Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Atheism

 

Atrocities in the Name of Religion

by Rich Deem

 

 

Introduction

Many atheists claim that religion is evil and, as such, cannot be from God. It is true that there are many examples of evil committed in the name of Christianity. In the past, those who disagreed with "official" church doctrine, such as Galileo were persecuted or killed. Many other Christians were brought before the Inquisition because they were teaching from the Bible instead of from "officially sanctioned" Roman Catholic Church materials. In addition, the Crusades resulted in "holy" wars between "Christians," Jews, and Moslems. In more modern times, wars have been fought between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. However, common to all this violence was an underlying struggle for power. Today, some people kill abortionists in the name of God. Are these people unwilling pawns of religion or using religion to justify their own evil agendas?

History of human atrocities

Therefore, I absolutely agree with atheists and others who say that many atrocious things have been done in the name of God, and even in the name of Christianity. However, these atrocities were not perpetrated by God, but by evil human beings. If we look at the history of democide (which includes genocide, politicide, and mass murder, but not war-dead) prior to the 20th century, we find that millions of people were killed by people groups who wanted the other people groups eliminated. Note that these numbers do not include those killed through wars.

TABLE 3.1
Selected Pre-20th Century Democide and Totals1


Cases Years2 Democide3 Religious?

China

221 B.C.-19 C.

33,519,0004 No
Mongols

14 C-15 C

29,927,000 No
Slavery of Africans

1451-1870

17,267,000 No
Amer-Indians

16 C-19 C

13,778,000 No
Thirty Years War

1618-1648

5,750,000 No
In India

13 C-1 9 C

4,511,0005 No
In Iran

5 C-19 C

2,000,0004,5 No
Ottoman Empire

12 C-19 C

2,000,0005 No
In Japan

1570-19 C

1,500,0005 No
In Russia

10 C-19 C

1,007,0005 No
Christian Crusades

1095-1272

1,000,000

Yes

Aztecs

Centuries

1,000,0006

Yes

Spanish Inquisition

16 C-18 C

350,000

Yes

French Revolution

1793-1794

263,000

No

Albigensian Crusade

1208-1249

200,000

Yes

Witch Hunts

15 C-17 C

100,000

Yes


Total For All Cases

pre-20 C

133,147,000

2,650,000

Hypothetical Total

30 C B.C.-19 C A.D.

625,716,0007

 


International war-related dead

30 C B.C.-19 C A.D.

40,457,0008

 

Plague dead (Black Death)

541 A.D.-1912

102,070,0009

 


  1. Adopted from STATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE.

  2. Unless otherwise noted, years and centuries are A.D.

  3. Unless otherwise noted, these are a best guess estimate in a low to high range.

  4. Excludes democide in China by Mongols.

  5. An absolute low.

  6. A very speculative absolute low.

  7. From STATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE.. Calculated from the 20th century democide rate and the population for each century since 30 B.C.

  8. From table STATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE. Total undoubtedly inflated by democide.

  9. A minimum: includes plague dead in circa 541-542 A.D.; 1346-1771 in Europe; 1771 in Moscow; 1894 in Hong Kong; and 1898-1912 in India. From Duplaix (1988, p. 677-678).

What percentage of these killings were due to religious democide? It is less than 3% of the totals. The surprising thing is that these killings occurred during a period of time when virtually all the peoples of the world were involved in some sort of religion. Here is the data for the 20th century:

TABLE 1.2
20th Century Democide1

REGIMES

YEARS DEMOCIDE2 Atheist?

U.S.S.R.

1917-87 61,911,000 Yes

China (PRC)

1949-87

35,236,000 Yes

Germany

1933-45

20,946,000 No

China (KMT)

1928-49

10,075,000 No

Japan

1936-45

5,964,000 No

China (Mao Soviets)3

1923-49

3,466,000 Yes

Cambodia

1975-79

2,035,000 Yes

Turkey (Armenian Genocide)

1909-18

1,883,000 No

Vietnam

1945-87

1,670,000 Yes

Poland

1945-48

1,585,000 Yes

Pakistan

1958-87

1,503,000 No

Yugoslavia (Tito)

1944-87

1,072,000 Yes

North Korea

1948-87

1,663,000 Yes

Mexico

1900-20

1,417,000 No

Russia

1900-17

1,066,000 Yes

China (Warlords)

1917-49

910,000 No

Turkey (Ataturk)

1919-23

878,000 No

United Kingdom

1900-87 816,000 No

Portugal (Dictatorship)

1926-82 741,000 No

Indonesia

1965-87 729,000 No

LESSER MURDERERS

1900-87 2,792,000 ?

