LinkThrough his acts and his spiritual attitude he began the fight which we still wage today; with Luther the revolution of German blood and feeling against alien elements of the Volk was begun.When asked if there were any other anti-Semitic publications, other than Der Stürmer, published in Germany, Streicher replied:
-- Hans Hinkel, NaziAnti-Semitic publications have existed in Germany for centuries. A book I had, written by Dr. Martin Luther, was, for instance, confiscated. Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants' dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the Prosecution. In this book The Jews and Their Lies, Dr. Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent's brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them...
-- Julius Streicher, NaziThe Nazis did not have to discover or create Luther as a German national reformer - he was already there, rifle at the ready.
-- Heiko Oberman [from Richard Steigmann-Gall's The Holy Reich]
The Anglican Dean Inge, of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, did not hesitate to say:Link'If we wish to find a scapegoat on whose shoulders we may lay the miseries which Germany has brought on the world, I am more and more convinced that the worst evil genius of that country, is not Hitler or Bismarck or Frederick the Great, but Martin Luther.'
The Protestant reformer Luther (1483-1546) is admired by ignorant Protestants in general and Lutherans in particular for having extricated the "true Christianity" from the heresy of Catholicism. He's best known for having nailed the 95 Theses (Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, 1517) to the door of Wittenberg Church, thus exposing the indulgences scandal created by Rome's Pontiff. In fact, Luther became convinced that the Pope was the Antichrist himself and taught his adherents the same.
Yet even today few know the very inhumane and irrational sides of Martin Luther, though his works are now more widely available outside of Germany and in translation too. Below follow a few of his many vile and nonsensical remarks, which even as recently as WWII have had a significant and tragic impact on the world.
"As for the demented, I hold it certain that all beings deprived of reason are thus afflicted only by the Devil."
"Idiots, the lame, the blind, the dumb, are men in whom the devils have established themselves: and all the physicians who heal these infirmities, as though they proceeded from natural causes, are ignorant blockheads...."
About children with disabilities, he had this to say: "Wenn man aber von den teufelsähnlichen Kindern erzählt ... so halte ich dafür ... dass es wahre Teufel sind" ('But when people speak of the devil-lookalike children ... then that's why I think .... that they are true devils').Link
How influential were these beliefs of Luther in determining the actions of his followers?
In the year 1940/41, people with disabilities who were entrusted to the evangelical institutions for the disabled in Neuendettelsau/Bayern were, with reference to Lutheran state teachings, finally handed over to the state authorities. That they were put to death, was known to those responsible.Link, which appears to be a translation of the statement on this German page on Luther, at KirchenOpfer ("Church-sacrifice")
Robertson's History of Christianity states that Luther advocated throwing a possessed child into the river to be killed or cured.
"As to the common people, ... one has to be hard with them and see that they do their work and that under the threat of the sword and the law they comply with the observance of piety, just as you chain up wild beasts."The effects of this:
"If the peasants are in open rebellion, then they are outside the law of God. Therefore let all who are able slash, strike down, and kill (those who rebel) openly and secretly, remembering that there can be nothing more venomous, harmful, or devilish than a rebel. It is exactly like killing a mad dog.""[In] a like manner we must endure the authority of the prince. If he misuse or abuse his authority, we are not to entertain a grudge, seek revenge or punishment. Obedience is to be rendered for God's sake, for the ruler is God's representative. However they may tax or exact, we must obey and endure patiently."
-- "Tribute to Caesar" sermon, from The Political Theories of Martin Luther, Luther Hess Waring
After the Peasants' Revolt broke out, Luther advised the princes to kill the peasants in any fashion necessary, en masse, and the usual estimates are of 100,000 resultant deaths.Link the general Christian views held by the Church and its flock since the dawn of the religion, and Luther was merely regurgitating the same, he nevertheless missed the opportunity to reform the Christian position on women. In fact, instead of remaining silent about women and their position in society and religion, his teachings greatly determined the view of women in the Lutheran Church he ended up founding.
