Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catholic Church Employed 6,000 Forced Laborers In WWII

This recently came across Free Internet Press:

Germany's Catholic Church employed almost 6,000 forced laborers during World War II, according to new research commissioned by the church. The report highlights the church's ambivalent relationship with the Nazis. The German Catholic church made no secret of the fact that it employed forced labor under the Nazis and commissioned research into its history in 2000. That research was published on Tuesday, providing detailed figures on the numbers of forced laborers used and underscoring the church's "historical burden," according to Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the bishop of Mainz. Records collected from the Catholic dioceses over the last seven years showed a total of 4,829 civilian laborers and 1,075 prisoners of war worked in 776 Catholic institutions such as hospitals, homes and monasteries, on church-owned farms or gardens during World War II. They came mainly eastern territories overrun by the Nazis such as Poland, Ukraine and the Soviet Union.

Original Source: http://freeinternetpress.com/story.php?sid=16141
This is more evidence towards refuting a point Dinesh D'Souza, and other supernaturalists (people who believe in a power greater than the physical laws of nature, like the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Allah, Zeus, Vishnu, etc) make. They posit that religious atrocities, though abhorrent, pale in comparison to what atheists have done throughout history.

Supernaturalists tend to claim that their deity created morality and without their deity there is no morality. I grant that there is some divergence among supernaturalists with respect to this point. Some supernaturalists seem to claim that their deity's morality is "poured out" like a bowl of morality soup on the population thus giving everyone a little morality, but the true believers get the whole meal deal. They tend to explain away disgusting things like priests molesting little boys, stealing from old pensioners and perverting the minds of young children in cult like environments by saying that the perpetrators aren't *TRUE* believers.

The hardliner/fundamentalists tend towards the idea that without following their deity's dogma, you won't have any morality at all, and as a result you get Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc. It's a well worn, tried and true argument. It's also a very weak one. There are more ways to counter it than I have time to put here in this blog entry.

Although there is ample proof to show that the Catholic church was complicit in Hitler's genocidal agenda (what I re-posted above is probably only the tip of the iceberg), it can be argued that Hitler was unaffected by the church's position and that they were just a convenient ally. In other words, so postulate the hardline supernaturalists, Hitler was an atheist and had no morality, so he had no problem doing what he did.

Christopher Hitchens addressed this issue extremely well in his book "God is not Great". In a nutshell, Christopher showed that the idea that atheism leads to Hitler (and Stalin, Pol Pot, etc) is absurd. Those genocidal dictators simply mirror dogma of the sort you find in supernaturalistic worship. They utilize certain supernaturalist sects, like Christianity, in order to get utility out of it. What you do *NOT* find is a genocidal dictator advocating on the side of atheism as part of their platform. He gives plenty of examples and accessible source references, go read his book if you're curious. Why is that relevant?

What we know for sure is that no genocidal dictator could do what they do without the support of a certain cornerstone of the population. The easiest way to access this population cornerstone is by mirroring the ritualistic dogma you find in supernaturalism. By adhering to supernaturalistic dogma, just the opposite of atheism, a talented dictator can take control, and over time do terrible things. Regardless of the beliefs of the genocidal dictator, the population cornerstone, who has sincere supernaturalistic beliefs, is the unwitting enabler of the dictator.

It is not the dictator that does the real damage. This idea makes a lot of people uncomfortable. If people weren't so credulous, Adolf Hitler would have very likely ended his life in old age with a lot of weird ideas in his head and nothing more than a failed career as a painter to show for it. Instead, as we're finding out more and more with evidence like the Catholic church's complicity in the holocaust, it's the overly credulous believers who have underdeveloped critical thinking skills that are the biggest dangers to humanity.

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