these words coming out of politically motivated Christian fundamentalists’ mouths, but that doesn’t prove that Christianity is wrong or bad. That just proves that Hitler was bad and that he used Christianity to give himself moral “clout.” Sure, a very vocal subset of Christianity is also using religion for its own political ends and in similar fashion, but, again, that does not extrapolate outwards to “all Christians think this” or “all Christians do that.” These quotes could also be put in the mouths of any one of the radical religious wings sprouting out of any of the world’s religions, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. True madmen use religion as a tool, nothing more; and of course, no one wants to be the first to roll over like sheep to the slaughter and be tyrannized by maniacs.

At any rate, it’s a pretty cheap shot and too easy to bring out just to make a point. Look, I despise what fundamentalist Christians have done to besmirch the name of Christianity as much as any progressive Christian can. They’ve done irreparable damage in the eyes of the world and it’s only gotten worse. I know that Christians can sometimes be their own worst enemies. But, do please recognize that not every person who claims to be religious or stamps themselves with one brand of religion is out to change society, or that they have a vision of eliminating “undesirables,” or that reasonable believers are even in the same league as those who see sin everywhere but in their own hearts. True Christians (and true believers in any faith system) know that true religion is not about imposing Puritanical standards on a society in the hopes that everyone will get in lockstep formation behind a leader. We’ve all seen that kind of religion over and over again! We KNOW this never works. (Why they keep trying I’ll never know!) Nope, the Beatles were right in their ultra-simplistic way. All we really do need is love, not the gooey kind, but the “willing to be wronged yet love and forgive others anyway” kind. Problem is, no one wants to be the first to practice it. Religionists (those who practice religion without heart) want to use violence to bring peaceful societies to fruition and other religionists want to use violence to bring violent societies to fruition. Unfortunately, there will never be peace in this world as long as this type of religion is used as a tool of destruction or as a weapon against others.

True religion is one that begins in the heart and changes individuals from the inside out, not the other way around. In fact ANY belief system works this way, including atheism and humanism. Any “ism” must change the hearts of its adherents or it’s merely just another totalitarian idea. You cannot make someone transform themselves by imposing impossible group standards of control upon people, ones based on maniacal interpretations of some ancient text. The world won’t be changed through attempting to prove that anyone’s personal belief system is “wrong” or that what I believe is more “right” than what you believe. It won’t be changed by changing political systems or by becoming a socialist country or by electing a Democrat instead of a Republican president. The world will NEVER change by changing governments or exchanging religion for atheism like we change our underwear and it certainly won’t be changed by eliminating religion altogether. Groups don’t change things, groups merely produce people who don’t think for themselves, who aren’t individuals first, who follow the herd, who only say what the group wants them to say.  No, it is only through redemptive love for one another at a personal level that the world will ever change. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee that happening any time soon.

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6 thoughts on “Is Hitler Really the Best Example?

  1. **In fact Hitler’s name gets thrown out there way too often in the most inappropriate contexts imaginable (i.e. comparisons of living political figures, etc.) **

    I personally am waiting for a Hitler and Care Bear comparison one of these days. Or what was that program that was making some of the Religious Right irate — Tiddlywinks?

    I don’t think that Hitler is the best example, no. I think for both sides, the extreme examples get used because one side gives the impression that their side is 100% perfect, while the other side is 100% corrupt. So I can understand why Hitler would get used, when it’s being said that atheism leads to a complete downfall (and vice versa, if a Christian keeps hearing that Christianity is worthless and corrupts). Rather, it’s how people use each system that can lead to a downfall.

    I think much of it comes down to how much people are willing to listen and evaluate the other side. I know many Christian swho, if told that (extreme generalization here) clearly their faith is corrupt because Hitler “believed” it, I’d be horrified on their behalf. Why? Because they actively try to engage all viewpoints, understand why someone believes as they do, and also understands that just like anything, religion can be a “weapon of mass destruction.”

    Ultimately, I see the HItler comparison get used against fundamentalists the most — those who go around condemning all those outside of their belief system.

  2. Heather,

    I think it’s Tinky Winky you are thinking of, the notorious so-called by fundies “gay” teletubbie!

