Exploring Our Matrix
The Blog of Dr. James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University, Indianapolis
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Is this what most people mean when they say that Ethics depends on religion? Creative poster.
I’d hardly say that Hitler was an active Christian…
Yes, but most North Ireland militia leaders are not so recognizable
Pragmatic, while skipping past the actual hard-to-ask questions.
There are Good American Christians, and Evil German Christians. There are Good American Muslims and Evil Saudi Muslims. There are Good American Unbelievers and Evil Russian Unbelievers. Being American correlates with Ethics. Get over it.
Look at the selection for who is “good” and who is “evil”. The point this poster is actually making is a racist one.
The Christianity one is all messed up. MLK Jr. was a terrible philanderer and Hitler compared Christianity to Bolshevism.
One can cherry-pick Hitler quotes to make him out as a Christian or an atheist, but he gained power in Germany (and in a Vatican treaty) through Christian statements, and a Christian motto is what we find on SS uniforms.
To argue that Hitler (or MLK?) are poor representatives of Christianity, you miss the point. Moderate and peace-loving Muslims will say that Sadaam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are poor representatives of Islam.
That’s what James’ next post is all about:
Double Standards on Religious Affiliation and Violence
I didn’t miss the point. I was critiquing its execution.
“he gained power in Germany (and in a Vatican treaty) through Christian statements”
I always thought it was through economic promises, which he delivered on.
He had ongoing conflicts with all the German churches; none that I know of with atheists.
Undoubtedly the “ethical” Bill Gates refers to his post-Microsoft days. A charitable foundation apparently covers a multitude of sins.
“He had ongoing conflicts with all the German churches.”
No. He had conflicts with Bonhoeffer’s Confessing Church, a small minority of the overwhelming majority of christians in Germany.
If anything, Hitler learned his anti-Semitism from German churches, and even when a few churches balked at Hitler’s move for a state-controlled church, the majority of churches had no problem with Nazi anti-Semitism, often publishing their own anti-Jewish polemics alongside Hitler.
The largest identifiable groups of atheists in Europe at the time were communist and/or socialist political groups (most nonpolitical atheists tended to remain anonymous – for obvious reasons). And Hitler most certainly had “ongoing conflicts” with those atheists!
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“a Christian motto is what we find on SS uniforms.”
What exactly, was the Christian motto on SS uniforms? Please post an image file showing said motto.
BOB It’s fairly common knowledge that Hitler adopted the old Prussian belt buckle motto “Gott Mit Uns” (God is with us), and incorporated it in Nazi uniform buckles, replacing the Prussian crown with a Nazi eagle and swastika (sometimes just the swastika). I picked on the SS, but most enlisted men wore the buckle as well.
I don’t know how to post images here, but it’s a simple factoid to verify. Go to Google. Type Nazi Gott Mit Uns. Then click “images”.
You’ll see quite a large assortment of these buckles on numerous websites.
They’re collectables! You can buy one if you like!
It’s fairly common knowledge because it’s bullpaddies. The Prussian motto was present on on the buckles of the German Army from the founding of the Empire and straight through the Weimar period. The Wehrmacht inherited it. When the Nazis got the opportunity to design their own uniforms, the SS uniforms, it was nowhere to be found. Find me a link to an bit of SS paraphernalia with “Gott mit uns” on it. I dare you.
“I dare you”? You made me smile. I haven’t heard that since 7th grade.
I’ll concede the point. You’re right! When the SS began designing their own insignia they adopted the Meine Ehre heißt Treue motto on their buckles. (‘My honour is loyalty’). My mistake. I said SS, when I should simply have said “army”.
Because it is true (and more to the point really) that the far more numerous legions of Hitler’s regular army wore the “Gott mit uns” belt buckle.
And I think I already mentioned that the Prussians used the motto before Hitler. You can take it even further back than that: “Gott mit uns” is simply the German translation of Immanuel from the Hebrew Torah.
Of course Hitler borrowed the motto. He didn’t invent Christianity either. He just inherited it’s symbols and it’s anti-semitism, and used them to further his goals.
I don’t think I’m saying anything particularly controversial here. I’m just making the point that one can always point to any practitioner of your faith and say they’re not a “true believer”. It’s an easy way for the church to dismiss responsibility for just about any historical wrong-doing. It’s just as easy to point to a Muslim terrorist and aver that all of Islam is a terrorist religion.
I traced my error back to it’s source. Richard Carrier made the mistake of saying that the SS wore the “Gott mit uns” buckle in an article for the German Studies Review. Now when you look up the article you get the note:
[Editor's note: After publication the author learned these belt buckles were standard uniform only in the German regular army, not the SS. He apologizes for the error.]
Of course, if Carrier (and I!) had begun by simply saying that Hitler’s regular army wore the buckle – the same point would be made – in fact, I’d say it would be made more effectively.
“Of course, if Carrier (and I!) had begun by simply saying that Hitler’s regular army wore the buckle – the same point would be made – in fact, I’d say it would be made more effectively.”
No, it would not have. The difference between the Wehrmacht and SS belt buckles makes the opposite point: that the Nazi regime was committed to the deChristianization of Germany culture.
The fact the Carrier and yourself made this error shows that neither of you were actually thinking. You were assuming, and this misinformation fit your preconceived notions.
You’ll get no argument from me that the Nazi’s were a blight on Germanic culture.
But isn’t it a bit of a stretch to say that one military unit’s change from “God is with us” to “My honor is loyalty” points to the “deChristianization of Germany culture.”
Not only did the vast majority of Nazi troops keep “God with us”, (not just keep – the motto was symbolically paired with the Nazi swastika) Hitler frequently appealed to Christianity in his public addresses and writings throughout the history of the Reich.
Here’s an example from a 1934 speech:
“National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity. The Church’s interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against the Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for the consciousness of a community in our national life, for the conquest of hatred and disunion between the classes, for the conquest of civil war and unrest, of strife and discord. These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles.”
I’m not arguing that Hitler was a “good Christian” or a correct Christian. But over and over again, Hitler tells the German people that the Nazi party is grounded in Christian principles.
Whatever that meant to him.
Finally we can file the “Who’s better theists or atheists?” argument under the biggest waste of time ever.
@idmillington, I think that perhaps “nationalistic” might be more appropriate, since the “good guys” on the poster are united by nationality, not ethnicity. But I am still glad you pointed out that all the examples of the good were Americans, since I missed that slant on the poster entirely until you pointed it out.
Agreed. My sloppy use of “racist”.
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Cherry picking a few random people does not demonstrate a lack of correlation. That’s poor logic. That is liking saying “Today, it rained in the desert. Yesterday, it did not rain in the desert. Therefore, there is no correlation between rainfall and being in a desert.”
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