Article Series

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion

When a man can present himself as a god, or at least as divinity’s chosen servant, and his supporters promote his fantasy, he can wield authority like no other. Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion explores history’s recurring rise of despotic rulers and examines how they portrayed themselves as gods in their quest for domination. Whether emperors or kings, tyrants or despots, they all succumbed to megalomania. Has the world seen the last of these god-men?

Men as Gods

Part 1

Men As Gods

David Hulme

It’s a reality with a colorful history dating back to ancient empires: Powerful leaders sometimes fall prey to grand delusions.

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 2: The Coming of the Christian Emperor

Part 2

The Coming of the “Christian” Emperor

David Hulme

Some notions of rule and their relation to religion have surprisingly deep roots. David Hulme explores government systems based on emperor worship.  

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 6: “I Am Called to Change the World”

Part 6

“I Am Called to Change the World”

David Hulme

Described as the “restorer of religion, savior of the Church, anointed sovereign, living saint,” Napoleon was perhaps one of the most arrogant false messiahs.

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 7a: Hearts of Darkness

Part 7a

Hearts of Darkness

David Hulme

The magnitude of evil perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini and their brutal totalitarian regimes proved them utterly false messiahs.

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 7b: Dictators' Downfall

Part 7b

Dictators’ Downfall

David Hulme

Hitler and Mussolini exuded messianic pretensions even before they came to power, and later willingly accepted the divinity their adoring publics granted them.

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 8: Purging the People

Part 8

Purging the People

David Hulme

In the Soviet Union, the exploitation of religious fervor helped foster one of the most murderous regimes in history. 

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 9: Oriental Christs

Part 9

Oriental Christs

David Hulme

Manipulation of religious fervor is an important element in the rise and rule of dictators such as Mao Zedong, Pol Pot and Kim Il-sung.

Messiahs! Rulers and the Role of Religion, Part 10: The Final False Messiah

Part 10

The Final False Messiah

David Hulme

Historically would-be saviors who promised peace and prosperity failed to deliver. Can any human being or form of government ultimately deliver us or bring salvation?