Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Atheists dominate in the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation

"The wooden doors of Castle Church were long ago replaced by ones made of bronze, but what comes as a far greater disappointment to Protestant pilgrims, especially those from America, is that only about 15 percent of Wittenberg's inhabitants identify themselves as Christian.
Most of the others proudly celebrate their atheism.
"We knew that Christianity had taken a hit during communist times, but to come here, to the land of Luther, and to find so many people outside the church, yes, it was a surprise," admitted Stephen Godsall-Myers, a Lutheran pastor from Pennsylvania.
The situation is even starker when the pilgrims make their way to the town of Eisleben, Luther's birthplace. There only 8 percent of the population calls itself Christian."

Chicago Tribune, 12/01/2007,
It's not all good news, because obviously Wittenberg attracts lots of pilgrims, but I've read about this earlier in a Norwegian article and what I find interesting is that East Germany never went back to Christianity like the other former communist countries. And one of the reasons is quite clear: the secularisation of Germany had already started before Hitler managed to screw up Germany. Quite unlike the situation in Poland and Russia. So while the communists elsewhere tried to put a lid on strong religious convictions with force, the German communists had a much easier job. At the same time, in West Germany, they used religion as a way to make up for the war.
There could be other reasons too, like the continued German efficiency, but I think the moral is that you can't force people with strong religious convictions to convert either way. After a couple of generations, OK, but 50 years won't do it. Also, have a look at a former post of mine about the current stats in Russia.

Unfortunately, the otherwise thorough Norwegian article (which most of you won't be able to read anyway) made the error that Communism and Nazism/Fascism actually agreed on religion: "they agree on the goal of a secular, atheist society". This is not true.
Nazism was certainly a threat to traditional religion, and they were for secularism, in the sense that religion should be a private matter insofar as the religion could not be changed to be more nazi-friendly. But they were not for Atheism. Spiritualism itself was more than welcome as long as it did not collide with nazi ideals and was useful to their ideology. Instead they scared people with Communist Atheism:
"Communism with the Mask Off
In Germany we have religious controversies which arise from profound questions of conscience but have nothing whatsoever to do with a denial of religion. These controversies are exploited sometimes by harmless and sometimes malicious critics and a parallel is drawn between them and the absolutely dogmatic atheism of the Bolshevic International."

Goebbels, speech 13 September 1935.
This is not to agree on religion. And for the inevitable religous comments about the connection between Atheism and Communism there's only one thing to say:
It's the economy, stupid!

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