"Even though they grow weary and wear themselves out with child-bearing, it does not matter; let them go on bearing children till they die, that is what they are there for."Besides continuing to propagate low and negative perceptions of women, he was additionally responsible for at least 4 'witch' burnings in Wittenburg.
-- Works 20.84
"The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes."
-- Works 12.94
"God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God's will. 'Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error."
"Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children.""No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise."
-- Table Talk
Luther condemned the Catholic Church for its pretensions and corruption, but he supported the centuries of papal pogroms against the Jews.Link
Luther said:"The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows seven times higher than ordinary thieves"
"We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them."
"If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews' blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country."
-- "On the Jews and Their Lies"
"We are at fault for not slaying them [the Jews]"
-- On the Jews and Their Lies
"Either God must be unjust, or you, Jews, wicked and ungodly. You have been, about fifteen hundred years, a race rejected of God."
"The Jews are the most miserable people on earth. They are plagued everywhere, and scattered about all countries, having no certain resting place. They sit as on a wheelbarrow, without a country, people or government... but they are rightly served, for seeing they refused to have Christ and his gospel, instead of freedom they must have servitude."
"If I had to baptise a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words 'I baptise thee in the name of Abraham'."
-- Martin Luther, "Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor" by Peter F. Weiner (1985, Gustav Broukal Press)
"What shall we do with...the Jews?...I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews."
"Their synagogues ... should be set on fire."
"Their homes should be broken down and destroyed. They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like Gypsies, in order that they may realize that they ... are ... but miserable captives."
"They should be deprived of their prayerbooks and Talmuds."
"Their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more."
-- On the Jews and Their Lies
See the page On the Jews and their Lies for a complete, translated version of Luther's book, available online.
No apologist can claim that Martin Luther bore his anti-Jewishness out of youthful naivete', uneducation, or out of unfounded Christianity. On the contrary, Luther in his youth expressed a great optimism about Jewish conversion to Christianity. But in his later years, Luther began to realize that the Jews would not convert to his wishes. His anti-Jewishness grew slowly over time. His logic came not from science or reason, but rather from Scripture and his Faith. His "On the Jews and Their Lies" shows remarkable study into the Bible and fanatical biblical reasoning. Luther, at age 60 wrote this dangerous "little" book at the prime of his maturity, and in full knowledge in support of his beliefs and Christianity.From: Martin Luther's dirty little book: On the Jews and their lies - A precursor to Nazism
Few people today realize that Luther wrote 'On the Jews and Their Lies.' (He also wrote such works like "Against the Sabbatarians".) Freethinkers should become aware of the anti-Semitic influence that Luther has brought on the world. His vehement attack on Jews and his powerful influence on the believers of the Germans has brought a new hypothesis to mind: that the Holocaust, and indeed, the eliminationist form of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany may not have occurred without the influence from Luther's book "On the Jews and Their Lies."
The page discusses the influence Luther had on anti-Semitism and Nazi thought. It also provides statements made by Nazis on Luther's work. It's now correctly been recognised that centuries before Nazism advocated its "final solution to the Jewish problem", Martin Luther had already argued and encouraged the same.
"Reason should be destroyed in all Christians."Some more blind belief:
"Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his Reason."
"Reason is the Devil's greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom ... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets."
-- From Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16
"There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason...Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed."
-- Martin Luther quoted by Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic
"Reason must be deluded, blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees must be put out of sight, and wish to know nothing but the word of God."
-- Martin Luther quoted in Walter Kaufmann's Critique of Religion and Philosophy
"To be a Christian, you must "pluck out the eye of reason.""Die verfluchte Huhre, Vernunft." (The damned whore, Reason).
"We know, on the authority of Moses, that longer than six thousand years the world did not exist."
-- "Lectures on Genesis", Luther
Compare Christian Luther's hatred and fear of reason to the Epicurean Kelsos (Celsus) and to the Stoic Roman emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius, both from the 2nd century:
"One ought first to follow reason as a guide before accepting any belief, since anyone who believes without testing a doctrine is certain to be deceived."
