Bad Religion and the Nazis

by Brad Cotton, MD

( published 31 May Circleville Herald)

We’ve heard a lot from the Republican propagandists recently comparing the requirement that all women in the US be treated fairly, by allowing equal and unimpeded access to contraception regardless of whom they happen to work for, to the Nazis’ attack on religious freedom. The truth of the matter is that the Nazis didn’t need to attack religious freedom, the Church was all too eager to accommodate to their fascist rule. With the exception of heroic dissenter Dietrich Bonhoeffer  and his “Confessing Churches”, as well as Jehovah’s Witnesses whose duty to Jehovah was greater than that to the Fuhrer, along with a number of Quakers and a smattering of other believers, the majority of German Churches went eagerly along with the prevailing Nazi culture.

 If we are going to continue to make tired, overworked accusations that whatever politics we are against is “just like the Nazis”, well then, there is room for one more: The Religious Right in America  has eagerly accommodated, as did the German Churches,  to a prevailing unChristian  Republican vulture-capitalism, economic Darwinist, mean-spirited  winner- take- all politics that costs 50,000 Americans without health insurance their very lives yearly, destroys public education (  public schools were initially promoted by evangelicals early in our history), demonizes gay citizens, while  insulting any sense of  faith based  community caring we should have for each other. Doubt the truth of this statement? Think it’s over the top? Read Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan ( endorsed by Romney) and about the congressman's devotion to Ayn Rand’s  philosophy.


Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist in his book “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics”  quoting liberal arguments asks “But is faith that’s made its peace with the free-market, that prefers laissez-faire to government redistribution and finds theological justifications for the pursuit of worldly gain, really recognizably Christian? … … a gospel that blesses prosperity leads only to private selfishness and public squalor. It encourages believers to ignore the poor, keep the best of everything for themselves… and, worst of all, vote Republican.”


 Douthat  goes on to quote Bill McKibben of “Harper’s” : “America is simultaneously the most professedly Christian of the developed nations and the least Christian in its behavior…. We trail the developed world on a host of indicators, from infant mortality to child poverty to childhood nutrition; we keep our taxes low even as schools fail and people go hungry, we don’t have universal health care…. We reward Republican candidates who perform the ‘outrageous con of making Christ the front man for a program of tax cuts for the rich’ ”.


Regarding the Religious/Republican Right’s obsession with sexual issues Catholic Douthat laments:


“Yet many conservative Christians often … emphasize the most hot-button ( and easily politicized) [sexual] issues while losing sight of the tapestry as a whole. …It’s rare to hear a high-profile pastor who addresses the sin of greed in the frank manner of, say, St. Basil the Great … ‘The bread that you possess belongs to the hungry. The clothes that you store in boxes, belong to the naked. The shoes rotting by you, belong to the bare-foot. The money that you hide belongs to anyone in need. You wrong as many people as you help.’ … …There are conservative Christians today who seem terrified of even remotely criticizing Wall Street tycoons and high-finance buccaneers, lest such criticism be interpreted as an endorsement of the Democratic Party’s political agenda. But a Christianity that cannot use the language of Basil—and of Jesus—to attack the cult of Mammon will inevitably be less persuasive when the time comes to attack the cult of [sexual sins].


Saint Basil could whip Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, Ayn Rand too, in a debate anytime. The “Scientific American”, not a liberal publication , unless one understands that to argue science is indeed a liberal stance as conservatives try to alter reality to fit preconceived ideology ( think global warming deniers, birthers and ‘gay is a choice’ folks). Anyway, “Scientific American” published April 10, 2012 “How Wealth Reduces Compassion: As Riches Grow, Empathy for Others seems to Decline”. This is the sin of America. Jesus preached constantly, obsessively, non-stop ( as does the whole Bible) that how we respond to the needs of “the least among you” is how we treat God. Jesus didn’t even read “Scientific American”. Faith needs to call out, to challenge the culture, “speak truth to power”, not accommodate to it as did the German Churches to Hitler and the Religious Right to the Republican Party. Enough, enough, ENOUGH! of the Nazi comparisons from either the right ( to whom I am responding in kind) or the left.