Historians, political scientists and philosophers have studied Nazism with a specific focus on its religious and pseudo-religious aspects. It has been debated whether Nazism would constitute a political religion, and there has also been research on the millenarian, messianic, and occult or esoteric aspects of Nazism.
Among the writers who alluded before 1980 to the religious aspects of National Socialism are Aurel Kolnai, Raymond Aron, Albert Camus, Romano Guardini, Denis de Rougemont, Eric Voegelin, George Mosse, Klaus Vondung and Friedrich Heer. Voegelin's work on political religion was first published in German in 1938. Emilio Gentile and Roger Griffin, among others, have drawn on his concept. The French author and philosopher Albert Camus is mentioned here, since he has made some remarks about Nazism as a religion and about Adolf Hitler in particular in L'Homme révolté.
Outside a purely academic discourse, public interest mainly concerns the relationship between Nazism and Occultism, and between Nazism and Christianity. The interest in the first relationship is obvious from the modern popular theory of Nazi occultism. The persistent idea that the Nazis were directed by occult agencies has been dismissed by historians as modern cryptohistory. The interest in the second relationship is obvious from the debate about Adolf Hitler's religious views—specifically, whether he was a Christian or not.
There are many works that speculate about National Socialism and occultism, the most prominent being The Morning of the Magicians (1960) and The Spear of Destiny (1972). From the perspective of academic history, however, most of these works are "cryptohistory". Notable exceptions are Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab (The man who gave Hitler the ideas) by Wilfried Daim (1957), Urania's children by Ellic Howe (1967) and The Occult Establishment by James Webb (1976). Aside from these works, historians did not consider the question until the 1980s. Due to the popular literature on the topic, "Nazi 'black magic' was regarded as a topic for sensational authors in pursuit of strong sales." In the 1980s, two Ph.D. theses were written about the topic. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke published The Occult Roots of Nazism (1985) based on his thesis, and the German librarian and historian Ulrich Hunger's thesis on rune-lore in Nazi Germany (Die Runenkunde im Dritten Reich) was published in the series Europäische Hochschulschriften (also 1985).
Goodrick-Clarke's book The Occult Roots... is not only considered "without exception" to be the pioneering work on Ariosophy, but also the "definitive book" on the topic. The term 'Ariosophy' refers to an esoteric movement in Germany and Austria of the 1900s to 1930s. It clearly falls under Goodrick-Clarke's definition of occultism, as it obviously drew on the western esoteric tradition. Ideologically, it was remarkably similar to Nazism. According to Goodrick-Clarke, the Ariosophists wove occult ideas into the völkisch ideology that existed in Germany and Austria at the time. Ariosophy shared the racial awareness of völkisch ideology, but also drew upon a notion of root races, postulating locations such as Atlantis, Thule and Hyperborea as the original homeland of the Aryan race (and its "purest" branch, the Teutons or Germanic peoples). The Ariosophic writings described a glorious ancient Germanic past, in which an elitist priesthood "expounded occult-racist doctrines and ruled over a superior and racially pure society." The downfall of this imaginary golden age was explained as the result of the interbreeding between the master race and the untermenschen (lesser races). The "abstruse ideas and weird cults [of Ariosophy] anticipated the political doctrines and institutions of the Third Reich" writes Goodrick-Clarke in the introduction to his book, motivating the phrase "occult roots of Nazism"; direct influences, however, are sparse. With the exception of Karl Maria Wiligut, Goodrick-Clarke has not found evidence that prominent Ariosophists directly influenced Nazism.
Goodrick-Clarke considers the "Nazi crusade [as] ... essentially religious". His follow-up book Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity examined 'ariosophic' ideas after 1945 and 'neo-völkisch movements'.
After Nazi Germany had surrendered in World War II, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services published a report on the Nazi Master Plan of the Persecution of the Christian Churches. Historians and theologians generally agree about the Nazi policy towards religion, that the objective was to remove explicitly Jewish content from the Bible (i.e., the Old Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, and the Pauline Epistles), transforming the Christian faith into a new religion, completely cleansed from any Jewish element and conciliate it with Nazism, Völkisch ideology and Führerprinzip: a religion called "Positive Christianity".
The Nazi Party program of 1920 included a statement on religion as point 24. In this statement, the Nazi party demands freedom of religion (for all religious denominations that are not opposed to the customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race); the paragraph proclaims the party's endorsement of Positive Christianity. Historians have described this statement as "a tactical measure, 'cleverly' left undefined in order to accommodate a broad range of meanings," and an "ambiguous phraseology." However, Richard Steigmann-Gall in The Holy Reich holds that, on closer examination, "Point 24 readily provides us with three key ideas in which the Nazis claimed that their movement was Christian": the movement's antisemitism, its social ethic under the phrase Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz (roughly: "public need before private greed") and its attempt to bridge the confessional divide between Catholicism and Protestantism in Germany.