From Apollonius I learned freedom of will and undeviating steadiness of purpose; and to look to nothing else, not even for a moment, except to reason.Hast thou reason? I have. -- Why then dost not thou use it? For if this does its own work, what else dost thou wish?
-- Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations
-- Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations
And in 1518, Luther wrote the following on "free will":
"Free will after the Fall is nothing but a word. Even doing what in him lies, man sins mortally." [Link]Besides all this, Luther also imagined seeing the devil everywhere and wrote much nonsense to that effect. He advocated death as the solution to religious minorities, revolting peasants, prostitutes. He advised the German populace to rob and murder Turks, he wished the Pope and his bishops to be murdered too and equally detested rival Protestant reformers like Zwingli and other Christian sects like the Anabaptists.
- Kirchen Opfer German site (in German), containing some of the vituperative, untranslated and original statements made by Luther. A few of these appear to have been translated into English at a DVD review site(!)
- Martin Luther, a page that includes some background on him and his influence on Nazis. It also contains the section Quotes from Martin Luther's "On the Jews and their lies," 1543
- Source of many Luther quotations given in this section on Luther. It contains many more of his writings.
- Luther's anti-Semitic booklet Von den Juden und ihren Lügen ("Of the Jews and their Lies") is available here in complete and translated form. Luther's influence on Nazism and Nazis is discussed here .
"Those who assert that 'the earth moves and turns'...[are] motivated by 'a spirit of bitterness, contradiction, and faultfinding;' possessed by the devil, they aimed 'to pervert the order of nature.'"
-- John Calvin, sermon no. 8 on 1st Corinthians, 677 - from "John Calvin: A Sixteenth Century Portrait" by William J. Bouwsma
"God preordained, for his own glory and the display of His attributes of mercy and justice, a part of the human race, without any merit of their own, to eternal salvation, and another part, in just punishment of their sin, to eternal damnation."
-- John Calvin, "Institutes of the Christian Faith"
In Switzerland, John Calvin created a vicious theocracy in which morality police were employed to control people's behavior. Citizens were harshly punished for a wide variety of moral infractions, including dancing, drinking, and generally being entertained. Theological dissidents were summarily executed, like Michael Servetus who was burned for doubting the Trinity.Link
Calvinist Geneva, the "Protestant Rome," was a police state.From: Calvin - 16th Century Hitler/McCarthy
Calvin was a strict literalist, and believed that Biblical scripture was the absolute authority.
When Calvin came to power in Geneva, he first established a set of "Ordinances," and a committee called the "Consistory" to oversee adherence to the rules. These "spiritual police" would knock on doors and ask questions, go through people's books and letters, and were not to be resisted. Once a month, everyone in town, old or young, rich or poor, was required to submit to questioning, as to whether they knew their prayers, or why they had missed one of Master Calvin's sermons.
Prohibition extended to theater, festivals, dancing, singing, cards, fancy clothing, jewelry, lace, extra buttons or bows, iceskating, and sports in general. More prohibitions
Any sculpture or public art was forbidden. A special permit was required to print anything for publication. It was forbidden to write letters abroad, and local mail was all read by the committee, coming and going.
The naming of children was under strict church control. Only Biblical names were allowed. Feasting was prohibited for Christmas and Easter.
Everyone was encouraged to spy on everyone else, children on their parents, workers against each other, servants against their masters.
Thousands of people were imprisoned, tortured, and burned to death during Calvin's reign, but he never attended the final Autos de Fe."Most savagely of all were punished any offenders whose behavior challenged Calvin's political and spiritual infalliblity. A man who had publicly protested against the reformer's doctrine of predestination was mercilessly flogged at all the crossways of the city and then expelled. A book printer who, in his cups, had railed at Calvin was sentenced to have his tongue perforated with a red-hot iron before being expelled from the city. Jacques Gruet was racked and then executed merely for having called Calvin a hypocrite."Calvinism has spread far and wide, coloring many strands of Christianity, including American Bible-Belt Fundamentalism.
