• The Truth Behind the New Atheism: The Definitive Refutation, Part 7

    Chapter 9: Or a Curse?

    In this chapter David Marshall’s goal is to defend Christianity from the laundry list of atrocities that are so often brought up by the New Atheists. Marshall writes,

    Whenever the effect of Christianity is discussed, five episodes are almost always mentioned: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the persecution of accused witches, the slave trade, and pogroms against Jews. […] “Saints are sinners, too,” some Christians respond glibly, then drop the subject as quickly as possible. That won’t do. The claim isn’t only that there are bad apples in the gospel barrel, or even that some criminals co-opt Christianity to do evil. The claim is that there’s something in this faith, when taken seriously, that leads to the murder of the innocent. The charge demands honest consideration. (155-156)

    Let’s just see how ‘honestly’ he considers these crimes done in the name of Christianity. Marshall’s first topic under discussion are the Crusades. He writes,

    Let’s begin by dropping one of the charges. By 1095, Europe had been under assault for four centuries. Muslim armies had conquered much of Byzantium, north Africa, and Spain, pushing into southern France, Switzerland, and to the gates of Rome. Pope Urban called on Europeans to liberate Jerusalem from its Turkish occupiers and go to the aid of the “Greeks” against Islamic imperialism. He complained that the “accursed race” of the Persians had “invaded the lands of those Christians and depopulated them by the sword, pillage, and fire,” enslaved, raped, and tortured the inhabitants, turned churches into mosques, and “dismembered” the Byzantine empire. He was right. I see nothing vile about defending a friend against a bully at the risk of one’s own neck. (156-157)

    Marshall is obviously not a historian because he is basing his version of history on hearsay, not on facts. The truth is more complicated than Marshall makes it appear.

    To quote historian Thomas Asbridge,

    There is little or no evidence to suggest that these two world religions were somehow locked in an inevitable and perpetual ‘clash of civilizations.’ From the tenth century onwards, for example, Islam and Byzantium developed a tense, sometimes quarrelsome respect for one another, but their relationship was no more fraught with conflict than that between the Greeks and their Slavic or Latin neighbors to the west.

    This is not to suggest that the world was filled with utopian peace and harmony. The Byzantines were only too happy to exploit any signs of Muslim weakness. […] So what did ignite the war between Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land? In one sense the crusades were a reaction to an act of Islamic aggression – the Muslim conquest of sacred Jerusalem – but this had taken place in 638, and thus was hardly a fresh offense. At the start of the eleventh century, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, thought to enclose the site of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, had been partially demolished by the volatile Fatimid ruler known to history as the Mad Caliph Hakim. His subsequent persecution of the local Christian population lasted for more than a decade, ending only when he declared himself a living God and turned on his own Muslim subjects. Tensions also seem to have been running high in 1027, when Muslims reportedly threw stones into the compound of the Holy Sepulchre. […] Two Arabic accounts offer important but divergent insights into these issues. Ibn al-‘Arabi, a Spanish Muslim pilgrim who set out for the Holy Land in 1092, described Jerusalem as a thriving centre of religious devotion for Muslims, Christians and Jews alike. He noted that Christians were permitted to keep their churches in a good state of repair, and have no hint that pilgrims – be they Greek or Latin – were suffering abuse or interference. By contrast, the mid-twelfth-century Aleppan chronicler al-‘Azimi wrote that: ‘The people of the Syrian ports prevented Frankish and Byzantine pilgrims from crossing to Jerusalem. Those of them who survived spread the news about that to their country. So they prepared themselves for military invasion.’ Clearly, al-‘Azimi at least believed that Muslim attacks triggered the crusades.

