Hitler: “read my lips, I am a Christian”
I recently saw an article shared on the Richard Dawkins website written by Michael Sherlock about the religious convictions of Hitler. He quotes from a number of Hitler’s public speeches and makes the claim that ‘Hitler was a Christian’ and asserts this fact as ‘undeniable’.
There is more to say in response to Sherlock’s article than this post will cover. Yet I the claim that ‘Hitler was a Christian’ is plainly false.
Eric Metaxas in his biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a chapter on Nazi Theology. He summarises Hitler’s position on Christianity very well,
‘One sometimes hears that Hitler was a Christian. He was certainly not, but neither was he openly anti-Christian, as most of his top lieutenants were…He was utterly pragmatic. In public he often made comments that made him sounds pro-church or pro-Christian but there can be no question that he said these things cynically, for political gain. In private, he possessed an unblemished record of statements against Christianity and Christians’ (p. 165)
Hitler recognised that to win power and the people, he needed to win the churches. Hence he made statements publicly to demonstrate his allegiance to Christianity and the churches. Whenever he attacked the churches, his popularity waned. Hence Hitler made statements positive to the church (which he privately despised) in order to win power.
A simple way to demonstrate Hitler’s lack of Christian conviction is to ask, ‘which church did he attend?’ He never regularly attended church, nor Bible study. He was not committed to Jesus, the Bible, nor Christian believers, he was not a ‘devout Christian’. Instead he was committed to political power and the ultimate German State. He was the ultimate politician.
Given that Hitler was a politician, one must be therefore skeptical of what he said in public. One recalls the famous but perhaps foolish words spoken by George Bush Sr back in 1988 when he said ‘read my lips, no new taxes’.
This proved to be a failed promise as Bush both increased existing taxes and introduced new ones in his presidency. It seemed that Bush’s promise of “no new taxes” was a calculated political judgement to win people to further his political ambitions. Some say that his promise of ‘no new taxes’ was significant in him being elected. Hitler’s statements about Christianity were the same. He said what he needed to say to become popular and to win the people and the churches, which bore significant influence in Germany.
Hitler was as committed to Christianity as George Bush Sr. was to tax cuts. Except that at least George Bush was somewhat genuine. Hitler had no intention of supporting the church. In fact he was determined to see it ultimately subservient to the Socialist State and he was determined to change the church’s ideology.
Hitler’s public positive statements about Christianity instead make him more of a hypocrite than a follower of Jesus. Indeed, Jesus had harsher words to say about religious hypocrites than he did to pagans.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers! (Matt 7:21-23)
Thus it does beggar belief that modern writers can suggest that Hitler who so fragrantly did not ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’ could possibly be a genuine Christian believer.
It is far too simplistic to use some words from Hitler’s public speeches to demonstrate his personal conviction on this topic.
I am very tired of atheists attempting to poison the well of Christianity by erroneously asserting that Hitler was a Christian and attributing a pivotal part of the heinous atrocities committed against the Jewish people in World War II to his “Christianity”.
Hitler was not a Christian.