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A brief list of (mostly)
religiously-motivated genocides:

In recent years and during Biblical times

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bullet"And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword. Joshua 6:21 1
bullet"So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon." Joshua 10:40-41 1
bullet"To kill the big rats, you have to kill the little rats." A statement justifying the mass murder of innocent Tutsi children, infants, and newborns. It was made by a political commentator on Radio Mille Collines in Rwanda, just before the 1994 genocide, perpetrated by many Hutus. 2

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Recent genocides:

According to the Article II of the United Nation's Genocide Convention of 1948 (UNCG), the term "genocide" means a major action "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:" "...Killing members of the group" is one action which qualifies under the Convention. 3

A very few conservative Christians have called for the U.S. government to mount a genocidal campaign against minority groups. They have primarily targeted homosexuals and Wiccans. However, most North Americans find it difficult to conceive of an activity that is more horrific and reprehensible than genocide.

During the 20th century, 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 were:

bulletThe deaths of unknown millions Congolese, starting in 1885 and continuing into the 20th century, while the Congo Free State (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) was controlled by King Leopold II of Belgium. It was a regime of widespread forced labor, mass murder, mutilation and torture. 4
bulletThe massacre of the Armenian Christians by the Turks during 1915 & 1916.. Although the government of Turkey denies that this actually happened, the evidence of the genocide is overwhelming.
bulletThe artificial Ukrainian famine of the 1930s, perpetrated by the communist government of the USSR.
bulletThe highly organized extermination of about 11 million persons by the Nazi government of Germany, including six million Jews, millions of Poles, and 400,000 Roma, during World War II. There are Holocaust deniers who say that it never happened. Again, the evidence is overwhelming that the Holocaust happened.
bulletThe genocide of Muslims, Roma, Serbian Orthodox and others by the Ustaa -- a Roman-Catholic/Fascist regime) which controlled Croatia from 1941 to 1945.
bulletThe 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
bulletThe destruction of over one million of the Cambodian intelligentsia and others by the Khmer Rouge Communists in the mid 1970s.
bulletThe 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 exterminated.
bulletThe genocide of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly Muslims, primarily by Serbian Orthodox Christians in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s.
bulletThe genocide of Christians and Animists by the Muslim government of Sudan. This program continues today, although it does appear to be slowing down.
bulletThe 1994 genocide of about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda.

Many of these mass murders and crimes against humanity were sufficiently serious to qualify as genocides.

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Ancient genocides in the Holy Land:

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 most current definitions of the term. They were:

bulletGenesis, 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..." 6 God apparentlydecided that the solution lay in more violence: He decided to destroy almost the entire human race. Only Noah, his three sons and their four wives survived by building an ark to ride out the flood. The rest of the human race -- elderly, men, women, youth, children, infants and newborns -- and the land animals and birds were said to have all drowned a gruesome death. The Schofield Bible dates the flood as happening in 2349 BCE. This was the largest and most thorough act of genocide in history. Jews and Christians are undecided about whether it actually happened, or whether it is a religious myth derived from Babylonian sources. More details.
bulletExodus, 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 all of the first-born in the country -- both human and animal -- including the old, middle-aged, young, 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. Schofield dates the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt at 1491 BCE.
bulletDeuteronomy, 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" 7 leaving "alive nothing that breathes." 8 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:
bulletJoshua 8:24 - City of Ai
bulletJoshua 10:26 - Joshua murdered five defenseless kings of the Amorites in cold blood.
bulletJoshua 10:28 - City of Makkedah
bulletJoshua 10:29 - City of Libnah
bulletJoshua 10:31 - City of Lachish
bulletJoshua 10:33 - City of Gezer "...Joshua smote him and his people until he had left him none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:34 - City of Elgon "They left none remaining."
bulletJoshua 10:37 - City of Hebron
bulletJoshua 10:38 - City of Debir
bulletJudges, 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 nearly 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 would continue.

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Related menu on this web site:

bulletMass crimes against humanity and genocides

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Site navigation:

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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  1. King James Version of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament).
  2. "Children in war," Unicef, at: http://www.unicef.org/
  3. "Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide," University of the West of England, at: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/
  4. "Conan Doyle and the Belgian Congo," at: http://www.siracd.com/
  5. Robyn Williams, "Bengali Famine," at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/
  6. Genesis 6:6. American Standard Version.
  7. Deuteronomy 20:17, Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), KJV.
  8. Deuteronomy 20:16, KJV.
  9. "Genocide: Definition and Controversies," University of the West of England, at: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/

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Copyright 2003 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2003-MAR-22
Latest update: 2006-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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