Of Gulags and Guillotines and indeed Gas Chambers – A Rebuttal

Father Dwight Longenecker from Patheos’s Standing On  My Head takes on atheists with his latest piece lauding the actions of another conservative writer and I fear he fails to understand atheism or indeed the alleged atrocities linked to it.

Joseph Pearce reminds us here of the genocidal legacy of atheism. The atheists like to suggest that these horrors were not brought about by atheism or atheists as such. Nonsense.

I will deal with Joseph Pearce’s article in this too, however I must point out that Longenecker subscribes to the simplistic view of history that comes from a black and white moral code where right and wrong exist without the shades of grey in the middle and that there is a clear right and wrong thing that needs to be done without real thought about the situation.

Horrors were brought about by atheists but not because of their atheism but due to the political issues at the time. Atheism says that there are no gods. That is all. Not Jehovah.

If Father Dwight Longenecker takes insult to my use of the name of his god and that is god with a “small g”, it is because I know there are many gods. Why must the god of Christians be given special compensation and recognition over the god of Muslims or the god of the Sikhs or the spirits of the air and trees or of Shiva and Vishnu? These are all gods and all are non-existent.

We admit that not all atheists are genocidal maniacs, and that not all genocides are inspired by atheism. Nevertheless, it remains true that atheism was part of the philosophical inspiration for the political movements that ended in the guillotine, the gulag and the gas chamber.Pearce writes,

Atheism just means that there are no gods. In fact this logic is so flawed. By this logic atheism is responsible for

1. The Assault Rifle

2. Anti-Smoking Lobby

3. Pro Life Movements (Oh yes remember the Nazis? Pro-Lifers. The irony!)

4. Two Day Weekends

5. The Rights of the Working Man

But this is nonsense personified. And indeed Father Longenecker lives in a post “Communist Manifesto” world. Where a lot of the common rights we take for granted were argued and pushed in this vile and hated document. Rights such as the right of children to be educated and to not be forced to work.

Longenecker demonstrates the close minded issue of religion. That in order for religion to be good it must assume a delusional world view where reality has to be warped to fit the narrative of religion being the sole good.

Which is why the Roman Catholic Father Longenecker has to ignore the official stance of the Catholic Church with regards to Nazi Germany. We all know what he is referring to when he refers to the gas chamber. Forgive us oh god of debates, for we have Godwinned. To Longenecker, Nazi Germany could not possibly have been Christian and filled with god fearing men, but must have been a savage land.

But let us look at the original article that he quotes.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

 - John Lennon (Imagine)

I have heard that this song is often covered with the line “No religion too” replaced with “one religion too”. Someone didn’t get the point of this song.

There are lies, damned lies, and neo-atheist polemics. One of the most egregious examples of such godless mendacity is the claim that religion has been the cause of most of the wars that have blighted humanity throughout its blood-stained history. In a world with “no religion”, so the argument runs, there would be “nothing to kill or die for”. Such nonsense is only believable if we remain willfully ignorant of the lessons of history.

No, only a fool would say that religion has caused wars. Even the most religious of wars has been caused by real events rather than people actively believing in superstition.

Let us take the modern Jihadi. The attacks on India are due to the contention of a piece of land caused by the actions of the British Raj’s divide and conquer policy mixed in with the rise of Wahabbism and the rise of Jihad cults encouraged by the USA in the 70s and 80s. Religion plays a part in cementing the issue and creating the mindset needed.

Let us take Israel, Israel is forged by the Holocaust. Our guilt post holocaust allowed us to wrong another group of people to give Israel a home. Israel’s fear of a second Holocaust excused it’s worst excesses in Palestine. Religious lobbyists in the USA encouraged the blind support of Israel giving Israel free reign and military tech to create their utopia and defend themselves against a second holocaust or if you  are on the other side of the wall? Steal land and dispossess the original inhabitants of the region with a modern day Manifest Destiny.

Let us take the USA. Blind adherence to Free Market Capitalism has effectively neutered education and allowed for a revival of alternative education from religion to create a generation of people who literally believe in a blind adherence to a system that is actively harming them as a “good”. It is for this reason that people on the poverty line are happy to cut taxes for the richest, cut food stamps, education and healthcare.

