Other Religions Atheism and Agnosticism How Many People Did Stalin Kill? Stalin, Mao, Other Communists Killed Millions on Behalf of Atheism Share Flipboard Email Print Svetlana Bahchevanova/Aurora/Getty Images Other Religions Belief Systems Atheism and Agnosticism Logic Ethics Key Figures in Atheism Evolution Atheism Myths and Misconceptions By Austin Cline Atheism Expert M.A., Princeton University B.A., University of Pennsylvania Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. our editorial process Austin Cline Updated June 25, 2019 A common criticism which atheists raise against religion is how violent religion and religious believers have been in the past. People have slaughtered each other in large numbers either because of differences in religious beliefs or because of other differences which are further justified and intensified through religious rhetoric. Either way, religion has a lot of blood on its hands. Can the same be said for atheists and atheism? Haven't atheists such as Stalin killed more people in the name of atheism than religious theists have killed in the name of their religion? No, because atheism isn't a philosophy or ideology. How Many Have Been Killed by Communists in the Name of Atheism & Secularism? None, probably. Millions died in Russia and China under communist governments which were both secular and atheistic. This doesn't mean, though, that all those people killed because of atheism — even in the name of atheism and secularism. Atheism itself isn't a principle, cause, philosophy, or belief system for which people fight, die, or kill. Being killed by an atheist is no more being killed in the name of atheism than being killed by a tall person is being killed in the name of tallness. Communists Don't Kill in the Name of Atheism... Was Hitler an Atheist Who Killed Millions in the Name of Atheism, Secularism? It's common to believe that the Nazis is that they were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi. The truth is that German Christians supported the Nazis in the belief that Adolf Hitler was a gift to the German people from God. Hitler himself often referenced God and Christianity. The Nazi Party's official program explicitly endorsed and promoted Christianity in the party platform. Millions of Christians in Germany supported and endorsed Hitler and the Nazis on the basis of common Christian beliefs and attitudes. Hitler Was Not an Atheist... Isn't Atheism the Same as Communism? Many theists, especially fundamentalists, have argued that atheism and/or humanism are socialist or communist in nature. They then conclude that atheism and humanism should be rejected since socialism and communism are evil. There is strong evidence that bigotry and in America stems from anti-communist activism by conservatives Christians, so this allged connection has had serious consequences for American atheists. Atheism and Communism are Not the Same... Militant Atheists are Atheist Fundamentalists, a New Atheism A popular reaction to atheist critiques of religion or theism is to label the critic a "militant" or even "fundamentalist" atheist. This label is most frequently used against those who self-identify with "New Atheism." The problem is, there are no essential or "fundamental" beliefs for an atheist to be "fundamentalist" about. So why use the label? This seems to be mostly due to misunderstandings about and prejudice against fundamentalism and the label cannot be applied to atheists. Atheists are Intolerant for Criticizing Religion, Theism Some religious believers, mostly Christians, respond to atheistic critiques of religious theism by alleging that vocal, unapologetic atheists are much like to religious terrorists and that criticism of religion is similar to religious intolerance. The implication is that believers shouldn't have to be faced with criticism. This is wrong because neither religion nor theism should receive automatic deference. Being Irreligious is Risky, Short-Sighted Behavior Like Crime Many associate atheism with antisocial and criminal behavior, but such assertions are little more than that: bare assertions without evidence or arguments. The most which anti-atheist critics may offer are be question-begging claims about religion and god being necessary for moral behavior. One relatively recent (and flawed) argument is to claim that there is a physiological, biological reason behind people - or at least men - rejecting religion and gods. Being Irreligious is Not Like Criminal Behavior... If People Fail to Believe in God, They Will Believe in Anything: Many theists believe that their god creates or otherwise provides objective standards against which they are supposed to measure all of their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, etc. Without their god, they can't imagine how anyone could differentiate true from false beliefs, moral from , or proper from improper attitudes. According to them, then, atheists are capable of believing and doing absolutely anything, having nothing at all to hold them back. Will Atheists Believe in Anything?