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Why atheists make terrible dictators

In 1971, John Lennon pleaded with us all to imagine a godless utopia,

Imagine no possessions…and no religion, too. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living life in peace!

Luck would have it, imagination isn’t required; we have examples of societies without religion and possessions. We have several examples in history – even in the last century! – of atheist governments.

How have atheist societies fared?

Turns out, they’ve committed atrocities that dwarf any of the infamous religious atrocities.

It’s hard to convey just how terrible atheist societies have acted. So I’ve put together a visual to help you comprehend the ugly state of atheist societies:

Chart showing murders by atheists and religious groups. See the live chart here:

(View the live chart here)

Analyzing the data

We hear so much of religious abuses like the Salem Witch Trials, you’d think it was some great travesty, yet in comparison to the murders of innocents committed by atheists dictators, it’s hardly a blip on the map.

Let’s dig in to these statistics:

MaoMao Zedong, atheist, 63 million murdered: Perhaps the most famous Chinese atheist, Mao Zedong ruled China from 1949-1976 and brought China into the modern age while forcing his political (left wing, Communist) and atheist views upon the massive population of China, turning it from a diverse feudal backwater into a unified Communist, atheist state.

During his regime, enemies of the state were labeled as 'black elements’, comprised primarily of religious leaders, land owners, rightists, philosophers, and the wealthy. These undesirable groups were oppressed through imprisonment, forced labor, re-education, organized food shortages, and executions carried out by the notorious Red Guard.

His tenure is labeled by historians as the top incident of democide in the history of humanity, with conservative figures listing 40 million deaths, while others suggesting 70 million Chinese deaths, plus an additional 1.2 million Tibetan deaths.

180px-Stalin_Image   Joseph Stalin, atheist, 7.5 million murdered: Stalin, a staunch atheist and atheist re-educator, ruled Soviet Russia as dictator from 1925 until his death in 1953.  He followed the position that religion was an opiate that needed to be removed in order to construct the ideal communist society. His government promoted atheism through special atheistic education in schools, anti-religious propaganda, the antireligious work of public institutions, including the popular militant atheist Society of the Godless, discriminatory laws, and a terror campaign against religious believers. By the late 1930s it had become dangerous to be publicly associated with religion.

220px-PolPot   Pol Pot, atheist, 3 million murdered: Dictator-for-life of the Cambodian Communist Revolutionary party from 1963 until his death in 1998, Pol Pot banned all religion and dispersed minority groups, forbidding them to speak their languages or to practice their customs. They especially targeted Buddhist monks, Muslims, Christians, Western-educated intellectuals, disabled people, and the ethnic Chinese, Laotians and Vietnamese. Some were put in camps for interrogation involving torture in cases where a confession was useful to the government. Many others were executed. In 1976, undesirables, especially the religious and the intellectuals, were marked for destruction through a reduced ration program which led to mass starvation and death.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S33882,_Adolf_Hitler_retouched   Adolf Hitler, secular, 11 million murdered: Secular. Scientific. Survival of the fittest. Anti-religion. This is Nazi Germany. While Hitler would often give lip service to Providence in his public speeches, biographer Alan Bullock wrote that, though raised Catholic, Hitler was a rationalist and materialist, who saw Christianity as a religion 'fit for slaves', and against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest. Hitler is quoted as saying,

'The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble. All that's left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic. When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.”

Adolf Hitler, via transcript of recorded conversation

In 1999, a discovery of 150 bound volumes were found, post-war volumes showing Nazi war crimes, documenting Nazi persecution of religious organizations, especially Christian Churches. In a 108-page outline titled “The Nazi Master Plan”, the British Office of Strategic Services investigators argued that the Nazi regime planned to reduce the influence of Christian churches through a campaign of systematic persecutions. “Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation [of church influence] by complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion," said the report. The most persuasive evidence came from & systematic nature of the persecution itself.”

220px-Godefroi1099   The Crusades, religious, 1.5 million murdered: Initially a war by Christians to reclaim the lands taken by Muslim aggression, the Crusades turned murderous thanks to the mostly-untrained peasant armies who indiscriminately killed non-Christians encountered on the journey. The last of the series of Crusades would see Christians fighting other Christians, suggesting a political war more than a religious one. The number of non-combatant deaths may be around 200,000, but the total number of deaths including military are estimated between 1 and 2 million.

220px-Wickiana5   All witch executions, religious, 50,000 murdered: Even though the medieval Church had ruled that magic and witchcraft were illusory, by the 1500s superstition and moral panic had resulted in the creation of legislation against witchcraft. This resulted in some 50,000 executions over the span of 300 years.

220px-Pedro_Berruguete_-_Saint_Dominic_Presiding_over_an_Auto-da-fe_(1475)   The Inquisition, religious, 6000 murdered: The Roman Catholic Church organized inquisitions -- queries and trials -- of suspected heretics. Over the span of 500 years, some 6000 persons were killed as heretics of the Catholic Church, mostly targeting faux Christians, especially new converts, whose genuineness was called into question.



220px-Samuel_Sewall   Salem Witch Trials, religious, 24 murdered: No, that’s not a typo. Exactly 2 dozen people were killed. The highly publicized and ever-Hollywoodized Salem Witch Trials have been held up as an example of religious intolerance and extremism, even cited as 'the rock on which the theocracy shattered'. During this clear abuse of religion, the largely Puritan community executed 24 individuals. In the graph above, the Salem Witch Trials are displayed, but are virtually invisible when placed alongside the staggering number murdered by atheist dictators like Mao Zedong.


Atheists have historically been a minority. And yet, when they’ve reached power, their abuses dwarf any of the famous religious abuses throughout history.

Why the imbalance?

I hypothesize that the reason for this is because atheists hold the belief that nothing is above them. One can aspire to power without ever being accountable for how that power is accomplished. Brutalize the opposition? If never having to answer to anyone, what’s to stop you? Crush those with different views? If it means advancement of your career; if it catapults you to power, the means matter little, the end result is everything. Contrast this with religious people who genuinely believe that God judges a person’s works, in this life or the next.

A second reason, I hypothesize, is that atheists ultimately deny the reality of evil. While claiming to champion ethics and morality, they undermine the foundations of right and wrong. There is no true evil, everything is relative. There is no absolute good, and no absolute evil, so if a powerful atheist decides the best path forward is to liquidate the undesirables, who’s to say it’s wrong?

It’s not to say all atheists are evil people. There are plenty of morally and ethically good atheists, and plenty of evil religious people. The truth is, evil men will use whatever means to accomplish evil, and that includes using religion.

But this empirical evidence – the examples of atheists-with-absolute-power abusing it in the worst way – suggest that atheists are quick to abuse power and crush human rights with a swifter means and on a grander scale than any religious feud in human history. I believe this is because atheism, in a veiled way, promotes lawlessness through the belief that humans ultimately have no one to answer to for their actions, good or bad.

Fine Kineti readers, why is it that atheists have been the worst abusers of power in the history of humanity?

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