Move over Kirk Cameron. Reality TV star Jessa Duggar took to Instagram to blame Charles Darwin for the holocaust last week, right before doing the usual right-wing thing and echoing her parents by equating abortion with the holocaust. The fruit clearly doesn’t fall far from the tree:
I walked through the Holocaust Museum again today…very sobering. Millions of innocents denied the most basic and fundamental of all rights-their right to life. One human destroying the life of another deemed ‘less than human.’ Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some people groups are ‘more evolved’ and others ‘less evolved.’ A denying that our Creator-GOD-made us human from the beginning, all of ONE BLOOD and ONE RACE, descendants of Adam. The belief that some human beings are ‘not fit to live.’
Oh where to begin…
Racism does not stem from the theory of evolution. If the Old Testament is right, the Jews loathed the Pagans every bit as much as the Pagans loathed them. The term “Gentile” is not a loving one and “goy” is still used as a pejorative to describe non-Jews.
And if anti-Semitism is to be laid at Darwin’s door, how does she explain Martin Luther’s virulent anti-Semitism. From his book, “The Jews & Their Lies”:
I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.
The Duggars are Evangelical Protestants. She owes her religion to the anti-Semitic Martin Luther. But Darwin, who lived three centuries after Luther, is to blame?
The roots of modern anti-Semitism comes straight out of the gospels conservative Christians want us to believe were written as Jesus was hanging there on the cross where those gospels say the Jews put him.
Remember, like Kevin Sorbo told you, the Jews killed Jesus. Christ killers. Darwin didn’t use that term. But Christians have, for nearly 2000 years. Jessa Duggar surely remembers the scene in Matthew 27:24-25 where we read:
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’
As Wikipedia reminds us, it wasn’t until “the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) [that] the Roman Catholic Church under Pope Paul VI issued a declaration which repudiated the belief in the collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus.” From 30 CE to 1965 CE. That’s a lot of years of Christian anti-Semitism.
Wikipedia goes on to relate that,
On November 16, 1998, Church Council of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America adopted a resolution prepared by its Consultative Panel on Lutheran-Jewish Relations urging any Lutheran church presenting a Passion Play to adhere to their Guidelines for Lutheran-Jewish Relations, stating that “the New Testament … must not be used as justification for hostility towards present-day Jews,” and that “blame for the death of Jesus should not be attributed to Judaism or the Jewish people.”
The idea that some human beings are not fit to live is certainly as old as humankind, but we can certainly see that idea embedded in the Old Testament, if she would bother to read it. There are copious examples there of those God orders killed because they are not worthy of life. Entire cities of such people, men, women, and children.
But episodes of slaughter aside, even from the perspective of Jewish Law, the Law of Moses – those laws that God himself wrote – we are not murdering infants. The ancient Jews did not count infants as people, let alone fetuses: Leviticus 27:6 puts a monetary value on children, but only when they reach one month of age, and in Numbers 3:15 a census counts only those one month old and above. In the Old Testament, fetuses and children under a month old are not people.
In the Mishnah a fetus becomes a person only when “the greater part of the head” has emerged from the womb and it clearly states that the life of the mother has priority over the life of the fetus.
Furthermore, in Exodus 21:22-25 we are told that if a man accidentally kills a pregnant woman, he is guilty of murder. Tellingly, if only the fetus dies (miscarriage) he is not guilty of murder. The fetus is not a human being in Jewish Law. God (who is said to be the author of this law) nowhere condemns or bans the killing of fetuses.
Previously, the holocaust has been blamed on Paganism, because the Nazis were keen on pagan imagery, but Nazism was not a Pagan revival.
One of the early proponents of this school of thought was Robert George Collingwood (1898-1943), a British historian and philosopher. Though Duggar has probably not heard of him, she echoes many of his sentiments. Collingwood too argued that “the enlightenment’s eclipse of Christianity left western civilization’s liberal democratic tradition impotent and vulnerable to opposing forces and created a spiritual vacuum that was filled by a neo-pagan religion whose worship of human power was the driving force behind fascism and Nazism.”