This is a topic of some controversy. Conway holds that The Holy Reich has broken new ground in the examination of the relation between Nazism and Christianity, despite his view that "Nazism and Christianity were incompatible." Conway claims that Steigmann-Gall "is undeniably right to point out how much Nazism owed to German Christian" concepts and only considers his conclusion as "overdrawn".
The virulent antisemitism of Martin Luther has been identified as an inspiration for Nazism. However, according to the theologian Johannes Wallmann, Luther's views exercised no continual influence in Germany, and Hans J. Hillerbrand claimed that the focus on Luther's influence on Nazism's anti-Semitism ignored other factors in German history.
The Nazis were aided by theologians, such as Dr. Ernst Bergmann. Bergmann, in his work, Die 25 Thesen der Deutschreligion (Twenty-five Points of the German Religion), expounded the theory that the Old Testament and portions of the New Testament of the Bible were inaccurate. He proposed that Jesus was of Aryan origin, and that Adolf Hitler was the new messiah.
Within a large movement like Nazism, "it may not be especially shocking to discover" that individuals could embrace different ideological systems that would seem to be polar opposites. The religious beliefs of even the leading Nazis diverged strongly.
The difficulty for historians lies in the task of evaluating not only the public, but also the private statements of the Nazi politicians. Steigmann-Gall, who intended to do this in his study, points to such people as Erich Koch (who was not only Gauleiter of East Prussia and Reichskomissar for the Ukraine, but also the elected praeses of the East Prussian provincial synod of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union) and Bernhard Rust as examples of Nazi politicians who also professed to be Christian in private.
Adolf Hitler's religious beliefs have been a matter of debate; the wide consensus of historians consider him to have been irreligious, anti-Christian, anti-clerical and scientistic. In light of evidence such as his fierce criticism and vocal rejection of the tenets of Christianity, numerous private statements to confidants denouncing Christianity as a harmful superstition, and his strenuous efforts to reduce the influence and independence of Christianity in Germany after he came to power, Hitler's major academic biographers conclude that he was irreligious and an opponent of Christianity. Historian Laurence Rees found no evidence that "Hitler, in his personal life, ever expressed belief in the basic tenets of the Christian church". Ernst Hanfstaengl, a friend from his early days in politics, says Hitler "was to all intents and purposes an atheist by the time I got to know him". However, historians such as Richard Weikart and Alan Bullock doubt the assessment that he was a true atheist, suggesting that despite his dislike of Christianity he still clung to a form of spiritual belief. 
Hitler was born to a practising Catholic mother, and was baptised in the Roman Catholic Church. From a young age, he expressed disbelief and hostility to Christianity. But in 1904, acquiescing to his mother's wish, he was confirmed at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Linz, Austria, where the family lived. According to John Willard Toland, witnesses indicate that Hitler's confirmation sponsor had to "drag the words out of him ... almost as though the whole confirmation was repugnant to him". Rissmann notes that, according to several witnesses who lived with Hitler in a men's home in Vienna, Hitler never again attended Mass or received the sacraments after leaving home. Several eyewitnesses who lived with Hitler while he was in his late teens and early-to-mid 20s in Vienna state that he never attended church after leaving home at 18.
In Hitler's early political statements, he attempted to express himself to the German public as a Christian. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches prior to and in the early years of his rule, he described himself as a Christian. Hitler and the Nazi party promoted "Positive Christianity", a movement which rejected most traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus, as well as Jewish elements such as the Old Testament. In one widely quoted remark, he described Jesus as an "Aryan fighter" who struggled against "the power and pretensions of the corrupt Pharisees" and Jewish materialism.
While a small minority of historians accept these publicly stated views as genuine expressions of his spirituality, the vast majority believe that Hitler was skeptical of religion and anti-Christian, but recognized that he could only be elected and preserve his political power if he feigned a commitment to and belief in Christianity, which the overwhelming majority of Germans believed in. Privately, Hitler repeatedly deprecated Christianity, and told confidants that his reluctance to make public attacks on the Church was not a matter of principle, but a pragmatic political move. In his private diaries, Goebbels wrote in April 1941 that though Hitler was "a fierce opponent" of the Vatican and Christianity, "he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons." Hitler's remarks to confidants, as described in the Goebbels Diaries, the memoirs of Albert Speer, and transcripts of Hitler's private conversations recorded by Martin Bormann in Hitler's Table Talk, are further evidence of his irreligious and anti-Christian beliefs; these sources record a number of private remarks in which Hitler ridicules Christian doctrine as absurd, contrary to scientific advancement, and socially destructive.
