Protesting the Pope

<a href="http://www.daylightatheism.org/images/PopeProtest01.jpg"

You’ve no doubt heard by now about Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.K., where one of his first statements was an accusation that the Nazis were atheists. To be honest, it makes me worried for the old fellow. After all, he himself served in the Hitler Youth as a teenager, yet he doesn’t seem to remember that the Nazis distributed Bibles, emblazoned their uniforms with the slogan “God With Us“, and gave speeches in which they boasted that they were doing Jesus’ work. This strange historical amnesia on the Pope’s part could be a symptom of oncoming senility, and I certainly hope that isn’t the case.

Meanwhile, the story continues to widen in Belgium, the latest country rocked by revelations of molesting priests protected by their superiors. In late August, Cardinal Godfried Danneels was caught on tape urging one victim to keep quiet so that his abuser, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, could retire without scandal. The victim’s response was unsurpassable:

“The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait,” the cardinal told the victim. “I don’t think you’d do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops.” The cardinal warned the victim against trying to blackmail the church and suggested that he accept a private apology from the bishop and not drag “his name through the mud.”

The victim responded, “He has dragged my whole life through the mud, from 5 until 18 years old,” and asked, “Why do you feel sorry for him and not for me?”

And this case was just the tip of the iceberg. A report released two weeks later found that sex abuse in the Belgian church was pervasive, with “almost every institution, every school” harboring predators over a four-decade period. Almost 500 victims have come forward so far, and at least 13 committed suicide.

But don’t worry, Catholic apologists, the church has a perfectly good explanation for why they covered this all up. This brilliant defense comes to us by way of another Belgian bishop, Guy Harpigny:

“We did not dare. If you officially apologise, then you are acknowledging moral and legal responsibility. Then there are people who ask for money and we don’t know what lawyers and the courts will do about that,” he said.

See? It’s too expensive for the church to accept responsibility for crimes it’s committed. How can you possibly doubt their benevolence of spirit after hearing that perfectly reasonable and legitimate defense? In fact, this is such a faultless excuse, I should rob a bank and then use the same reasoning to the police: “Your Honor, I would have turned myself in, but I just couldn’t go to jail. My schedule is much too full!”

Rest assured, however, that although the Vatican finds obeying the law too expensive, they’ve sprung into action with their usual alacrity and taken their own corrective measures. The Pope’s office has stressed that serial child molesters like Roger Vangheluwe have been punished more than adequately:

<a href="http://www.daylightatheism.org/images/PopeProtest02.jpg"

“Vangheluwe is no longer allowed to say mass in public. At the moment I have no knowledge of other specific measures that will be taken,” said [Vatican spokesman] Father Lombardi.

Take that, pedophiles! Yes, it seems harsh, but the Vatican had to send a strong message about its stance on child rape. Of course, they’re not going to take away Vangheluwe’s $3600-a-month pension – they’re not monsters, after all.

But in all seriousness, the Times article cites one other statistic that’s no laughing matter: despite declining attendance and a plummeting number of new priests, the Belgian church is being kept afloat by over $350 million of annual state subsidies. It’s outrages like this – the church being propped up, even rewarded, despite its sickening abuses of power – that made me glad to see freethinkers turn out in force to protest the Pope’s visit to the U.K., with heavy hitters like Richard Dawkins showing up to rally the troops. (Dominic Self, who wrote an excellent post about the protests, also contributed the pictures seen in this one.)

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The Pope and his top henchmen ought to be greeted like this everywhere they go. This is exactly what we need to be doing – tearing off the robes of magisterial dignity in which this corrupt and wicked old fraud has tried to cloak himself. The Catholic church loves to surround its emissaries with pomp and circumstance, wishing us to consider this evidence of their credibility. But that credibility hasn’t been earned, and its lavish spectacle is nothing but a hypocritical sham.

