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Religious Tolerance logo

Genocides.

Part 2 of two parts:

A brief list of genocides -- mostly
religiously-motivated -- that occurred
during Biblical times or since 1880 CE:

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay which
describes two active genocides and one near genocide.

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Genocides during the late 19th century and since:

From the 1880's until now, there have been many mass murders of people groups. Most were motivated to a significant degree by religious beliefs. In chronological order some of them involved:

bullet The deaths of unknown millions Congolese, starting in 1885 and continuing into the 20th century, when the Congo Free State (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was controlled by King Leopold II of Belgium. It was a regime involving widespread forced labor, mass murder, mutilation and torture. 1

bullet

The massacre of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire during 1915 & 1916, at the time of World War I. Although the present government of Turkey denies that this actually happened, the evidence of the genocide appears to be overwhelming. It was perpetrated during the death pangs of the Ottoman Empire by the political party that was in power, called the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), a.k.a. the Young Turks. 2 The genocide has been denounced by many governments and religious groups.

During 2015-APR, Pope Francis conducted a mass to observe the 100th anniversary of the start of the genocide. Jim Yardley and Sebnem Arsu, writing for the New York Times, said:

"In addressing the Armenian question, Francis quoted from a 2001 declaration by Pope John Paul II and Catholicos Karekin II, the Armenian Apostolic Church’s supreme patriarch, in which the two leaders called the Armenian slaughter a campaign of extermination that was '... generally referred to as the first genocide of the 20th century.'

Vatican diplomats have been deliberately prudent in avoiding the term, so in using it during the Mass on Sunday, before an audience that included the Armenian president, Serzh Sargsyan, Francis clearly intended to provoke a response. He equated the fate of the Armenians with the genocides orchestrated by the Nazis and the Soviets under Stalin, while also condemning 'other mass killings, like those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Burundi and Bosnia.'

'It seems that humanity is incapable of putting a halt to the shedding of innocent blood,' Francis said. 'It seems that the human family has refused to learn from its mistakes caused by the law of terror, so that today, too, there are those who attempt to eliminate others with the help of a few, and with the complicit silence of others who simply stand by.'

Francis said it was a duty of everyone not to forget the 'senseless slaughter' of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923. 'Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,' the pope added." 3

In Turkey today, it remains a criminal act to talk about the slaughter of Armenians a century ago.


bullet The Holodomor, (pronounced "huh-luh-duh-more"), an artificial Ukrainian famine of 1923 and 1933. It was perpetrated by the dictator Joseph Stalin and the Communist government of the USSR. Their motivation was to crush an independence movement in the Ukraine and in other ethnically Ukrainian areas in the Northern Caucasus region. Approximately four million people starved to death. In addition to this, other Ukrainians were executed or deported. The Soviet Union denied that any famine occurred; they refused outside help. The atrocity was largely ignored at the time by Western governments even though their diplomats were issuing reports.

On 2006-NOV-28, the Ukrainian Parliament passed a decree that labeled the Holodornor as an intentional Genocidal act. About two dozen other nations have done the same. 4
bullet The highly organized extermination of about 12 million persons by the Nazi government of Germany, including about six million Jews, millions of Poles, and 400,000 Roma, during World War II. This is referred to as the Shoa by the Jewish community, the Devowering among Roma and the Holocaust by others. Some Holocaust deniers still say that it never happened. Again, the evidence is overwhelming that the Holocaust did occur. The most conclusive evidence is found in the surviving homicide installations in the Nazi death camps, the massive reduction of the number of Jews in Europe, the memories of the surviving people who were prisoners in the death camps, and the court testimony of Nazi guards at the death camps.

bullet The genocide of Muslims, Roma, Serbian Orthodox and others by the Ustaša -- a Roman-Catholic/Fascist regime) which controlled Croatia from 1941 to 1945.

bullet The avoidable "Great Bengal Famine" of 1943, which was under British control at the time. This almost forgotten, needless holocaust killed about four million humans. 5

Many of the above mass murders and crimes against humanity were sufficiently serious to qualify under the current definition of genocide.

