The Freedom From Religion Foundation has written President George W. Bush pointing out the Christian origins of the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust, in response to Bush's recent remarks implying atheism was responsible for the Holocaust.
Bush said: "Tyrants and dictators will accept no other gods before them. They require disobedience to the First Commandment. They seek absolute control and are threatened by faith in God. They fear only the power they cannot possess--the power of truth. So they resent the living example of the devout, especially the devotion of a unique people chosen by God."
President George Walker Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington DC 20502
Dear President Bush:
On behalf of our national membership, we are writing in response to your remarks on "faith" at the National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance at the U.S. Capitol on April 19.
How ironic that a remembrance of the annihilation of one religious minority was turned into an occasion to oppress another minority--the nonreligious. It perverts truth to blame the annihilation of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust upon a lack of religious faith. Had it not been for the Christian faith and its history of nearly 2,000 years of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust would never have happened.
The anti-Semitic history of the Christian religion, resulting in the horrors of the inquisition, pogroms, forcible conversion and diaspora of Jews, cannot be whitewashed. The very week of your statements on the Holocaust we see continued examples of breathtakingly insensitive Christian anti-Semitism in this country: Johnny Hart's "B.C." Easter Day cartoon; Easter commentary by the darling of the Christian right, Paul Weyrich, declaring that "Christ was crucified by the Jews," and offensive full-page ads in national magazines about Holocaust survivors whose lives were "transformed by Jesus."
Adolf Hitler was raised a Catholic, was never excommunicated by the Catholic Church and signed concordats with the Vatican, as Pulitzer-prize winning biographer John Toland and others have documented. Hitler's religious conviction underpinned his obsession to exterminate those whom he believed "disobeyed the First Commandment." Devout Catholic John Cornwell has chronicled the failure of Pope Pius XII to speak out against Hitler's "Final Solution" in Hitler's Pope.
Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: "Therefore, I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's work." Hitler also targeted the "godless," as an Associated Press story of Feb. 23, 1933, noted: "A campaign against the 'godless movement' and an appeal for Catholic support were launched by Chancellor Adolf Hitler's forces." Hitler opposed "secular schools," he criminalized abortion, and his soldiers wore belt buckles saying "Gott mit uns" ("God with us"). Far from "faithless," Hitler committed his atrocities in the name of his faith.
The 18.5% of Americans who are nonreligious believe that tyrants and dictators are encouraged by the example set by that ultimate tyrant: the biblical deity, who is depicted as advocating and committing genocide, showing no mercy to those who worship the "wrong" gods or engage in the "wrong" rituals. The example provided by the deity characterized in the Hebrew, Christian, and Muslim bibles has sanctified brutal regimes. More people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other reason.
We urge you to demonstrate greater respect for the truth, rather than fan the flames of prejudice against the nonreligious.
We also wish to remind you that in the United States, founded on a secular Constitution, the First Amendment ensures we are free to "disobey the First Commandment." As U.S. citizens we may have as many gods as we like, whichever gods we like, or none at all!
Yours very truly,
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION