Jennifer Kim’s Nov. 25 letter, “Core element of communism,” seeks to conflate communism, atheism and totalitarianism into one, indistinguishable ideology, and makes the inference that one must be religious to be a good person. This is nonsense to anyone with knowledge of religion, political theory or just basic history.
First, the idea that communism “has racked up a human rights record that is unparalleled in brutality, oppression and death” is flat-out false. Communism, like many ideologies, has been co-opted and perverted by opportunists. There is absolutely nothing in the writings of Marx that advocate the kinds of human rights abuses found in countries like the Soviet Union, North Korea or China.
As for the notion that religion makes someone better than an atheist, I’d suggest that Kim read up on the following groups or people: the Hutaree, the Ku Klux Klan, Michael Barken, Eric Robert Rudolph, the Lambs of Christ, Scott Roeder, the Army of God, Timothy McVeigh — and that’s just from modern history in one country. If you look beyond the confines of Christianity and the United States, or go back further in time (the Crusades, for example), you’ll find far more examples of religious extremists who have given little thought to human rights abuses, provided they are committed in the name of God.
Do the actions of these extremists make Christianity or religion inherently bad? Or is it that any ideology, be it communism or Christianity, can be perverted by opportunistic extremists looking to find a way to justify their brutality? I believe it’s the latter.
There are a large number of believers who are extremely decent, upstanding citizens. There are also a large number of nonbelievers who are extremely decent, upstanding citizens. So let us dispense with this hyperbolic nonsense that a person’s faith, or lack thereof, determines what sort of person he or she truly is.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.