WORLD TOTAL

1900-87 169,202,000 107,047,000

  1. From STATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE.

  2. Includes genocide, politicide, and mass murder; excludes war-dead. These are probable mid-estimates in low to high ranges. Figures may not sum due to round off.

  3. Guerrilla period.

Vox Day, in The Irrational Atheist, lists 22 atheistic regimes that committed 153,368,610 murders in the 20th century alone:

Murders by Atheists (20th Century)

Country

Dates

Murders

Afghanistan

19781992

1,750,000

Albania

19441985

100,000

Angola

19752002

125,000

Bulgaria

19441989

222,000

China/PRC

19232007

76,702,000

Cuba

19591992

73,000

Czechoslovakia

19481968

65,000

Ethiopia

19741991

1,343,610

France

17931794

40,000

Greece

19461949

20,000

Hungary

19481989

27,000

Kampuchea/Cambodia

19731991

2,627,000

Laos

19752007

93,000

Mongolia

19262007

100,000

Mozambique

19751990

118,000

North Korea

19482007

3,163,000

Poland

19451948

1,607,000

Romania

19481987

438,000

Spain (Republic)

19361939

102,000

U.S.S.R.

19171987

61,911,000

Vietnam

19452007

1,670,000

Yugoslavia

19441980

1,072,000

 

Percentage of democide based upon government control

 

What percentage of this democide was due to religious conflict? It turns out that religious democide doesn't even make the top 20 (although I am sure there is some in the "lesser murderers" category. Still, the total religious killings is less than 2%. In fact, the top two killers were specifically atheistic states (which had never existed before in human history). Should atheism be blamed for more than 50% of the atrocities committed during the 20th century? The answer of course is No! If one examines the nature of the regimes that committed these atrocities (even the religious ones), the key factor is absolute power (see Figure 1, right). According to Professor R.J. Rummel, in the 1816-2005 period there were 205 wars between non-democracies, 166 wars between non-democracies and democracies, and 0 wars between democracies. Lord Acton's warning that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" seems to be more than just a trite saying.

What about Christians who commit evil?

Jesus Himself addressed the issue of "Christians," performing evil deeds in a rather chilling prophecy:

"Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'" (Matthew 7:22-23)

One should note that Jesus said that "many" people who think they are His followers will be rejected by Jesus when at the judgment when they attempt to claim that they are His disciples. Not all who claim the name of Jesus are actually His disciples. [...] Christianity should be judged on the basis of what Jesus said and did, not on the basis of the actions of people who merely claim to be Christians. Foxe's Book of Martyrs details the deaths of Christians who were killed because of their faith in Christ, in many cases by people claiming to be Christians.

How do you know if a person is a Christian or not?

We cannot know for certain whether a person is or is not a true Christian (only God can makes such a determination). However, the Bible describes the nature of a person who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (which happens at the point a person accept Jesus as Lord and Savior):

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In addition, the true believer does what is right and demonstrates love toward others. Even non-believers can readily see who the true Christians are. Ultimately, the behavior of those who claim to be Christians but practice evil should not be a consideration in determining if the claims of Christ are true or not.

Conclusion

Yes, "Christians" have committed atrocities against other religious and non-religious people. However, atheists have committed far more atrocities than all religious groups combined*. Even so, the key factor in these atrocities has been totalitarian power, rather than religion, which has resulted in these hundreds of millions of murders. The Bible says that people are evil (and the statistics on this page support this claim), but that they can become transformed through the power of the Holy Spirit to live lives of love, joy and peace.

 

 

*OODE NOTE: This is because Atheism is in fact an ultra-extremist form of religion . Religion does not have to be a faith in a personal God. Atheists have faith in natural forces.  Their fanatic desire to exterminate every other form of faith is unprecedented in history, as shown above.

Article published in English on: 29-3-2010.

Last update: 29-3-2010.

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