Are Christians Responsible For The Worst Atrocities Of History?  

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

It is sometimes claimed that Christians were responsible for some of the most horrendous things throughout history. Examples often include the Salem Witch Trials, the Crusades, and the Dark Ages.

It is true that much of the evil done in the world has been done with Christ’s name attached to it: but does that mean Christ was responsible for the evil? Let’s consider.

First of all, it needs to be pointed out that just because something is said to be done in the name of Christ does not actually mean that it is done with His authority. Consider the unjust killings during the aforementioned examples. Much of this evil was done by the Catholic church: does that mean that they acted with Christ’s approval?

Not at all!

Jesus never taught that the Gospel should be spread by force. Indeed, He taught the exact opposite (as did His Apostles):

Matthew 5:44-45-44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5-4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Let’s not confuse the sins and evils of Christ’s followers with what Christ Himself taught.

Second, it is important to realize that the worst atrocities in history have actually been committed by atheist and pagan regimes. In elaborating upon these facts, Dinesh D’Souza has written:

“In this chapter, I want to focus on the really big crimes that have been committed by atheist groups and governments. In the past hundred years or so, the most powerful atheist regimes—Communist Russia, Communist China, and Nazi Germany—have wiped out people in astronomical numbers. Stalin was responsible for around twenty million deaths, produced through mass slayings, forced labor camps, show trials followed by firing squads, population relocation and starvation, and so on. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday’s authoritative recent study Mao: The Unknown Story attributes to Mao Zedong’s regime a staggering seventy million deaths.4 Some China scholars think Chang and Halliday’s numbers are a bit high, but the authors present convincing evidence that Mao’s atheist regime was the most murderous in world history. Stalin’s and Mao’s killings—unlike those of, say, the Crusades or the Thirty Years’ War—were done in peacetime and were performed on their fellow countrymen. Hitler comes in a distant third with around ten million murders, six million of them Jews. So far, I haven’t even counted the assassinations and slayings ordered by other Soviet dictators like Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and so on. Nor have I included a host of “lesser” atheist tyrants: Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il. Even these “minor league” despots killed a lot of people. Consider Pol Pot, who was the leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Communist Party faction that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Within this four-year period Pol Pot and his revolutionary ideologues engaged in systematic mass relocations and killings that eliminated approximately one-fifth of the Cambodian population, an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people. In fact, Pol Pot killed a larger percentage of his countrymen than Stalin and Mao killed of theirs.5 Even so, focusing only on the big three—Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—we have to recognize that atheist regimes have in a single century murdered more than one hundred million people…Religion-inspired killing simply cannot compete with the murders perpetrated by atheist regimes….Communism calls for the elimination of the exploiting class, it extols violence as a way to social progress, and it calls for using any means necessary to achieve the atheist utopia. Not only was Marx an atheist, but atheism was also a central part of the Marxist doctrine. Atheism became a central component of the Soviet Union’s official ideology, it is still the official doctrine of China, and Stalin and Mao enforced atheist policies by systematically closing churches and murdering priests and religious believers. All Communist regimes have been strongly anti-religious, suggesting that their atheism is intrinsic rather than incidental to their ideology….The atheist regimes, by their actions, confirm the truth of Dostoevsky’s dictum: if God is not, everything is permitted. Whatever the cause for why atheist regimes do what they do, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in three thousand years not managed to kill anywhere near the number of people killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades. It’s time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the main source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is responsible for the worst mass murders of history.” (Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity? 213-220 (Kindle Edition): Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing Inc.)

Our atheist friends who tell us that the world would be better off without Christianity make their claims, but the track record of atheist-inspired and pagan oriented regimes reveal quite a different story. The fact is, the only true basis for a great civilization will be found in people returning to God’s Word:

Proverbs 14:34-Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Why not today tun your life to the Son of God? Jesus Christ came to this world to save you form your sin (1 Timothy 1:15). He died in your place on the Cross of Calvary, taking your sins upon Himself (1 Timothy 2:6). He was buried, and three days later He arose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Why not today, as a believer, repent and be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:37-38)?

Why not, if you are an erring child of God, repent and pray today today (Acts 8;22; 1 John 1:9)?

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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