Religion plays a role in propping up these faulty beliefs. Religion plays a role in creating superstitious beliefs that enables some atrocities.

Let us embrace the Godwin, for atheists have little reason to hate Jews. In fact some of our finest secularists and atheists have come from people who identify themselves as Jewish. But Christians did. Catholics in particular demonised Jews as the murderers of Christ. There are people in living memory who remember the crime of Jewish Deicide which was repealed after 1965. Prior to that it was the Catholic Church’s official stance that “Jews were super dicks who killed Jesus and anything that happened to Jews was because they had it coming to them”.

To quote the Gas Chambers as a Catholic Priest is to show an complete disrespect for the victims of the Gas Chambers and the moral code of the Vatican prior to 1963 to 1965 which for nearly  2000 years helped cultivate hate against Jews across Europe and was one of the prime forces that created and excused the anti-semitic pogroms of Europe. The Holocaust was just the largest one and done on an industrial scale. Just 100 years ago the Church was still drumming up hate based on Blood Libels.

History to the religious apologist  has to be bent and warped to fit their view that religion can do no wrong.

Almost all wars have been the consequence of human selfishness (a synonym for godlessness) and have been carried out according to the principles of that proto-secularist and incorrigible atheist, Nicolo Machiavelli. Although secular rulers have sometimes used religion as an ethical and ultimately ethereal veneer to justify their actions, war has almost always been the consequence of Machiavellian realpolitik. This includes the so-called wars of religion, most of which were fought by power-hungry princes eager to impose their centric wills on their neighbours.

That may be the case, but if religion is a source of morality then why has religion thrown it’s lot with the warlords and the slavers. You claim your god is the source of all morality and make it seem like the notion of “thou shalt not kill” was a novel concept in 1500 BC rather than a basic requirement to run any social group of any size.

War has always been for resources. Wars of honour rarely exist outside the realm of story. But war existed as a way of securing resources and superiority and security in a world where war for resources and superiority exist. However religion helps create different attitudes to warfare that have lead to many different actions.

But religion enables war. It creates reasons and rationales for people to adhere to that are not based on reality. It is the opium that clouds the senses and entices people to do things that are considered moral.

Let us take a war against humanity as an example. Slavery. The Catholic Religion does not oppose slavery. It lauds it, it tells you how to own slaves and how to treat them but never that it is an evil. Slavery was divinely mandated not because it is good but because it is profitable. The Bible being written by human beings who owned slaves had to write about a god who supported slavery because they had to keep slaves to be economically viable.

This is because the so called “divine” statements of any god is due to the very real statements of the men who operate that god’s puppet strings.

Yet even were one to accept an element of religious culpability in the wars that ravaged Christendom, such culpability pales into relative insignificance when compared to the terror carried out in the name of atheism.

Let’s take a look at atheism’s track record.

Let us.

The first great atheist uprising was the French Revolution, which sought to dethrone God with godless “Reason” and sought to replace the Holy Trinity with the atheist trinity of liberté, egalité et fraternité.

You what?

I suggest one read History. The French Revolution occurred due to famine. Ecoute Bien S’il Vous Plait.

The French Government was “ludicrously out of touch with the common man”. The Peasants were being starved while food taxation still occurred. The government (AKA the King) kept taking food from the poor and not helping. This effectively starved both the poor and the middle class who united to bring down the King. In addition the public were being bankrupted by heavy taxation to fund wars.

So in short, the French Revolution was due to “Sons being taken to war”, Economic Disaster, Chronic Mismanagement By the Chinless Wonders of Royalty, Famine and Gross Economic Disparity. Even shorter? Rich people were getting fat, while poor people were dying of war, poverty and starvation.

The Church propped up the King of France. The Church was unwavering in it’s support for the status quo because it grew fat on it. Priests lived lavish lifestyles while paying lip service to austerity. So when the Revolution occurred the people wanted a Republic.

Rather than support the people the Catholic Church encouraged the Catholic Neighbours of France to declare ANOTHER war. So good job!