Once in office, Hitler and his regime sought to reduce the influence of Christianity on society. From the mid-1930s, his government was increasingly dominated by militant anti-church proponents like Goebbels, Bormann, Himmler, Rosenberg and Heydrich whom Hitler appointed to key posts. These anti-church radicals were generally permitted or encouraged to perpetrate the Nazi persecutions of the churches. The regime launched an effort toward coordination of German Protestants under a unified Protestant Reich Church (but this was resisted by the Confessing Church), and moved early to eliminate political Catholicism. Hitler agreed to the Reich concordat with the Vatican, but then routinely ignored it, and permitted persecutions of the Catholic Church. Smaller religious minorities faced harsher repression, with the Jews of Germany expelled for extermination on the grounds of Nazi racial ideology. Jehovah's Witnesses were ruthlessly persecuted for refusing both military service and allegiance to Hitler's movement. Hitler said he anticipated a coming collapse of Christianity in the wake of scientific advances, and that Nazism and religion could not co-exist long term. Although he was prepared to delay conflicts for political reasons, historians conclude that he ultimately intended the destruction of Christianity in Germany, or at least its distortion or subjugation to a Nazi outlook.
According to Goodrick-Clarke, Rudolf Hess had been a member of the Thule Society before attaining prominence in the Nazi party. As Adolf Hitler's official deputy, Hess had also been attracted to and influenced by the biodynamic agriculture of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy. In the wake of his flight to Scotland, Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the security police, banned lodge organizations and esoteric groups on 9 June 1941.
The Thule Society, which is remotely connected to the origins of the Nazi Party, was one of the ariosophic groups of the late 1910s. Thule Gesellschaft had initially been the name of the Munich branch of the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail, a lodge-based organisation which was built up by Rudolf von Sebottendorff in 1917. For this task he had received about a hundred addresses of potential members in Bavaria from Hermann Pohl, and from 1918 he was also supported by Walter Nauhaus. According to an account by Sebottendorff, the Bavarian province of the Germanenorden Walvater had 200 members in spring 1918, which had risen to 1500 in autumn 1918, of these 250 in Munich. Five rooms, capable of accommodating 300 people, were leased from the fashionable Hotel Vierjahreszeiten ('Four Seasons') in Munich and decorated with the Thule emblem showing a dagger superimposed on a swastika. Since the lodge's ceremonial activities were accompanied by overtly right-wing meetings, the name Thule Gesellschaft was adopted to arouse less attention from socialists and pro-Republicans.
The Thule Society took its name from Thule, an alleged lost land. Sebottendorff identified Ultima Thule as Iceland. In the Armanism of Guido von List, to which Sebottendorff made distinct references, it was believed that the Aryan race had originated from the apocryphal lost continent of Atlantis and taken refuge in Thule/Iceland after Atlantis had been deluged and sunk under the sea. Hyperborea was also mentioned by Guido von List, with direct references to the theosophic author William Scott-Elliot.
In The Myth of the Twentieth Century, the most important Nazi book after Mein Kampf, Alfred Rosenberg referred to Atlantis as a lost land or at least to an Aryan cultural center. Since Rosenberg had attended meetings of the Thule Society, he might have been familiar with the occult speculation about lost lands; however, according to Lutzhöft (1971), Rosenberg drew on the work of Herman Wirth. The attribution of the Urheimat of the Nordic race to a deluged land was very appealing at that time.
In the autumn of 1918 Sebottendorff attempted to extend the appeal of the Thule Society's nationalist ideology to people from a working-class background. He entrusted the Munich sports reporter Karl Harrer with the formation of a workers' club, called the Deutscher Arbeiterverein ('German workers' club') or Politischer Arbeiterzirkel ('Political workers' ring'). The most active member of this club was Anton Drexler. Drexler urged the foundation of a political party, and on 5 January 1919 the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP, German Workers' Party) was formally founded. When Adolf Hitler first encountered the DAP on 12 September 1919, Sebottendorff had already left the Thule Society (in June 1919). By the end of February 1920, Hitler had transformed the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei into the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP or National Socialist German Workers’ Party). Apparently, meetings of the Thule Society continued until 1923. A certain Johannes Hering kept a diary of these meetings; it mentions the attendance of other Nazi leaders between 1920 and 1923, but not Hitler.
