Other Religions Atheism and Agnosticism War in the Name of Atheism - Theology Myths Share Flipboard Email Print How Many Have Been Killed by Communists in the Name of Atheism & Secularism?. Keystone / Getty Images Atheism and Agnosticism Atheism Myths and Misconceptions Belief Systems Atheism and Agnosticism Logic Ethics Key Figures in Atheism Evolution 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 Reversing Atheists' Critiques of Religious Violence 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 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. How can that be? After all, millions and millions of people died in Russia and China under communist governments — and those governments were both secular and atheistic. So weren't all of those people killed because of atheism — even in the name of atheism and secularism? No, that conclusion does not follow. Atheism itself isn't a principle, cause, philosophy, or belief system which people fight, die, or kill for. 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... Hitler Was an Atheist Who Killed Millions in the Name of Atheism, Secularism A popular image of the Nazis is that they were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi. The truth is that German Christians supported the Nazis because they believed that Adolf Hitler was a gift to the German people from God. Hitler frequently referenced God and Christianity both in public and private. The Nazi Party Program explicitly endorsed and promoted Christianity in the party platform. Millions of Christians in Germany not only enthusiastically supported and endorsed Hitler and the Nazis but did so on the basis of common Christian beliefs and attitudes. Hitler Was Not an Atheist... Isn't Atheism the Same as Communism? Doesn't Atheism Lead to Communism? A common complaint made by theists, typically those of the fundamentalist variety, is that atheism and/or humanism are essentially socialist or communist in nature. Thus, atheism and humanism should be rejected since socialism and communism are evil. Evidence indicates that bigotry and prejudice towards atheists in America are due, in no small part, to anti-communist activism by conservatives Christians in America, so this claimed connection has had serious consequences for American atheists. Atheism and Communism are Not the Same... Militant Atheists are Atheist Fundamentalists, a New Atheism There seems to be an increasing number of people responding to atheist critiques of religion or theism by labeling the person a "fundamentalist" atheist. The label is problematic because there are no essential or "fundamental" beliefs for an atheist to be "fundamentalist" about. So why do people use the label? Why do so many people feel that the label is appropriate? This seems to be mostly due to misunderstandings about and prejudice against fundamentalism and the label cannot be applied to atheists. Fundamentalist Atheism / Atheistic Fundamentalism Does Not Exist... Atheists are Intolerant for Criticizing Religion, Theism There are several myths here, all tightly intertwined for the apparent purpose of getting atheists to cease making uncomfortable and unwelcome criticisms of religion and theism. Religious believers, mostly Christians, are responding to atheistic critiques of religion by claiming that vocal, unapologetic atheists are analogous to religious terrorists and that criticism of religion is a form of religious intolerance. The implication is that believers shouldn't have to be faced with criticism. This is wrong: religion and theism aren't owed any deference or respect. Criticism of Religion & Theism is Not Intolerance... If People Fail to Believe in God, They Will Believe in Anything Many religious theists think that their God creates or otherwise provides a set of objective standards against which they can measure all their beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, etc. Without their god, they can't imagine how anyone could possibly differentiate true from false beliefs, moral from immoral behaviors, proper from improper attitudes. Atheists who don't believe in any gods are thus capable of believing and doing absolutely anything, having nothing at all to hold them back. Will Atheists Believe in Anything?