Neither the Pope nor the church is a sacrosanct moral authority, as much as they’d like us to believe that. They’re just one voice among many, one particular perspective on the world that can and should be challenged and criticized just like everyone else. And they’ve more than earned that criticism, given the manifest evidence of their immorality: their unapologetic bigotry against women and gays, their life-destroying dogmas forbidding contraception, their monstrous hypocrisy in portraying themselves as the source of all moral virtue while at the same time they’re protecting and excusing child rape. Religious institutions going unchallenged in public discourse, being allowed to portray themselves as supreme moral authorities, is precisely what made it possible for the horrors of clergy sex abuse to continue for so long in secret.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • silentsanta

    This strange historical amnesia on the Pope’s part could be a symptom of oncoming senility, and I certainly hope that isn’t the case.

    Unfortunately, I think this is his public relations spin working in full capacity. This conveniently offensive ‘senior moment’ associating atheism with Hitler helps to inflame the atheist and humanist crowd, make them react in anger so that they appear like a rabid spittle-flecked mob. The clear objective is to divert attention away from the child abuse scandal, a scandal so damaging that it seems to be making a sizable dent in their congregations.

    Good on you for not falling for his feint, and keeping the child abuse scandal clear and central to your criticisms.

  • http://www.ooblick.com/weblog/ arensb

    Meanwhile, BillDo continues to play Grima to Ratzinger’s Saruman:

    The Times was just as fixated on one topic: the sexual abuse scandal. Take today’s newspaper, for example. On page 4, there is a 1224-word story on a non-story: readers are treated to a rehash of old cases of abuse that took place in Belgium.

    As for Ratzinger conflating atheists and Nazis, there’s a much simpler explanation than senility or mendacity: he’s a high-ranking cleric, and has therefore demonstrated an acute ability to believe things that are patently absurd and even contradicted by massive amounts of evidence. It’s what he does for a living.

  • TEP

    How long will it be before the Pope starts claiming the Inquisition was run by atheists?

  • Wednesday

    What a fantastic illustration of the power and privilege the Catholic church is used to having, that they think “he isn’t allowed to say public mass any more” is a punishment equivalent with a jail sentence, that they think saying “we can’t afford it” means they don’t have to even say sorry to hundreds of victims who were raped as children.

    I agree, this is an attempt to change the subject, away from the child abuse issue. Their “blame the gays” response clearly wasn’t enough to reassure their congregations after the findings in Belgium. In some ways, I guess it’s an improvement in some respects – at least atheist-bashing doesn’t erase the female victims of clergy and perpetuate the poisonous meme that homosexual = pedophile.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Vatican ‘astonished’ by inquiry into its bank

    Sure, just like Pope Indulgence was ‘shocked’ when the clergy child abuse the church, and he personally, had helped to cover up for decades became public knowledge.

    And the beat goes on.

  • bbk

    What do you mean by “conveniently” offensive? It’s bigotry and there’s nothing wrong for it to be met with anger and protest. Why do you immediately write off the atheist movement as if it’s bound to loose the pr war this time around?

    Look at the signs and slogans of the protests. They’re not saying, “Stop calling us Nazis!”, they’re saying, “Stop raping kids!”. There’s nothing more that the church would want than for atheists to just shut up. Half of their message machine How is it going to help if the Pope goes around calling us Nazis?

    So far it seems to me that we have been very effective. We’re almost at the point where the Pope can’t appear on TV without some mention of what Dawkins had to say about it. In my opinion we’ve been very effective in bringing attention to this issue, and as a result we’ve seen governments investigate new allegations with more intensity than they otherwise would have. So if you ask me, it’s the most idiotic, reckless move he could have come up with.

  • http://yokohamayomama.blogspot.com amy o in yokohama

    “How long will it be before the Pope starts claiming the Inquisition was run by atheists.”

    Wow–I had *exactly* the same thought! And in very nearly the same words…

    As usual, Eben stays focused on the *real* point, and does so reasonably, clearly, logically, and in the sanest way possible:))

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    There’s an explanation for this seeming utter lack of scruples we’ve been seeing from the Pope and his flock.

