Nance Doubles Down on Enlightenment-Hitler Claim

Nance Doubles Down on Enlightenment-Hitler Claim May 10, 2013

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America was the one who claimed last week on Fox News that the Day of Reason was a bad idea because the Enlightenment caused Hitler and the Nazis. In a post to the CWA blog that was quickly removed, she doubled down on that stupid statement. Right Wing Watch caught it before it was deleted:

“Atrocities including Hitler’s anti-Semitism, Stalin’s Marxism, or Mao’s communism — all of which inflicted pain upon millions — resulted from the destruction of a clear moral order, a reliance on capricious human wisdom, and an addiction to power. Had their morality been attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard, they could not have believed what that did.”

And now, a word from reality. Hitler’s anti-Semitism found fertile ground in overwhelmingly Christian because of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. Martin Luther, the most important and influential theologian in Germany history, wrote an entire book called On the Jews and Their Lies, which included statements like this:

What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames [of hell]. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.

First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians.

Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. For they perpetrate the same things there that they do in their synagogues. For this reason they ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like gypsies, in order that they may realize that they are not masters in our land, as they boast, but miserable captives, as they complain of incessantly before God with bitter wailing.

Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer-books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught.

Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more…

Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews. For they have no business in the rural districts since they are not nobles, nor officials, nor merchants, nor the like. Let them stay at home…If you princes and nobles do not close the road legally to such exploiters, then some troop ought to ride against them, for they will learn from this pamphlet what the Jews are and how to handle them and that they ought not to be protected. You ought not, you cannot protect them, unless in the eyes of God you want to share all their abomination…

To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden – the Jews…

Remember, Luther is not some minor religious thinker. He was the founder of Protestantism. And the Catholics had a long and sordid history of anti-Jewish pogroms. It could fairly be said that Hitler was doing little more than continuing the centuries of Catholic tradition of ghettoizing and dehumanizing the Jewish people, going back all the way to Constantine and some of the early church fathers.

In 1105, Pope Innocent III wrote to his archbishops and said, “The Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord. As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ has set free.”

In 1555, a Papal bull required Jews to wear badges, just like the Nazis did, and forced them to live in a single ghetto. Pope Pius IX restored those restrictions in the 1800s, which was the last pogrom against the Jews in Europe until Hitler’s Third Reich.

So the problem was precisely that they had been taught a morality that was “attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard.”

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  • Wait. She wrote it, posted it, then removed it?

    Why don’t these people have the courage of their convictions? Own it, fer crissake, if you believe it….

  • a reliance on capricious human wisdom

    The good lady is invited to demonstrate that there is any other kind.

  • Sastra

    Had their morality been attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard, they could not have believed what (they) did.”

    Oh, but there are so many higher, universal standards to pick from! And they all have a “clear moral order.” And there is nothing easier than choosing one and getting everyone else to agree. Faith is a method which is just perfect for persuading the unconvinced. You just proclaim the truth and they all fall right behind it.

    Actually, isn’t having a “clear moral order” one of the big problems with totalitarian systems? It’s all discipline, self-denial, patriotism, and rules. The Soviet Union under Stalin was hardly a do-your-own-thing hippie paradise.

    Hitler the result of the Enlightenment? He was part of the Romantic rebellion. It was ‘blood and soil,’ fulfilling divine destiny and embracing the anti-intellectual “folk” ways and knowledge. According to a former member of Hitler’s inner circle, Hitler ascribed “the crisis of science” to science’s shift to “the wrong track”: the pursuit of “objectivity”

    “We stand at the end of the Age of Reason. A new era of the magical explanation of the world is rising There is no truth, in the scientific sense.” (Adolph Hitler)

    Yeah, that expresses the values of the Enlightenment so well.

  • justawriter

    And lets not forget that Stalin was educated in an Orthodox Seminary, where I am sure he had his fill of “morality … attached to a faith rooted in a higher, universal standard”.

  • tubi

    Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed.

    Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews…Let them stay at home…


  • doublereed

    I knew Martin Luther wrote the famous anti-semetic text, and he’s basically the most influential anti-semite ever. But I had never read any part of it. Terrifying.

  • baal

    I had to put down my drink when reading Luther’s words. I almost threw my cup.

  • Lies! You can’t fool us. That so-called “Luther” passage was from the Age of Reason, written by your hero, Charles Darwinism. True story.

  • mithrandir

    Someone should do a “Mein Kampf or On the Jews and Their Lies” quiz. Quote selected passages from both works and ask people to identify which work they come from.

    And anytime anyone blames the Holocaust on the Enlightenment, Darwinism, or indeed anything other than many centuries of anti-semitic bigotry, point them at the quiz.

  • The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    Let’s not forget Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants:

    The peasants have taken upon themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man; by this they have merited death in body and soul… they have sworn to be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers… now deliberately and violently breaking this oath… they are starting a rebellion, and are violently robbing and plundering monasteries and castles which are not theirs… they have doubly deserved death in body and soul as highwaymen and murderers… they cloak this terrible and horrible sin with the gospel… thus they become the worst blasphemers of God and slanderers of his holy name”

    Of course, I’m sure the average wingnut would endorse that screed of Luther’s unabashedly.

