In the Name of God

In the Name of God July 15, 2016

French flag half staff--cropped 2
YouTube screen capture of the French flag at half staff in front in front of Elysee Palace after the November, 2015 Paris attacks.

My heart sank when the first thing Keith did when he got home from work yesterday was to put the English-language France 24 news on the TV. The last time he did that was on November 13 after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Again we saw a parade of bodies covered in sheets. I later learned that for want of sheets, people were pulling tablecloths from nearby restaurant tables.

As we watched, Keith picked up something that flew past me. The French Minister said, “Our thoughts go to the families of the victims.” Not thoughts and prayers or even only prayers. That’s instructive coming from a predominantly Catholic country which lived through the bloody religious wars of the Reformation. America has never quite recovered from the Second Great Awakening that began toward the end of the 18th century. Christian fundamentalism never quite took hold in Europe and Great Britain precisely because they had enough of religious extremism, thank you very much.

France was in the midst of celebrating their version of the Fourth of July, Bastille Day. It marks the storming of the Bastille and symbolized the idea of freedom. Before the attack, French Premier François Hollande had used the occasion to announce the rescinding of the state of emergency imposed after the Paris attacks. Last night, Hollande rescinded the rescinding. That was to be expected, but if we lose sight of the freedoms Bastille Day celebrates, the Islamic extremists win.

Just a few days ago, evangelist Ray Comfort claimed, if we allow atheists to have political power, mass bloodshed would soon follow (quote via the Friendly Atheist).

Atheists have caused 110 million deaths in the last hundred years. Stalin, 60 million, he was an atheist. Mao, 40 million, and he was an atheist. Pol Pot, 1.7 million, he was an atheist. Vladimir Lenin, 5 million people slaughtered, he was an atheist. And so when people realize that, you can’t trust an atheist in a position of authority, especially politically. They may be nice people when you meet them in the street, but you give them power to do what they want and carry out their own agendas and you’re gonna find that they don’t have any moral high ground to stand on ‘cause they’re not standing on any whatsoever.

Oy. This is the atheist version of the Jewish Blood Libel. Betcha can’t eat just one Christian baby matzo!

One of the many problems with this particularly absurd claim is that these dictators didn’t kill in the name of atheism. They were murderous despots who happened to be atheists.

But the biggest hole in the argument is that the deaths attributable to the above Communist dictators pale in comparison to the murders committed in the name of Christianity. Crusades, forced conversions, religious wars, etc.

And of course, in modern times, the largest group killing in the name of God would be the Islamic extremists responsible for atrocities such as the attack in Nice. Indeed, such jihadists have been hacking atheists to death, especially in Bangladesh.

I can’t help thinking back to reason the adamantly anti-Christian Thomas Jefferson won the presidency over John Adams. The voters felt more comfortable having a president who was (inaccurately) thought to be an atheist over someone they feared would install a national church, discriminating against all others. That fear was a political manipulation, but still illuminating.

Atheists fight only with ideas. It takes an absolute faith in God to kill for them.

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