That the origins of the Nazi Party can be traced to the lodge organisation of the Thule Society is fact. However, there were only two points in which the NSDAP was a successor to the Thule Society. One is the use of the swastika. Friedrich Krohn, who was responsible for the colour scheme of the Nazi flag, had been a member of the Thule Society and also of the Germanenorden since 1913. Goodrick-Clarke concludes that the origins of the Nazi symbol can be traced back through the emblems of the Thule Society and the Germanenorden and ultimately to Guido von List, but it is not evident that the Thulean ideology filtered through the DAP into the NSDAP. Goodrick-Clarke implies that ariosophical ideas were of no consequence: "the DAP line was predominantly one of extreme political and social nationalism, and not based on the Aryan-racist-occult pattern of the Germanenorden [and Thule Society]". Godwin summarises the differences in outlook which separated the Thule Society from the direction taken by the Nazis:
"Hitler...had little time for the whole Thule business, once it had carried him where he needed to be...he could see the political worthlessness of paganism [i.e., what Goodrick-Clarke would describe as the racist-occult complex of Ariosophy] in Christian Germany. Neither did the Führer's plans for his Thousand-year Reich have any room whatever for the heady love of individual liberty with which the Thuleans romantically endowed their Nordic ancestors."
The other point in which the NSDAP continued the activities of the Thule Society is in the publication of the newspaper Völkischer Beobachter. Originally, the Beobachter ("Observer") had been a minor weekly newspaper of the eastern suburbs of Munich, published since 1868. After the death of its last publisher in June 1918, the paper ceased publication, until Sebottendorff bought it one month later. He renamed it Münchener Beobachter und Sportsblatt ("Munich Observer and Sports Paper") and wrote "trenchant anti-Semitic" editorials for it. After Sebottendorff left Munich, the paper was converted into a limited liability company. By December 1920, all its shares were in the hands of Anton Drexler, who transferred the ownership of the paper to Hitler in November 1921.
Its connection with Nazism has made the Thule Society a popular subject of modern cryptohistory. Among other things, it is hinted that Karl Haushofer and G. I. Gurdjieff were connected to the Society, but this theory is completely unsustainable.
In January 1933 Sebottendorff published Bevor Hitler kam: Urkundlich aus der Frühzeit der Nationalsozialistischen Bewegung ("Before Hitler Came: Documents from the Early Days of the National Socialist Movement"). Nazi authorities understandably disliked the book, which was banned in the following year. Sebottendorff was arrested but managed to flee to Turkey.
Credited retrospectively with being the founder of "Esoteric Hitlerism", and certainly a figure of major importance for the officially sanctioned research and practice of mysticism by a Nazi elite, was Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler who, more than any other high official in the Third Reich (including Hitler) was fascinated by pan-Aryan (i.e., broader than Germanic) racialism. Himmler's capacity for rational planning was accompanied by an "enthusiasm for the utopian, the romantic and even the occult."
It also seems that Himmler had an interest in astrology. He consulted the astrologer Wilhelm Wulff in the last weeks of the Second World War. (One detailed but difficult source for this is a book written by Wulff himself, Tierkreis und Hakenkreuz, published in Germany in 1968. That Walter Schellenberg had discovered an astrologer called Wulf is mentioned in Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler.)
In Bramwell's assessment: "Too much can be made of the importance of bizarre cultism in Himmler's activities...but it did exist, and was one of the reasons behind the split between Himmler and Darré that took place in the late 1930s." Although Himmler did not have any contact with the Thule Society, he possessed more occult tendencies than any other Nazi leader. The German journalist and historian Heinz Höhne, an authority on the SS, explicitly describes Himmler's views about reincarnation as occultism.
The historic example which Himmler used in practice as the model for the SS was the Society of Jesus, since Himmler found in the Jesuits what he perceived to be the core element of any order, the doctrine of obedience and the cult of the organisation. The evidence for this largely rests on a statement from Walter Schellenberg in his memoirs (Cologne, 1956, p. 39), but Hitler is also said to have called Himmler "my Ignatius of Loyola". As an order, the SS needed a coherent doctrine that would set it apart. Himmler attempted to construct such an ideology, and to this purpose he deduced a "pseudo-Germanic tradition" from history. However, this attempt was not entirely successful. Höhne observes that "Himmler's neo-pagan customs remained primarily a paper exercise".
In a 1936 memorandum, Himmler set forth a list of approved holidays based on pagan and political precedents and meant to wean SS members from their reliance on Christian festivities. The Winter Solstice, or Yuletide, was the climax of the year. It brought SS folk together at candlelit banquet tables and around raging bonfires that harked back to German tribal rites.