    In fact, on the basis of all the surviving evidence, the case could be argued in either direction. By 1095 Muslims and Christians had been waging war against one another for centuries; no matter how far it was in the past, Islam undoubtedly had seized Christian territory, including Jerusalem; and Christians living in and visiting the Holy Land may have been subjected to persecution. On the other had, the immediate context in which the crusades were launched gave no obvious clue that a titanic transnational war of religion was either imminent or inevitable. Islam was not about to initiate a grand offensive against the West. Nor were the Muslim rulers of the Near East engaging in acts akin to ethic cleansing, or subjecting religious minority groups to widespread and sustained oppression. There may at times have been little love lost between Christian and Muslim neighbors, and perhaps there were outbreaks of intolerance in the Levant, but there was, in truth, little to distinguish all this from the endemic political, military and social struggles of the age. [1]

    It seems clear that Marshall’s argument about self-defense is not as clear-cut as he’d like his readers to believe. Later on, Marshall tries to argue that the Crusades had no theological justification because Christians ignored the “loving” principles throughout the bible. He writes,

    Influence is hard to pin down. How can we trace the flow of an idea from its intellectual origins through such a complex, ingenious and devious organ as the mind, and out into human actions? […]
    Some ideas are explicit. The apostles John and Paul wrote about the divinity of Jesus, which is why Christians have always believed him divine. Jesus taught and healed, setting an example for his followers. Other doctrines are implicit, and their logic mixes slowly, like juices in a crockpot. The New Testament has little to say about slavery – it’s taken for granted, but undermined by pervasive calls to love one another, talk about freedom, and the assumption that Christians form of unified spiritual family. Still other doctrines or practices grow up in the fact of commands against them, which we subvert for our own purposes. (158)

    In actuality, there are clear precedents for Christian acts of aggression. The ideology of crusading was not just made up beginning in the eleventh century. The bible contains stories where holy war is condoned by god and even Jesus said he came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt. 10:34). This also contradicts Jesus’ messages of love. Once again, Marshall ignores the big issue I discussed earlier: How do Christians choose between the two types of verses? The church authorities who eventually built the ideology of crusading relied upon the views of the Christian thinker St. Augustine of Hippo, who centuries earlier argued that “war could be both lawful and justifiable if fought under strict conditions.” [2]

    The fact that the Christians acted as they did, even if the bible on occasion speaks of caring for one another, is no defense for the violence brought on by Christian ideology.

    Marshall next discusses the Inquisition. He says,

    It’s harder to find warrant in the New Testament for torturing heretics. […] In a sense, torture doesn’t need to be “explained.” Making someone feel pain until he does what you want is what Daniel Dennett calls a “good trick,” and can be witnessed on any playground. Few, if any, civilizations have failed to make use of this trick. […] Hopefully we have learned from history. Ma Bell’s unofficial slogan “We don’t care because we don’t have to” sums up much that is wrong with monopolies, including religious ones. Torture is (at least) a radical form of poor customer service: Buy our product, or else! The government shouldn’t be in the business of telling people where to go on Sunday. The church is better off getting knocked around by the media, or even the state, than enduring too much official love. Churches are at their best when they compete for market share through good works. No one blames Buddha or Confucius for the Japanese Inquisition, which killed as many Catholics as the Spanish killed non-Catholics. Why blame Jesus when people do the opposite of what he taught? (159-160)

    Historian of the Inquisition, Henry Kamen, writes that “Ferdinand’s intentions […] will long be the subject of dispute” and so we may never know the entirety of the truth behind why the Inquisition was started. [3] Despite the issues with determining the precise cause of the Inquisition there were religious reasons behind many of the actions of the Inquisition because of its punishments upon those who failed to adhere to orthodox beliefs. For example, Martin Luther’s ideas were rejected in Spain and the Inquisition punished those who were suspected of adhering to Luther’s unorthodox views. The same occurred to a sect called Illuminism, which advocated a form of free-thought in religious matters. The Inquisition also banned books that contained unorthodox views. [4]

    Did Jesus “sanction” the Inquisition? It seems that he did when he said such things as the following:

    In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus vows “to come back to exact revenge upon those that do not follow him.” In John 15:6 Jesus says, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (NIV)

    Some verses in the bible, though not spoken by Jesus, are also said to have possibly inspired the Inquisition. One example is 2 Peter, which “warns against false prophets and damnable heresies,” and seems to give support to the idea of killing heretics. [5]

    In sum, whether or not the bible was actually used to support or justify the Inquisition, it is wrong to argue that the bible contains no justification for it. It most certainly does. The actions of the Inquisitors took a page right out the of the bible in 2 Peter and John 15:6.

    In the next section Marshall attempts to soften the impact of the accusation that Christians killed witches. He opens with the following,

    Persecution of “witches” is another crime commonly and reasonably laid at the door of the church. Surely this evil wouldn’t have occurred apart from religious dogma! Atheists, after all, don’t believe in witches. (160)

    He then makes the argument that,

    Even atheists and skeptics such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin advocated the killing of witches, the latter of whom wanted it done in the slowest possible fire. (161)

    There is a large problem with this argument because neither man appears to be an atheist and Marshall did not cite any sources for this information about their beliefs about witches. However, I was able to confirm that Bodin did write De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (or On the Demon Worship of Sorcerers). As for Hobbes, I did find this passage in the second chapter of Leviathan,

    For as for Witches, I think not that their witchcraft is any reall power; but yet that they are justly punished, for the false beliefe they have, that they can do such mischiefe, joyned with their purpose to do it if they can: their trade being neerer to a new Religion, than to a Craft or Science.

    In the case of Hobbes he has often been accused of atheism because of his anti-religious views and his harsh criticisms of the church, but one must remember that even Deists did such things during the Enlightenment. Just because an individual is a materialist or dislikes religion, that doesn’t make one an atheist.

    In response to Bishop Bramhall’s criticism in his book, The Catching of the Leviathan, wherein he called Hobbes an atheist, Hobbes responded with the following,

    Because he does not so much as offer any refutation of any thing in my Leviathan concluded, I needed not to have answered either of them. Yet to the first I here answer, because the words atheism, impiety, and the like, are words of the greatest defamation possible. And this I had done sooner, if I had sooner known that such a book was extant. He wrote it ten years since, and yet I never heard of it till about three months since; so little talk there was of his Lordship’s writings. (emphasis mine in bold) [6]

    Regarding Bodin, his views are also very much misunderstood, but it seems he was not an atheist. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says of Bodin’s beliefs,

    During his youth, Bodin received a Catholic education and he remained loyal to the Church until his death. Demonstrating his religious convictions, in a testament from June 7, 1596, he requested to be buried in a Catholic Church. Nevertheless, during his middle years, he was critical of the church hierarchy and occasionally expressed antipapal sentiments. On the basis of this evidence, his biographers have quickly labeled him a Protestant. Yet in his Lettre à Jean Bautru des Matras, a text based on his youthful religious ideas, it is clear that Bodin was not a pure Protestant, but rather a critic of the Roman Catholic clergy, its hierarchy, and some of its doubtful religious practices. Bodin was a fervent believer in the “true religion” which he considered “nothing other than looking to God with a purified spirit.” […] His antipapal sentiments, interspersed throughout his writings, have provided historians with evidence to label Bodin a Protestant. [7]

    Clearly, neither man could be considered an atheist, and given their religious backgrounds and the religious cultures they were immersed in, it’s not too surprising their views on witches.

    Marshall writes,

    What role did Christianity play in the persecution of witches? A more complex one than is usually assumed.

    The Old Testament does seem to give explicit warrant for what would come: “Do not allow sorceress to live” (Exodus 22:18). Some modern witches argue, however, that the Hebrew term referred not to Wiccan herbalists, but “black magic.” (161)

    There are actually several biblical passages that condemn witchcraft. Examples include Deut. 18:10-14; 2 Kings 21:6; Lev. 19:26; Lev. 19:31; Sam. 15:23; and Lev. 20:27. The rest of the chapter Marshall mentions a few examples of Christians throughout history who’ve condemned the murder of anyone considered a witch, and for the most part he looks to have his facts correct. Christians have sometimes aided “witches” but just as those few Christians during the slave trade who helped slaves, those few individuals’ kind acts do nothing to soften the fact that many have been tortured and even killed because of this belief that comes from the bible that witchcraft and other forms of magic are evil. Just like slavery and the subjection of women, the killing of witches can be justified by the bible.

    The next subject Marshall discusses is anti-semitism and he blows my mind when he actually tries to argue that the bible contains no justification for it! He writes,

    Did Jesus only care about Jews, as [Richard] Dawkins claimed? Or is [Sam] Harris right that the gospel teaches us to hate Jews? […] But I don’t want to be glib. Too many innocent people died. It’s understandable if some of their descendants suspect the roots of the problem may lie in the New Testament. But let them read it honestly. […] An outsider shouldn’t talk as freely as members of a family. Rebuking Jews is a very Jewish thing to do. But later abuse of the Hebrew Scriptures to justify anti-Semitism is not only obscene, it is absurd. “Christ-killer”? The whole point of Christianity is that Christ laid his life down for the salvation of all peoples, “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).

    Even in the book of John, Jesus is presented as Jewish. His mother is Jewish, the people he heals are Jewish, and he livens up a Jewish wedding with Israeli wine. He prays to the Jewish God and is raised to life to meet Jewish friends by the Sea of Galilee and catch kosher fish. The Nazis would hardly quote the teaching, also in John, that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). Nor did they echo Paul when he explained his feelings about his people: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed…for the sake of my brothers” (Romans 9:3). If you can read anti-Semitism into the New Testament, you can read it into anything. (163-164)

    Let’s take Marshall’s advice and read the New Testament “honestly” because he sure doesn’t. The justification for the hatred of Jews can be found in numerous places. For example, the depictions of anti-Jewish violence during the Crusades in The Chronicle of Solomon bar Simson tell of Godfrey of Bouillon’s actions, how he was bent on “avenging the blood of the crucified one by shedding Jewish blood.” [8] The Chronicle also cites the following reason Christians killed Jews during the Crusades: “Look now, we are going a long way to seek out the profane shrine and to avenge ourselves on the Ishmaelites [Muslims], when here, in our very midst, are the Jews – they whose forefathers murdered and crucified him for no reason.” [9]

    Unlike what Marshall’s delusional belief about the subject is, you can find definite justifications in the bible for anti-Semitism. For example in John 5:18 it says, “This made the Jews still more determined to kill him, because he was not only breaking the Sabbath, but, by calling God his own Father, he claimed equality with God.” (NEB) In John 7:1 it says, “Afterwards Jesus went about in Galilee. He wished to avoid Judea because the Jews were looking for a chance to kill him.” (NEB) Other examples are Matthew 27:25 and Acts 2:22-23.

    Aside from the evidence in the bible there are several studies that have confirmed a link between anti-Semitism and Christianity. In 1966 Charles Y. Glock and Rodney Stark (before he became an apologist for Christianity obviously) conducted a survey that showed how Christian belief influenced anti-Semitism. [10]

    Marshall continues with his delusional argument. He says,

    If persecuting Jews isn’t taught, explicitly or implicitly, in the New Testament, why did anti-Semitism only appear among Christians and Muslims?

    The answer, of course, is that it didn’t. Jews were enslaved in Egypt. Queen Esther rescued her people from genocide in Babylonia. Clement of Alexandria, a second-century Christian, defended Jews against the bigotry of his pagan opponent, Celsus. Jews were the focus of Stalin’s “doctors’ plot” (though fortunately he died before this proscription for disaster was administered). In Japan, millions of copies of anti-Semitic books have been published. The Buddhist sect Aum Shinrikyo put out a tract called Manual of Fear: The Jewish Ambition – Total World Conquest, blaming the children of Abraham for the slaughters in Cambodia and Rwanda! (165)

    As I’ve shown above, Marshall is spectacularly wrong about anti-Semitism and the bible and his attempts at deflecting blame from Christianity to other people is pathetic at best. He gives no sources for this information, but assuming it’s true, so what? There are concrete links from Christianity to anti-Semitism as the above bible passages and study shows (in fact, there are more studies showing this link than I cite). It is absurd for Marshall to deflect Christianity’s role in the killing of Jews as he has.