  • As for Marxism it too seems to have come about despite that good, Christian doctrine. Marx’s father was a convert to Lutheranism, although a liberal one, and Marx himself was baptised as a child. Friederich Engels’ father was a Christian evangellcal, and Engels’ was raised as a Christian Pietist.

    Hitler’s religious beliefs, whatever they truly were, are irrelevant to Nance;s comment. The majority of Germans who took part in the horrors of the Nazi regime would have considered themselves good, upstanding Catholics and Lutherans. I suspect Nance would try a One True Scotsman Defense and claim they weren’t real Christians like she is.

  • fmitchell

    An ethics course I took a while back explored various forms of a “higher, universal standard” … formulated and justified by human beings during and well after the Enlightenment. All of them would condemn Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

    The same course noted in passing that “Divine Command Theory”, preferred by fundamentalists of every stripe, is the absolute worst basis of ethical behavior. How can anyone know the god exists, let alone that the god talked to somebody? Were you there?

    (BTW, what makes the opinion of a god or his interpreter worth listening to, anyway? Does Tim Berners-Lee know how everything on the Web works?)

  • The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge

    How can anyone know the god exists, let alone that the god talked to somebody? Were you there?

    That’s what’s so good about the Pharaoh System™—until people don’t believe he’s a god any more; then all hell breaks loose.

  • Pen

    How fascinating that the pre-Enlightenment inquisition, witch- and heretic-burning outbreaks don’t seem to have figured in her history books.

  • k_machine

    There could be no Marxism without Christian ideas of all people being equal before god and the notion of pooling all private property. There could be no Hitler without the Christian idea of a Messianistic savior walking the earth. Christians like to take credit for all the (now commonly accepted) good things about Western society, but it seems to me that ideas don’t arise in a vacuum. It is also a historical fact that at the time of WWII there were Fascist movements in Eastern Europe that were unambiguously Christian (Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian) and that had no problems whatsoever with committing genocide, in fact they stunned the Germans with their brutality (no mean feat). They are less known and not as significant as the Nazis, but their existence neatly refutes the idea that a “higher, universal standard” is some sort of guarantee against totalitarianism.

    The bit about “capricious human wisdom” is probably a shout-out to Conservative notions going back to Edmund Burke. Burke believed that the Great Terror of the French Revolution happened because the people set aside their god-appointed ruler (i.e. the “enlightened despots” of the day) and tried to rule by human reason. This is of course an interesting position for an American to take, what with the American Rev. kicking out their god-given monarch. And both capitalism and democracy is built on the idea that “human wisdom” provides the best possible outcome (consumers won’t give money to Pollution Co. and voters won’t elect Stalin 2 out of rational self-interest is the idea).

    Another thing about the “higher, universal standard” is that it has changed quite a bit over the years. For the first 1500 years or so of the Christian faith, the ideas of the Reformation would’ve seemed absurd, religious freedom would’ve seemed Satanic, the idea that the Church would not be allowed to be a feudal, landowning power would’ve been ridiculous etc. Theists and conservatives both face this problem, the societies that preceded Burke would’ve seen his ideas as crazy radicalism (for instance the idea that the power of the state wasn’t shared between the church, the monarch and the nobility):

  • raven

    Hitler’s anti-Semitism found fertile ground in overwhelmingly Christian Germany…

    Bunch of lies from Nance

    1. The first antisemitic book was the New Testament which has a lot of virulent anti-semitic passages.

    2. The Catholic church kept it alive for 2,000 years. Martin Luther was a Catholic before becoming a Protestant.

    3. Hitler and his millions of willing helpers were all Catholics and Lutherans.

    4. The SS was in charge of rounding up the Jews and killing them in the death camps. The SS prohibited atheists from “serving”.

    If Nance had a microgram of honesty, she would see the blood dripping off her hands.

  • elusedated


    Burke was no American – he was a member of Parliament. He did support the American Revolution, however.

  • raven

    At Nuremberg, some of the Nazis said they were just carrying out Martin Luther’s Final Solution.


    Atheism was banned within the SS with all SS men being required to list themselves as Protestant, Catholic or “believer in God” (German: gottgläubig).[15]

    The SS carried out the Holocaust, rounding up the Jews and operating the death camps.

  • raven, you know darn well that’s because the atheists running the Nazi party knew that atheists couldn’t be trusted.

  • theignored

    I remember Ray Comfort giving a rave review of the “Expelled” movie where that nazi/evolution/science etc. claim was made. He got shot down in the comments. I commented on March 29, 2008 9:28 AM where II tried to set Comfort straight on that.

    For all the good it did…

  • coryat

    “Pope Pius IX restored those restrictions in the 1800s, which was the last pogrom against the Jews in Europe until Hitler’s Third Reich.”

    It’s a minor quibble, but there were early twentieth century Russian pogroms as well.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Sastra @ # 3: “We stand at the end of the Age of Reason. A new era of the magical explanation of the world is rising There is no truth, in the scientific sense.”

    It’s a New Age, Mann!

  • Ichthyic

    As for Marxism it too seems to have come about

    it did?



    Marxism has never triumphed against the oligarchy, no more than democracy ever has. Neither system has ever been fully implemented, because they both remove control from the top down.

    Communism as practiced by any country that has done so, never has resembled marxism; even less so that Western Republic resemble true democracies.

  • Didaktylos

    Interesting bit of trivia – one of the attendees at the infamous Wannsee Conference was named Martin Luther …