    They practice a perpetual cycle of (1) sin, (2) confess, (3) repent, (4) be forgiven. Repeat, repeat, repeat. So it makes perfect sense that a priest who rapes children and gets caught (step 1) will be returned to a position where he can do it again (after completing steps 2-4), until dying of old age after a comfortable retirement

    Also, hard as it is for an atheist like me to wrap my mind around it, these guys actually believe that life on Earth is short and unimportant, except that it sets the stage for where our souls will spend eternity, and they believe that priests can help people get to heaven by imparting religious teachings. Therefore, in a spirit of pure-hearted altruism, it follows that even though it’s unfortunate that a fair number of priests are raping children, in the grand scheme of things, that’s as nothing to the really important work of saving souls. To the Catholic hierarchy and to the faithful, turning a few hundred or a few thousand priests over to secular justice for their mere earthly crimes would do more harm than good. So they’re not being dishonest when they cite “the good of the Universal Church” as an excuse for their feeble response to the tide of child rapes. They really believe that.

    Therefore, I see no chance that the Church can police itself, or that it will change its ways.

  • John Nernoff

    I recently saw a photo of the pope wearing the biggest, most golden hat I ever saw. I swear it was almost three feet tall. Surely he must be telling the truth.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Neither the Pope nor the church is a sacrosanct moral authority, as much as they’d like us to believe that.

    Excatly. The Pope was also complaining about the marginalization of the Church. They’re not being marginalized. They’re just losing their monopoly and they can’t stand that fact.

  • http://www.kurmujjin.com kurmujjin

    The biggest failing of the RC church is that it seems to feel that its existence and the maintenance of its hierarchy trump integrity and truth.

    Pedophilia is inexcusable and I think most lay Catholics feel strongly that way and are embarassed by what’s going on.

    The marginalization of the church in North America stems mostly from Rome’s dogged insistance on remaining irrelevant on subjects that really matter.

  • Scotlyn

    Belgian bishop, Guy Harpigny:

    “Then there are people who ask for money and we don’t know what lawyers and the courts will do about that”

    must have slipped up in failing to be advised by his Irish colleagues in the Archdiocese of Dublin, who took out indemnity insurance in 1987, which

    proved to be extraordinarily good value, the Dublin diocesan report says. The policy eventually resulted in the archdiocese, and other dioceses which later signed up, receiving about €12.9 million by way of indemnity in return for premiums of only €50,800.

  • archimedez
  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    How does one serve(albeit forcibly) in the Third Reich and not know this? The thing is, they don’t. His Popeliness is LYING, people. He lied about priests foisting their vile loins upon children, so why stop? It pleases me to no end to see the Catholic Church dying a slow, painful death even amongst the Latin nations. Let them fall, and Christianity will lose a major player for their forces.

  • kennypo65

    As a former catholic myself, I look foward to the day that the vatican is just a really interesting museum. The sexual abuse is an horrific thing, but to hide it and let it continue is an abomination. These guys should be incarcerated, not revered.

  • Demonhype

    “How long will it be before the Pope starts claiming the Inquisition was run by atheists?”

    Believe it or not, I’ve actually heard this one. Twice.

    The first one was the usual wide-eyed moron claiming that the Inquisition had not only been an atheist crime, but that it had been an atheist crime perpetuated against Christians! I didn’t get his reasoning, but from the overall attitude and outlook I think he believed that since the Inquisition was responsible for torture and murder, it had to be atheistic and (he actually suggested this second part) that somehow we took over and revised history Texas-style to make ourselves the victims.

    I guess in his case it was refreshing to hear an overchristianized idiot NOT claim that the Inquisition was all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens and that the worst that happened was that one or two people might have gotten exiled, and that all the claims of torture and murder are an anti-christian hoax–much like a Holocaust denier. At least he was admitting the Inquisition actually existed, although in his case it would be like saying “yes, the Holocaust happened and it was totally horrible but it was a Jewish crime committed against the Nazis!”

    The other was an adjunct history professor at my university. He didn’t outright say “the Inquisition was atheist”, but he did say during a lecture on the Inquisition age “you know, the Church never killed anyone. No, they didn’t! It was the secular authorities that committed those crimes! The Church is totally innocent!” With a particular ‘tone’ on the word “secular”.