Collingwood blamed the enlightenment for eradicating Christianity’s influence, which he saw as a positive force in the shaping of western society(!) Christianity, he felt, was the historical ground for our devotion to liberal values, whose byproducts are free speech, the value of the individual, free inquiry concerning politics and scientific questions – all in opposition to the tyranny, oppression, exploitation and robbery of Paganism.
To his credit James Gilman rightly notes that Collingwood “tended to overestimate the meritorious impact of Christianity on modern western civilization and to underestimate its adverse impact” and points to the role of the “deeply rooted tradition of Christian anti-Semitism” and the complicity of both the Protestant and Catholic churches in supporting the Third Reich.
The best witness we can call to the stand against this claim is Hitler himself, who stated:
It seems to me that nothing would be more foolish than to re-establish the worship of Wotan. Our old mythology had ceased to be viable when Christianity implanted itself. Nothing dies unless it is moribund.
Here, Hitler uses Darwinism to kill Paganism. From the horse’s mouth, then.
There is latent anti-Semitism present in all the gospels. This gets worse as we progress through the Synoptics to John, where Jesus does not appear to be Jewish.
In John, Jesus speaks of “the Jews” to his disciples (13.33) as if he is not one of them, and to the High Priest (18.20), Pilate (18.36). When he is speaking directly to other Jews he speaks of “your” Father (6.49) as in “your father Abraham” (8.56) as well as “your” Law *8.17; 10.34; cf. 15.25) which he reinterprets, including saying that circumcision is meaningless compared to his work (7.22-24) and the Sabbath, which Jesus has destroyed (!) in John 5.18.
John’s Jesus could almost be the gun-totin’ White Evangelical Patriot the Religious Right is always talking about.
Anti-Semtism has certainly taken on a life of its own. My father was not particularly religious but he was an anti-Semite, largely because he was brought up to be an anti-Semite. The idea that the Jews control the world’s banking system or are responsible for all the wars are just as deadly as the idea that the Jews killed Jesus, and are essential components of anti-Semitism today.
There can be many reasons for anti-Semitism and sometimes it is seen to exist even where it does not. Susanne Urban writes in the Jewish Political Studies Review that criticizing the Jewish government of Israel is often disguised anti-Semitism, and one certainly can’t equate Jewish actions against the Palestinians, she says, with Nazi actions against the Jews without being an anti-Semite, other favorite tropes of the Religious Right.
The historical record is clear, and this is why conservatives are so anxious to re-write history: The idea that evolution or the Enlightenment had anything to do with anti-Semitism is absurd, as is the claim that abortion can be equated with the holocaust. Ironically, the idea that the Jews deserve what they get is very Biblical, while the idea that fetuses are people is not.
 James E. Gilman, “R.G. Collingwood and the Religious Sources of Nazism” Journal of the Academy of Religion, 54 (1986), 111-112.
 This might come as a surprise to the Pagan Greeks, who practiced democracy, something never practiced in ancient Israel.
 Gilman, 125-126: “Ecclesiastical complicity with the National Socialists is well documented and familiar.”
 Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s Table Talk. Hugh Trevor Roper, ed. NY: Enigma Books, 2000.
 Interestingly, one contemporary Christian assessment of Christianity and National Socialism asserted that “National Socialism cannot be understood unless it is seen ‘as a New Islam, its myth as a new Allah, and Hitler as this new Allah’s prophet.'” See Wilhelm Pauck, “National Socialism and Christianity: Can they be Reconciled?” The Journal of Religion 20 (1940), 15-32. Here too the basic problem of Nazism’s Christian underpinnings is ignored.
 John Dominic Crossan, Who Killed Jesus? Exposing the Roots of Anti-Semitism in the Gospel Story of the Death of Jesus (San Francsico: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995).
 Susanne Urban, “Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: Its Roots and Tendencies.” Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004).
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.
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