MYTH: Christianity has killed more people than atheism.
REALITY: This is false. State-sponsored atheism, in the form of communism, is responsible for the deaths of millions of people in the last century. Research by both R.J. Rummel and Stéphane Courtois has an estimated death toll of over 100 million by Communism. This is compared to a significantly lower death count perpetrated by Christians (check below).
The number of Christian killed under communism, alone, was more than all the people killed by Christianity throughout its entire existence. According to some sources, the total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated to range from around 12 to 20 million. A minimum of 106,300 Russian clergymen were killed between 1937 and 1941. The atheist in the Soviet Union killed more Christians, in the 69 years they were around, than all the people Christianity killed in 2,000 years.
Countries like China, North Korea, Ethiopia, and Cambodia also committed mass genocide against Christians.
Currently, Atheism is still the official position in China, North Korea, and Cuba, where there are continuous human rights violations.
There’s no comparison, atheism is responsible for far more deaths. An analysis of the communist kill count in the 20th century alone verifies this.
COMMUNISM AND ATHEISM ARE INSEPARABLE
Communism is responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people in the 20th century. Atheism is at the core of communism. Every Communist country identified as an atheist country.
Communism is grounded in Marxism, a theory created by Karl Marx in the 19th century. It was later implemented by Vladimir Lenin during the rise of the Soviet Union.
According to Karl Marx, “Communism begins where atheism begins.”
According to Vladimir Lenin, “Atheism is the natural and inseparable part of communism.”
STATE-SPONSORED ATHEISM KILLED IN THE MILLIONS
Either currently or in their past, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Russia, and Cuba are or were officially atheist countries. These are the countries where some of the largest genocides and human rights violations have occurred in the last 100 years.
Somewhere between 65 million and 170 million people died as a result of communism in the 20th century alone. Read my article “True Communism Death Toll” to see the full breakdown. (Click here)
CHRISTIANITY KILL COUNT
If you count the deaths of soldiers and civilians on both sides in all the wars Christians fought in the last 19 centuries, there were between 6.5 and 14 million deaths. Most of the conflicts were over politics or territory. A majority of the deaths come from the Crusades and the Thirty-Year War. Below, I list the most common examples—
Crusades— 2 to 6 million
Thirty-Year War— 4.5 to 8 million
Spanish Inquisition— 3,000-5,000
Salem Witch Trials— 19
This of course is an unfair estimate because this same method of calculation isn’t used when determining the death count under state-sponsored atheism. If I were to add combat deaths to the atheist kill count, it would be even higher than 100 million deaths. I did the estimate this way to show you that even if you are biased against Christians, there is no way they even came close to killing as many people as atheists have. No matter how much leeway you give to atheists, they’re still responsible for significantly more deaths.
One of the examples I left off the list was the Rwanda Genocide. The reason I left it off the list is because of how difficult it is to determine how much of the churches culpability contributed to the total death count. Below, I go over the Rwanda Genocide in more detail. I will let you, the reader, decide if it should be included. If it is included, it doesn’t change the outcome— atheism has still killed more.
DEBUNKED EXAMPLES OF CHRISTIANS COMMITTING MASS GENOCIDE
Many debunked examples are listed as mass killings committed by Christians. A website named Libcom.org has an article titled “Christians vrs Atheists: Who’s killed the most?”, where they cite many examples of mass killings committed by Christians.
The problem is that many of the examples that the article cites have either been debunked or were not perpetrated by Christians. Some of the examples the article cites are the Holocaust, colonizing of the Americas, and the Irish famine.
(Below, I go over it in more detail)
DEBUNKED EXAMPLES: HITLER WAS A CHRISTIAN WHO USED CHRISTIANITY AS A JUSTIFICATION TO COMMIT GENOCIDE
Hitler was not a Christian. Nazis fell more in line with secularism, materialism, and Social Darwinism.
According to Alan Bullock, “In Hitler’s eyes, Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves.” Alan Bullock is the author of Hitler, A Study in Tyranny,” a seminal biography.
Bullock states that Hitler, about Christianity, believed “Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by the struggle of the fittest.”
Bullock describes Hitler as a “rationalist and materialist” who hated the Catholic Church as much as he hated Jews.
Author Richard Weikart wrote a book in 2016 called, “Hitler’s Religion: The Twisted Beliefs That Drove the Third Reich, states, “the book will definitively lay to rest the myth that Hitler was a Christian. By examining in extreme detail Hitler’s writings, speeches, private conversations, and the testimony of his colleagues, he demonstrates that Hitler’s worldview was far more anti-Christian than Christian.” Richard Weikart is a professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus.
The author of Nazism’s religious ideology is Alfred Rosenberg, a man known for his hatred of Christianity. So one of the men responsible for creating the Nazi idealogy was adamantly anti-christian.
Paul Joseph Gabbles was the chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, and then Reich Minister of Propaganda from 1933 to 1945. He was one of Hitler’s most devoted followers. Topics for party propaganda included attacks on the Christian churches. So, even their propaganda was extremely anti-christian.
According to the cataloged trial evidence by one of the leading United States investigators at the Nuremberg trial, General William J. Donovan, the Nazis planned to destroy German Christianity.
The top Nazi leaders believed that the church would get in the way of their world conquest. According to the report, the Christian church ”could not be reconciled with the principle of racism, with a foreign policy of unlimited aggressive warfare, or with a domestic policy involving the complete subservience of Church to State.”
