Genocide and Dogma


‘Consider the Holocaust: the anti-Semitism that built the Nazi death camps was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity. For centuries, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful. While the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominately secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued throughout the period. The Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914.[3] And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.

[3] The “blood libel” (with respect to the Jews) consists of the false claim that Jews murder non-Jews in order to obtain their blood for use in religious rituals. This allegation is still widely believed throughout the Muslim world.

Auschwitz, the Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia are not examples of what happens to people when they become too reasonable. To the contrary, these horrors testify to the dangers of political and racial dogmatism.

It is time that Christians like yourself stop pretending that a rational rejection of your faith entails the blind embrace of atheism as a dogma. One need not accept anything on insufficient evidence to find the virgin birth of Jesus to be a preposterous idea. The problem with religion—as with Nazism, Stalinism, or any other totalitarian mythology—is the problem of dogma itself. I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.

While you believe that bringing an end to religion is an impossible goal, it is important to realize that much of the developed world has nearly accomplished it. Norway, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are among the least religious societies on earth. According to the United Nations’ Human Development Report (2005) they are also the healthiest, as indicated by life expectancy, adult literacy, per capita income, educational attainment, gender equality, homicide rate, and infant mortality. Insofar as there is a crime problem in Western Europe, it is largely the product of immigration. Seventy percent of the inmates of France’s jails, for instance, are Muslim. The Muslims of Western Europe are generally not atheists. Conversely, the fifty nations now ranked lowest in terms of the United Nations’ human development index are unwaveringly religious.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 15

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2 thoughts on “Genocide and Dogma

  1. English Jews had been expelled under Edward I in 1290 (see The Edict of Expulsion) and were not permitted to return until 1657 under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. In Venice and in some other places, Jews were required to wear a red hat at all times in public to make sure that they were easily identified, and had to live in a ghetto protected by Christian guards. Most Christian kings forbade Jews to own land for farming or to serve in the government and craft guilds usually refused to admit Jews as artisans, thus money lending was one of the few occupations still open to Jews. Many made their living by lending money to the indolent upper class, who often burned through their inheritance in an attempt to maintain the lavish lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. In fact, the reason for Cromwell’s decision to allow the Jews to return to England, was prompted by his own need for financing.

    This in fact was the premise of Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” in which the play’s central character, “Shylock,” a Jewish money-lender, makes his position clear when a young nobleman, “Antonio,” comes to him for a loan:

    Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
    In the Rialto you have rated me
    About my moneys and my usances:
    Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
    For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
    You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
    And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
    And all for use of that which is mine own.
    Well then, it now appears you need my help:
    Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
    ‘Shylock, we would have moneys:’ you say so;
    You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
    And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
    Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
    What should I say to you? Should I not say
    ‘Hath a dog money? is it possible
    A cur can lend three thousand ducats?’ Or
    Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key,
    With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
    ‘Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
    You spurn’d me such a day; another time
    You call’d me dog; and for these courtesies
    I’ll lend you thus much moneys’?

  2. Later in the play, Shylock plaintively sets out his own position, and that of his people:

    I am a Jew. Hath
    not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
    dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
    the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
    to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
    warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
    a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
    if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
    us, do we not die?

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