The Catholic Church was not replaced with Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood, but the Feudal system. The idea of men being divinely ordained as different. That god made the monarchy and the clergy and poverty. To declare that the ideals of the French Revolution are bad is to ignore the fact that we benefit from the same ideology. That all of Civilisation today hails the French Revolution’s ideals as a core belief that we should aspire to.

The man who is traditionally attributed with coining this triune revolutionary war-cry, which would later be officially adopted as the motto of the French Republic, was Antoine-Francois Momoro, a rabidly anti-Christian radical who advocated the eradication of religion. He played an active and bloodthirsty role in the crushing of the Catholic peasants of the Vendée and was a key figure in the notorious Cult of Reason, an anthropocentric alternative to religion, which effectively enthroned self-worshipping Man as the Lord of the “enlightened” cosmos. In 1793, Momoro supervised the nationally celebrated Fête de la Raison (Festival of Reason) in which his own wife was dressed and paraded as the Goddess of Reason, surrounded by cavorting and costumed women. In a wild and licentious liturgical dance, the Goddess of Reason processed down the aisle of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, surrounded by her female entourage, to a newly-installed altar to Liberty, the Christian altar having been desecrated and removed. All across France, Christian churches were desecrated and re-established as Temples of Reason.

Yet had the Catholic Church brutally crushed the revolution it would have been a good thing.

And “Oh No! His wife showed some skin! The Travesty! The nudity offends us more”

The real issue here was not atheism but the will and need to replace Catholicism with something similar. The atheists didn’t behave in any way that was new. In fact they behaved quite normally for the time period.

 ”they believe that their gods are black. On this account the great majority of their idols are as black as black can be, and moreover are generally so rubbed over with oil as to smell detestably, and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at.” – St Francis Xavier, Letters

Convert or Die. These atheists believed that the correct action for any religion was to destroy the culture, the iconography and desecrate the religions of others. They did this not because they were atheists but because they believed this was the way religions behaved because they saw the way the Catholic Church behaved.

And the joke here is Cult of Reason was banned by the end of the revolution and Momoro was executed by Robbespierre.

The Cult of Reason metamorphosed into the Reign of Terror in which the streets of Paris literally ran red with the blood of its victims. The Goddess of Reason made way for Madame Guillotine who was omnivorous in her bloodlustful appetite, devouring Christians and atheists alike.

No it did not. The Cult of Reason and the Reign of Terror were two entirely different entities and were not related. The Cult of Reason was an anti-Catholic backlash due to the Catholic Church supporting the Royalists and Inciting nearby nations to invade France. The Reign of Terror was due to the anarchy of France. The anarchy of rebellion, civil war and outright war with neighbours created a paranoid government.

In addition the ideals of the French Revolution were naive and the people who did come to power had little to no experience since they just executed the entire Royalist Opposition who did know how to rule a country (albeit badly).

The National Razor was already under use and was mainly to kill Enemies of Freedom. It mainly executed Royalists but towards the end also executed anyone who was against the ruling force of Extremists since Dissent OF ANY SORT was considered a cause for execution. This lasted less than a year before the Thermidor Coup halted it and that was not a pro Catholic group.

None of this is due to atheism but due to the abuse of power, fear of power slipping out of hand and trying to control a revolution and two wars simultaneously with the breakdown of society and change from a monarchy to a republic almost overnight.

A little over four months after Momoro’s triumphalist Fête de la Raison, Momoro was himself a victim of the Reign of Terror that he had helped to create. Accused by his erstwhile comrades of being an enemy of the revolution, he was guillotined on March 24, 1794, a timely reminder of the words of the French political journalist, Jacques Mallet du Pan, that “the Revolution devours its own children”.

Momoro had little to no say in the Reign of Terror since he was not part of the Ministry of Public Safety.

The issue is not atheism but men trying to hold on to power by any means necessary. Had Robespierre been Christian the Reign of Terror would have occurred not under the auspices of his Deist god but of Jehovah.

Having experienced this incestuously cannibalistic debauch, any genuine age of reason would have rejected atheism’s Cult of Reason and sought more humane ways of solving the problems of modernity. Not so. The nineteenth century saw a plethora or revolutions, inspired by atheism and anti-clericalism, which paved the way for the Russian Revolution of 1917, a godless monstrosity that would dwarf even the Reign of Terror in the sheer scale of the secular fundamentalist horror that it unleashed. Throughout the Soviet Union, thousands of labour camps were established in which political dissidents, enemies of the State, were literally worked to death. This system of camps, dubbed by Solzhenitsyn the Gulag Archipelago, would claim tens of millions of lives before the communist tyranny finally crumbled under the dead weight of its own corruption.