The Allach Julleuchter (Yule light) was made as a presentation piece for SS officers to celebrate the winter solstice. It was later given to all SS members on the same occasion, December 21. Made of unglazed stoneware, the Julleuchter was decorated with early pagan Germanic symbols. Himmler said, “I would have every family of a married SS man to be in possession of a Julleuchter. Even the wife will, when she has left the myths of the church find something else which her heart and mind can embrace.”
Only adherents of theories of Nazi occultism or the few former SS members who were, after the war, participants in the Landig Group in Vienna would claim that the cultic activities within the SS would amount to its own mystical religion. At the time of his death in 1986, Rudolf J. Mund was working on a book on the Germanic 'original race-cult religion', however, what was indoctrinated into the SS is not known in detail.
In 1935 Himmler, along with Darré, established the Ahnenerbe. At first independent, it became the ancestral heritage branch of the SS. Headed by Dr. Hermann Wirth, it was dedicated primarily to archaeological research, but it was also involved in proving the superiority of the 'Aryan race' and in occult practices.
A great deal of time and resources were spent on researching or creating a popularly accepted “historical”, “cultural” and “scientific” background so the ideas about a “superior” Aryan race could be publicly accepted. For example, an expedition to Tibet was organized to search for the origins of the "Aryan race". To this end, the expedition leader, Ernst Schäfer, had his anthropologist Bruno Beger make face masks and skull and nose measurements. Another expedition was sent to the Andes.
Bramwell, however, comments that Himmler "is supposed to have sent a party of SS men to Tibet in order to search for Shangri-La, an expedition which is more likely to have had straightforward espionage as its purpose".
The official newspaper of SS was Das Schwarze Korps ("The Black Corps"), published weekly from 1935 to 1945. In its first issue, the newspaper published an article on the origins of the Nordic race, hypothesizing a location near the North Pole similar to the theory of Hermann Wirth (but not mentioning Atlantis).
Also in 1935, the SS journal commissioned a Professor of Germanic History, Heinar Schilling, to prepare a series of articles on ancient Germanic life. As a result, a book containing these articles and entitled Germanisches Leben was published by Koehler & Amelung of Leipzig with the approval of the SS and Reich Government in 1937. Three chapters dealt with the religion of the German people over three periods: nature worship and the cult of the ancestors, the sun religion of the Late Bronze Age, and the cult of the gods.
According to Heinar Schilling, the Germanic peoples of the Late Bronze Age had adopted a four-spoke wheel as symbolic of the sun "and this symbol has been developed into the modern swastika of our own society [i.e., Nazi Germany] which represents the sun." Under the sign of the swastika "the light bringers of the Nordic race overran the lands of the dark inferior races, and it was no coincidence that the most powerful expression of the Nordic world was found in the sign of the swastika". Very little had been preserved of the ancient rites, Professor Schilling continued, but it was a striking fact "that in many German Gaue today on Sonnenwendtage (solstice days) burning sun wheels are rolled from mountain tops down into the valleys below, and almost everywhere the Sonnenwendfeuer (solstice fires) burn on those days." He concluded by saying that "The Sun is the All-Highest to the Children of the Earth".
Himmler has been claimed to have considered himself the spiritual successor or even reincarnation of Heinrich the Fowler, having established special SS rituals for the old king and having returned his bones to the crypt at Quedlinburg Cathedral. Himmler even had his personal quarters at Wewelsburg castle decorated in commemoration of Heinrich the Fowler. The way the SS redesigned the castle referred to certain characters in the Grail-mythos (see The "SS-School House Wewelsburg").
Himmler had visited the Wewelsburg on 3 November 1933 and April 1934; the SS took official possession of it in August 1934. The occultist Karl Maria Wiligut (known in the SS under the pseudonym 'Weisthor') accompanied Himmler on his visits to the castle. Initially, the Wewelsburg was intended to be a museum and officer's college for ideological education within the SS, but it was subsequently placed under the direct control of the office of the Reichsführer SS (Himmler) in February 1935. The impetus for the change of the conception most likely came from Wiligut.
