Atheist Killers

Timothy McVeigh, Agnostic Bomber

The idea that no atheist would ever commit murder, because he has no reason to do so, is a corollary of the thesis that 'religion poisons everything.' According to the 'New Atheists,' religion is the source of all evil in the world, including murder: therefore, no atheist commits murder. Q.E.D. But is it true? Of course not. Timothy McVeigh, who bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City and was executed for that crime, was a self-confessed "agnostic":

  • “In his letter, McVeigh said he was an agnostic but that he would "improvise, adapt and overcome", if it turned out there was an afterlife. 'If I'm going to hell,' he wrote, 'I'm gonna have a lot of company.'”
  • 'McVeigh faces day of reckoning: Special report,' Julian Borger in Terre Haute, The Guardian, Monday 11 June 2001

This mass murderer is widely reported as a "fundamentalist," presumably a Christian: "Of course, we now know that the man behind the attacks in Oklahoma City bore no 'Middle Eastern trait.' He was not a Muslim and contrary to the foreignness depicted by the news networks, Timothy McVeigh was a white, New York-born fundamentalist who had previously served in the US Army and harbored deep contempt for the US government. How, then, did the media get it so wrong?" (The Islamophobia Industry, Nathan Lean, Kindle location 1568). It would seem they are still getting it wrong, because there are not many Christian fundamentals who are agnostic.

Another murderous agnostic was Harold 'Fred' Shipman, who murdered up to 284 patients during his career as a family physician in England:

"He was always sarcastic about Vivien Langfield's involvement with the United Reform Church, and her training for the ministry, making comments like 'You'd better ask Miss Langfield, she's the Christ follower.' Yet, despite these disparaging remarks about Christianity, she remembers him having an argument with one of the other doctors about the number of loaves and fishes Jesus produced in the miracle on the shores of Lake Galilee: as ever, he was determined to be right (even though he later told the police, when asked about his religion, that he was agnostic)." (Harold Shipman: Prescription for Murder, by Brian Whittle and Jean Ritchie, p. 150).

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski was a cradle atheist:

"Ted and David's parents, Wanda and Theodore R. Kaczynski, were atheists, working-class intellectuals who valued education and dearly wanted their sons to succeed on a higher plane." ('I Don't Want To Live Long: Ted Kaczynski,' by Stephen J. Dubner Monday, Oct. 18, 1999, Time.)

In his Manifesto Mr. Kaczynski wrote of a "religious vacuum" in society, and considers, but rejects, the idea of founding a new nature religion to appeal to his fellow technology-haters. The passing sneer he delivers against existing religions suggests his mature views did not stray far from those he learned sitting on his parents' lap: "Religion, nowadays either is used as cheap and transparent support for narrow, short-sighted selfishness (some conservatives use it this way), or even is cynically exploited to make easy money (by many evangelists), or has degenerated into crude irrationalism (fundamentalist protestant sects, 'cults'), or is simply stagnant (Catholicism, main-line Protestantism)." (Ted Kaczynski, Manifesto, note 30, Paragraph 184).

This man, who sent bombs through the mail to various people he disliked, in some cases with lethal results, was a true nihilist, an atheist's atheist:

"'I believe in nothing,' Kaczynski wrote in the journals released last week by federal prosecutors. 'I don't even believe in the cult of nature-worshipers or wilderness-worshipers.'" (quoted in 'Kaczynski Sentenced to Four Life Terms,' by William Booth, Washington Post, Tuesday, May 5, 1998.)

His death toll was only three, but not for lack of trying; his "mad crusade against modern technology left three people dead and twenty-nine injured" (The Serial Killer Files, by Harold Schechter, p. 322). Another atheist, who racked up a more impressive body count, is Carl Panzram, hanged on September 5, 1930. The always quotable Mr. Panzram said,

"In my life time I have murdered 21 human beings. I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and last but not least I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. for all of these things I am not the least bit sorry. I have no conscience so that does not worry me. I don’t believe in Man, God nor devil. I hate the whole damed human race including myself." (Lustmord: The Writings and Artifacts of Murderers, p. 169, (1997), Brian King, ed. ISBN 096503240X, Wikiquote)

Like Charles Manson, this killer spent much of his life incarcerated, in reform school, military stockade, and civilian prison, and all he learned in those snake pits was the law of the jungle: "Force and might makes right. . .As the years went on that idea persisted in my mind above all others. I figured that if I was strong enough and clever enough to impose my will on others, I was right." (Lustmord, p. 174, Wikiquote); "If you or any one else will take the trouble and have the intelligence and patience to follow and examine every one of my crimes and actions you will find that I have consistently followed one idea thru all my life. I preyed upon the weak, the harmless or unsuspecting." (Lustmord, p. 193, Wikiquote).

Some killers accept Jesus as Savior after having committed their crimes, and look back at themselves committing those crimes and see an atheist. Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer falls into this category. On the NBC Dateline program, November 29, 1994, he said:

"If a person doesn't think that there is a God to be accountable to, then what's the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That's how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as the truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing, and I've since come to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God, and I believe that I, as well as everyone else, will be accountable to Him." (Jeffrey Dahmer, quoted on

With criminals who repent, like Karla Faye Tucker, there is, of course, always the question of sincerity. God knows the heart. If the late Mr. Dahmer was lying about anything, however, it was his current claimed Christian affiliation rather than his previous atheism.

The disappearance of notorious atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair in 1995 was a big news story. Speculation was rife that she had engineered her own disappearance. The mystery was solved, unhappily, with the arrest of atheist David Roland Waters, who had murdered Ms. O'Hair, along with her son Jon and grand-daughter Robin. This cannot be a case of 'Religion Poisons Everything,' given that all the participants were atheists. Ms. O'Hair had written a scathing note in her organization's newsletter about Waters after his embezzlement of $54,000 was discovered. Waters, offended, stole a good deal more than that from the family, then murdered them and an accomplice. Cain, the first murderer, was a theist, but he has since had plenty of atheist imitators.

