More on religion & morality

In my recent debate (“Is faith necessary for ethics?”) the Christian representative argued that, if religion is guilty of some crimes, atheist regimes like Hitler’s and Stalin’s have been even worse. Yes, playing the good old Hitler card.

First, the Nazi regime was not atheist. Hitler frequently invoked God, he was a declared Catholic all his life, and never left the church. And the Vatican never excommunicated him, nor ever even uttered a word of criticism.

As to the other totalitarians – Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and the like – this is all really just religion under a different name, with all the attributes including worship of a God figure, an absolutist ideology of revealed truth, and a willingness, nay, a zeal, to punish and kill heretics and apostates.

I have a magazine called China Pictorial which I was sent in 1966 because as a kid I was silly enough to write to Mao Zedong. It is full of pictures, and not one – literally, not one – doesn’t have Mao in it. Tell me this is not religion.

Do you know who the president of North Korea is? No, it’s not Kim Jong-il – it’s his father, Kim Il-sung, who’s been dead for 15 years. The country’s chief occupation seems to be worshipping the father and the son. They’re just one short of a trinity. Tell me this isn’t religion.

None of this is at all what humanism is about. Humanists reject religious dogma in all its forms, and instead want every person free to seek his or her own path. And the one country that most nearly conforms to that secular humanist ideal is the United States of America.


More on religion & morality — 2 Comments

  1. Frank,
    You write, “the one country that most nearly conforms to that secular humanist ideal is the United States of America”.
    From a Pew Center report, Dec. 2002, “Religion is much more important to Americans than to people living in other wealthy nations. Six-in-ten (59%) people in the U.S. say religion plays a very important role in their lives. This is roughly twice the percentage of self-avowed religious people in Canada (30%), and an even higher proportion when compared with Japan and Western Europe. Americans’ views are closer to people in developing nations than to the publics of developed nations.”
    Other developed nations are more secular than the US, how is it that Canada, for example, conforms less to a “secular humanist ideal” than does the US?

  2. Tim, I defined the secular humanist ideal as “every person free to seek his or her own path.”
    NOT that every person, or a lot of them, are nonreligious. A humanist is tolerant of people having ideas different from his own. That is what characterizes America.

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