April 6, 2011

Hitler's Christianity is Not Completely Irrelevant

Hitler was a ChristianThe fact that Adolph Hitler was a Christian is almost irrelevant. After all, Hitler being a Christian doesn't have much (if anything) to do with other Christians. Hitler's Christianity does not mean that other Christians are anything like him. Virtually nobody is like him. In fact, comparing those we dislike to Hitler only minimizes the horrific acts he committed.

So why am I even bothering to mention Hitler's Christianity as all? I'll give you three reasons why I think it makes sense to do so.

First, many contemporary Christians insist that I address Hitler. They do not want to claim him as one of their own, so they pretend that Hitler was an atheist and insist that somehow makes me immoral. So I sometimes address Hitler's Christianity as one way of dispelling this absurd claim.

Second, I am not convinced that humanity has retained the many lessons of Hitler. His reign of terror did at one time serve as an example of why we must remain vigilant to prevent fascist tendencies from re-emerging. It also showed us what can happen when religious and ethnic hatred are paired with military power. But these lessons seem to have faded a bit. And please don't assume that I'm referring only to Republicans in the U.S. when I say that. I wish I had that luxury.

Third, some of the people who truly admire Hitler today possess vast power and wealth. They wear the cloak of Christian extremism while pushing an agenda that seeks to increase the status of those at the top while showing utter disdain for those at the middle and the bottom. They do not have to seize power; they already have it. The rest of us must appreciate the risks of ignoring them.