Sunday, April 29, 2012

Christian Atrocities vs. Secular Atrocities.

The three secular regimes of the twentieth century most often compared to the Roman Catholic Church and its reign of terror over the Western World are, in descending order, Hitler's Third Reich, Stalin's Soviet Union and Pol Pot's Cambodia.

I'll take these in order.

First, the most completely debunked is Hitler's Third Reich.  It was not a secular regime, even though legally, it was not "controlled" by a church.  Hitler was Catholic.  He was photographed at Mass, the major figures in the Nazi Party in his regime were mostly photographed at Mass, Catholic priests, bishops and Cardinals were photographed at Nazi Party rallies giving the Nazi salute to Hitler, and the Hitler regime signed a Concordat with the RCC, allowing such perks as priests being exempt from the military draft and service and the RCC being allowed to keep church schools in operation during the war - all in exchange for the RCC's support of Hitler, including the major Catholic political party in Germany providing the vote to give Hitler dictatorial powers.  Hitler wrote in his book, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that his opinions about Jews was largely informed and inflamed by Martin Luthor's writings, which, in turn, were informed by centuries of Catholic invective towards Jews.

In short, Hitler's 6 million dead in the Holocaust belong in the Religious column.

Actually, to show that secular regimes have committed worse atrocities than religious ones, one would need to show that the purpose of the regime (and thus the atrocity) was secular in purpose. Given that both Pol Pot (in Cambodia) and Stalin (in the USSR) both espoused Communism, which was a cult of personality virtually wherever it was practiced, and which absolutely forbade the existence of any groups which might challenge the supremacy of the Communist Party, the “secular” purpose of those two regimes wasn’t, strictly speaking, about secularism, but about Communism, and aiding in its continued existence.
One can argue (and I will) as to which is worse – a greater number of deaths in a short period, or the complete subjugation of the entire Western World for almost two thousand years, with all the misery, death and deliberately inflicted suffering extending over the population thereof for that entire time, but the fact is, the occurrence of one does not excuse the occurrence of the other!  One cannot excuse one's actions because someone else committed the same crime.  A crime is still a crime.
The two regimes, Pol Pot's Cambodia and Stalin's USSR, which inflicted such widespread death in the twentieth century were opposed and destroyed by forces both internal and external, and neither lasted for a historically significant period – less than a hundred years for the longer, less than a half dozen for the other – and yet, the “regime” apologists seek to excuse lasted for at least 1600 years, kept itself in power through force, intimidation, murder, genocide, child indoctrination, torture, summary executions and who knows what all else, and the result of its power was the destruction of the highest form of human technology and application of science the world had yet seen, with the forced subjugation of the entire population of a significant portion of the world’s surface for that entire period. The suffering that resulted from the destruction of human knowledge in the realm of health care alone is unmatched by anything the twentieth century could boast in the category of human cruelty to itself. To add in the loss of the rest of scientific knowledge the Romans had learned and used is to compound that suffering to an astonishing degree.
By contrast, the USSR lasted for a mere 80 or so years, and while its early years were marked by the horrors of Stalin's years (and its twenty million dead), at least Stalin didn't deny science.  He may have limited the scope of the application of science and health care to an elite of the Communist Party, but health care wasn't limited to medieval levels, and the population of the USSR largely had such basics as electricity and some mechanical labor savers.  Primitive by Western Standards, they weren't living in the 12th century.   Once Stalin was killed, while the secret police never went away, the Communists in Russia never resorted to mass murder again.
Pol Pot's Cambodia was truly a horror.  It did deny science, it killed anyone suspected of being an intellectual, a teacher, a scientist or any of a dozen other professions deemed "anti-revolutionary".  It killed two million Cambodians, and at times in the most thuggish way possible.  Suffering was simply widespread and universal.  But it lasted only four years, an historically insignificant period.
I will not make lightly of the suffering of the Soviet people and the Cambodians during the periods of those regimes.  It was as bad as any suffering experienced by any humans at any time.   Do not misunderstand me here.
But, the Roman Catholic Church controlled the Western World from about 400 CE through roughly the 18th century, if one defines "control" as having the power to manipulate major power governments, bring overwhelming political power to bear on multiple countries and possessing the power to condemn citizens of those powers to death on its own authority and to force officials of those countries to carry out those death sentences.
That's fourteen hundred years!  One thousand, four hundred, give or take.  From the end of the first century in which it gained State Religion status in the Roman Empire until its power waned as secular power displaced it in the Enlightenment, which culminated in the birth of this country.  As to the last witches prosecuted in Europe, Wikipedia says this:
The last execution of a witch in the Dutch Republic was probably in 1613.[32] In Denmark this took place in 1693 with the execution of Anna Palles.[33] In other parts of Europe, the practice died down later. In France the last person to be executed for witch craft was Louis Debaraz in 1745.[34] In Germany the last death sentence was that of Anna Schwegelin in Kempten in 1775 (although not carried out).[35] The last known official witch-trial was the Doruchów witch trial in Poland in 1783. Two unnamed women were executed in Posnan, Poland, in 1793, in proceedings of dubious legitimacy.[36]Anna Göldi was executed in Glarus, Switzerland, in 1782,[37] and Barbara Zdunk in Prussia in 1811. Both women have been identified as the last person executed for witchcraft in Europe, but in both cases, the official verdict did not mention witchcraft, as this had ceased to be recognized as a criminal offense.

 It took a while for such superstition to die out to the point where supernatural powers weren't automatically assumed.

And yet, the witch trials still continue, in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, India, Papua New Guinea, and Saudi Arabia!

My youngest grand-daughter was baptized in the RCC, recently.  The Catholic Church where that took place is a fundamentalist one, and the priest said three exorcisms prior to the rite of baptism.  It was passed off as a ritual of little meaning, but he noted that its purpose is to divest the un-baptised infant of any demonic influence she may have been exposed to since birth.

Yeah, demonic influence.  In the 21st century.  In the United States of America, there are people who seriously teach their children that there are demons, and they can make you do stuff!

Is there any real doubt that religion is not only the main reason people do such insane things, but that it is still a terrible influence on human affairs that still kills people?

Sure, they only burn witches one at a time, while Stalin starved 20 million to death in a few weeks.  But stretch that one-at-a-time out by a couple of thousand years, and they add up.  Not to mention the terror people are subjected to who may be susceptible to such accusations.

Accusations of crimes which are completely imaginary.

At least Stalin and Pol Pot are dead.  Their numbers won't get any bigger.

The RCC is still here, still teaching imaginary crap about an imaginary universal hierarchy full of imaginary creatures.

Imagine that.

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