    First though on that: I guess by that logic, it’s okay to order a hit on someone, since you’re only paying the killer and pointing them in the right direction, and your personal hand wasn’t involved in the actual deed.

    Second thought on that: When in history, prior to the Enlightenment and beyond, had anyone had a concept of separation of Church and State? Prior to that historic Amendment, I understand that it was unheard of for the Church and State to ever be anything but best buddies. Dude, you’re applying a modern concept of “secular” to the Inquisition, and you can’t see how stupid that is?

    Also, there was my Christian history teacher who said that Nazis were atheists. After having had us read a first-hand source that he himself had picked out that was lousy with Christian references and Biblical citations offered as justifications for their actions, as well as claims of being a Christian country full of Christian goodness. I didn’t call him out in class because I don’t trust Christians even as far as I could throw them, so I didn’t want to get expelled on some kind of lie. But I did call him out in my paper on the subject, which I did so there would be a paper trail and evidence of what transpired (in case he wanted to cry persecution and claim things that never happened). After that, he started calling them “neo-pagans”–go figure.

    I really don’t know what goes through their heads sometimes.

  • Tom

    The money thing is bad enough, but I’m even more disgusted by that bit about not wanting to take moral responsibility. For starters, its simply vile that someone should think about moral responsibility only in terms of how much money people will fine you in its name, but the implications run deeper than that.

    The only useful product of just about any religious organisation, in return for all the benefits, tithes, donations, political power and community support they harvest, is moral guidance (and, as has been remarked before, even when they don’t completely suck at it, they don’t generally do any better than a secular approach could either) – to suddenly claim that it’s not their job to do that even to their own agents, when many invariably assert that their organisation is the only source of morality in a “fallen world,” is beyond any expression of contempt I can muster.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Wow, demonhypes, that sounds hilarious. I suppose that he could just be that kind of person, but do you really think your teacher would frame you for something? If so, I’ve certainly never heard of anything so immature!

  • Demonhype

    I don’t know for sure. You never know how some religious people will react if you call them out on their bullshit, and this was not just a Christian teacher, this was a church-founded college too. And as we all know, too many highly vocal Christians have been caught with their pants down for them to be considered trustworthy in this sort of thing, particularly in a situation where they have the upper hand and they know it.

    Yes, he might have lied outright to screw me over, and I’m sure he could have gotten some of the more indignant students to lie too. I didn’t know him well enough to know if he would lie over that. But he did lie about the Nazi’s being atheist in a class where he had provided us with first-hand over-Christianized Nazi propaganda to study while knowing full-well there was an atheist in the room, so who knows what else he would lie about? I can’t imagine he called the Nazi’s “atheist” as a mistake when he’s the one who provided the evidence to contradict that.

    Of course, he and the others could also have ended up projecting his anger onto me and telling their own version of the truth–which would have been colored by the righteous indignation of the religious when their privilege is challenged in any way. You know, how every open atheist is “angry” and “hateful” and all manner of other nasty things, and how it’s much worse when we wont’ at least go through the motions with them so they can feel special. A lot of them genuinely believe that atheistic challenge or disagreement is a persecution no different than torture and genocide–if not worse.

    No, I wasn’t about to trust him either way.

  • Darth Cynic

    The other was an adjunct history professor at my university. He didn’t outright say “the Inquisition was atheist”, but he did say during a lecture on the Inquisition age “you know, the Church never killed anyone. No, they didn’t! It was the secular authorities that committed those crimes! The Church is totally innocent!” With a particular ‘tone’ on the word “secular”.

    Snap!

    I had a most similar experience, cept my lad – if my recall is correct – was speaking about witches and the killing of such, that it was the secular authorities who were responsible for most of the blood shed and not the poor maligned church. He delivered this revelation in much the same manner that you described your lecturer as doing. Your subsequent mention of a church founded university – which is admittedly common – now makes me wonder if we might actually be referring to the same guy, and if so I am most curious as to who this other lecturer with the Nazi atheist claim you mention might be. Do they train RC priests at your university?

    Oh and my apologies to all for veering slightly off topic.