    Yes, extremes are used to blame the other side. I know in my own fight for feminism, people automatically assume I’m saying that ALL men are this way or ALL men are that way, but I’m not. I’m saying Patriarchal men are that way; men who buy into the system that says men are always in charge and that women, by their inferior status and intellect, should be completely submissive. Patriarchal men won’t even DISCUSS the merits of feminism. It’s too alien to their thinking process. There are many feminists that have done a LOT of good for humanity and there are feminists that give feminism a bad name. And there are many men who have also. I acknowledge this. Yet patriarchalists only deny, repress, and castigate women like us who bring it up for discussion.

    Some atheists are like patriarchalists. Rather than acknowledge the good religion has done throughout the centuries, they can only bring up all the spiteful, hateful things done “in the name of” religion. They can’t acknowledge that individuals are responsible for themselves regardless of what group they claim to adhere to.

    Men are not ALL bad, but some men who adhere to oppressive groups, who beat women and children, who believe women are “less than” men, who use them merely as sex objects for personal gratification, are bad.

    Women are not ALL bad, but some women who adhere to extreme and radical man-hating groups are bad.

    Christians are not ALL bad, but some name-only Christians who love power and control and wish to control others are bad.

    Islamists are not ALL bad, but radical clerics and their followers who kill people if they don’t convert to Islam are bad.

    I could go on, but you get the picture. Only as individuals change, will the groups change. It works from the bottom up, not the top down!

  3. MOI,

    I think it’s Tinky Winky, too. Tiddlywinks is some sort of game, I believe.

    I’ve also been thinking about this post more, and wonder if part of the impressions are due to the atmosphere itself. There are some blogs that almost seem to be an invitation for the worst sort of any group. For instance, if your blog is addressed towards feminist issues, it’s more than likely that you’ll get the extreme anti-feminist men there in droves, and thus it can be very easy to form an impression based on that. If the blog is for those who have de-converted from a religion, then it tends to attract the extreme fundamentlists in droves.

    I think this is b/c the extremes have something to prove, whereas the “normal” ones tend to ‘live and let live.’ However, that also means the “normal” ones tend to hardly post, never post, or don’t even go looking for the blogs, period. Therefore, it can be kind of easy to say “everyone in this group is just like [extreme person].”

    So it can take some work on my part not to lump everyone in together, because some of the blogs I frequent can really attractive the negative aspects, where I sometimes feel I have to go out of my way to find the postive aspects.

    Of course, we could also have fun with this and say to a “normal” Christian, “You can’t be a *real* Christian. You haven’t condemned me!!” 😉

  4. MOI,
    Remember this? LOL.

    There seems to be a certain group of self-styled Bible-believing folks out there that have got the idea in their heads that their mission in life is to reform society, establish Christian government, and see every facet of society brought under the glorious reign of Christ (whether society wants it or not), and generally tell everyone what they should and shouldn’t do. Call them right-wing fundies, call them Triumphialists, call them what you like – I suggest we adopt the title ‘wrong-wing fundies’.

    How can I say such a thing? Easy – just turn with me please in your Bibles to the verse where we see Jesus reforming the government of His day, kicking Roman butt, picketing outside Herod’s palace with a big sign ‘Fags go back to Greece’, or telling Caesar to shove over because the real king was now here. What? You can’t find those verses? That’s odd, because neither can I!

    Jesus spoke about being salt sprinkled around here and there, a pinch here, a pinch there – just enough to improve the flavour and stop things from going off too much. That’s all. Just some little grains of salt around the place quietly doing their thing.

    Jon

  5. Jon,

    Most excellent story! You are absolutely right of course. Jesus never did or condoned any of those things. Neither did Paul, Peter, James or any of the apostles/disciples. In fact, they pretty much left government alone.

  6. Heather,
    I think you may be right about this. Most normal Christians don’t feel the need to go around deliberately finding blogs that address issues they hate, because frankly there are no hot-button issues to “hate” for the normal Christian! They lives quiet lives in their own towns and cities and let others do the same. I don’t understand why everyone can’t do that!

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