Though no court has of yet found him guilty, Craig Stephen Hicks has been charged with a triple murder in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. While it seems his immediate beef with the three young people he killed revolved around a parking dispute, Mr. Hicks is an atheist who has suggested online that atheism is the solution to the Middle East crisis:

“Hicks, the alleged shooter, frequently shared links about atheism on what appears to be his Facebook page. One such post reads: 'People say nothing can solve the Middle East problem, not mediation, not arms, not financial aid. I say there is something. Atheism.'” (quoted in Washington Post).

His three young victims are Muslims, and some are suggesting this was a hate crime, given the animus against Islam and theism displayed in some of his social media postings. Evidently, not only is atheism not the answer in the Middle East, it does not even work in resolving parking disputes.


Now to make the leap to the big time. This point is often slurred over. Small-time criminality and war are not the same thing. Under the classical Christian just war theory, the only war in which Christians may participate is one called by duly constituted authority. At times, as during our Revolutionary War, different entities make competing claims to legitimacy; but self-starting private individuals like Timothy McVeigh, Theodore Kaczynski, and Anders Behring Breivik are not soldiers but criminals.

Muslims make the same point about Osama bin Laden. Even after adding the signatures of several recognized clerics to his fatwa declaring war against the U.S. to give it weight, it tended to float in the air. What authority had he to declare war? Such authority as he had was charismatic; his followers saw in his depraved indifference to human life the sign of a man of God, thus revealing their highest vision of God. But Sunni Islam does not commonly assign authority on a charismatic basis.

Silencing the voice of God in one's conscience opens doors better left closed:

"Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others! But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal. For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison. For them there is no antidote." (Aleksandr I. Sozhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 147).

How does the citizenry fare when atheists hold the reins of power and have at their disposal all the fire-power of the state? Not so well:

Karl Marx V. I. Lenin
Bhagat Singh Mao Zedong
Pol Pot Enver Hoxha
The Derg Che Guevara
No True Atheist Why?
Tu Quoque Prince of Tyre
Atheist Armies Jim Jones
The French Revolution

Karl Marx

This devout atheist, along with his collaborate Friedrich Engels, set out the program the atheist mass killers would later bring to reality. Youthful readers, who came of age after Communism's collapse, may be surprised to discover that these writers' attitudes toward religion do not differ markedly from a contemporary author like Sam Harris. Their system was founded upon the bed-rock of materialism, and atheism followed in consequence. Like today's atheists, their paradigm was 'scientism:' materialism is a metaphysical postulate, not a discovery of science, yet their starting premise:—that only matter is real,— cannot be questioned. Since God is not material, He cannot therefore exist. Thus they have rid themselves of God, while the illusion wafts in the air that there was something 'scientific' about it.

They believed that human culture, in which category they included religion, was a function of the material means of production. Marx's famous put-down of religion, that it was the "opiate" of the masses, was a nuanced observation which grants that religion performs a real function of consolation, though no such pain-relief will be called for in the brave new world of the workers' paradise, coming just about any minute now:

  • “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

  • “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness."

  • (Karl Marx, 1843, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Introduction)

V. I. Lenin

Back when 'intellectuals' were still trying to salvage something out of the wreck which Communism made of Eastern Europe, people used to claim that the killing started under Stalin, that Lenin was a sincere democrat. No one says that anymore, given the abundance of documentary evidence that this sincere atheist killed people and intended to kill people, in large numbers:

V.I. Lenin Proclaims Soviet Power, Vladimir Serov

Some people say that the uniformly execrable human rights record of Marxism-Leninism is irrelevant to any fair-minded evaluation of atheism's contribution to human society, because socialism is a religion: these people are not atheists at all. Is it accurate to say that socialism is a religion, or is this a deviation from Marxist orthodoxy?

V. I. Lenin
 The Attitude of the Worker's Party 
to Religion

In this work Lenin explains why, even though Marxism is built upon the foundation of absolute materialism, "a materialism which is absolutely atheistic and positively hostile to all religion," it is nonetheless prudent to soft-pedal the anti-religious angle when dealing with any actual workers who happen to stop by the communist table to pick up a pamphlet. This temporary guile will pay off in victory, and religion can be disposed of later. And so it proved: once the communists had achieved total victory and the Russian people lay prostrate at their feet, then they grew loud and proud about their atheism, then they closed the looted churches and sent to the Gulag the priests they hounded out of them. Lenin's looked-for goal: "the dying out of religion," never actually happened, though; while Marxism-Leninism has been cast upon the dust-heap of history, the gospel marches on.

"Let us take an example. The proletariat in a particular region and in a particular industry is divided, let us assume, into an advanced section of fairly class-conscious Social-Democrats, who are of course atheists, and rather backward workers who are still connected with the countryside and with the peasantry, and who believe in God, go to church, or are even under the direct influence of the local priest—who, let us suppose, is organizing a Christian labor union. Let us assume furthermore that the economic struggle in this locality has resulted in a strike. It is the duty of a Marxist to place the success of the strike movement above everything else, vigorously to counteract the division of the workers in this struggle into atheists and Christians, vigorously to oppose any such division. Atheist propaganda in such circumstances may be both unnecessary and harmful—not from the philistine fear of scaring away the backward sections, of losing a seat in the elections, and so on, but out of consideration for the real progress of the class struggle, which in the conditions of modern capitalist society will convert Christian workers to Social-Democracy and to atheism a hundred times better than bald atheist propaganda." (V. I. Lenin, The Attitude of the Worker's Party to Religion.')

The mature Soviet system resembled a Muslim state with its 'protected' class of dhimmis. In order to get a good job or a good education, you had to be a Party member; in order to be a Party member, you had to be an atheist, or at least be willing so to aver. The top strata: the 'nomenclatura,'— were atheists, just as the elite in a Muslim state are Muslims. Others were welcome to live in the Soviet Union, and work as street-sweepers if they liked; the religious liberty guaranteed by the constitution was thus safeguarded. The New Atheists seem to aspire to a similar settlement in the United States and Europe, where persons known to believe in Intelligent Design cannot get jobs in academia, but are free to reside in the country.

Shaheed Bhagat Singh

This Indian nationalist wrote a pamphlet entitled "Why I am an Atheist," which is partly rational, partly ranting theophobia:

Bhagat Singh
 Why I am an Atheist 

Certainly a people groaning under foreign military occupation have a right to liberate themselves, and one cannot fault Mr. Singh for shooting a British policeman, albeit the wrong one, for which he was hanged. However, his activities as a bomb-thrower and principal of the Lahore Bomb Factory indicate a willingness to take innocent life. This communist and anarchist sympathizer was a terrorist, in brief.

Mr. Singh threw a bomb into the corridors of the Central Legislative Assembly, whose seats were occupied by his own compatriots, elected by his own compatriots, while shouting "Long Live the Revolution!" His defenders object that Mr. Singh's bomb, unlike the atheist Unabomber's craft-work, did not actually kill or maim anyone. They claim the conspirators deliberately made a weak bomb, rather than doing so inadvertently through bomb-making incompetence. Perhaps a cherry-bomb might have done as well, or perhaps you have to be Indian to understand why anyone would bother making a bomb too feeble to do harm. If it goes 'pop' instead of 'boom,' you have still crossed the line into violence, albeit ineffectual violence. What can be worse than being violent to no purpose? Nor was this the conspirators' only bombing run; they also threw a bomb into a crowd. Even bomb-makers with undoubtedly lethal intent, like the would-be Times Square bomber, have produced fizzle and smoke, only enough combustion to attract the notice of the police, not enough to hurt anyone. The people of India are too eager to give Mr. Singh the benefit of the doubt on this point.

Mr. Singh himself, in this work, denies any intent to take innocent life: "People who have ideas like ours do not throw bombs at their own innocent people." He also claims, "I was completely innocent. . ." However, the facts testify otherwise.

  • “One Genghis Khan killed a few thousand people to seek pleasure in it and we hate the very name. Now, how will you justify your all powerful, eternal Nero, who every day, every moment continues his pastime of killing people? How can you support his doings which surpass those of Genghis Khan in cruelty and in misery inflicted upon people? I ask why the Almighty created this world which is nothing but a living hell, a place of constant and bitter unrest. [...]
  • “Where is God? What is He doing? Is He getting a diseased pleasure out of it? A Nero! A Genghis Khan! Down with Him!”
  • (Shaheed Bhagat Singh, 'Why I am an Atheist.')

While shouting "Down with Him!" at God is so futile as to be comical, one must agree with the theophobic Mr. Singh when he says to the Hindus, "Let me say it plainly that your ancestors were shrewd people." Convincing the lowest orders of society that they held that place because they had been bad in a prior life is indeed a 'hoax,' and a cruel and cunning one. Those who have bought into this self-serving fraud perpetrated by those atop the social pyramid should awake to the truth: not another lie, atheism.

Given Mr. Singh's stated admiration for communist and anarchist authors who promoted terrorism, his indignant denials ring a little hollow. Terror, the deliberate harming of innocent civilians, is a 'political' tool of rare power: it makes everyone hate you. It is a tactic of self-demonization. Why it is so popular with communists is a mystery; its use has sparked more angry reaction than success. Non-violence did more to win Indian independence than Mr. Singh's fizzle bombs, whether engineered to be duds or if they just came out that way.

Mao Zedong

Mao perpetrated the atheist misrule of China. During the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, he and his henchmen did away with his fellow-citizens in numbers almost too large to be believed. His god, or rather his idol, was the Chinese people, a wonderful people but a very poor God:

"There is an ancient Chinese fable called 'The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains.' It tells of an old man who lived in northern China long, long ago and was known as the Foolish Old Man of North Mountain. His house faced south and beyond his doorway stood the two great peaks, Taihang and Wangwu, obstructing the way. With great determination, he led his sons in digging up these mountains hoe in hand. Another graybeard, known as the Wise Old Man, saw them and said derisively, 'How silly of you to do this! It is quite impossible for you few to dig up these two huge mountains.' The Foolish Old Man replied, 'When I die, my sons will carry on; when they die, there will be my grandsons, and then their sons and grandsons, and so on to infinity. High as they are, the mountains cannot grow any higher and with every bit we dig, they will be that much lower. Why can't we clear them away?' Having refuted the Wise Old Man's wrong view, he went on digging every day, unshaken in his conviction. This moved God, and he sent down two angels, who carried the mountains away on their backs. Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on the Chinese people. One is imperialism and the other is feudalism. The Chinese Communist Party has long made up its mind to dig them up. We must persevere and work unceasingly, and we, too, will touch God's heart. Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can't these two mountains be cleared away?" (Mao Zedong, The Little Red Book, Chapter 22).

Mao Zedong's teaching took the tack which most infuriated Ayn Rand, the great atheist anti-communist. He picked up and stressed the Bolshevik theme of selfless devotion to the revolution:

"Comrade Bethune's spirit, his utter devotion to others without any thought of self, was shown in his boundless sense of responsibility in his work and his boundless warm-heartedness towards all comrades and the people. Every Communist must learn from him. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man's ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble-minded and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people." (Mao Zedong, Little Red Book, Chapter 17, Serving the People).

This infuriated Ms. Rand, because it reminded her of Christianity.

Lest anyone think today's atheists invented the 'No True Scotsman' way of thinking for which they are so notorious, Mao, of course, differentiated between Communists and "true" Communists:

"There are not a few people who are irresponsible in their work, preferring the light to the heavy, shoving the heavy loads on to others and choosing the easy ones for themselves. At every turn they think of themselves before others. When they make some small contribution, they swell with pride and brag about it for fear that others will not know. They feel no warmth towards comrades and the people but are cold, indifferent and apathetic. In fact such people are not Communists, or at least cannot be counted as true Communists." (Mao Zedong, Little Red Book, Chapter 24, Correcting Mistaken Ideas).

Not only has no true atheist ever done anything bad, no true Communist has either.

Pol Pot

This atheist killer eliminated approximately one fifth of the population of Cambodia.

Saloth Sar,  a.k.a. Pol Pot

Like other atheist idealists, Saloth Sar caught the same vision as entranced John Lennon in 'Imagine,' of a world without religion and religious people. The Cambodian people were thus compelled to start the world anew in the Year Zero:

"Money, private property and religion were abolished." (BBC History, Pol Pot (1925-1998).)

The nearly four years Pol Pot governed his country were the end of the road for many:

"In the first few days after Cambodia became Democratic Kampuchea, all cities were evacuated, hospitals cleared, schools closed, factories emptied, money abolished, monasteries shut, libraries scattered. For nearly four years freedom of the press, of movement, of worship, or organization and of association, and of discussion all completely disappeared. So did everyday family life. . .Democratic Kampuchea was a prison camp state, and the eight million prisoners served most of their time in solitary confinement. And 1.5 million of the inmates were worked, starved, and beaten to death." (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, pp. 8-9).

What ideals motivated Saloth Sar? In his student days in Paris, he was greatly impressed by Prince Peter Kropotkin's magnum opus on the French Revolution, 'The Great Revolution:'

  • “Prime Minister Pol Pot and I were profoundly influenced by the spirit of French thought — by the Age of Enlightenment, of Rousseau and Montesquieu.”
  • (Khieu Samphan, quoted p. 73, 'Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare,' by Philip Short)

True to their French Revolutionary heritage, the Khmer Rouge banned all religions; they were equal-opportunity persecutors, murdering Buddhist monks alongside Vietnamese Christians. The sanguinary Democratic Kampuchea National Anthem sets the tone:

"Bright red blood covers the towns and plains
of Kampuchea, our Motherland,
Sublime blood of the workers and peasants,
Sublime blood of the revolutionary men and women fighters!
The blood changes into unrelenting hatred
And resolute struggle. . ."
(quoted p. 248, 'Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare,' Philip Short).

The most distinctive act of this new regime, the emptying out of the cities, is not canonical Marxism. It was a pragmatic measure already in use before the fall of Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge had found that the towns they 'liberated' kept falling back into their bad old habits; just as soon as they stamped out the black market, it sprang back up again: "But the private sector remained active: 'Kratie township showed the same signs as in the old society. Honda motorcycles were speeding up and down the streets like before, while our ragged guerrillas walked in the dust. This showed that they were still the masters.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 62). In the cities, people found a way to live their lives in the interstices of the socialist system, not under complete party control as were the peasants in the village communes. And above all they wanted control; this enlightened, atheist system was one of universal slavery:

"What Pol and his colleagues approved that spring was a slave state, the first in modern times. . . Pol enslaved the Cambodian people literally, by incarcerating them within a social and political structure, a 'prison without walls,' as refugees would later call it, where they were required to execute without payment whatever work was assigned to them for as long as the cadres ordered it, failing which they risked punishment ranging from the withholding of rations to death. Food and clothing were, in theory, provided by the state. But there were no wages." (p. 291, Pol Pot, The Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short.)

So they began the policy of forced evacuation of 'liberated' cities and towns; what they did to Phnom Penh was already established policy. They taught their troops that cities were evil: "'The city is bad because there is money in the city,' a Khmer Rouge cadre told Ponchaud. 'People can be reformed, but not cities.'" (p. 279, Pol Pot, The Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short). Twenty thousand people perished in the evacuation of Phnom Penh, a forced march into the country-side that set even the sick and maimed in motion:

"It was a stupefying sight, a human flood pouring out of the city, some people pushing their cars, others with overladen motorcycles or bicycles overflowing with bundles, and others behind little home-made carts. Most were on foot. . . ." (Eye-witness account, quoted p. 272, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short).

The ground where these millions of people travelled on their march to the jungle was littered with discarded refrigerators, sewing machines, clothing, and dead bodies. There, in the Year Zero, they began to make the world anew, with no infrastructure, no schools, clinics or food stores awaiting them. Mao Zedong had already defined the ideology of a peasant revolution, where the peasants, not the (non-existent) urban proletariat, were the revolutionary class. Like other atheist world-makers, Mao wanted a blank slate, a clean piece of paper on which to paint his master-piece: "'Poor people want change, want revolution. A clean sheet of paper has no blotches, and so the purest and most beautiful words can be written on it.'" (Mao Zedong, quoted p. 148, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short.)

Unfortunately people as they were let these atheist dreamers down, and so they had to kill a lot of them. In addition to the starvation which always accompanies a Great Leap Forward in the country-side, they simply did away with a lot of these people:

"'Those we surprised at night in the act of saying bad things, we educated, which means that they worked harder than the others. If they repeated the offence, they were killed with a cudgel or a pickaxe. Then they were buried and that was that.'" (Young village militiaman, quoted p. 322, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short).

Without irony, the leadership urged the survivors to emulate the condition of oxen: "'You see the ox, comrades. Admire him! He eats where we [tell] him to eat. . .When we tell him to pull the plow, he pulls it.'" (p. 309, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short). Along with cities, they dispensed with money:

"Mok favored a barter system. . .He also said if there were no money, it would remove the problem of corruption and curtail the activities of enemy agents. 'When a wound is not yet healed,' he said, 'you shouldn't push a stick into it. You must leave it alone, otherwise it will get worse.'" (p. 307, Pol Pot, Anatomy of at Nightmare, Philip Short).

"'Zero for him, zero for you — that is communism,' Khieu Sampan had said." (p. 317, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short).

Under their new constitution, religion was abolished, so the Buddhist monasteries were emptied out. Strangely enough, in spite of their hostility to Buddhism and other indigenous religions including Islam, the Khmer Rouge had internalized the Buddhist directive of eliminating the human personality: "The ultimate goal for a Khmer Rouge was 'to have no personality at all.'" (p. 318, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short). The Buddhist ideal of 'no mind' seeks to silence the internal dialogue which goes along with the human condition. Foreign visitors to Cambodia during these years noticed the robotic, emotionless affect of the survivors, though some of this may have been the lassitude accompanying near-starvation.

The surviving inhabitants of Cambodia spent the Khmer Rouge years engaging in self-criticism, writing auto-biographies, and seeking to eliminate such vestiges of the old way of thinking as saying 'I:' "Language was stripped bare of incorrect allusions. Instead of 'I,' people had to say 'we.'" (p. 324, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short). Readers of Bolshevik refugee Ayn Rand will recall that she predicted this, as expressed on the title page of 'Anthem:'

"They existed only to serve the State. . .From cradle to grave, the crowd was one—the great We.

"In all that was left of humanity there was only one man who dared to think, seek and love. He, Equality 7-2521, came close to losing his life because his knowledge was regarded as treacherous blasphemy. . .he had rediscovered the lost and holy word—I." (Ayn Rand, Anthem, Title Page.)

"In some parts of the country, it was forbidden even to laugh or sing." (p. 328, Pol Pot, Anatomy of a Nightmare, by Philip Short).

Starvation raced with political repression to see which could kill more Cambodians. In the end the two joined hands, forming a death vortex. Rural socialism produced a famine, as it always does. Prohibition of foraging as leading to 'individualism' and introduction of mandatory communal dining worsened the food shortage. Pol Pot was not willing to tolerate dissent; non-conformists were enemies to be liquidated:

"In a broadcast on Radio Phnom Penh, Pol surmised that 'between 1 and 2 per cent of the population' was irredeemably hostile and 'must be dealt with as we would any enemy'. . ." (p. 368, Pol Pot, The Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short.)

Testimony of anti-government conspiracy was obtained by the C.I.A.'s own favored mode of torture, simulated drowning. Torture worked its magic and yielded signed confessions. Further evidence that enemies roamed amongst the people of Cambodia was the very fact that they were starving: "'Hidden enemies seek to deprive the people of food,' he [Pol] told the Central Committee in December 1976." (p. 369, Pol Pot, the Anatomy of a Nightmare, Philip Short). Enemies of the state were liquidated; that the people were starving showed these enemies' power and activity, and so murder raced with famine to see which could claim more lives. So intense was the Khmer Rouges' passion for secrecy and their aversion to transparency that, even as thousands were losing their lives to this atheist regime, the rank-and-file Cambodians did not know they were being governed by a man named Pol Pot, nor that Pol Pot was Saloth Sar, nor that the country was being governed by the Cambodian Communist Party; these mysteries were revealed only gradually.

Like many other atheist regimes, they had a special hatred for the religious. Though Cambodia was a French colony as was Vietnam, French missionaries were less successful in converting the Cambodians to Catholicism. More than 80 per cent of the population in 1975, the year Zero, was Buddhist. A minority group, the Cham, practiced Islam, and some small tribes in the mountains practiced indigenous folk religions. The Pol Pot years were dangerous ones for Buddhist monks and the religious minorities. After Phnom Penh fell, the Buddhist monks were ordered out of their monasteries and into the fields to grow rice. These plans were laid out in a May of 1975:

"Ret said that 'eleven points' were discussed, but his colleagues, interviewed in 1980, could recall his mentioning only the leadership's orders to 'kill Lon Nol soldiers, kill the monks, [and] expel the Vietnamese population' and its opposition to 'money, schools and hospitals.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 56).

'Kill' is a harsh word, and perhaps it was not used:

"Heng Samrin, then studying military affairs under Son Sen, was also at the meeting. He recalls the use of yet another term: 'They did not say "kill," they said "scatter the people of the old government." Scatter them away, don't allow them to remain in the framework. [...]
"On the other hand, Samrin adds: 'Monks, they said, were to be disbanded, put aside as a "special class," the most important to fight. They had to be wiped out. . .I heard Pol Pot say this myself. . .He said no monks were to be allowed, no festivals were to be allowed any more, meaning "wipe out religion."'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 57).

By September of 1975 the government felt they had nearly met their goal:

"Buddhist monks 'have disappeared from 90 to 95 percent,' the rest being 'nothing to worry about.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 100).

Many of these Buddhist monks had been killed, though guilty of no crime, and the survivors had been terrified into silence. Monks were on the hit list: "'In 1977, they started killing capitalists, students, monks, and even Chinese and Vietnamese, even if they could speak Cambodian. These classes were killed by being beaten to death with poles.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 291).

Adherents of minority religions, such as the Muslim Cham people, likewise suffered persecution:

"As the White Scarves waited in the neighboring province for a response from Samphan, D[emocratic] K[ampuchea] officials banned Islam, closed the local mosque, and dispersed the Cham population as far as the northwest provinces. Some Muslims were forced to eat pork, on pain of death. . .The officials began killing any who infringed these regulations. One local peasant recalls: 'Some Cham villages completed disappeared; only two or three people remained.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 2.)

The Khmer Rouge systematically murdered the Islamic leadership:

"They gave these details for the most prominent Cham victims: Imam Haji Res Los, Cambodia's Grand Mufti, was thrown into boiling water and then struck on the head with an iron bar, at Konhom, Peam Chisor, Prey Veng, on 8 October 1975; Haji Suleiman Shoukri, the 1st Mufti, was beaten to death and thrown into a ditch, at Kahe, Prek Angchanh, Kandal, in August 1975; Haji Mat Sles Suleiman, the 2nd Mufti, was tortured and disembowelled in Battambang, on 10 August 1975; Haji Mat Ly Harum, Chairman of Cambodia's Islamic Association, died of starvation in prison at Anlong Sen, Kandal, on 25 September 1975. . ." (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 271.)

This leadership hunt went on down to the merest 'hajji,' any person who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Khmer Rouge confiscated the Koran: "In June or July 1975, Ly asserts, the Krauchhmar authorities attempted to collect all copies of the Koran there, and obliged Cham girls to cut their hair." (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 263.) Once communal dining was introduced, there was no way for Muslims to conceal their disinclination for eating pork, which could be lethal: "In her group of five Cham families in Kantuot village, there was one death from illness, and in other villages, at least four Chams were killed for refusing to eat pork. 'They were accused of being holy men in the old society,' she says." (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 283.) This population group, whose ancestors came to Cambodia from India, was dispersed, their villages broken up, and suffered heavy casualties:

"Imam Him Mathot told him that he had been evacuated from Phnom Penh to Kompong Speu with five hundred Cham families, totalling about three thousand people. Fewer than seven hundred survived in 1979, according to the Imam: 'Half the deaths were due to starvation, and the other half by execution.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 285.)

With the Khmer Rouge, the 'or else' was often immediate execution: 'What if I don't want to leave Phnom Penh?' 'Bang.' So it was with those not happy to see their religion banned. When people nowadays talk like Pol Pot, Sam Harris for example, there is no empirical historical reason to think they don't mean just exactly what they say. According to the common law adage, "the Devil himself knows not the thoughts of man;" the Khmer Rouge could not wipe out inward devotion, but they did wipe out every outward expression of religion, from the Buddhism which once dominated Cambodian culture to the animism of the mountain tribes who early came under communist domination:

"On Bun Phan, an ethnic Lao then serving in the Voeunsai district militia, recalls that starting from about 1971, the CPK [Cambodian Communist Party] 'collected all the people into one place,' ending their dispersed, semi-nomadic way of life. . .'And religion was made to disappear completely. Anyone who believed in it was killed.' Lao were affected by the destruction of Buddhist wats, but animist shrines were also targeted. 'From 1970 they came and propagandized the people not to believe in anything at all. They wiped it all out. . .Pol Pot personally spoke about wiping out religion.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, pp. 82-83).

The nearly four years of the Pol Pot regime can serve as a test case for the proposition that 'religion poisons everything.' The Khmer Rouge did away with religion. After that, were the skies bright, was life wonderful? No, life was a nightmare: "'My mother had never seen my children, but she did not dare approach us until the village chief and militia had left. . .She said to survive, you had to do three things. . .know nothing, hear nothing, see nothing.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 170). But above all you must be happy; the atheists frown if your frozen smile clenches: "'And anyone they suspected of not being happy with them, they killed.'" (The Pol Pot Regime, Ben Kiernan, p. 185.)

Enver Hoxha

This atheist intellectual decided to bring about the utopia envisioned by John Lennon's song, 'Imagine,' and rid the world of faith. To do that, of course, you have to kill a lot of people. By his own confession, this man hated God:

"Whoever has read 'Prometheus' will remember the words of the hero to Hermes, the servant of the gods:

"'Be sure, I would never want to exchange my miserable fate for your servitude, because I would rather be bound with chains to this rock than be the obedient lackey of Zeus...

"'In a word, I hate all Gods.

"Marx said:

"'Prometheus is the noblest saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.'"
(Enver Hoxha, Literature and Art Should Serve to Temper People with Class Consciousness for the Construction of Socialism: The closing speech delivered at the 15th Plenum of the CC of the PLA.)

Prometheus, who stole fire from the pagan gods to give to man, was a favorite Marxist hero. They could whole-heartedly second the sentiments the play-wright placed in their hero's mouth, "I hate all Gods."

Che Guevara

You see this man's face on people's tee-shirts:

Atheist Che Guevara

It's hard to see why, given that for a time he was Fidel Castro's executioner, commander of La Cabana fortress where political prisoners were lodged. Che expressed the inner poetry of his being in his 'Motorcycle Diaries:'

"Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!" (Che Guevara's 'Motorcycle Diaries,' quoted p. 71, 'Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, by Humberto Fontova).

The political prisoners whose death warrants Che signed never received due process; the revolution has no need of such bourgeois niceties as an evidentiary hearing, the right to confront one's accusers, etc.

The Derg

Atheism works the same magic wherever it rules in the world, regardless of skin color or clime. Ethiopia was ruled for a murderous interlude by the Marxist Derg, with predictably deadly results. The Red Terror claimed thousands of victims, including the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Theophilos, in 1977.

When the Khmer Rouge emptied out the cities, that was not canonical Marxism, but in one respect the experience of the Cambodian communists was just like that of every other socialist revolution: when they imposed collective farming on the country-side, people died in the resulting famine. This always happens, whether in the Ukraine, Escambray, or China. When it happened in Ethiopia, Bart Ehrman wrote a book blaming God: it is God's Problem that Marxism-Leninism does not work! Whose else could it be? Naturally, if God exists, we are entitled to expect Him to work a continuous loaves-and-fishes miracle to make Marxism work, which it does not do according to nature:

No True Atheist

At this point, the atheists patiently explain that these murderous monsters were No True Atheists. 'Atheism' is now redefined to mean 'rational,' or 'non-dogmatic,' or 'benign.' But our atheists killers do not by any means praise 'irrationality' or 'evil' or 'dogmatism:' "Both dogmatism and revisionism run counter to Marxism." (Mao Tse-Tung, The Little Red Book, Chapter 2). They praise reason, science and the public good. And they are 'atheists' by any normal definition of the word; they deny that there is a God. Is it kosher to redefine a word so late in the game, to mean something it does not ever mean in common usage?:

No True Hopi No True Atheist
Humpty-Dumpty What is a Christian?
Anders Behring Breivik Lord I Want
Fruit Inspection The Brights


Thankfully serial killers are rare; the odds that the atheist you know is one are small. But why, of the many officially atheist states there have been in this world, is the experience so bleakly uniform? This is not a random distribution; it is closer to a uniformity. Why do those states projected by atheist principles tend, more often than not, to slaughter their citizens? May I offer a few conjectures:

  1. Secular utopianism. Lacking any heaven to dream of, but not devoid of the indwelling hope for paradise, the atheists devote their energies to making this world a paradise. Since it never will be so with all those people hanging around who do not share the atheist's vision, they must do a little house-cleaning.
  2. Utilitarianism. This wicked moral philosophy is a big one. If all that is standing between you and the Worker's Paradise is a big pile of bodies needing to be bulldozed away, start her up. The Russian Radicals adopted it, and once the killing started, it could not stop. In the present day, Sam Harris is promoting this moral system.
  3. Weak Moral Sanction. Many atheists adopt namby-pamby little lists of moral do's and don'ts. Theists complain that these lists are parasitical: in the West, they borrow from Christianity without thanks or attribution. They borrow, but only a partial list: the atheists pick and choose from the moral banquet presented by Christianity, adopting the Good Samaritan parable (recast as, someone else really ought to help the injured man), but discarding "Flee fornication." When the atheists say, "You can be good without God," to avoid deceptive advertising, they really need to add the disclaimer, 'You will, of course, have to radically redefine what you mean by 'good.' When they come to a fork in the road, they hear no voice of God thundering, 'Thou shalt not;' only their own personal preference, which is swamped by any strong motive like greed or fear.

The non-theistic ethical system of utilitarianism is being revived in the present day by atheist Sam Harris. This ethical system has more than blood on its hands; it is knee-deep in the stuff. The big-time atheist killers on this page all used this moral philosophy to justify their murders. It should come as no surprise that 'Cultural Christian' Anders Behring Breivik subscribes to the same philosophy: ". . .a true Justiciar Knight would willingly sacrifice everything for the cause, including committing smaller atrocities as long as it served the greater good of our cause." (Anders Behring Breivik, 2083 Manifesto, p. 960). What can be said in defense of this ethical system?:

Tu Quoque

The atheists, who begin with the bold and entirely indefensible claim, that no atheist would commit murder, are left in the end with the whimper, 'But non-atheists murder too.' This is certainly true; even professing Christians commit murder, such as the Sunday School teacher Lizzie Borden, who slaughtered her father and step-mother with an axe, or Velma Barfield, a home health care worker who piously informed her employers she must have Wednesday nights off for prayer meeting, before she murdered them to conceal her thefts from their checking accounts, or young Nehemiah Griego, a preacher's kid. The first murderer, Cain, was a theist. Anger and its consequences are part of our inheritance from Adam, who fell, taking us with him. Our tendency toward violence is one of the reasons we need a Savior. There have even been organized Christian churches which have committed murder, for instance in the Inquisition:

While it is true that we have all inherited the same sin-nature from Adam, it is by no means true that all people-groups display the same murder rate. It is not to be expected that people who embrace very different lists of moral do's and don'ts will all, nevertheless, behave in exactly the same way. Who would suppose that it is equally likely an adherent of the Nation of Islam, a Seventh Day Adventist, an Orthodox Jew, and a High Church Anglican, will eat pork? It is strange that some otherwise rational people have convinced themselves that political correctness mandates the erroneous conviction that Seventh Day Adventists and Anglicans are equally likely to eat pork. There are no doubt meaningful differences in pork consumption amongst these groups: why wouldn't there be? Leaving out of consideration any supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, which atheists disallow, still those who count pork forbidden are less likely to consume it. Those who consider murder morally wrong are less likely to commit it than nihilists like Loeb and Leopold who consider murder fun. Not all atheists are nihilists, but all nihilists are atheists. When the sheer volume of atheist victims of the twentieth century is considered, they take the prize as the most murderous group of all, and not by a small margin.

King of Tyre

"The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:. . .Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 28:1-10).
"That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!. . . How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:1-15).

The institution of the 'god-king' was common in antiquity. When the Roman emperors began deifying themselves, they were reviving an ancient and widespread practice, though one for which the Roman Republic had had no use. The two Bible passages above, though both often quoted with regard to Satan, begin by mocking human kings, the king of Tyre and the king of Babylon, who had deified themselves, proclaiming themselves to be gods. Only then is the curtain drawn back, revealing the dark majesty of Satan as the power behind their thrones.

This ancient custom of the god-king was revived in modern times by, of all people, the 'scientific socialists.' Marxist-Leninists like Josef Stalin and Kim Jong Il made gigantic images of themselves for the wonderment and worship of their people. Outside observers must wonder, however, how much of this is actually believed by anybody. How quickly effusive flattery changed into jeering in the case of atheist dictators like Nicolae Ceaucescu! The communist system lasted as long as it did because these countries were run as very efficient police states. The Stasi, the East German secret service, employed the services of a substantial portion of the populace in spying on their relatives and friends. They, like modern atheist author Sam Harris, believed in 'thought crimes:'

"Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense." (Sam Harris, 'The End of Faith,' pp. 52-53).