There are some accounts of SS officers celebrating solstices, apparently attempting to recreate a pagan ritual. In his book El Cuarto Lado del Triangulo (Sudamericana 1995), Professor Ronald Newton describes a number of occasions when a Sonnenwendfeier occurred in Argentina. When SS-Sturmbannführer Baron von Thermann (Edmund Freiherr von Thermann, German WP), the new head of the German Legation, arrived in December 1933, one of his first public engagements was to attend the NSDAP Sonnenwendfeier at the house of Vicente Lopez in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, "a neo-pagan festival with torches in which the Argentine Nazis greeted the winter and summer solstices". At another in December 1937, 500 young people, mostly Hitler Youth and Hitler Maidens, were taken to a natural amphitheatre dominating the sea at Comodoro Rivadavia in the south of the country. "They lit great pillars of wood, and in the light of the flickering flames diverse NSDAP orators lectured the children on the origins of the ceremony and sang the praises of the (Nazis) Fallen for Liberty. In March 1939 the pupils at the German School in Rosario were the celebrants on an island in the Paraná River opposite the city: Hitler Youth flags, trumpets, a rustic altar straight from Germanic mythology, young leaders enthroned with solemnity to the accompaniment of choral singing...the Creole witnesses shook their heads in incredulity..." In the Chaco in the north of Argentina the first great event promoted by the Nazis was the Sonnenwendfeier at Charata on 21 December 1935. Portentous discourses of fire alternated with choral renderings". Such activities continued in Argentina after the war. Uki Goñi in his book The Real Odessa (Granta, 2003) describes how Jacques de Mahieu, a wanted SS war criminal, was "a regular speaker at the pagan solar solstice celebrations held by fugitive Nazis in postwar Argentina."
Of all the SS personnel, Karl Maria Wiligut could be best described as a Nazi occultist. The (first?) biography of him, written by Rudolf J. Mund, was titled: Himmler's Rasputin (German: Der Rasputin Himmlers, not translated into English). After his retirement from the Austrian military, Wiligut had been active in the 'ariosophic' milieu. Ariosophy was only one of the threads of Esotericism in Germany and Austria during this time. When he was involuntarily committed to the Salzburg mental asylum between November 1924 and early 1927, he received support from several other occultists. Wiligut was clearly sympathetic to the Nazi Revolution of January 1933. When he was introduced to Himmler by an old friend who had become an SS officer, he got the opportunity to join the SS under the pseudonym 'Weisthor'. He was appointed head of the Department for Pre- and Early history within the Race and Settlement Main Office (Rasse- and Siedlungshauptamt, RuSHA) of the SS. His bureau could (much more than the Ahnenerbe) be described as the occult department of the SS: Wiligut's main duty appears "to have consisted in committing examples of his ancestral memory to paper." Wiligut's work for the SS also included the design of the Totenkopfring (death's head ring) that was worn by SS members. He is even supposed to have designed a chair for Himmler; at least, this chair and its covers are offered for sale on the Internet.
Otto Rahn had written a book Kreuzzug gegen den Gral "Crusade against the Grail" in 1933. In May 1935 he joined the Ahnenerbe; in March 1936 he formally joined the SS. "In September 1935 Rahn wrote excitedly to Weisthor [Karl Maria Wiligut] about the places he was visiting in his hunt for grail traditions in Germany, asking complete confidence in the matter with the exception of Himmler." In 1936 Rahn undertook a journey for the SS to Iceland, and in 1937 he published his travel journal of his quest for the Gnostic-Cathar tradition across Europe in a book titled Luzifers Hofgesinde "Lucifer's Servants". From this book he gave at least one reading, before an "extraordinarily large" audience. An article about this lecture was published in the Westfälische Landeszeitung "Westphalia County Paper", which was an official Nazi newspaper.
Rahn's connection of the Cathars with the Holy Grail ultimately leads to Montségur in France, which had been the last remaining fortress of the Cathars in France during the Middle Ages. According to eyewitnesses, Nazi archaeologists and military officers were present at that castle.
Gregor Schwartz-Bostunitsch was a radical author with German-Ukrainian ancestry. An active agitator against the Bolshevik Revolution, he fled his native Russia in 1920 and travelled widely in eastern Europe, making contact with Bulgarian Theosophists and probably with G.I. Gurdjieff. As a mystical anti-communist, he developed an unshakeable belief in the Jewish-Masonic world conspiracy portrayed in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In 1922 he published his first book, Freemasonry and the Russian Revolution, and emigrated to Germany in the same year. He became an enthusiastic convert to Anthroposophy in 1923, but by 1929 he had repudiated it as yet another agent of the conspiracy. Meanwhile, he had begun to give lectures for the Ariosophical Society and was a contributor to Georg Lomer's originally Theosophical (and later, neopagan) periodical entitled Asgard: A Fighting Sheet for the Gods of the Homeland. He also worked for Alfred Rosenberg's news agency during the 1920s before joining the SS. He lectured widely on conspiracy theories and was appointed an honorary SS professor in 1942, but was barred from lecturing in uniform because of his unorthodox views. In 1944 he was promoted to SS-Standartenführer on Himmler's recommendation.