    The next subject under discussion is Marshall’s take on the role Christian beliefs had in inspiring the Holocaust and the role of “Hitler’s Pope,” Pope Pius XII. Marshall begins by arguing that many Christians risked their lives to save Jews. He sums up his argument as follows,

    Such examples [of Christians saving Jews] could be multiplied: Martin Niemoller, who told Hitler to his face, “We too have a responsibility for the German people, laid upon us by God” […] But since Dawkins and Harris attack Pius in particular, as a Protestant, let me speak in praise of him and the Catholic Church. (166)

    Something Marshall fails to tell his readers is that Martin Niemoller, and other Christians, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, had to leave the established Church to lead this resistance. Julian Baggini writes,

    […] a concordat was signed between the Nazi government and the Catholic Church in 1933. The collusion between the Protestant churches and the Nazi regime was even closer, helped by an anti-Semitic tradition in German Protestantism. Resistance came not from the established Protestant churches but by the breakaway Confessional Church, led by pastors Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. These dissidents are justifiably held up by Christians today as shining examples of principled resistance to Nazism, but the fact that they had to leave the established Church to lead this resistance is no cause for Christian celebration. [11]

    Marshall attempts to dispel the claims against Pope Pius XII and argues that he helped many Jews and saved “at least 700,000 [and possibly as many as] 860,000” from the Holocaust and that these are “hardly negligible numbers.” A problem with this, however, is Marshall admits that this is “disputed” and I would surely call 700,000 to 860,000 “negligible” since it’s been estimated that six million Jews perished in that nightmare called the Holocaust. (167)

    Even worse for Marshall (and the Catholic Church) is, while there was surely a small group of Christians who tried to help the Jews, the vast majority helped and supported the Nazi government. Historian John Weiss writes,

    The Confessing Church never attempted to protect Jews but only Jews who had converted to Christianity, that is, only Christians. Most Evangelical clergy did not even do this. Even after the killings and synagogue burnings of Kristallnacht in 1938, and even in the Confessing Church, the “majority did not oppose Hitler.” The German Methodist church attacked world Jewry for its “lying propaganda” and agreed with Bishop Dibelius that Hitler had saved Germany from an imminent Bolshevik revolution, bringing peace and stability, in happy contrast to the “bloody revolution” that had established the Weimar Republic. [12]

    Regarding the role Pope Pius XII played John Weiss says how he remained entirely silent, even on the issue of the “Nazi’s euthanasia.”

    By March 1941 the Vatican knew that some seven hundred Polish priests had been sent to concentration camps, and many Catholics begged the pope to denounce the Nazis. He did not. Eighteen percent of all Polish priests were killed in the war. In short, Pius XII supported the Nazis’ bid for lebensraum in Catholic, noncommunist Poland even if it meant the murder of priests, let alone Jews.

    In August 1942 the Brazilian ambassador to the Holy See, a Catholic, attempted to persuade the pope to denounce the atrocities in occupied territories. He was supported by the Belgian ambassador, U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Under Secretary Summer Welles, and the British ambassador to Washington. Poland, Uruguay, and Great Britain also sent notes urging a statement of concern. Representing the American government, Myron C. Taylor delivered an official letter in September 1942 decrying the massacre of thousands in Poland, the killings in the Warsaw Ghetto, and mass executions in the camps. Such was the “butchering” of civilians, he wrote, that there “is not one Jew left in the entire district east of Poland, including occupied Russia,” adding that all Jews in the control of the Germans in the east were being shot. Taylor asked if the pope could help prevent such “barbarities.” In his Christmas message of 1942-1943 the pope responded, but managed not to condemn the Nazis or mention Jews. […] [The pope did not protest when] in October 1943, the Germans took the Jews of Rome under the very eyes of the Vatican. The German Foreign Office feared the pope would protest, but to their relief he said nothing. Pius XII did shelter a few dozen or a few hundred Jews in the Vatican, the number is uncertain. But hundreds of ordinary Italians, secular and religious, rescued some 8,000 Jews, and priests, communists, and democrats helped. The pope also did nothing for the 265 Catholic and 70 Jewish civilians murdered as hostages in the Adreatine caves in March 1944, despite appeals from his own priests. Pius XII was pro-Nazi to the end. [13]

