There’s two kinds of blame: warranted and unwarranted. We blame Hitler for the holocaust, though he didn’t kill a single Jew with his own hands. Still, it is safe to say that blaming Hitler for the Holocaust is warranted, since he ordered it. The individuals who perpetrated the actual crimes (i.e. “got their hands dirty”) are also to blame. Some may say they are even less guilty than Hitler himself, as theirs might be said to be a crime of ignorant obedience. One might even make the case that Germany itself is to blame, but it would be unwarranted to blame every individual German for the Holocaust.
Christians sometimes think of themselves as one large cohesive unit. “The majority of Americans are Christian,” they’ll say… when convenient. Christians actually divide themselves up into small groups which get along about as well as cats and mice. “Catholics are nothing but pagans,” evangelicals say amongst themselves, while the Catholics retort that “Protestants follow false prophets and doctrines.” “Yeah well, as least we don’t worship Mary!”
And don’t even get Christians started on Nazis; they will not even admit Hitler was a Christian. Nevermind the Iron Cross on every military vehicle the Nazis commissioned. Nevermind Hitler’s fascination with Christian relics ranging from the Spear of Destiny to the Holy Grail (and you thought it was just fictional “Indiana Jones” stuff?). Nevermind Hitler’s own autobiography, Mein Kampf, which makes numerous Biblical allusions. Nevermind first-hand accounts of his religiosity, such as this quote from his maid:
“I didn’t have to be a Nazi party member or anything. After a while I relaxed a bit. Apparently it was Hitler’s orders that Anni [her sister] and I be taken to church every Sunday because he thought this would be ‘good for us.’”
More important to be Christian than a Nazi… hmm…
I don’t know why Christians bend over backwards to avoid taking credit for Hitler. They have so many other despots, from Theodosius I to Napoleon, what’s one more? Atheists don’t try to claim Mao Zedong, Stalin, Lenin, or Pol Pot were actually religious, nor do they have to. Every tree has its share of bad apples.
This isn't good enough for Christians, who engage in a practice I call “exclusionary Christianity.” They will refer to someone as “not really Christian” when they mean that person is an “embarrassing Christian.” Christians try to claim a bad person is not actually a Christian at all… while simultaneously claiming that every Christian is a hopeless sinner. I guess there’s some magical point where one goes from being just a normal, sinful Christian to being an exiled false Christian - that point being solely up to the judgmental attitude of others. I wonder who handles all of these individualized excommunications…
What really irritates us atheists is when a Christian does or says something in the Bible… and other Christians rush to claim that person is not really a Christian. What Christians really mean when they say this is, “I choose to ignore that part of Christianity, and I think Christians who support that part of Christianity are wrong.”
Think Pat Robertson, who is quite accurate in his understanding of the Bible’s explanation of natural disasters as being the result of sins committed by a nation (though the specific details he outlined are dubious at best). I’m glad there are Christians out there who oppose the death sentence for homosexuals and women who have extra-marital sex. But at some point, Christians with functioning logic and reading comprehension skills need to see their religion for what it is: nothing but 2000 year old philosophy peppered with all the ignorance and prejudice of the bronze age.
It is not the fault of every Christian when one among them sins, but to say there is some sort of farcical Christianity out there that people are pretending to be, giving “real” Christians a bad name, is ludicrous to the point of schizophrenia. Some people just follow the Bible differently… some might say “more accurately.”