The Blaine Amendment was first a failed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Thirty-eight of the fifty states adopted provisions of Blaine in their state constitutions. These provisions forbid direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation. They were designed to prohibit aid to parochial schools, especially those operated by the Catholic Church in locations with large immigrant populations. The Blaine Amendment emerged from a growing consensus among Protestants that public education must be free from sectarian or denominational control, and from nativist tendencies hostile to immigrants.Buddhist feminism
Buddhist feminism is a movement that seeks to improve the religious, legal, and social status of women within Buddhism. It is an aspect of feminist theology which seeks to advance and understand the equality of men and women morally, socially, spiritually, and in leadership from a Buddhist perspective. The Buddhist feminist Rita Gross describes Buddhist feminism as "the radical practice of the co-humanity of women and men."Christian libertarianism
Christian libertarianism is the synthesis of Christian beliefs concerning free will, human nature, and God-given inalienable rights with libertarian political philosophy.
As with other libertarians, what is prohibited by law is limited to various forms of assault, theft, and fraud. Other actions that are forbidden by Christianity can only be disciplined by the church, or in the case of children and teens, one's parents or guardian. Likewise, beliefs such as "love your neighbor as yourself" are not imposed on others.Clericalism
Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import.Confessionalism (politics)
Confessionalism (Arabic: محاصصة طائفية muḥāṣaṣah ṭā’ifīyah) is a system of government that is a de jure mix of religion and politics. It typically entails distributing political and institutional power proportionally among confessional communities.Engaged Spirituality
Engaged spirituality refers to religious or spiritual people who actively engage in the world in order to transform it in positive ways while finding nurturance, inspiration and guidance in their spiritual beliefs and practices. The term was inspired by engaged Buddhism, a concept and set of values developed by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Engaged spirituality encompasses people committed to social change from all the major faith traditions as well as people who refer to themselves as "spiritual but not religious". It has numerous iterations in practice yet common themes unite the many forms it takes. For some in the Catholic tradition, liberation theology guides their form of engaged spirituality.Halachic state
Halachic state (Hebrew: מדינת הלכה, Medinat ha-Halakha) is the idea of a Jewish state governed by Halakha, Jewish religious law.Islamic monarchy
Islamic monarchies are a type of Islamic state which are monarchies. Historically known by various names, such as Mamlakah ("Kingdom"), Caliphate, Sultanate, or Emirate, current Islamic monarchies include:
Kingdom of Morocco
Kingdom of Bahrain
Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Sultanate of Oman
Monarchies of Malaysia
Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace
State of Kuwait
State of Qatar
United Arab EmiratesNichirenism
Nichirenism (日蓮主義, Nichirenshugi) is the nationalistic interpretation of the teachings of Nichiren. The most well known representatives of this form of Nichiren Buddhism are Nissho Inoue and Tanaka Chigaku, who construed Nichiren's teachings according to the notion of Kokutai. It was especially Chigaku who “made innovative use of print media to disseminate his message” and is therefore regarded to have influenced Nichiren based Japanese new religions in terms of methods of propagation.Political science of religion
The political science of religion (also referred to as politicology of religion or politology of religion) is one of the youngest disciplines in the political sciences that deals with a study of influence that religion has on politics and vice versa with a focus on the relationship between the subjects (actors) in politics in the narrow sense: government, political parties, pressure groups, and religious communities. It was established in the last decades of the twentieth century.Reclaiming (Neopaganism)
Reclaiming is a modern witchcraft tradition, aiming to combine the Goddess movement with feminism and political activism (in the peace and anti-nuclear movements). Reclaiming was founded in 1979, in the context of the Reclaiming Collective (1978–1997), by two Neopagan women of Jewish descent, Starhawk and Diane Baker, in order to explore and develop feminist Neopagan emancipatory rituals.Today, the organization focuses on progressive social, political, environmental and economic activism. Guided by a shared, "Principles of Unity, a document that lists the core values of the tradition: personal authority, inclusivity, social and environmental justice and a recognition of intersectionality".Religion in Nazi Germany
