Amateur apologist and keen evangelist Tyronehster challenged me on my view that the military campaigns of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 20:16-18) should be referred to as “genocides” (see http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Answers-Questions-Questions-Answers-20130823). He went to some lengths to show that what was commanded was not genocide, but merely “wholesale slaughter”, on the specious basis that the objective was not to eliminate the various nations entirely, but (as he wrote) “they were told to kill only those living in the land promised to them [by Yahweh]. Now, this may have been vicious, but it wasn't genocide”.
I was somewhat surprised by his argument, bearing in mind that my main assertion is that the actions commanded by the God of Israel were highly immoral regardless of the term used. Indeed, if we were to substitute his preferred term into the equation, then he seems to be agreeing that Yahweh commanded that “wholesale slaughter”. I hope christians think deeply about this.
Be that as it may, tyronehster’s argument is worse than flawed, it is wilfully ignorant. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, is very specific about the definition of genocide.
Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as
“ ...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
I’ll repeat it for emphasis: “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. tyrone has again shown himself for the dishonest spin-doctor that he is, and demonstrated that he is worthy of the term “liar” that I accorded him several months ago on the basis of his assertion back then that the Jews have never committed genocide. Yet he insists on returning to defend the same fraudulent position.
What’s especially interesting about this legal definition is that use of the term is not contingent upon any particular motive for the action, which eliminates the standard christian response that “it wasn’t genocide because God commanded it” – the term describes the results of the action and not the motivation. Claiming that the victims somehow deserved the treatment does not mitigate against use of the word, nor does their common suggestion that “they were evil and sacrificed their children” (which is not a well-substantiated claim anyway).
Article 3 defines the crimes that can be punished under the convention:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide”.
The implications of this for christians are profound. The bible is clear (and believers seem proud of this) that these atrocities were commanded by God. Hence it should be plain to any reader that God is punishable under International Law for conspiracy, incitement to, and complicity in, genocide on the basis of the Old Testament slaughters alone. In relation to the Flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and a host of other unthinkably cruel acts, he is guilty of genocide in its entirety as well as point (d), “attempt to commit genocide”.
So christians worship a god that is guilty and punishable under International Law of the most heinous of atrocities on an epic scale. Furthermore, we know from the Old Testament that he created evil in the world (he allegedly admits it two dozen times in the bible). And yet his followers continue to insist that he is the god of love. tyronehster’s rhetorical gymnastics and outright untruths serve only to convince his fellow credulous followers of superstition that they are justified in endorsing gratuitous murder and ethnic cleansing on an industrial scale. In addition, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law", which means that in defending the actions of their god, they are guilty of that crime, too - at least in spirit if not actuality.
So christians: when you evangelise and testify to others to bring them into the shepherd’s fold – at what point do you reveal the small print and tell them that they’re expected to endorse crimes against humanity?