    The Vatican authorities also helped Nazi war criminals to escape the Allies, “by means of the infamous ‘monastery’ or ‘rat’ line, as it was called by American intelligence officials.” During the Nuremberg trials Pius XII “appealed to the Allies to commute the death sentences of those condemned.” [14]

    These facts do not put Pius XII or the churches in a very good light, no matter how much Marshall tries to count the few good deeds by a handful of Christians. The crimes of the Nazis, the support of the churches, and Pius XII’s attempts to speak up for the Nazis during their trial outweigh any few good deeds that might have been done.

    Marshall continues,

    What about Dawkins’s idea that the Nazis were “surely Christian”? One wonders what Dawkins would say to a “Hail Mary” argument like that in a student paper!

    In fact, the percent of SS troops who belonged to the Catholic Church plummeted during the war. While six percent of university students studied theology in 1933, when the Nazis took power, that figure fell to only two percent by 1939. If the Nazis were so pro-Christian, why did young people stop studying Dawkins’s least-favorite subject? More importantly, why did the Nazis kill thousands of Polish priests? Why did Dachau become “the largest religious community in the world,” as William O’Malley put it, with some 2,750 clergymen interned? How did a “solidly Catholic region like Bavaria…end up having no Catholic schools by 1939”? Why, in newly annexed territories, were children and schoolteachers forbidden from belonging to a church? Hitler hated Christianity and planned to destroy it when the time came, as he explained in private. (168)

    Just because Hitler was “anti-Christian” doesn’t mean he wasn’t a Christian. Christians aren’t allowed some how to denounce or attack other forms of Christianity? It happens all the time. Some statements of Hilter’s can be tied to Christianity…at least his unorthodox version. If this is the case, and Hitler wished to destroy Christianity as Marshall claims, these acts would be perfectly compatible with the argument that Hitler wished to purge the orthodox version of Christianity to make way for his Aryan version of Christianity. What is the evidence for this? Well, as Robert Wistrich writes about Hitler’s hostility towards the churches,

    Since 1937, it had seemed to Hitler that the churches were allies of Judaism rather than of National Socialism. They persisted, for example, in treating the Old Testament as a major source of Christian revelation, and they had rejected the cult of the “Aryan” Jesus. (emphasis mine) [15]

    Hector Avalos writes of this “Positive Christianity” the Nazis believed in. This term dates back to the 1920’s as even the Nazi Party Program, Point 24 says,

    The Party as such reflects the viewpoint of a positive Christianity without being bound confessionally to any specific denomination. It battles the Jewish materialistic spirit. [16]

    Avalos continues,

    If one reads The Myth of the Twentieth Century, a treatise on Nazism by Alfred Rosenberg, who is credited with authorship of that Party Program of 1920, one will understand that he saw Positive Christianity as a restoration of the original and purer teachings of Christ. Indeed, Rosenberg tells us that Christ’s life is what should be meaningful for Germans. Rosenberg repudiated the idea of Christ’s sacrifice as a Jewish corruption, and saw Jesus as a great figure whose true work, the love of one’s race, has been distorted by organized Christendom into a universal love, instead of a love restricted to one’s racial group (especially as he interpreted Leviticus 19:18 and 25:17).

