Bigotry is a consequence of ignorance. The less you know, the more you fear. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”
On October 31, 2018, The Washington Post ran a story on Nazi and KKK memorabilia being sold at a Kentucky gun show. Joe Gerth, a columnist with the Louisville Courier-Journal, was at the show to do research for a piece he was working on, interviewing gun dealers to inquire if they feared that the guns they sold could end up being used by the wrong people. Earlier that week, a gunman had gone to a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and fatally shot two Black customers. Later that week, the Tree of Life synagogue was the scene of yet another mass shooting. Both shootings that week were racially motivated and executed by White domestic terrorists.
While at the gun show, Gerth tweeted the following:
At the National Gun Day Gun Show. Oh tannenbaum? Why would anyone own this? Ever? pic.twitter.com/F2oL8i5Q2p
— Joe Gerth (@Joe_Gerth) October 27, 2018
A spontaneous face palm hit me when I saw the above picture. Why? Because the Nazi party actually worked to repress and oppress the Christian Church in Germany. In fact, many historians believed that the Nazis intended to completely eliminate Christianity in Germany after winning the war. 1
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, “by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting the Lord’s Work.” But Hitler’s early views towards Christianity were born purely out of political necessity, he knew that he needed the early Nazi Party to attract a majority of Christian voters. However, Nazi ideology could not come to terms with an independent establishment whose legitimacy was not founded and fostered by the Nazi government.2 From 1933 to 1945, more than 6,000 clergymen were charged with treasonable activities and were imprisoned or executed. 3
Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler, the second most powerful individual in the third Reich, became interested in Germanic myths, which reinforced the idea of the superiority of the German race as well as other occult ideas. He wanted Germany to be restored to its mythological roots, free of Christianity.4
I know that people like to cherry pick passages from the bible in order to find justification for their bigotry, but to combine your faith with a secular belief that are actually incongruent is ignorance at its worst.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” – Martin Niemöller
2 Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf’s Lair – German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997
3 Overy, Richard (2004). The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 281.
4 Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, trans. Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 77.