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bullet

The civil war within Sudan started in 1955 and flared up intermittently afterwards. Over two million people died, mostly in the South, because of the conflict itself, and famines triggered by the war. On the order of five million were displaced. Tens of thousands of women and children were enslaved. The conflict was primarily religiously based, with the Northern part of the country largely composed of Arabic-speaking Muslim, while the Southern part is composed primarily of followers of Christianity and African indigenous religions. 6

The religiously motivated genocide was partially resolved during 2005. Negotiations between the central government in Khartoum, and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) produced the Naivasha Agreement. This set up an independence referendum among adults in South Sudan. It was passed by a 98.8% majority! 7 On 2011-JUL-09. the country was split into two independent nations: Sudan and South Sudan.

Unfortunately, the agony for the people of South Sudan continued, with a rebel group fighting the South Sudan government. Additional tens of thousands of people have died. Intense pressure from the international community led to a peace deal signed during 2015-AUG. A transitional coalition between the government and rebels became effective on 2016-APR-29. 8 Hopefully, the killing, raping, and enslavement will eventually cease.


bullet The destruction of over one million of the Cambodian intelligentsia and others by the Khmer Rouge Communists in the mid 1970s.

bullet The genocide of the Roman Catholics in East Timor by the Muslim government of Indonesia from 1975 to 1999. About one in three Catholics in the country were murdered.

bullet The genocide of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly Muslims, primarily by Serbian Orthodox Christians in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the the civil war during 1990s. This was widely reported in the media as an ethnic conflict. However, it was clearly based on religious intolerance. It was this conflict over terminology that led to the founding of this web site in early 1995.

bullet

The 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda lost their lives over a 100 day interval. The perpetrators were almost all Hutus, who formed the majority tribal group in the country. Unlike many other genocides, before or since, this was not a religiously-based genocide. It was caused by inter-tribal hatred. About 94% of the country are Christians -- mostly Roman Catholic. About 5% are Muslim. 9

Martin Kimani, writing for the British newspaper, The Guardian, speculated that the people of Rwanda must find the 2010 apology by Pope Benedict XVI to the people of Ireland unbearable. The Pope apologized for the widespread sexual abuse of youths by Catholic priests. Rwandans have not received a similar apology. Kimani wrote:

"... the Vatican says that those priests, those bishops, those nuns, those archbishops who planned and killed were not acting under the instruction of the church. But moral responsibility changes dramatically if you are a European or US Catholic. To the priests of the Irish church who abused children, the pope has this to say: "You must answer for it before almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres." 10

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Ancient genocides in the Holy Land during biblical times:

The Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) of the Bible describe many events which involved major loss of life. Most were conventional wars. At least four events would probably qualify as genocides under modern-day definitions of that term. They were recorded in:

bullet Genesis, chapters 6 to 8: The Bible records that God was concerned about the level of violence and other evil behavior among humans. He "was sorry that He had made man on the earth..." 11 God apparently decided that the solution lay in more violence: He decided to destroy almost the entire human race. Only eight people -- Noah, his three sons and their four wives -- survived by building an ark to ride out the flood. The rest of the human race -- the elderly, other men and women, youth, children, infants and newborns -- were said to have all drowned a gruesome death. All the land animals and birds died, except for those in the ark. Many of the fish and sea mammals would also have died because they would not have been able to survive when the amount of salt in the world's lakes, rivers and oceans was changed.