    That is why Rosenberg called it “positive Christianity” (positive Christentum), which he explicitly contrasted to the “corrupt” form represented by the “etrusco-asiatic clergy” (etrusco-asiaische…Priesterherrschaft), which encompassed Roman Catholicism. Thus, for Positive Christianity, the mere word “Christianity” often meant the Judaized and clerically organized form seen in Roman Catholicism, which was not equivalent to what Jesus had in mind. Being opposed to “Christianity,” therefore, did not mean opposing the religion of Christ or opposing religion. [17]

    Marshall mentions Hitler’s “private” desire to “destroy” Christianity but does not list any sources. He is no doubt referring to Hitler’s Table Talk, which allegedly contains the private thoughts of Hitler. The problem with using this as proof is that the reliability of some of the material is questionable. [18]

    Furthermore, if Marshall does wish to think of Table Talk as a reliable source then he runs into a problem. That problem is the fact that Hitler supposedly said the following in the same book (translated by Richard Carrier), confirming the argument of Hitler’s “positive Christianity,”

    Christ was an Aryan. But Paul used his teachings to mobilize the underworld and organize a proto-bolshevism. With its breakdown, the beautiful clarity of the ancient world was lost. [19]

    Carrier notes that the above passage in Table Talk refers to a belief by Hitler and the Nazis that Jesus was not a Jew, but was “fathered by a Roman legionary (a story that dates back at least to the 2nd century A.D.) and therefore he was a member of the master race.” [20]

    After we survey all of the evidence Marshall’s argument falls apart. Hitler was a Christian (even if he believed in a very “unorthodox” version), and he did not hate religion, only other versions of Christianity.

    Marshall concludes,

    What should we conclude? Not that any belief system is harmless. Every group of believers or unbelievers who gain power, especially a monopoly of power, oppresses: polytheists, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and yes, Buddhists. (How do these naive Westerners think the first Dalai Lama came to power?) No successful ideology is free from the shedding of innocent blood. So what’s the problem – ideology or human nature? 171-172)

    While this is true, it does nothing to refute the fact that there are many actions that can be tied directly to Christian beliefs. Everything from the murder of Jews to the murder of abortion doctors, as Christian murderer Paul Hill explains in a piece he wrote titled Defending the Defenseless,

    During the Nightline broadcast, I defended the shooting [of abortion provider Dr. David Gunn by Michael Griffin] on the basis of the Sixth Commandment (which not only forbids murder, but also requires the means necessary to prevent murder). It is not enough to refrain from committing murder; innocent people must also be protected. [21]

    The fact that religion inspires violence is not debatable. There are too many cases that are proof of concept for it to be contested. Religion causes divisions among people and often contains beliefs that cause people to act sometimes in hostile or violent ways.

    1. The Crusades: The Authoritative History of the War for the Holy Land, by Thomas Asbridge, Ecco, 2011; 26-29

    2. Ibid.; 15

    3. The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, by Henry Kamen, Yale University Press, 1998; 45

    4. The Spanish Inquisition: A History, by Joseph Perez, Yale University Press, 2005; 69, 75, 72

    5. The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, Edited by Tom Flynn, Prometheus Books, 2007; 385

    6. The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury Vol. 4; Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart., John Bohn, 1840; 282

    7. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bodin/ – accessed 7-26-11

    8. Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence, by Hector Avalos; 201

    9. Ibid.; 201

    10. Ibid.; 78

    11. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction, by Julian Baggini, Oxford University Press, 2003; 84

    12. Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany, by John Weiss, Elephant Paperbacks, 1997; 313

    13. Ibid.; 353-354

    14. Ibid.; 390

    15. Hitler and the Holocaust‭, by ‬Robert S.‭ ‬Wistrich, Modern Library, 2003; 135

    16. Hector Avalos. Atheism Was Not the Cause of the Holocaust. The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Edited by John W. Loftus. Prometheus Books, 2010. 377

    17. Ibid.; 377

    18. Ibid.; 380-381

    19. On the Trail of Bogus Quotes, by Richard Carrier – accessed 7-27-11

    20. Ibid.

    21. http://www.armyofgod.com/PHill_ShortShot.html – accessed 7-27-11

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    Article by: Arizona Atheist