Facebook Fundamentalism Revisited: Adam said...

I just wanted to repost a great little comment from my friend Adam because it so succinctly speaks to the underlying problem with Christians who refuse to acknowledge our own corporate/historical sins:

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Wow, I'm a little late to the party on this. I know your whole point is that it's a stupid game to play (and I'm with you), but claiming that Muslims are more violent due to body count is just dumb. If he's saying 10,000 deaths, then he's counting bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan which really boil down to internal power struggles by people who identify as Muslim.

Apply that same criteria to Christians and it doesn't look so good. You don't have to go back to the crusades. Heck, some of the worst massacres in recent history have been perpetrated by people that identify as Christian; the Rwandan genocide easily taking the cake.


Oh well. I'm beating a dead horse, preaching to the choir, and mixing metaphors all at the same time. I think I'm just tired of sentiments that demonize others. That and too many mosques have been torched in my town.

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The horse isn't dead as long as these conversations keep coming up, Adam.  We need these reminders.  Sadly, the very conversation I was having is indicative of the very problem inherent in extremist religion.  Angry Christians, demonizing Islam for extremism, were refusing to acknowledge the sins and shortcomings of their own religion.  If we can't even get past THAT very initial step in interfaith dialogue (that's like Step 2, after, "Hi, my name is Pete...") then we're pretty much doomed.

I grabbed some text from the links you provided.  On the Rwandan Genocide: "Though religious factors were not prominent (the event was ethnically motivated), the Human Rights Watch reported that a number of religious authorities in Rwanda, particularly Roman Catholic, failed to condemn the genocide at the time. Some in its religious hierarchy have been brought to trial for their participation by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and convicted. Bishop Misago was accused of corruption and complicity in the genocide, but he was cleared of all charges in 2000. The majority of Rwandans, and Tutsis in particular, are Catholic, so shared religion did not prevent genocide."

On Religion in Rwanda: "The Rwandan government reported on November 1, 2006, that 56.5% of the Rwanda's population is Roman Catholic, 26% is Protestant, 11.1% is Seventh-day Adventist, 4.6% is Muslim, 1.7% claims no religious affiliation, and 0.1% practices traditional indigenous beliefs." 

So while religious factors may not have been "prominent" in that event, the events and atrocities were committed by a population over 90% Christian.

On the Bosnian Genocide: In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judged that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was genocide. In the unanimous ruling "Prosecutor v. Krstić", the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), located in The Hague, reaffirmed that the Srebrenica massacre was genocide, the Presiding Judge Theodor Meron stating:

By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity.
The Serbian population is predominantly Orthodox Christian.  Unless we're still unwilling to accept that someone from "our own tribe" is capable of evil.

Adam, thanks for these tragic, poignant and illustrative reminders that Christians can and do commit atrocities, even in modern times, and that religion is never a deciding factor as to the potential for evil a human being or society carries.  We need to keep these conversations moving forward, and the only way forward is for us to own our own sins.  Modeling this, I pray we can invite our neighbors to feel safe enough to do the same.

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