  • Arch

    where one of his first statements was an accusation that the Nazis were atheists. To be honest, it makes me worried for the old fellow. After all, he himself served in the Hitler Youth as a teenager, yet he doesn’t seem to remember that the Nazis distributed Bibles, emblazoned their uniforms with the slogan “God With Us”, and gave speeches in which they boasted that they were doing Jesus’ work.

    There is a difference in being a believer in name and in being a believer in reality–i.e., one who both believes and strives to live the tenets of the faith whole-heartedly. This is an important point in light of many events by which some attack the Church, which cannot be pinned on the Church but rather on individuals who inauthentically claim to be acting in union with the Church. The Nazi leaders upheld positions that are fundamentally opposed to God, the Gospel, and natural law. They cannot be accurately called Christian believers, as they attempted to use God as a means of further control–they did not recognize God as the sovereign Lord who we all have the freedom to believe in and follow.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Hi Arch,

    I suppose they weren’t Scotsmen either, eh?

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

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Yeowch, didn’t know it was a Christian school… Changes everything, it does. How does that even work? An atheist in Christian-funded indoct-er, I mean school?
    The disapproving looks alone must weigh a long ton. Personally, I know that the vast majority of public-school xtians simply don’t know any better, but that place sounds like a veritable viper pit.

  • Demonhype

    Well, it wasn’t a Bible college at least, or I wouldn’t have gone there at all. It was the only school close enough to home that also had an affiliate program with another school I wanted to go to (but had no funds to live away from home). I could spend two years commuting from my parents’ house, then go live on-campus at the other school for a year packed with all major classes, and then return for my last year and graduation. It was founded by the Brethren Church, but I was surprised to find an article in the school paper crowing about the wonderful campus diversity that even included atheists and agnostics–and spoke as if that were a good thing! And when my Senior artist statement mentioned the influence my atheism has in my artwork, I didn’t get angry looks or comments in the show register–though my work was ignored in favor heaping reams of flattery on the girl whose artist statement was all about jesus, there wasn’t any anger or hatred levied–or at least, none so overt that I noticed it. I’ve always had trouble picking up on non-verbal cues since I was a kid.

    The Christian history teacher didn’t really do much outside of that Nazi commentary and something he said when we went to a field trip to a Eastern Orthodox monastary (that was cool, and that’s why I chose it). After we witnessed the monks’ service, we went in to have dinner with the monks, and while we were waiting my teacher looked over with a smile and said “See, they prayed for you so now you won’t be troubled by evil spirits” or something to that effect. It seemed more like gentle friendly ribbing from his expression so I decided to take it that way. He really did seem like a pretty nice guy even despite the “Nazis are atheists/Nazis are pagans” thing.

    And my two science gen eds were the best science education I’ve had. Both Catholic school and public school were copouts, but this was actually exciting, and when there was a “controversy” regarding something scientific (particularly in the bio class), there was often a time allotted where we discussed it openly as a class.

    Of course, they caused a huge uproar when they tried to enact a “Christians only” hiring policy, and it continued to backfire in their faces for years later. A lot of fantastic teachers left on principle because of that. And my advisor, upon reading my atheistic artist statement, wanted to talk to me “in person” and not over the email over it. I live 30 miles away from campus, so coming there on my day off from school on a PT min-wage job during 4-5 dollar gas days was a lot to ask, but she was adamant. So I went off a bit on how I hope this isn’t about my atheism in the statement and how every year people go off about jesus and that’s not a problem, and she assured me that wasn’t the case. I still believe it was the case and she flaked out when I confronted her, because when I got there she told me some lame “make it sound less apologetic” criticism that could easily have been told on email and saved me a lot of money I could ill-afford, driving down to hear a two-line criticism.

    There’s that and the various little digs I described, but nothing too serious. I would probably have gotten angrier responses had there been an SSA on campus, because I definitely would have joined and been more visible and potentially vocal. I only found out about it after I left, so I couldn’t have started one.

