Editorial: What did religious groups do with morality?

Whenever we talk of genocide ideology among religious groups, the first name that comes to mind is the Catholic Church.

The reason is that it was the most influential church in Rwanda but did nothing to stem the killings and the ethnic mobilisation prior to 1994.

But the most compelling argument is that many members of its clergy actively took part in the Genocide against the Tutsi and were convicted by both local and international tribunals. Their churches, instead of serving as sanctuaries, became killing fields.

By living in denial for so long only helped authenticate the widespread belief that it was the only black sheep among religious organisations and is still today riddled with ethnic divisions. But that was far from the truth.

A recent report by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) highlighted a worrying trend among the top leadership of ADEPR, an association of Pentecostal churches that have a heavy presence in the country.

What the report unearthed was that whenever elections of office bearers are at hand, ethnic divisions emerge and inform who gets the seat. Many of the older generations of church leaders still harbour the demons of genocide ideology but are adept at harbouring them, only letting them come out in the presence of those they deem to be “on their side”.

For long the Government has left religious organisations alone in the name of freedom of worship. This has given rise to simmering divisions.

Religious organisations are very influential in Rwanda. They have the capacity to influence, positively or otherwise. That is where NURC should now focus its reconciliation efforts as there are some very black apples among the clergy, whatever their denomination.