Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

08 February 2010

Christianity and Totalitarianism


William Stoddard recently posted the following remarks in a comment thread on NoodleFood.

When you say that "If the Church had the weapons of the 20th century, God (metaphor) only knows how many they would have killed," I would go further than this.

We have, shall we say, a Christian myth about how God runs the world and what he intends for it, one that many Christians believed was literally true. And what it says is this:

  • God is a self-appointed dictator who cannot be voted out of office, and who makes the law by unilateral decree

  • God constantly watches everything human beings do, both directly and through a secret police corps of angels appointed to watch over us

  • At any time, we can be taken into God's hands by death and called before him to be judged

  • Under his law, we are automatically guilty and cannot defend ourselves against his charges

  • When found guilty, we will be sent to a concentration camp where we will be tortured forever, without hope that death will release us

  • Those who affirm that these actions are signs of God's justice and love, and plead for mercy, will be let off and assigned to join a propaganda corps that spends eternity praising God, and that is permitted to see the tortures of the damned perfectly in order more fully to enjoy their own salvation

  • If someone you loved on Earth goes to Hell, your salvation entails rejoicing both at their being in Hell and at your being in Heaven apart from them

    In sum, Christianity envisioned all the horrors of totalitarianism, millennia before human dictators achieved the technological capability to realize them on Earth. And said that they were desirable; indeed, it called them the Good News.
  • These striking parallels between the theology of Christianity and the practice of totalitarianism make clear -- yet again -- that political freedom cannot be founded on the Christian faith.

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