This week, Rwanda has been in a period of commemoration, remembering her people who were senselessly slaughtered during the horrible Genocide against the Tutsi 21 years ago.
At the same time, another East Africa country, Kenya woke up to Islamic terrorists linked to Somali’s Al-Shaabab militia group gunning their way into a university and horribly massacred over 145 people, the majority of whom students.
Though the two are far divorced in time and motive, the common denominator is that they allude to killing, a detestable deed strongly condemned in both the Bible and the Koran.
The biblical commandments are quite succinct on this. The sixth commandment prohibits murder. “Thou shall not kill.” The Koran says: “For that cause we decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. (5:32).
However, among those who bore greatest responsibility during the Genocide were some religious leaders who, it’s said, ordered those who had sheltered in the precincts of their churches to be mowed down. And among those who are fomenting religious conflicts from the Islamic sides are their religious leaders.
Therefore, we may ask, is killing in the name of God virtuous? What are the motives of those who kill in His name? Should we kill each other because they don’t belong to our religious or even ethnic persuasions?
Killing is morally wrong, according to Pastor John Kalinda of Christian Evangelical Church in Kicukiro.
“Those who kill in the name of God have a narrow view of what He expects from us, and they’ll be judged harshly when the Day of Judgment comes,” he adds.
Those who kill have tried to justify their actions quoting from either the Bible or the Koran. But many true Christians and Muslims and religious scholars say that they do this out of their own selfish motives.
“What does an innocent student who was going through his studies have to do with the topic of Muslims versus Christianity,” wonders Shadrack Niyonnkuru, a Christian at Christian Life Assembly, Nyarutarama.
“No religion should justify such a dastardly and nefarious act. No God can accept such an unbridled violence”.
We should also be aware that killing in the name of religion is not a modern phenomenon. The Crusades of the Middle Ages were, among other things, a response to centuries of Islamic Jihad. All these religious wars and other acts of violence (whether the Inquisition or witch burnings) is believed to have killed millions.
But for modern day Christian, we should draw our view on killing from Jesus himself.
Matthews 26:52-53: “And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword”.
If we are to take Jesus’s words literally, he is telling us that killing people (whether or not they do not subscribe to Christianity or not) is not allowed and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. What mollifies me is that people killing in the name of religion will have their own day of judgment. Judgment Day should be a strong reason to us to keep us on the straight and the narrow, shouldn’t it?