I am pretty sure there was no incest beyond the ordinary (remember, Feudal Villages were probably incredibly  inbred due to poor travel links. Even if you keep marrying other people in your village, eventually everyone is your cousin) and Cannibalism was recorded due to the fact there was abject famine exacerbated by the Church and Nobility.

Again the Oktober Revolution was caused by excesses of the Nobility  during a period of warfare and massive famine. The Russian Empire had massive famines while the nobility were feasting on aubergines imported by ice carts and caviar. The final straw was the loss of young men to the army which would forcibly conscript young men in the pointless meat grinder of WW1.

Again the Church supported the Nobles rather than the common man.

Ah yes, Stalin. See Stalin again follows the same issue as Robespierre. A man who was insatiated with power who did everything he could to maintain it. A man paranoid and fearful of dissent. None of these things had anything to do with atheism. Stalin was gleefully honest about his tyranny. He killed dissidents not because he had no god but because they were dissidents who opposed his rule. He didn’t hide behind divine mandate for his actions. Had Stalin been religious  he would have excused his actions through scripture.

In the same way that George Bush and the American Government excused it’s torture through legal technicalities and hiding behind religion.

Meanwhile, in Germany, another form of Socialism, both anti-Christian and anti-Semitic in inspiration, ushered in a period of genocide, adding the ghastliness of the Gas Chamber to atheism’s legacy of mass destruction.

National Socialism is a form of Facism which is a political opposite to Communism. Just because they both have socialism in the title doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

Fascists seek to create a single party state through a unified national community under a single ideological banner. Veneration of state, devotion to a leader, ultranationalism and militarism are all common themes. Facism and the Catholic Church first held hands together in the home of Facism (Italy) and the gas chamber itself owes its usage on Jews to the millenia of hate preached by the Catholic Church.

I am afraid the reality of the situation is that in Nazi Germany you were not going to be executed if you were a Catholic. You would be if you were a freethinker. An Atheist. The Nazis were mainly Christian but sought to politicise their different Christianity through alterations from the core doctrines of Catholics. The anti-semitic values were born out of the Protestant anti-semitism and not really opposed by the official Church Doctrine which was itself pretty anti-semitic.

To alter the history of the Holocaust and spread lies is to do the victims of the Holocaust a great injustice. The point of History is to learn from it and not make the same mistakes. Atheists have grown to be more introspective and to not ape the excess of religion. To form their own moral codes and hold ourselves to be better than the staid morality of 2000 year old gods.

Thou Shalt Not Lie. I suggest the writers of both pieces take their own advice to heart.

Guillotine, Gulag, and Gas Chamber. These are the glorious gifts that atheism has bestowed on a world grown tired of God. Such gruesome realities should come to mind whenever we hear the new generation of atheists asking us to imagine that “there’s no heaven; no hell below us; above us only sky”. Where there’s no heaven, there is only hell. And if we won’t have hell below us, we must have it with us and within us, and also above us, in the form of the hell of political atheism that crushes us underfoot in the name of “reason”.

We also gave the world Buddhism, Hindu Reform occurred due to the agnosticism and atheism of initial Buddhists and Jains.

The Guillotine was indeed created by an atheist. To replace the torture of the Church. The guillotine was a far cleaner form of execution that the torments meted out by the Church. Hanging, Drawing and Quartering? The Hanging of the Pre-Trapdoor era was a slow process. Even beheading was slow, the axe requiring multiple swings to kill and many a victim dying slowly. The Guillotine was seen as a kindness at the time. And it’s use in the Revolution was to silence dissent by a totalitarian.

The Gulags were a creation of paranoia and totalitarianism.

The Gas chamber was a creation of Nazis who were explicitly religious. One of the most documented villains in History, we know they were not Atheists. Hitler may have died an atheist but he started with the belief that his mission was divine. And again it’s usage was due to totalitarianism coupled with religious bigotry empowering the established bigotry of the day.

