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Rwanda Churches Make A Difference Essay

1002 words - 4 pages

Timothy Longman argues that genocide could have been prevented if the churches were more involved in persuading community members not to commit acts of genocide. The churches preached and taught raciest ideas. The governments anti-Tutsi policies went against the churches ideals of love thy neighbor, however the churches still endorsed obedience to authorities, ethnic discrimination and power politics. Although genocide was an extreme expression of ethnic hatred, it was not inconsistent with actions previously condoned and tolerated by the churches (200). During the genocide there were members and representatives in the church responsible for committing acts of genocide. This included pastors, priests, and devout followers. Many participated in slaughtering the Rwandan Tutsi and giving up Tutsi community members to the regimes. There is evidence that members of the churches did not commit acts of genocide and did not follow the ideas of an elite and poor community. These individuals promoted to not use violence against others during the genocide.
The government leading up to the genocide was run by President Juvenal Habyarimana who considered himself part of the Hutu elite. His decision to sign the Arusha Accords in August of 1993, set off the extreme ethnic hatred that already inhabited the area. He was responsible for the MRND (National Revolutionary Movement for Development). The armed forces searched for RPF members, and those who the government felt were supporting the RPF. If found, victims were tortured and many were killed. The regime used these opportunities to rape, loot, and extract bribes from the local people. Their involvement arming Rwanda was from mass importations of arms and machetes during the cease-fire in 1993. These weapons were funded by the French and came in from Egypt and South Africa. As the cease-fire continued problems were continuously developing without a solution. The government felt that massacres and conflict helped to heighten ethnic tension and polarize the ethnic communities (170), and with the support of the churches they were able to hold ethnic discrimination to carry out their genocidal plans of eliminating the Tutsi population who they looked to as the scapegoat for Rwanda’s problems.
During Habyarimana’s power he set up quotas for education and employment. Habyarimana created a larger gap between the elite and the poor by limiting specific citizens from resources. The government’s hand in the churches molded the minds of the citizens. Many felt by participating in the genocide they were participating with the followings of the church. Longman focuses on how the churches played a major role in helping create a local elite and maintaining a dominant population of wealthier community members. He focuses the challenges of elites in two parishes, the church in Kirinda and the church in Biguhu. Longman argues that, “Ultimately, the church in Kirinda was at the center of the genocide there, while the church...

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