Not that I expected the Pope to support atheism, but I did expect him to be more enlightened than to blame it for all the atrocities of the Marxist regimes of history. This seems a common misconception, that somehow Stalin would have been less of a lunatic if only he had found God. And the logic seems to go further to equate atheism and atheists with cruelty and inhumanity. That’s a logical fallacy. Just because a Methodist robs a liquor store, doesn’t make all Methodists thieves. Nor does it make the church somehow responsible for inciting the crime.
There are two important points to consider. One, many more atrocities have been committed in the name of a god than by atheists. The Crusades, the Holocaust, and the more recent wave of Islamo-terrorism to name just a few. Did religion make Saddam Hussein kinder and gentler? These events are never pegged at theism’s doorstep though. They are the work of individuals using religion as a tool to control the people who would carry out their heinous will. Which brings us to point two: control. Religion can be used as a control mechanism by unscrupulous leaders. That isn’t the value of religion, but it can be used to that end. This is the precise reason atheism is a tenet of Marxism. Marxists don’t want another social vector vying for control of the hearts and minds of the masses.
Politically enforced atheism is just as dangerous as politically enforced theism. In both cases social vectors are minimized, which allows the population to be manipulated as a more cohesive whole. But this doesn’t make either atheists or theists inherently dangerous.
The Pope has pretty obvious reasons for discouraging atheism. I’m fine with that. I’m all for him enticing all the atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Druids, or Wiccans he can into his flock. But there’s no reason to demonize us.