    Oh, and here’s another one. I had a class about adolescent psychology, and one of our resources was talking about how kids only reject faith out of temporary rebellion and that alone, and that they will all come back to the fold if given time and understanding. While the time and understanding part is a nice bit of advice, I did tell the teacher I found the suggestion that rejection of religion is some kind of rebellious stage with no foundation or merit to be insulting, and that I felt that advising parents that their kids would come back to the fold when they got older was a very foolish thing to promise to these parents and would guarantee disappointment, as many unbelievers never return to the church. I said all this very politely though after class, and I don’t think she knew quite how to answer me on that. Her response was a bit garbled and stunned, and I still can’t remember quite what the point of her response was. She wasn’t angry at me, and I didn’t do poorly in that class either before or after that situation.

    All in all, it was a mixed bag–overall acceptance and tolerance, with some awkward pro-faith presuppositions and occasional tweaking of facts by individual teachers–who more often than not back off on that when confronted. Just what one might expect from an otherwise fine college that also happens to have been founded by a church.

    This is very OT, but has anyone looked at Wikipedia’s take on Kohlberg’s stages of moral development? I remember that he was trying to categorize moral thinking on its own, devoid of sectarian or faith beliefs, but last I looked at Wikipedia, there was a claim that he had added a seventh “highest” basis of moral understanding based on Faith in God. Just thought I’d mention that as an item of interest, because even in my Christian-founded university they didn’t mention this seventh faith-based level in that psych class. I guess that’s just another reason not to trust Wikipedia as a source! :)

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Arch,

    It could actually be that Hitler was an atheist — that in the privacy of his thoughts, he lost his Christian faith at some point. But if he ever spoke of this to a friend, or committed it to personal writings, it has been lost to history. What we all know for sure is that in his speeches and published writings, he frequently and vigorously announced his Christian faith, and exhorted his millions of followers to do his bidding in the name of God and Jesus. And they did.

    The Nazi leaders … cannot be accurately called Christian believers…

    If they called themselves Christians, who are you to say they weren’t?

  • Charles

    tearing off the robes of magisterial dignity in which this corrupt and wicked old fraud has tried to cloak himself.

    But check out all these men wearing robes and how official and holy they look.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Not only did Hitler sprinkle references to “Providence”, “God Almighty”, et al through his speeches and writings, Pope Pius XII apparently regarded him as a good Catholic. After all, Hitler was not excommunicated in his lifetime.

  • stag

    @ peter N #26:

    Just a couple of pestilent quotes from Hitler to back up your argument:

    “National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew.” (July, 1941)

    “Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer…. The decisive falsification of Jesus’ doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work… for the purposes of personal exploitation…. Didn’t the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it’s in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea.” (Oct 1941)

    “Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself…. Pure Christianity– the Christianity of the catacombs– is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics.” (Dec 1941)

    Sorry,… to completely destroy your argument. The source is Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary during the war.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Stag,

    None of your quotes show support for atheism, that is, a lack of belief in a deity. They seem to be claiming that Christianity and Bolshevism are inextricably linked, which is an odd reading of history since if anything, they seem to have been linked only in a death struggle. It’s impossible to tell what these quotes are really about, taken out of context.

    I will certainly concede that Hitler’s personal religious beliefs, and his relationship with the Protestant and Catholic churches, were not as simplistic as either “Hitler was a Catholic” or “Hitler was an atheist”. Also, it appears that his personal religious beliefs changed over the course of his political career. Although he may have come to detest the established religious institutions of his day, obviously that was due at least in part to his desire to stamp out rival political forces, not necessarily because he rejected their spiritual teachings.

    Hitler’s many speeches, writings, and the utterances attributed to him are a rich source for quote-mining. We can never know what he actually believed at any given point, and we can’t really even understand what he was saying in public without reading the whole speech, considering the audience to which the speech was directed, and considering the broader cultural context. As for his private conversations, these were written down by others, who may have had agendas of their own. In addition, for us non-German speakers, we shouldn’t overlook the personal biases of the translators (or in the case of the book Hitler’s Table-Talk, the translators of the translation).

    All that said, I stand by what I wrote earlier, “in his speeches and published writings, he frequently and vigorously announced his Christian faith, and exhorted his millions of followers to do his bidding in the name of God and Jesus.”