Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America was the one who claimed last week on Fox News that the Day of Reason was a bad idea because the Enlightenment caused Hitler and the Nazis. In a post to the CWA blog that was quickly removed, she doubled down on that stupid statement. Right Wing Watch caught it before it was deleted:
“Atrocities including Hitler’s anti-Semitism, Stalin’s Marxism, or Mao’s communism — all of which inflicted pain upon millions — resulted from the destruction of a clear moral order, a reliance on capricious human wisdom, and an addiction to power. Had their morality been attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard, they could not have believed what that did.”
And now, a word from reality. Hitler’s anti-Semitism found fertile ground in overwhelmingly Christian because of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Martin Luther, the most important and influential theologian in Germany history, wrote an entire book called On the Jews and Their Lies, which included statements like this:
What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.
First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.
Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.
Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.
Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…
Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home…If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination…
To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews…
Remember, Luther is not some minor religious thinker. He was the founder of Protestantism. And the Catholics had a long and sordid history of anti-Jewish pogroms. It could fairly be said that Hitler was doing little more than continuing the centuries of Catholic tradition of ghettoizing and dehumanizing the Jewish people, going back all the way to Constantine and some of the early church fathers.
In 1105, Pope Innocent III wrote to his archbishops and said, “The Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord. As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ has set free.”
In 1555, a Papal bull required Jews to wear badges, just like the Nazis did, and forced them to live in a single ghetto. Pope Pius IX restored those restrictions in the 1800s, which was the last pogrom against the Jews in Europe until Hitler’s Third Reich.
So the problem was precisely that they had been taught a morality that was “attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard.”