Apparently the pope showed the now blunted fangs of the other “Religion of Peace” in an address to the Queen during his visit to the UK. The BBC quotes him as follows:
Even in our own lifetimes we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.
As we reflect on the sobering lessons of atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus a reductive vision of a person and his destiny.
The pope would do well to reflect on the record of the church he represents before he starts inveighing against “atheist extremism.” For example, it was responsible for the expulsion of Jews from the very country he was speaking in, not to mention his home country of Germany, as well as France, Spain and Portugal. It was responsible for countless pogroms against Jews throughout its bloody history, murdering hundreds of thousands of them in massacres in Germany and many other European countries. Other than that, it was directly responsible for the murders of hundreds of thousands of women as “witches,” countless bloody acts of repression against religious minorities, and the butchery of millions more in the wars it directly inspired.
As for the Nazis, the pope would do well to read “Mein Kampf.” After all, it was written in his mother tongue. In it Hitler invoked God many times, claiming, for example, that in fighting the Jews, he was doing the “Lord’s work.”
The political right has a tradition of bigotry in matters of religion, most recently revealed in the prevailing fashion of blaming atheists for Nazism and Communism. If the Nazis were atheist, how is it that Hitler constantly invoked God in his writings and speeches? How is it that the millions of little memorial brochures the Nazis sent to the families of fallen soldiers with a picture of the deceased on one side always had Christian symbols and verses on the other? Why did Nazi belt buckles and medals carry the inscription “God with us?”
Both Nazism and Communism were secular religions, differing from earlier versions only because they were unwise enough to promise heaven on earth, rather than pie in the sky when you die. They were recognized as such by numerous contemporary writers, who often spoke of Communist and Nazi leaders as so many popes, bishops and priests.
The Nazis and Communists didn’t murder because they were atheists. They murdered because they were Nazis and Communists. That remains a major distinction between atheists and Christians. Atheists have never murdered simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t believe in God. Christians have murdered millions by virtue of the fact that they do.