Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda (African Studies) by Timothy Longman

By Timothy Longman

Even supposing Rwanda is one of the so much Christian nations in Africa, within the 1994 genocide, churches grew to become the first killing grounds. to provide an explanation for why such a lot of Christians participated within the violence, this booklet appears on the background of Christian engagement in Rwanda after which turns to a wealthy physique of unique nationwide and local-level learn to argue that Rwanda's church buildings have always allied themselves with the country and performed ethnic politics. evaluating neighborhood Presbyterian parishes in Kibuye ahead of the genocide demonstrates that innovative forces have been trying to democratize the church buildings. simply as Hutu politicians used the genocide of Tutsi to say political strength and overwhelm democratic reform, church leaders supported the genocide to safe their very own energy. the truth that Christianity encouraged a few Rwandans to oppose the genocide demonstrates that competition through the church buildings used to be attainable and may have hindered the violence.

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While, given their diffuse organizations, churches embraced a considerable diversity of ideas and served a diversity of interests, broad coalitions formed within this complexity, cutting across institutional levels and even denominational lines. As they developed, these coalitions contained an ethnic component, as Tutsi felt they faced limited opportunities within the churches, despite the large number of Tutsi pastors and priests, and supported reform. Leaders of both the churches and the state had a shared interest in preserving the status quo, and both sought means to appease their critics without giving up real power.

Each level of the church hierarchies – international, national, regional, and local – acts with considerable autonomy, while many groups that fall under the church umbrella, such as Catholic religious orders, informal pietistic movements, and national or regional youth and women’s associations, do not fit neatly into the hierarchical structure. To contend that churches are diffuse institutions is not to suggest that they are chaotic, but rather to argue that gaining a more complete picture of how the churches relate to their societies and states requires a complex, multileveled analysis that explores how the various groups and individuals acting in the name of any church ­connect to one  his is particularly true in African studies.

Participation in the genocide, thus, seemed quite consistent with the policies and principles previously articulated by church leaders. Christian Churches, Civil Society, and Genocide 27 Overview of the Argument The purpose of this book is not simply to explain how the churches were involved in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda but also to attempt to explain why. The book is based primarily on original data collected during two extended periods of field research in Rwanda, first in 1992–93, during the time of transition just before the genocide, then again in 1995–96 after the genocide had taken place, when I returned to Rwanda as head of the Human Rights Watch office there.

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