Nazis and Christianity: the real story
There's been a lot of talk in the press lately about how Osama bin Laden is as separate from Islam as Adolf Hitler was from Christianity. And every once in a while, you'll come across someone talking about Hitler's Christianity. Fortunately, the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion has come along to irrefutably correct these dumb comments. The journal is posting on its Web site previously unpublished documents from the Nuremberg war crimes tribunalstarting with a 120-page report, "The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches" (PDF format).
"Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation [church influence] by complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion," the OSS said in 1945, according to the report (which was prepared by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, a precursor of the CIA).
Nuremberg Project editor Julie Seltzer Mandel tells The Philadelphia Inquirer, "A lot of people will say, 'I didn't realize that they were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.' They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity."
Persecution in China
"The kind of defiant and violent antagonism to the West that we now associate with Islamists was for centuries linked instead to places like Japan, Korea and China," Nicholas D. Kristof reminded readers in yesterday's New York Times. East Asia has been particularly harsh to Christians, torturing missionaries and burning converts alive, he notes. But the antagonism wasn't really about religion. "Rather, it was about social conservatives trying to protect their way of life from a Western onslaught. Eventually, Asia did transform itself In country after country, contempt for the West became something closer to a bear hug."
Not so fast. China is still persecuting Christians, most recently arresting Hong Kong businessman Li Guangqiang for smuggling tens of thousands of unapproved Bibles into the country. But China says that's not really the issue. "It's not a case of smuggling Bibles," Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi tells the Chicago Tribune. "The Bibles were a pretext. They smuggled a large amount of cult publications." And by cult publications, Sun may have meant the Biblesthey're not the translation approved by the Chinese government. As for this "cult," the Tribune reports, "According to a 1994 report by Human Rights Watch-Asia, the Shouters sect was targeted as a cult because its fervent evangelical belief in the Second Coming of Christ challenged the idea of a communist utopia." This raises the question (not a rhetorical one; Weblog just doesn't have the answer): what do the government-approved Three-Self churches believe about the Second Coming?
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is getting involved. "The President is deeply concerned about these reports," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said at the end of Monday's briefing. "The President has asked the State Department to look into this matter. We are doing so. We have registered our concerns in both Washington and Beijing. Reports of a crackdown on religious practitioners in China are deeply troubling. We call upon China, as a member of the international community, to meet international standards on freedom of religious expression and freedom of conscience." Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, is also getting involved and raising religious persecution issues with Chinese officials.
China basically responded to such calls by telling the U.S. government to mind its own business. "No other country should interfere in China's judicial independence," Sun said.
Faced with such disregard for human rights, an editorial says in USA Today, "Now is the time for President Bush to express a little more than 'concern.'"
Predestined for stardom
"The letters in Britney Spears can be rearranged to spell Presbyterians," notes The Dallas Morning News. Then it quotes some Presbyterians commenting humorously. Sounds like someone over at the News has too much time on his hands. Still, you've got to love their headline: "Oops! Is this depravity or what?" (According to the Internet Anagram Server, you can also get "a presbyter sin" and "a berry's pet sin")
Archbishop of Canterbury to retire:
- Carey bows out as Archbishop of Canterbury | The 66-year-old evangelical archbishop is bowing out on October 31, three years before he was due to retire. (Reuters)
- Also: Archbishop of Canterbury retires (Associated Press)
- Earlier: Carey 'to retire this year' | The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to announce his retirement this week (BBC)
- Canterbury tales of secrets and succession | George Carey's decision to retire early as archbishop has begun a labyrinthine selection process which entangles church, state and crown (The Guardian, London)
- Also: Canterbury Stakes begin as Archbishop Carey resigns (Reuters)
- Also: Bishops vie to take Carey's place (The Times, London)
- Also: Lining up for Canterbury (BBC)
- Careyliberal leader and evangelical churchman | Despite his evangelical zeal, Carey was a quietly spoken figure ill at ease with the showbiz age. (Reuters)
- The church after Carey | He tried hard, but the questions remain (The Guardian, London)
- We must set those poor bishops free | The church needs a leader who can unshackle it from the state (The Guardian, London)
- Eyewitness: Christianity in North Korea | Allegations of religious repression in North Korea are hard to verify (BBC)
- Rally against kidnapping of Christian woman | At least 350 Christian women have been kidnapped and forcibly married in Pakistan (Dawn, Karachi, Pakistan)
- Tolkien's son is questioned over child sex allegations | Men say they were abused when John Tolkien, now 84, was a priest (The Daily Telegraph)
- Also: Tolkien son accused as a sex fiend (New York Post)
- Police identify church rape suspect | "This is a church of God and this church will stay open until I leave here," says pastor. "If I have to sit in here with a baseball bat, I'll do it." (WDSU, New Orleans)
- Minister seeks police help over sacred tree threat | Assemblies of God pastor says village elders threatened to kill him for allegedly desecrating plant (The Nation, Nairobi)
- Vatican to hold secret trials of priests in pedophilia cases | The Vatican has issued new rules saying it will try priests accused of sexually abusing children in secret ecclesiastical courts and oversee the cases directly from Rome. (The New York Times)
- Also:Vatican issues new rules on pedophile priests | Churches should put them on trial in secret ecclesiastical courts (Reuters)
- Wardens put fear of God in thieves | Three robbers were chased out of a church by two elderly wardens carrying brooms after they threatened the vicar and congregation (The Daily Telegraph)
- Goodwill to all men, except the Salvation Army | Russia's relaxed post-communist Christmas means three long weeks of revelry, but its new religious tolerance is looking increasingly like a sham (The Sunday Herald, Glasgow)
- Salvation Army ejects volunteers in pledge dispute | Three long-time staff object to Christian influence at hospice (The Ottawa Citizen)
- Bishops resign from Food for Poor after agency rejects reforms | But relief agency says proposal would have given church too much control (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
Violence and Christianity:
- Does Christianity condone violence? | The orthodox doctrine of God so loving the world that he gave his only begotten son and God's calling for Jesus' obedience and sacrificial death on the cross to atone for the world's sins is actually a theology that sanctions violence, say authors (The Seattle Times)
- Earlier: Violence and the Atonement | Does our theology really encourage violence? (Richard Mouw, Books & Culture)
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
See our past Weblog updates: