Not long ago, I was enjoying some music and conversation on AuralMoon, when one of the listeners posted a complaint about the Pope's comments about Islam from a few weeks ago. After a few moments of conversation, this listener (joined by another) made a common claim that I hear almost exclusively on the Internet: Hitler was a Christian.
Of course, the reason that this claim is heard rarely outside the Internet is because it simply isn't true. The people who have been led to believe this nonsense are people who read the articles written by people like John Patrick Michael Murphy who publish such nonsense on the SecularWeb. Fortunately, Marvin Olasky has recently written a column which once again puts such arguments in their proper place -- the trash bin. In "Were Nazis Christians? Are Christians fascists?", he points out that another new book destroys these arguments.
That's why it's good, in this year of popular culture paranoia, to have a scholarly book that shows how those who developed the Nazi religion "were decidedly anti-Christian because they saw Christianity as a Jewish phenomenon in the 1920s to the 1940s to be anti-Semitic meant being anti-Christian and vice versa." This book by University of Calgary professor emeritus Karla Poewe, "New Religions and the Nazis," shows that influential pro-Nazi ideologues saw Christianity as "a foreign faith and psychology imposed on Germany."
Nazi theologians praised "Aryan religion" with its ethic of power and complained that "The Pauline-Augustinian-Reformed teachings about original sin (are) insulting to the ethical and moral feeling of the Germanic race." Nazis, Poewe notes, "learned their anti-Semitism outside of the church, then hated the church because it would not affirm their anti-Semitism, and finally developed their outright rejection of Christianity."
Poewe also explores in depth attacks on "Jewish-Christianity" and Nazi romanticism concerning "the Indo-Germanic faith-world (that) included Hinduism, Buddhism and a pre-Christian Germanic Faith." Nazi theologians particularly admired the Bhagavad Gita, the most influential Hindu scripture, because it has the avatar Krishna telling the warrior Arjuna to kill his cousins and be psychologically detached from the deed: Nazi leader Heimrich Himmler "saw his destruction of the Jews in that light."
In all honesty, I find the anyone who believes Hitler to have been a Christian is living in the heights of self-deception. Sure, he occasionally claimed Christianity, but nothing in his life reflects a true belief in Jesus. I have never seen anything that suggests that Hitler continued to attend church (church membership being something far different than being active in the church -- ask any pastor), or anything that suggests Hitler made himself accountable to a Pastor or Priest in anyway. In fact, his execution of Christian pastors, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, should be enough to convince anyone with half a brain that he was not a Christian.
Consider further the following from "Hitler and Christianity by Edward Bartless-Jones published at the always-informative Bede's Library:
Five days after becoming Chancellor in 1933, Hitler allowed a sterilization law to pass, and had the Catholic Youth League disbanded (Shirer, The Rise). The latter was a measure applied to other youth organizations too, in order to free up young people to join the Hitler Youth. At the same time, Hitler also made an agreement with the Vatican to allow the Catholic Church to regulate its own affairs. (It is probably worth noting here the low value that Hitler placed on written agreements.) Parents were pressured to take their children out of religious schools. When the Church organized voluntary out-of-hours religious classes, the Nazi government responded by banning state-employed teachers from taking part. The Crucifix symbol was even at one point banned from classrooms in one particular jurisdiction, Oldenburg, in 1936, but the measure met with fierce public resistance and was rescinded. Hitler remained conscious of the affection for the Church felt in some quarters of Germany, particularly Bavaria. Later on, though, a wartime metal shortage was used as the excuse for melting church bells (Richard Grunberger, The Twelve Year Reich, Henry Holt, Henry Holt, 1979 and Richard Grunberger, A Social History of the Third Reich, Penguin, 1991).
As always, I recommend the articles collected on the CADRE's Hitler Christian? page as a basis for understanding Hitler's true views.