So far, I haven’t even counted the assassinations and slayings ordered by other Soviet dictators like Lenin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and so on. Nor have I included a host of “lesser” atheist tyrants: Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceausescu, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong-il. Even these “minor league” despots killed a lot of people. Consider Pol Pot, who was the leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Communist Party faction that ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Within this four-year period Pol Pot and his revolutionary ideologues engaged in systematic mass relocations and killings that eliminated approximately one-fifth of the Cambodian population, an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people. In fact, Pol Pot killed a larger percentage of his countrymen than Stalin and Mao killed of theirs.5 Even so, focusing only on the big three—Stalin, Hitler, and Mao—we have to recognize that atheist regimes have in a single century murdered more than one hundred million people.

Religion-inspired killing simply cannot compete with the murders perpetrated by atheist regimes. I recognize that population levels were much lower in the past, and that it’s much easier to kill people today with sophisticated weapons than it was in previous centuries with swords and arrows. Even taking higher population levels into account, atheist violence surpasses religious violence by staggering proportions. Here is a rough calculation. The world’s population rose from around 500 million in 1450 AD to 2.5 billion in 1950, a fivefold increase. Taken together, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch burnings killed approximately 200,000 people. Adjusting for the increase in population, that’s the equivalent of one million deaths today. Even so, these deaths caused by Christian rulers over a five-hundred-year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler and Mao in the space of a few decades.