Next Article in Journal
How is Chaplaincy Marginalised—By Our Faith Communities and by Our Institutions and Can We Change It?
Next Article in Special Issue
From “a Theology of Genocide” to a “Theology of Reconciliation”? On the Role of Christian Churches in the Nexus of Religion and Genocide in Rwanda
Previous Article in Journal
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Religions in 2017
Previous Article in Special Issue
Rethinking Amalek in This 21st Century
Article Menu
Issue 1 (January) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Religions 2018, 9(1), 26; doi:10.3390/rel9010026

Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust

Department of Anthropology, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469, USA
Received: 7 December 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 12 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Genocide)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [233 KB, uploaded 16 January 2018]

Abstract

There is, in principle, a fundamental difference between Nazi racial antisemitism and the traditional anti-Judaism of Christianity. The church’s official view has been that conversion transforms a Jew into a Christian, whereas the Nazi view was that a Jewish convert to Christianity remained a Jew. Nevertheless, the distinction between racial and religious antisemitism has often been less clear-cut than is often claimed by those who claim that Christian churches bear no responsibility for the Holocaust. That is not to say that it is illusory, just that it has often been less clear-cut than is often claimed. During the Holocaust and the decades that preceded it, Christian clergy often stressed the same themes as the Nazis, notably with respect to the Jews being “parasitic” capitalists exploiting Christians, as well as communists seeking to overthrow the governments and traditional Christian values of Europe (Passelecq and Suchecky 1997, pp. 123–36). We shall see that these clerics often also spoke of Jews in racial, as well as religious terms. Conversely, the Nazis often exploited traditional Christian themes, such as the diabolical nature of the Jew, the image of the Jew as “Christ-killer,” and the contrast between “carnal” (materialistic) Judaism and spiritual Christianity. In other words, the Nazis effectively exploited two millennia of Christian demonization of the Jew. Most scholars who have studied the role of the Christian churches during the Holocaust are well aware of most of these facts (Barnett 1992; Bergen 1996; Ericksen and Heschel 1999a; Kertzer 2001). Yet many comparative studies of religion and violence ignore the role played by Christian churches during the Holocaust—apparently on the assumption that the most horrific mass murder in human history was a purely secular phenomenon. In fact, some prominent scholars, including the best-selling authors Karen Armstrong and—incredibly—Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, go so far as to attribute the Shoah to the demise of religious values in Europe (Armstrong 2014; Sacks 2015)! This article is an attempt to correct these mistaken assumptions. View Full-Text
Keywords: Christianity; antisemitism; Holocaust Christianity; antisemitism; Holocaust
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Munson, H. Christianity, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust. Religions 2018, 9, 26.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
Back to Top