-- "The Right To Heresy" by Stephan Zweig
"There was little political liberty in Geneva under Calvin's regime, and still less of religious liberty. His practical influence was on the side of an autocratic state and complete conformity of the individual to the established powers."Link
-- Georgia Harkness
"In the preface to the Institutes he admitted the right of the government to put heretics to death . . . He thought that Christians should hate the enemies of God . . . Those who defended heretics . . . should be equally punished." (115:178)Link
The most infamous execution in Geneva was that of Michael Servetus, a Spanish physician who denied the Trinity, and was a sort of Gnostic pantheist. He had met Calvin, and the latter declared on February 13, 1547 in a letter to Farel:Link"If he comes, provided my authority prevails I will not suffer him to return home alive." (46:186)"With Calvin's knowledge and probably at his instigation, . . . William Trie, of Geneva, denounced Servetus to the Catholic Inquisition at Vienne and forwarded the material sent by the heretic to Calvin." (114:177)Daniel-Rops says of this episode, that"Protestant historians refer to it with embarrassment." (46:187)"The fact cannot be dodged that Calvin delivered Servetus to the Inquisition, and then tried either by a lie or a subterfuge to cover his part in the matter." (123:42)
At first Luther showed a human concern about the exploitation of the mass of the people. ... They rose ... and they claimed Luther's sympathy. After some hesitation he harshly condemned the insurrection. He discovered that the Bible ordered them to be "subject to all higher authorities." In July, 1624, he wrote to the nobles of Saxony:"They [the workers of the Peasants' Revolt] must be crushed, strangled, and spitted, wherever it is possible, because a mad dog has to be killed."He defended serfdom, saying that to abolish it would be "against the gospels and robbery." In later years he wrote:"All their blood is on my head, but I leave it to the Lord God, who bade me speak thus."Melanchthon was no better. He said:"The Germans are always such ill-bred, perverse, blood-thirsty folk that they must be kept down more stringently than ever."Eccardus, in his "Geschichte des niederen Volkes," is quite candid about the kind of "brotherhood" which the great Reformers learned from their profound study of the Gospels.
If any change is claimed by any historian of labor, it is that during the three centuries after the Reformation the condition of the workers grew steadily worse. ... It was just the same in Catholic and Protestant lands, as Brissot shows in his "Histoire du Travail."
-- The Story Of Religious Controversy, by Joseph McCabe
Luther and Melanchthon Condone SlaveryLink
Luther, hardened by the bitter pill of the Peasants' Revolt and his hand in it, sanctioned slavery, quoting the Old Testament:"Sheep, cattle, men-servants were all possessions to be sold as it pleased their masters. It were a good thing were it still so. For else no man may compel nor tame the servile folk."Luther's successor Melanchthon followed him in upholding serfdom.
The slavery-turned-serfdom that had been instituted by the Catholic Church continued to be upheld by the Reformers.
Through a statute of Henry VIII, the Reformers in England forbade "women and others of low condition" to read the Bible.
John Wesley, head of the Methodist Church was another misogynist. He wrote his wife:
"Wife. Be content to be insignificant. Of what loss would it be to God or man had you never been born."Link
-- John Wesley
Wesley insisted that the belief in the existence of "witchcraft" was fundamental to Christianity.
See also: the section on Women
16th century Anglican England burnt an adherent of the early Christian heresy of Arianism, which had been very nearly eradicated centuries ago:
Queen Elizabeth, writes Philip Hughes:Link" . . . enacted a definition of heresy that made life safe for all who believed in the Trinity and the Incarnation. But the statute left intact that heresy was, by common law, an offense punishable by death. An English Servetus could have been burned under Elizabeth, and, in fact, in 1589 she burned an Arian." (45:274)
"The Reformation of the 16th century was not aware of the true principles of intellectual liberty . . . At the very moment it was demanding these rights for itself it was violating them towards others."From: The Protestant Inquisition ("Reformation" Intolerance and Persecution)
-- Francois Guizot
"The ablest defence of persecution during the 17th century came from the Scottish Presbyterian Samuel Rutherford (A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty Of Conscience, 1649)."
