On a news blog I occasionally visit, Capitol Hill Blue, the author recently discussed "GITMO and Habeas Corpus" (http://www.capitolhillblue.com/cont/node/9640). The article was about a panel discussion of "the attack on Habeas Corpus, the eradication of the US Constitution, and together, they painted a dreary picture about what
One reader's response, charged that the loony religious right and their total righteous conviction led the country down this path away from democracy and toward dictatorship and worse. The argument was pretty sound, but it brought the following typically goofy and ignorant response from one of the superstitious many: "Atheists can be charged with the overwhelming majority of slaughter in the last century: Pol Pot in Cambodia, Mao Zedong in China, Hitler throughput Europe, and Lenin and Stalin in what became the Soviet Union."
This disingenuous claim is chanted regularly by the superstitious crowd as evidence that religion isn't always evil. For starters, you couldn't find a more superstitious bunch than the German Nazis. They "worshiped" everything from astrology, occult weirdness, witchcraft, pagan celebrations, and a variety of religions commonly known as "Christianity" (except for Judaism, which they chose to persecute for financial reasons). Calling the Nazis "atheists" is as accurate and honest as calling George W. Bush an "intellectual." Hitler was a Catholic all of his life and claimed to be a believer in "Positive Christianity."
Communism, dogma, and power had more to do with Mao, Pol Pot, Lenin and Stalin's acts of evil than did their firm connection to atheism. These were not big thinker types, but vicious murderers who used the simple-mindedness of their form of communism to excuse mass murder. Gods haven't stopped this kind of person from doing their worst and a lack of gods doesn't seem to have much effect, either. Communism, however, has more in common with religion than with science. "Faith" in the system's integrity and purpose is required of the followers, regardless of the obvious evil activities of the leaders. As in religious driven murders, the reason these evil bastards were so effective is not that they were atheist, but that they enforced a "belief system" and discouraged dissent, analysis, science, and logic. Sounds more like religion than politics or economic theory.