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Christianity And Genocide In Rwanda Essay

823 words - 4 pages

Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda by Timothy Longman discusses the roles of the churches in Rwanda and how their influence might have been able to alter the outcome of the genocide. He discusses the rise of Juvenal Habyarimana in politics with his Catholic background, church and state relations, and obedience to political authority. His slogan “Peace, Unity, and Development” were his political plans for Rwanda. On April 6, 1994, president Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down marking the beginning of the Rwandan genocide. His death was a pretext for government and military officials to begin their launch against opponents of their regime. The genocide lasted for 100 days and resulted in over a million deaths. During the genocide the Tutsi minority was targeted by Hutu extremists and ordinary Hutu citizens. Within the large number of perpetrators witnesses proclaim that church leaders and church members actively participated in murder and other genocidal activities during the genocide. “People came to mass each day to pray, then they went out to kill” (7). If churches were capable of heavily persuading its community members to commit acts of genocide, then their involvement in resisting against the genocide and other religious institutions could have had a pronoun affect in the failure of the genocidal movement against the Tutsi.
The Rwandan racism and hatred dates back to Rwanda’s colonial era when Belgian missionaries entered the country identifying Rwanda citizens by false ethnicities. The Christian missionaries mission were to convert chiefs and Kings to Catholicism. After converting authoritative figures, they would convert those who followed. Youth was a primary target because they were considered more open to persuasion and could potentially become leaders of the church and state. Entanglement of church and state is the root of explaining why and how the churches were heavily implicated in the Rwandan genocide (59). The focus on ethnic differences would separate the Rwandan citizens into three classes: Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. The creation of the elite allowed Tutsi to gain more opportunities than the Hutu or Twa. Tutsi were given educational opportunities that would lead to political positions. Missionaries believed that Tutsi were destined to rule Rwanda because of their natural gift for commanding. They felt that Tutsi should rule, where Hutu were solid and naturally fit for service and physical labor. Twa were considered to be savage and lesser of the two ethnic groups. African religious history shows evidence of engaging in ethnic discrimination and violence. During colonial Christian mission projects, they were known to...

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