-- Protestant historian Owen Chadwick
"If any one still harbors the traditional prejudice that the early Protestants were more liberal, he must be undeceived. Save for a few splendid sayings of Luther, confined to the early years when he was powerless, there is hardly anything to be found among the leading reformers in favor of freedom of conscience. As soon as they had the power to persecute they did."
-- Preserved Smith
"The Protestant states did not question that teachers of disapproved doctrines should be prevented from preaching. Nor did they question that the state should use laws to encourage churchgoing. In Anglican England and Lutheran Germany, Reformed Holland . . . the citizens were alike liable to penalties if they failed for no good reason to attend the worship of their parish churches." (120:398)
-- Owen Chadwick
John Stoddard gives an account of Henry VIII, who founded Anglicanism:
"When Henry began his persecution, there were about 1,000 Dominican monks in Ireland, only four of whom survived when Elizabeth came to the throne thirty years later . . ." "Executions speedily began . . . At one time, . . . about 800 a year (55). Hallam [a Protestant] . . . says (56) that the revolting tortures and executions of Jesuit priests in the reign of Elizabeth were characterised by a 'savageness and bigotry, which I am very sure no scribe of the Inquisition could have surpassed' . . . The details of these atrocities . . . would form very unpleasant reading for Protestants, accustomed as they are to think that all religious persecution has been done by Catholics." Stoddard chronicles further persecution in England - of the Dissenters. Under Elizabeth, Presbyterians, for example, were "branded, . . . imprisoned, banished, mutilated and even put to death. A few Anabaptists and Unitarians were burned alive." (92:205)
Anglican Bishops were silent accomplices and witnesses of much torture. (92:205-6)"The proximate cause of that great revolution, which cost James (57) his crown, was the publication by the King of an edict of religious toleration! . . . The first and only time the Church of England has made war on the Crown, was when the Crown had declared its intention of tolerating . . . the rival religions of the country!" (58)
"The Reformers themselves . . . e.g., Luther, Beza, and especially Calvin, were as intolerant to dissentients as the Roman Catholic Church.""At Zurich, Zwingli's State-Church grew up much as Luther's did . . . Oecolampadius at Basle and Zwingli's successor, Bullinger, were strong compulsionists. Calvin's name is even more closely bound up with the idea of religious absolutism, while the task of handing down to posterity his harsh doctrine of religious compulsion was undertaken by Beza in his notorious work, On the Duty of Civil Magistrates to Punish Heretics. The annals of the Established Church of England were likewise at the outset written in blood."
-- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
-- Hartmann Grisar
Zwingli's Zurich mercilessly persecuted the Anabaptists:Zwingli, too, had marked militaristic tendencies:
"The persecution of the Anabaptists began in Zurich . . . The penalties enjoined by the Town Council of Zurich were 'drowning, burning, or beheading,' according as it seemed advisable . . . 'It is our will,' the Council proclaimed, 'that wherever they be found, whether singly or in companies, they shall be drowned to death, and that none of them shall be spared.'" (111;v.5:l53-7)"Zwingli had gone the length of declaring that the massacre of the bishops was necessary for the establishment of the pure Gospel ..."Zwingli [was an] inveterate adulterer
More at this link:
- Protestant Divisions and Mutual Animosities is a section on that page giving some instances of the in-fighting amongst the Protestant denominations since their inception.
- Death and Torture for Catholics and Protestant Dissidents - Catholics had their Inquisition and the Protestants had their bloody Reformation.
- Protestant Censorshop - very much like the original undivided Orthodox and Catholic Churches had done before them, the Protestants did not approve of freedom of speech nor of the free flow of (dissenting, heretic, pagan/scientific) ideas either.