There was some diversity of personal views among the Nazi leadership as to the future of religion in Germany. Anti-Church radicals included Hitler's Personal Secretary Martin Bormann, paganist Nazi Philosopher Alfred Rosenberg, and paganist occultist Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Some Nazis, such as Hans Kerrl, who served as Hitler's Minister for Church Affairs pushed for "Positive Christianity", which was a uniquely Nazi form which rejected its Jewish origins and the Old Testament, and portrayed "true" Christianity as a fight against Jews, with Jesus depicted as an Aryan.Nazism wanted to transform the subjective consciousness of the German people—their attitudes, values and mentalities—into a single-minded, obedient "national community". The Nazis believed they would therefore have to replace class, religious and regional allegiances. Under the Gleichschaltung process, Hitler attempted to create a unified Protestant Reich Church from Germany's 28 existing Protestant churches. The plan failed, and was resisted by the Confessing Church. Persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany followed the Nazi takeover. Hitler moved quickly to eliminate Political Catholicism. Amid harassment of the Church, the Reich concordat treaty with the Vatican was signed in 1933, and promised to respect Church autonomy. Hitler routinely disregarded the Concordat, closing all Catholic institutions whose functions were not strictly religious. Clergy, nuns, and lay leaders were targeted, with thousands of arrests over the ensuing years. The Church accused the regime of "fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church". Historians resist however a simple equation of Nazi opposition to both Judaism and Christianity. Nazism was clearly willing to use the support of Christians who accepted its ideology, and Nazi opposition to both Judaism and Christianity was not fully analogous in the minds of the Nazis.Smaller religious minorities such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Bahá'í Faith were banned in Germany, while the eradication of Judaism by the genocide of its adherents was attempted. The Salvation Army, the Christian Saints and the Seventh-day Adventist Church all disappeared from Germany, while astrologers, healers and fortune tellers were banned. The small pagan "German Faith Movement", which worshipped the sun and seasons, supported the Nazis. Many historians believed that Hitler and the Nazis intended to eradicate Christianity in Germany after winning victory in the war.In 1933, 5 years prior to the annexation of Austria into Germany, the population of Germany was approximately 67% Protestant and 33% Catholic, while the Jewish population was less than 1%. A census in May 1939, six years into the Nazi era and after the annexation of mostly Catholic Austria and mostly Catholic Czechoslovakia into Germany, indicates that 54% considered themselves Protestant, 40% Catholic, 3.5% self-identified as gottgläubig (lit. "believing in God", often described as predominately creationist and deistic), and 1.5% as "atheist".Religious anti-Zionism
While anti-Zionism usually utilizes ethnic and political arguments against the existence or policies of the state of Israel, anti-Zionism has also been expressed within religious contexts which have, at times, colluded and collided with the ethnopolitical arguments over Israel's legitimacy. Outside of the liberal and socialist fields of anti-Zionist currents, the religious (and often ethnoreligious) arguments tend to predominate as the driving ideological power within the incumbent movements and organizations, and usually target the Israeli state's relationship with Judaism.Religious police
Religious police is the police force responsible for the enforcement of religious norms and associated religious laws.
While most police enforcing religious norms in the modern world are Islamic and found in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, some are not (for example in Vietnam, the religious security police monitor “extremist” religious groups, detaining and interrogating suspected Dega Protestants or Ha Mon Catholics).Religious socialism
Religious socialism is any form of socialism based on religious values. Members of several major religions have found that their beliefs about human society fit with socialist principles and ideas. As a result, religious socialist movements have developed within these religions. Such movements include:
Jewish socialismRevisionist Maximalism
Revisionist Maximalism was a short-lived movement and Jewish fascist ideology which was part of the Brit HaBirionim faction of the Zionist Revisionist Movement (ZRM) created by Abba Ahimeir.Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism
Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism is a political ideology which combines a focus upon Sinhalese culture and ethnicity with an emphasis upon Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority belief system of most of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. It mostly originated in reaction to the colonisation of Sri Lanka by the British Empire and became increasingly assertive in the years following the independence of the country.Tseghakronism
Tseghakronism (Armenian: Ցեղակրոնություն translit. Tseghakronutyun) is a national/ethnic and political movement towards a renewal of the spiritual, behavioral and cultural identity of the Armenian people.
"Tseghakron" literally means "carrier of race " referring to those who represent and carry what is the spiritual and biological essence of the "classical" Armenian. However, it is often erroneously interpreted to mean "race-religion".
The movement was founded by Garegin Nzhdeh, and his associates Hayk Asatryan and Nerses Astvatsaturyan later refined it as the ideology of Taronism (Տարոնականություն) - an organic part and continuation of Tseghakronism.World Agudath Israel
World Agudath Israel (Hebrew: אגודת ישראל), usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism. It succeeded Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel (Union of Faithful Jewry) in 1912. Its base of support was located in Eastern Europe before the Second World War but, due to the revival of the Hasidic movement, it included Orthodox Jews throughout Europe.