The masses of people genuflecting to the 'Great Leader' may be acting sincerely, or they may be acting in awareness that a spotter for the secret police can see them. How many people actually believed in any of it is open to question; certainly the leadership did not. . .and nor, it turned out, did the people. After communism fell in eastern Europe, it became apparent this was one 'religion' which could not expect underground adherents to still follow in adversity; once the mask slipped off, the charade was over. This 'cult of personality' is what some people have in mind when they say 'communism is a religion,' but if so, it is an artificial and synthetic one, like Kwanzaa. The people who were pushing it, the communist true believers, felt themselves superior to all that; the people who were supposed to believe it just wanted to survive.

Atheist Armies

In World War II, the United was allied with Soviet Russia against Hitler's Germany. As the tide of battle turned and Germany underwent invasion both from the east and from the west, one army's officer corps was comprised mainly of theists, the other of atheists. Which army maintained the better human rights record?

Josef Stalin's Red Army, commanded by atheists, committed rape and other atrocities on such a scale as to touch off mass suicides in Demmin and other towns. The Wehrmacht got out of town ahead of the advancing Red Army, leaving the civilian populace of the town helpless. As they withdrew, they blew up the bridges, leaving the inhabitants without an escape route. Once in Demmin, the Red Army went wild, burning the town, looting, arbitrarily executing civilians, and raping whatever women came to hand. Witnesses reported a steady procession of women who had been victimized marching down to the river with their children in tow. The number who drowned themselves and their family may be in excess of 900. These were not Nazi ideologues, but ordinary people, whose hope in the future had turned to panic and horror.

"For three weeks the war had been going on inside Germany, and all of us knew very well that if the girls were German they could be raped and then shot. This was almost a combat distinction." (Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, p. 21).

Because Communist East Germany sought to promote a narrative of how the brave, fraternal Red Army liberated these regions to the smiles of a grateful populace, these crimes were never investigated and an exact body count cannot now be determined.

  • “The Second and Third Belorussian Fronts broke into East Prussia, Germany itself, in a fiesta of vengeance: two million German women were to be raped in the coming months. . .Stalin cared little about this, telling Djilas:. . .'Well, then, imagine a man who  has fought from Stalingrad to Belgrade — over thousands of kilometres of his own devastated land, across the dead bodies of his comrades and dearest ones? How can such a man react normally? And what is so awful about his having fun with a woman after such horrors?'”
  • (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, by Simon Sebag Montefiore, p. 479)

Eisenhower's Army, led by theists in the main, prosecuted soldiers who could be proven to have committed rape. There were no reports of mass rape or mass suicide in the regions liberated by these soldiers. Why, if 'religion poisons everything'? There was no army in the world with a higher percentage of atheists in both officer corps and the rank and file in 1945 than the Red Army. If it is true, as the new atheists claim, that hatred and cruelty are products of religion, then why did they do these things? Going strictly by experience, if you expect an atheist army to be marching through your area anytime soon, make it a point to get out of town.

Jim Jones of Jonestown

Jim Jones might seem out of place in this company; he was, however, an avowed atheist. He was a communist from the outset, though his movement also had Christian roots. He adopted the worship style of Pentecostal Christianity, albeit his healing miracles were outrageously faked, and the only object of worship proffered the faithful was himself. Like a Pharaoh or warrior chieftain of old, he brought his retainers down into the grave alongside him. How did this happen?

The French Revolution

The French Revolution began with great optimism for democracy and social equality but slogged its weary way onward through rivers of blood until the despot Napoleon cut it short. What went wrong? Did the atheism espoused by key players, culminating in the preposterous 'Cult of Reason,' play a role in its amorphous and amoral lethality?

As one eye-witness, who saw it happening, prophesied,

"We have witnessed the development of that strange system of liberty, in which we are told: 'you are free; but think with us, or we will denounce you to the vengeance of the people; you are free, but bow down your head to the idol we worship, or we will denounce you to the vengeance of the people; you are free, but join us in persecuting the men whose probity and intelligence we dread, or we will denounce you to the vengeance of the people.' Citizens, we have reason to fear that the revolution, like Saturn, will devour successively all its children, and only engender despotism and the calamities which accompany it." (Vergniaud, quoted by F.A.M. Mignet, History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814, Chapter VII).

And so it turned out. Yet the atheists are not yet done admiring this poisoned revolution and cultivating its spread and multiplication. Pol Pot, mentioned above, was greatly inspired by the French Revolution he learned about as a school-boy in French colonial Cambodia. It appears that atheist mass murderers copy-cat one another, and this has been one powerful template:

Anti-Clericalism Madness
Temple of Reason Robespierre
Deism The Old Regime
Voltaire The Devil's Due
Divine Right of Kings Knock on the Door
Butcher's Bill Lavoisier

It may be objected that the Revolution was inspired by Deism, a religion,— an artificial, hot-house plant, but a form of theism nonetheless. However atheism was present from the start as well:

"'Now, sir, say your republican catechism— "What is God? what are the People? and what is a King?" His friend, with an air of contrition and in a nasal tone of voice, twisting himself about like a harlequin, replies: "God is matter, the People are the poor, and the King is a lion, a tiger, an elephant who tears to pieces devours, and crushes the people down."'" (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 2, p. 85).

These were the right answers. While atheism was not the sole actor in this human rights debacle, it was certainly not a constructive one. It never is. Those priests and Catholic lay-people who would not subscribe to the civic oath, which subordinated the church to the state, were led to the slaughter by their enlightened executioners:

"At Troyes, at the house of M. Fardeau, an old non-conformist cure, an altar decked with its sacred vessels is discovered, and M. Fardeau, arrested, refuses to take the civic oath. Torn from his prison, and ordered to shout 'Vive la Nation!' he again refuses. On this, a volunteer, borrowing an ax from a baker, chops off his head, and this head, washed in the river, is borne to the Hotel-de-ville [town-hall]." (Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, Volume 2, p. 202).

As readers of 'New Atheist' authors like Sam Harris know only too well, yes, they do care passionately what you believe, and they do think it's their business.