Donovan described how top Nazi leaders like Adolf Hitler, Paul Joseph Goebbels, and Baldur von Schirach devised a plan to gradually eliminate Christianity throughout Germany, by infiltrating the church within, persecuting pastors, and indoctrinating its followers.
Nazi leaders planned ”a complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion tailored to fit the needs of National Socialist policy.”
This was all part of “an integral part of the National Socialist scheme of world conquest.”
Creation magazine explained, “So they planned to infiltrate the churches from within; defame, arrest, assault or kill pastors; indoctrinate the congregations, and suppress denominational schools and youth organizations.”
Here’s a quote by Hitler, “The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science … Gradually the myths crumble. All that is left to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and inorganic. When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light, but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.”
(Read my article “Conservatism and Nazism Are Similar Myth”)
DEBUNKED EXAMPLES: NATIVE AMERICANS WERE KILLED BY CHRISTIAN COLONIZERS
This is false. Most of the Native American population, at that time, died from the disease. Diseases such as smallpox, measles, influenza, and typhus killed approximately 90-95 percent of the Native American population. These same diseases also killed European settlers, but at a much lower rate. The native people had no past exposure to these destructive infections and had no natural immunity, making them significantly more vulnerable. Also, illness would have devastated Native Americans regardless of who came over the Atlantic — or the Pacific. The Chinese would have spread precisely the same sicknesses had they come over.
(Read my article “Top Myths About the Native American Genocide”)
DEBUNKED EXAMPLES: THE IRISH FAMINE WAS CAUSED BY CHRISTIANS
The Irish famine was not caused by Christianity.
The Irish famine was a time of mass starvation and disease in Ireland from 1845 to 1849, that resulted in the death of over 1 million people.
Before the potato famine, many Irish citizens were in extreme poverty. Around the 1830s, about one-third of Irish people had the potato as their main source of food.
In 1845 a fungal parasite (Phytophthora infestans) infected potato crops, which caused a partial failure of the crop that year. The failing crops started causing the Irish population to starve. Malnutrition caused a rapid spread of diseases like typhus, fever, dysentery, scurvy, and cholera. Over the next four years over a million people died from starvation and disease. Almost all those who died were Christians (Catholics and Protestants).
Many argue that the British government did little to help or prevent it. The motives of the British were purely political. According to Mark Thornton, a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute, “Ireland was swept away by the economic forces that emanated from one of the most powerful and aggressive states the world had ever known. It suffered not from a fungus (which English scientists insisted was just excessive dampness) but from conquest, theft, bondage, protectionism, government welfare, public works, and inflation.”
Some try to blame free market capitalism and economic freedom for the Irish famine. There are two problems with that theory—
First, many studies show capitalism/economic freedom lowers poverty (Read my article “Capitalism Is Bad Myth”).
Second, Ireland today is one of the most economically free countries in the world. If Ireland blamed capitalism for the famine, then they wouldn’t have fully embraced capitalism like they have.
THE RWANDA GENOCIDE
According to Britannica, “Rwanda genocide of 1994, planned campaign of mass murder in Rwanda that occurred over some 100 days in April–July 1994. The genocide was conceived by extremist elements of Rwanda’s majority Hutu population who planned to kill the minority Tutsi population and anyone who opposed those genocidal intentions. It is estimated that some 200,000 Hutu, spurred on by propaganda from various media TWAlets, participated in the genocide.”
The motive for the Rwandan genocide was both politics and racism. After the assassination of the Rwandan and Hutu president, Juvénal Habyarimana, on April 6, 1994, the Hutu militia began the mass killing of Tutsi civilians. According to Reuters, “Hutu extremists blamed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) – a rebel group made of exiled Tutsis – and launched a campaign of slaughter against Tutsis. The RPF claims the plane was shot down by Hutus to provide an excuse for the genocide.”
Over the next 100 days, they killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsi people. The most widely accepted death toll is around 500,000 to 662,000 Tutsi deaths.
According to Timothy Paul Longman, professor of political science at Boston University, the church was complicit in the genocide. He states, “Christian churches were deeply implicated in the 1994 genocide of ethnic Tutsi in Rwanda. Churches were a major site for massacres, and many Christians participated in the slaughter, including church personnel and lay leaders. Church involvement in the genocide can be explained in part because of the historic link between church and state and the acceptance of ethnic discrimination among church officials. In addition, just as political officials chose genocide as a means of reasserting their authority in the face of challenges from a democracy movement and civil war, struggles over power within Rwanda’s Christian churches led some church leaders to accept the genocide as a means of eliminating challenges to their authority within the churches.”
Before the genocide, Rwanda had a population of 7 million people. Approximately 85% of the Rwandan population was made up of the Hutu; while 14% of the population was Tutsi and 1% was Twa. Of the almost 6 million Hutu people, only 200,000 participated in the genocide.
94% of the citizens of Rwanda identified as Christian. So, both the victims and the perpetrators were statistically likely to be Christians.
Many churches supported the genocide as well as many that were against it.
One of the most notable examples of a church leader being complicit in the genocide is the actions of Father Athanase Seromba. Seromba was a Catholic priest who was found guilty of committing crimes against humanity. During the genocide, 1500-2000 Tutsi refugees took shelter in his church. He gave the Hutu militia plans and approval to have the church bulldozed to the ground with the refugees inside.
One of the most notable examples of a church leader being in opposition to the genocide is the actions of Father Célestin Hakizimana. 2,000 people took refuge at Father Célestin Hakizimana Church, at St. Paul Pastoral Centre in Kigali. Father Célestin Hakizimana “intervened at every attempt by the militia to abduct or murder” the refugees inside.
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