We often hear that religion is the cause of much war and brutality. I cannot argue with that, but it involves a very selective editing of the casualties. A fairer reading of the statistics would impress us also with the brutality of secularism:
Adolf Hitler, Germany. Kill tally: Directly responsible for the deaths of over 46 million Europeans as a result of the Second World War.Is there an inherent brutality in religion, and not in the politics of secularism? Could it be as the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes, "The hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead." (9:3) War is part of the fallen human condition, whether religiously or secularly instigated.
Benito Mussolini, Italy. Kill tally: Over 400,000 Italians killed during the Second World War. At least 30,000 Ethiopians killed during Italian occupation of Ethiopia.
Heinrich Himmler, Germany. Kill tally: Directly responsible for the deaths of six million in German concentration camps. Collectively responsible for the deaths of over 46 million Europeans as a result of the Second World War.
Joseph Stalin, Russia. Kill tally: Approximately 20 million, including up to 14.5 million needlessly starved to death. At least one million executed for political "offences". At least 9.5 million more deported, exiled or imprisoned in work camps, with many of the estimated five million sent to the 'Gulag Archipelago' never returning alive. Other estimates place the number of deported at 28 million, including 18 million sent to the 'Gulag'.
Mao Tse-Tung, China. Kill tally: 14 to 20 million deaths from starvation during the 'Great Leap Forward'. Tens of thousands killed and millions of lives ruined during the 'Cultural Revolution'.
Pol Pot, Cambodia. Kill tally: One to three million (or between a quarter and a third of the country's population).
Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia. Kill tally: Up to 230,000 killed and three million displaced.
Ne Win, Burma (now Myanmar). Kill tally: No reliable figures, but 3,000-10,000 killed in the 'Rangoon Spring' uprising of 1988. Tens to possibly hundreds of thousands killed since the 1962 military coup d'état.
Kim Il Sung, North Korea. Kill tally: About three million killed in the Korean War. Between 600,000 and one million North Koreans needlessly starved to death due to the economic legacy of Kim's regime. (Some reports claim that as many as three million starved.)
More stats here.