Does Atheism Lead To Anti-Semitism?

Those who hold a penchant for, or at least interest in, the story comprising the rise and fall of Christianity will always have a few favourite characters that they identify as the personification of a True Christian. The problem exists, however, that it is often impossible to look at these characters objectively, because they were often an integral part of the formation of the modern day incarnation of the religion they identify with.

These characters were often people who triumphed over great adversity, remaining strong (at least reputedly) in their faith as they battled various evils. They are then, often, championed by priests and pastors as a hero – “if he/she can go through such tremendous adversity and remain true to their faith and their god, then why would we lose our faith when our issues are trivial in comparison?”

The Protestant reformation owes its existence to such a character. As a priest, Martin Luther was a man willing to stand up against what he saw as the evils of the Catholic Church, at great personal cost.

Disgusted by the sale of indulgences (pre-paid absolution for committing specific sins which the Catholic Church sold to fund extensions to the Vatican), he nailed 95 theses to the front door of his Catholic Church in protest. His belief, and what he preached, was that salvation was not earned through good deeds, but through faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

He also translated the bible into common language, allowing the common person to have access to the same literature as the revered priestly class. For his beliefs and actions, which ultimately led to the reformation and Protestantism, he was ex-communicated, his writings were banned and he was condemned as an outlaw. This made it a crime for anyone in Germany to give Luther food or shelter and permitted his murder without legal consequence.

And yet, throughout the turmult, he remained faithful. A model Christian, indeed.

Martin Luther, however, whether reflecting the sentiment at the time (and past, and future, and indeed present-day) or simply by nature of his devotion to scripture, was also hideously anti-Simetic. More specifically, he asumed that the Jews would convert to his new form of Christianity and was quite irreverant towards them for a time. When, however, they did not convert, he turned rather violently against them.

A man who is revered for both his devotion and the integral part he played in today’s version of Christianity held, arguably, the most violent and hateful views towards Jews.

I speak of his publication entitled, The Jews and Their Lies (c.1543). In the paper he, in splendidly morally repugnant detail, why the Jews should be exterminated and how to go about such a task:

First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss in sulphur and pitch; it would be good if someone could also throw in some hellfire. Second, that all their books their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible, be taken from them, not leaving them one leaf, and that these be preserved for those who may be converted.

Third, that they are forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country. (For such praise should only be given to Jesus). Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing. We must drive them out like mad dogs, so that we do not become partakers of their abominable blasphemy and all their other vices and thus merit God’s wrath and be damned with them.

While this type of anti-Semitism was not uncommon during the time, one can see obvious parallels between the writings of the father of present-day Christianity and other despots from recent history, namely one Adolf Hitler.

Thus, it is important to remember, to ensure that we never forget, that behind the reputedly peaceful and loving ideology of Christianity, lays a foundation of blood, torture, violence and supremacy.

Resources:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Luther_on_Jews.html

http://www.awitness.org/books/luther/luther_jews/17_treat_jews_reprise.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protestant_Reformation

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About jakefw

My Religious Status Atheist, Secular, Anti-Theist, Pirate Lover. About Me: I'm so funny and intelligent that when I make jokes, people simultaneously laugh and get smarter... it's an enigma, like clothing on a playboy playmate - see what I did there? I'm a writer - currently for prolific blog www.rustylime.com. I'm a poet - this is a lie. I'm a fighter - more with my tongue than anything... take that however you want... ladies. I'm an intellectual - e=Mc2... apparently. I am well educated - I have degrees in both Fahrenheit and Celsius... some day I will rate in Kelvin. My blood type is O- - But I like to think of myself as a positive kind of guy. I was abducted by aliens at an early age - Bloody immigrants... always trying to take our jobs... and our children! I love the theatre - I've always loved sterile environments where operations take place. I am not an Animal lover - I prefer Beaker, that 'meep' sound he makes is hilarious. I am a science literacy proponent - people need to know how to blow shit up using household chemicals like nitrocellulose and ear wax! I deny evolution - while my cousin might look like an ape, she most assuredly isn't! I am a climate change skeptic - man was never meant to wear underpants! I love religion - But it's at that stage in it's life where it's getting really expensive to take care of it... I think it's time we took it behind the barn and put a cap in it's arse. I hate intolerance - I especially hate intolerant people, I hate them in the face! Thats me, if you want to know more, don't hesitate to procrastinate on sending me an email to ask questions about me and my pet Burrito named Dog! Age: Old enough to pretend I didn't hear the question, young enough to emotively storm out of the room because you asked! Why am I here: When a man and a woman love each other very much, they have 'intercourse' and if they love each other enough, the man won't 'pull out' and they'll make a baby. On this occasion, the baby was named 'Jake', and he's just great! The religion I left: Christian, Catholic Why I left My religion: disillusionment with church, doubts about god communicating to pastor, doubts about god communicating at all, contradiction between concept of "free will" and concept of omniscience god with will, "free will" doesn't make sense since desires not under our control, inability to view god as anything more than a sadistic tyrant, contradiction between bible's claim of god's love and existence of hell, doubting bible led to crumbling away of any firm belief structure, Also why I left my religion: Priest and pastor could not answer questions on quantum physics... made me question everything! Twitter: http://twitter.com/_Modus_Operandi
  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    Just a quick note that I’m a Jewish atheist (obviously, I’m using Jewish in the non-religious, ethnic sense of the word) and I’d venture to say that Jews are over-represented in atheism.
    That said, religion (Islam and Xianity, not that I wish to name names) has hurt us a lot over the years.