The response to this is to hold ourselves to secular values, create governments with high degrees of public oversight, create systems of discourse and conversation, educate our public. In every case it has been totalitarianism that is the common factor. Not atheism.

To say otherwise either shows a shocking lack of understanding of history or a calculated effort to rewrite history in order to make religion look superior.

The alternative to the Tyranny of Men is not the Tyranny of the Imaginary.


  1. busterggi says

    “A man who was insatiated with power who did everything he could to maintain it. A man paranoid and fearful of dissent. None of these things had anything to do with atheism. Stalin was gleefully honest about his tyranny. He killed dissidents not because he had no god but because they were dissidents who opposed his rule.”

    If I may rewrite that just a tad,

    A god who was insatiated with power who did everything he could to maintain it. A god paranoid and fearful of dissent. … Yahweh was gleefully honest about his tyranny. He killed dissidents … because he was jealous.

    And hence it becomes a perfect description of the OT version of god.

  2. says

    I find it humorous than any clear thinking person doesn’t accept the fact that religion, has caused more blood shed than anything else, Christianity being at the top of the list, not just for past blood spill but for current blood spill. GW Bush and many of his Military leaders believed we were in a “Holy War” in the Middle East. GW said God told him to invade Iraq, and one of those military leaders is now the executive VP of Family Research Council, who believed the same thing, I don’t doubt they still believe this. Along with this, just head on over to MRFF.org and you can see how man Christian extremists we have invading other countries and killing Muslims, in out name, which will just create more terrorists. Thanks Christians. And to dip into the past a bit, the founders of America knew all to well the dangers of a Theocracy. My favorite conservative Christian to always bring up, who was very tight with the Catholic Church, was Adolf Hitlet. You can read any number if his quotes and it’s sounds like he is a preacher of a FOX guest. The people who blame atheism for many of the atrocities of the world, haven’t even read the bible, or looked through history. In fact, the Christian god is the one who punished Adam and Eve supposedly for eating the fruit of a tree. Because of this one behavior, he cursed the rest of mankind. How can someone not look at that and not blame that god for mankind’s miseries?

  3. sheikhmahandi says

    It should also be noted that there remain extremists “within” the Catholic church – Archbishop Lefevre, Sedevacantists, etc. among whom the belief in Jewish Deicide, blood libel etc. is still popular.

  4. says

    I am reading Avicenna’s post as a criticism of religion, yes, but more importantly the way than people have used religion as a means to power. Over most of history, and even today, religion has proven itself to be the single most potent means to gain and retain power. Occasionally, the tyranny of the those using religion is overthrown and the result is usually an equal or greater misuse of power.

    The hierarchy of the Catholic church is filled with men who are the latest incarnation of the group that has held power for over 1500 years. The power that religion and deference it receives attracts people who seek power, or corrupts those who wield it.

  5. lpetrich says

    Maximilien Robespierre, the guillotinemeister of the Reign of Terror, had a Festival of the Supreme Being, an entity that was evidently on the side of the Revolution. If you mentioned only that festival to the religion-in-government types, they might want to claim Robespierre as one of their supporters.

    Also, Adolf Hitler stated several times that Jesus Christ’s Temple temper tantrum was an archetypical example of fighting the Jews. You can find that in Mein Kampf, for instance.

  6. lpetrich says

    Also, the idea that Jews are to blame for Jesus Christ’s execution is a rather strange one. According to traditional Xian theology, his execution was a substitute punishment for everybody’s sins, so whoever administered that punishment had done humanity a great service. At least according to the Greater Good theodicy.

  7. smrnda says

    I get very sick of the idea that antisemitism in Nazi Germany was some sort or recent, secular aberration. Antisemitism had been rampant across Europe for most of its history, often encouraged by the church. Martin Luther had a huge impact on German antisemitism, and his writings would have fit right in with Hitler and Goebbels. Overall, the holocaust wasn’t really that unprecedented, just before that time tools for genocide were less efficient.

  8. Mary L says

    I’ve long believed “Imagine” to be a plea to think. What would our lives be like without this, or that? Can we do better? How? Imagine…

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