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Richard Cypher
 
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Is Christianity really responsible for the greatest genocides in history?

03 June 2014, 07:37

Last week in an article written by Stream Too, a comment was made that made my hair stand on end. It was a classic hasty generalisation with a good dose of subjective opining thrown in for good measure. The statement was also made with no references whatsoever, as if the author’s opinion should carry enough authoritative weight. It read as follows:

The greatest genocides in human history stemmed from the Christian faith”.

The closest I could get to challenge that statement was to request references. Try as I might, I couldn’t respond any further. My comments kept being removed. So I decided to address it in an article. Hopefully that way it will escape both the keyword nanny and the arbitrary censor board stalking the forum.

Let’s start this by stating very clearly and unambiguously that I am not defending Christianity in the slightest. I only aim to have truth prevail from all sides of the religious spectrum, without fear or favour. As an agnostic, I am only interested in facts.

First off, we have to at least have a common understanding of the terminology. The international legal definition of the crime of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide:

1) the mental element, meaning the "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such", and

2) the physical element which includes five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e. A crime must include both elements to be called "genocide."

Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity.

Excerpt from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide

"Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means 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.

Someone conflated genocide and wars in that same article. They are not necessarily the same thing.

Seeing that the accusation revolves around the greatest genocides in history, let’s make a list of the greatest ones. I doubt if anyone will differ if we use death toll as an indicator of greatest. A list of genocides according to death toll is shown below. This list is obviously not exhaustive and only lists the top 15.

  • The Holocaust – between 4 and 17 million deaths (racial motivation)

  • Holodomor and Soviet famine – between 2.5 and 8 million deaths (political motivation)

  • European colonisation of the Americas – between 2 and 100 million deaths (various reasons including Christian evangelisation)

  • Nigerian Civil War – 1 to 3 million deaths (ethnic motivation)

  • Cambodian Genocide – 1 to 3 million deaths (Communist ideological motivation)

  • Rwandan genocide of 1994 – 500k to 1 million deaths (ethnic motivation)

  • Expulsion of Germans after WW2 – 500k to 3 million deaths (ethnic motivation)

  • Zunghar Genocide – 480 to 600 thousand deaths (ethnic motivation)

  • Circassian Genocide – 400k to 1.5 million deaths (political and ethnic motivation)

  • Armenian Genocide – 1.5 million deaths (ethnic and religious (against the Christian minority) motivation)

  • Decossackisation – 300 to 500 thousand deaths (political and ethnic motivation)

  • Assyrian genocide – 275 to 750 thousand deaths (ethnic and religious (against the Christian minority) motivation)

  • Utashe Genocide (aka The Holocaust in Croatia) – 270 to 655 thousand deaths (racial motivation)

  • Greek Genocide – 200k to 1 million deaths (ethnic and religious (against the Christian minority) motivation)

  • Darfur Conflict – 178 to 400 thousand deaths (ethnic motivation).

These are the top 15 genocides according to death toll and of these, only the European Colonisation had any roots tied to the Christian faith. Christian minorities were actually on the receiving end of three of these genocides.

I would challenge anyone to prove me wrong on this. If you want to attribute any of the other genocides to Christianity, please make sure that you have proper evidence to back up your claims. Opinions don’t count for anything. Someone on this forum often uses a quote along the lines of: “What you think is irrelevant. What you can prove, is.” Sweeping statements that tar entire groupings of people is nothing other than lazy thinking. Anyone that makes such statements might as well call all white people racist, there is no difference.

There are a great many horrible and atrocious historical events that can correctly be attributed to Christianity, but blankly stating that the greatest genocides in human history stemmed from the Christian faith, is an outright lie.

There is no religion higher than the truth.

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