The controversy over the role that religion plays in politics is an old one. Jesus was accused of subverting the political order by “misleading [the] nation and forbidding [people] to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:2). Christians were accused of promoting the idea that there was “another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:7). The designation of Jesus as “Lord” had significant political implications in the Roman empire since the Emperor held the title of Dominus et Deus, “Lord and God.” Rome permitted and promoted religious diversity, just like today’s liberals, but it did not allow religious competition with the State, just like today’s liberals. For more than 50 years, from the Scopes Trial in 1925 to the presidential candidacy of Jimmy “Born Again” Carter in 1976, conservative Christians did not develop a discernable political philosophy.[1] The secularists took advantage of the indifference and moved the country in a decidedly anti-Christian direction. The major institutions were captured—courts, schools, seminaries—and turned into secular advocacy groups churning out disciples for the humanist agenda.

With the help of the media and legal groups like the ACLU and Americans United for Church and State, the secularists began to flex their muscles and kick sand in the face of sleepy Christians. The sleeping giant has finally awakened to find that the moral landscape has been ravaged. The secularists who are attacking Christian activism are frightened that they might lose influence, so they are pulling out all the stops. Their tactics have a déjà vu quality about them.

Twentieth-century tyrants and those who support them have followed a playbook similar to the one practiced by Rome: They never met a competing religion they liked. Nazism has been described as a “political religion” that demands “of its adherents total submission of their consciences and surrender of their souls. . . . It was unconditional in its claims, inspired fanaticism and practiced extreme intolerance of those who thought otherwise.”[2] According to the late William L. Shirer, under the leadership of Alfred Rosenberg, Martin Bormann, and Heinrich Himmler, “who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany . . . and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists.”[3] Bormann, “one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, ‘National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.’”[4] For Bormann, the Nazi worldview was absolute and final truth. All of life was to be refracted through the prism of the Nazi worldview. “For this reason,” Bormann wrote, “we can do without Christianity.”

A similar attitude pervades the academic establishment. “There is no dogma more prevalent within American high culture than that smart people outgrow God,” says Douglas Henry, an assistant professor of philosophy and director of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning. “The more educated, the more erudite, the more discerning and wise one is, the less one is inclined to be a deeply pious Christian, the thinking goes. In higher education, this dogma gets expressed in the axiom that academic excellence and Christian faithfulness are incompatible.”[5] Like today’s Christian antagonists, Nazi propagandists understood that one way to discredit Christianity was to ridicule it. Martin Bormann was a master. His rhetoric matches much of what comes from the pages of magazines like Mother Jones. Just substitute “evolution” for “National Socialism”:

The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific searches.[6]          

William Shirer would later write: “We know now what Hitler envisioned for the German Christians: the utter suppression of their religion.”[7] With Christianity out of the way, anything was possible and everything became permissible.

[1] Tom Strode, “Abortion issue & Schaeffer influence pushed evangelicals to engagement, [Richard] Land says,” BP News (December 6, 2005):

[2] Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2000), 252.

[3] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 240.

[4] Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 240.

[5] Quoted in Karen Houppert, “Professing Faith,” Mother Jones (December 2005), 41.

[6] Martin Bormann, “National Socialist and Christian Concepts Incompatible” in George L. Moss, Nazi Culture (New York Grosset & Dunlap, 1968), 244.

[7] William L. Shirer, The Nightmare Years: 1930–1940 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1984), 156.