A Conversation

So, earlier on Facebook I came across a picture of nazi Catholic priests saluting, and a comment denouncing the third reich as being predicated on religious grounds. Cue the right wingers denouncing this bleating that these dictatorial states are atheist, and that atheists are eeebil! EEEBIL!

And then there came this post, to which I just had to reply ...

[entity] The most evil people I know were atheists or had non-practicing religious views. The most evil people are those that have ‘vague’ or non-existent beliefs or say they are religious just to get votes. Doubt it – well that fits Adolf Hitler to a ‘T’. Vlad the Impaler was Orthodox – but there is no evidence of him practicing. Although Fred West was born into a religious family, he was a non-practicing Christian. ‘America’s most evil man’ Marilyn Manson is a self confessed Satanist and he does not do such evil things like the formers…but I would hate to be a chicken in his house. To be evil is not to be religous, but to be evil is to have no morals...and religion helps generate morals for fear of punishment in the after-life (very important for the weak willed and the stupid). Men are evil and often manipulate religion for the own ends. This is also true of sport, gambling, sex, 'freedom' and technology. So, if there was no religion would this make any difference? I think not...just many people would not have morals as they no longer had fear of punishment. Any of their morals would have to be to the strength of their own character.
And my reply ...

Me Er, thanks. That must mean I must be one of the most evil men you ever knew, [entity].

I do not have a religion. I have thrown away my childhood religion because I no longer need its delusions; and also because adherence to it was literally destructive. If I hadn't renounced religion, I'd have been dead before I turned 21.

My moral core is a very strong one, however; stripped of religious trappings, of the subtle chain of dependency upon a dubious external authority to tell me what is correct and what is incorrect behaviour, it nonetheless stands as solid as the foundations beneath my feet.

When the dictators form their cultlike little rogue states, they have one clear goal in mind, always: to turn the population away from the sky fairies they worship and have those populations worship /them/ instead. Call it a Caesar complex: the need to /be/ worshipped, like a living god.

And the one thing that all these little dictatorial rogue states have in common is this.
To Doubt Is To Die.

To go up against Hitler and tell him his Final Solution might be a bit wack would be inviting someone to shoot you in the back of the head. Pol Pot hunted down intellectuals, because he knew full well what he was doing. Even wearing corrective prescription glasses was enough for his government to denounce you as an intellectual, condemning you to the Killing Fields and adding your skull to the mountains of skulls he collected.

Same thing with Idi Amin's rule, with the junta in Argentina during the Seventies and Eighties, with the junta in Burma, with President Suharto in Indonesia, and with Soviet Russia. They weren't trying for civilisations where you did not need to worship. They wanted the people to worship a different god - the Beloved Leader, the Junta or the State.

And those states grew amoral because they taught the cowed, frightened, worshipful people that one lesson any dictator has to beat into his people if he is to survive.
To Doubt Is To Die.
I think I might also take exception to the line "Marilyn Manson is a self confessed Satanist and he does not do such evil things like the formers…but I would hate to be a chicken in his house." How the hell would he know? Maybe chickens in his household come from a store, like all the other food. Maybe if he slaughters his own, it is to feed his guests and the beast would be treated with the utmost reverence. Or maybe he's a vegetarian.
Oh, did he mean ritual sacrifice? What a bigot.

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