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Adolf Hitler: Compromises with Atheism Destroy Religious, Ethical Values

Adolf Hitler Promoted Christians as the Foundation for Moral, Ethical Life

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What did Adolf Hitler think about the relationship and relative values of Christianity vs. atheism? Although it's popular for Christian apologists to portray Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party as the practical, evil consequences of atheism and secularism, the truth is that Adolf Hitler never had anything good to say about either atheism or secularism, but he regularly praised the importance of religion and religious faith generally as well as Christianity in particular.

When Adolf Hitler did have anything to say about atheism, it was consistently negative. Like conservative Christians in America today, Hitler seems to have regarded atheism and communism as nearly interchangeable. Whenever he attacked atheism or communism, he frequently used the label "atheist Marxism" or "atheist socialism." This was supposed to be contrasted with his own "Christian socialism" which was meant to take into account basic Christian as well as German values.

In his speech before the Reichstag on Mach 23, 1933, just before the Enable Act is passed, Adolf Hitler claims that atheistic organizations are a danger and furthermore that the government must promote religion:

By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life. The advantages for the individual which may be derived from compromises with atheistic organizations do not compare in any way with the consequences which are visible in the destruction of our common religious and ethical values.

The national Government sees in both Christian denominations the most important factor for the maintenance of our society. It will observe the agreements drawn up between the Churches and the provinces; their rights will not be touched. The Government however hopes and expects that the task of national and ethical renewal of our people, which it has set itself, will receive the same respect by the other side.

The Government will treat all other denominations with objective and impartial justice. It cannot however tolerate allowing membership of a certain denomination or of a certain race being used As a release from all common legal obligations or as a blank check for unpunishable behavior or for the toleration of crimes. [The national Government will allow and confirm to the Christian denominations the enjoyment of their due influence in schools and education.] And it will be concerned for the sincere cooperation between Church and State.

The struggle against the materialistic ideology and for the erection of a true people's community (Volksgemeinschaft) serves as much the interests of the German nation as of our Christian faith. ...The national Government, seeing in Christianity the unshakable foundation of the moral and ethical life of our people, attaches utmost importance to the cultivation and maintenance of the friendliest relations with the Holy See. ...The rights of the churches will not be curtailed; their position in relation to the State will not be changed.

[emphasis added]

The Enabling Act was what ended German democracy and created a fascist dictatorship. It made the Reichstag little more than a rubber stamp, allowing Adolf Hitler to rule by decree - whatever sort of orders he issued immediately became law without any parliamentary input whatsoever. A single man's goals determined the direction of Germany, not the will of the voters acting through their elected representatives.

The first paragraph could easily be said by a conservative Christian in America today — assuming that they were willing to be even as generous as Hitler in allowing that atheist organizations might provide advantages for the individual. The idea that atheist organizations — and the secularization of culture or society generally — is destructive to common religious and ethical values is a theme heard over and over again from the Christian Right and Christian Nationalists in America today. It is also common for them to offer up their own Christianity as the necessary foundation for ethical life, individual liberty, and the very essence of being an American.

In this part of his speech, Hitler makes it clear that with his dictatorial powers he will protect the dominance of Christianity in German public life while crushing godless, freethinking, and atheistic organizations. Political opponents among socialists and communists were the first targets but they weren't the only ones. Nazi Germany was not a friendly place for anyone who questioned, doubted, or challenged traditions and the status quo. Freethinkers and godless atheists had always been prominent members of this category.

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