The Scofield Bible dates the flood as happening in 2349 BCE. If it actually happened, then this would have been the largest and most thorough act of genocide in history. Jews and Christians are undecided about whether the biblical account is accurate, or whether it is a religious myth derived from Babylonian sources. More details.

bullet Exodus, chapters 11 & 12: God first hardened the heart of the Pharaoh of Egypt so that he would refuse the request by his Hebrew slaves for permission to leave Egypt. Then, God sent a series of plagues to torment all the inhabitants of Egypt. Finally, God sent an angel to kill the first-born in the country -- both human and animal -- including the old, middle-aged, young adults, children, and newborns. The only exception were those Hebrews who had taken special precautions by ritually slaughtering a lamb and spreading its blood over the doorways of their homes. This genocide was the final act that convinced the Pharaoh to release the Hebrews. Scofield dates the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt at 1491 BCE.

bullet Deuteronomy, chapters 7 & 20. and Joshua, chapters 6, 8, 10, 11, 14, etc.: After wandering in the desert for four decades, God ordered the Hebrews to invade the "promised land" and totally exterminate "the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites" 12 leaving "alive nothing that breathes." 13 They were to fight and kill the soldiers of these groups, and then murder the defenseless elderly, women, youths, children, infants, and newborns. The book of Joshua records the progress of the genocide, city by city:
bullet Joshua 8:24 - City of Ai

bullet Joshua 10:26 - Joshua murdered five defenseless kings of the Amorites in cold blood.

bullet Joshua 10:28 - City of Makkedah.

bullet Joshua 10:29 - City of Libnah.

bullet Joshua 10:31 - City of Lachish.

bullet Joshua 10:33 - City of Gezer "...Joshua smote him and his people until he had left him none remaining."

bullet Joshua 10:34 - City of Elgon "They left none remaining."

bullet Joshua 10:37 - City of Hebron

bullet Joshua 10:38 - City of Debir

bullet Judges, chapters 19 and 20: Some of the people in the town of Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin sexually abused and murdered the concubine of a priest. In an act of grave desecration of her body, her owner mutilated her corpse by cutting it into 12 pieces. He sent one to each of the tribes of Israel. This triggered a civil war between the tribe of Benjamin, and an army of 400,000 soldiers, drawn from the remaining 11 tribes. Tens of thousands died during the fighting. Apparently all of the Benjamin towns were burned and their women and children were systematically exterminated during these battles. The tribe of Benjamin was essentially wiped out; only a few hundred men survived. Other atrocities then followed which provided new wives for the men of the tribe of Benjamin, so that the tribe was not wiped from the pages of history.

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Laws & religionGenocide > here

or: Home > Religious violence Genocide > here

 Home > Christianity > Bible > Stories > God's genocides > here

 Home > Religious violence > Overview > God's genocides > here

Home > Laws & religion Genocide > God's genocides > here

Home > Religious violence Genocide > God's genocides >  here

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Conan Doyle and the Belgian Congo," at: http://www.siracd.com/
  2. "Armenian Genocide," History.com, 2010, at: http://www.history.com/
  3. Jim Yardley & Sebnem Arsu, "Pope Calls Killings of Armenians ‘Genocide,’ Provoking Turkish Anger," New York Times, 2015-APR-12, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  4. Natasha Sazonova, "Holodomor, 1932-33," undated, at: http://www.holodomorct.org/
  5. Robyn Williams, "Bengali Famine," at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/
  6. Francis M. Deng, "Sudan - Civil War and Genocide. Disappearing Christians of the Middle East," Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2001, Pages 13-21. Online at: http://www.meforum.org/
  7. "South Sudanese independence referendum, 2011," Wikipedia, as on 2016-FEB-23, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  8. Jason Patinkin, "South Sudan government, rebels form transitional coalition," Associated Press, 2016-APR-29, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  9. "Religion in Rwanda," Wikipedia,
  10. Martin Kimani, "For Rwandans, the Pope's apology must be unbearable," Guardian, 2010-MAR-29, at:http://www.bishop-accountability.org/
  11. Genesis 6:6. American Standard Version.
  12. Deuteronomy 20:17, Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), KJV.
  13. Deuteronomy 20:16, KJV.

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Copyright © 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-APR-30
Latest update: 2016-MAY-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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