presentation by Simon East

Genocide & Religion

“Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands.”
– Sean O‘Casey

The history of the church and its leaders does reveal some ugly dealings and abuse of power.

But... Many of these ‘used’ religion to further their own cause and don’t truly reflect the ideas of Jesus – a man who was the ultimate example of nonviolent resistance.

However, to provide a fair comparison this presentation does assume ultimate responsibility for these tragic acts.

A Comparison of Atrocity

Catholics & Christians
    

Atheist Regimes
  

Crusades Inquisitions Witch Hunts Catholic/Protestant Wars Rwandan Genocide (?)

Chairman Mao Zedong Joseph Stalin Adolf Hitler

Thirty Years’ War 11.5 million 3 –

1618 – 1648


destructive conflict between the Holy Catholic Emperor and some German Protestant states  Spread throughout Europe as France, Sweden, and Spain joined the


1095 – 1291 AD

1 – 2 million died

 Roman-Catholic-sanctioned

campaigns  Predominantly a defence of Europe from Islamic invaders, and recapturing Jerusalem and the seized ‘Holy Land’


1184 – 1860

5,000 died

 Religious prosecution of ‘heretics’  The most notable, the Spanish

Inquisition, was a royal organisation rather than church instituted, and subsequently became the most corrupt

Witchcraft Trials 40-60,000 died
 Prosecution

1480 – 1700

of witches or practitioners of sorcery, sometimes involving Christian condemnation  Across Europe, accused witches were captured, faced trials, and burned if convicted

Rwandan Genocide ,000 died 800
 National


massacre of Tutsi’s by Hutu

clans  Conflict was mostly racial (not religious), but accusations have been raised about some church leaders participating or passively bystanding

Chairman Mao Zedong 40-70 million
 Chinese

1943 – 1976

Marxist communist who stole leadership of China, leading the nation into economic disaster and political terrorism  Much of China collapsed into famine resulting in 40 million deaths

Joseph Stalin
 Dictator

1924 – 1953

10-20 million died

of the Communist Soviet

Union  Aggressive industrialisation created a famine that killed 5-10 millions people  Millions died in resistance to Stalin’s leadership  Millions more were placed into Gulag forced labour camps “A single death is a tragedy. A million

Adolf Hitler
 World

1933 - 1945

17 million died

War I veteran who became German chancellor in 1933 and instituted the socialist Nazi Party  His racist views and territorial expansion led to World War II  His hatred of Jews led 6 million of them to their deaths, many in gas chambers

Final Death Toll
over 1000 years

Atheists have clearly created a more tragic loss of human life in 50 years than Christians have done in 1,000 years.

Christianity’s Positive Legacy

Where would the world be without the Christians who:  Built the first hospitals  Abolished slavery in Britain and America  Fought for basic human rights through the UN  Believed in “just war” principles the seriously restrict military offensives

There is clearly a significant positive side to religion :

“For every one of these grand tragedies there are ten thousand acts of personal kindness and social good that go unreported.... Religion, like all social institutions of such historical depth and cultural impact, cannot be reduced to an unambiguous good or evil.”
— Michael Shermer, Atheist and President of Skeptics Society

D’Souza, D. (2007) What’s so great about Christianity? Washington: Regnery Publishing. Dawkins, R. (2006) The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press. McGrath, A.E. & McGrath, J.C. (2007) The Dawkins Delusion? Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.      

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