Killing in the Name of God
BY AWAKE! CORRESPONDENT IN FRANCE
“In the Name of God, We Kill and Will Go On Killing”
UNDER the above quoted headline, the International Herald Tribune observed: “This century, which occasional optimists like to consider as enlightened, has been as marked as any of its predecessors by the dreadful tendency of men to kill each other in the name of God.”
The writer cited examples of religious massacres in early centuries. Then, pointing to massacres that have occurred in the 20th century, he concluded: “What we see is a horrifying continuation of the savage intolerance of bygone ages. Worship remains an excuse for political violence and territorial conquest.”
Some try to justify today’s religious wars by noting that God approved of the killing of Canaanites by ancient Israelites. Yet, that is no justification for professed Christians to wage war today. Why? Because the Israelites were directly instructed by God to act as executioners of his righteous judgments against demon-worshiping peoples, whose worship included gross sexual immorality and child sacrifice.—Deuteronomy 7:1-5; 2 Chronicles 28:3.
An evidence that the wars of ancient Israel were no ordinary conflicts is the miraculous nature of the victories that God gave the nation. For example, the ancient Israelites were once directed to use horns, jars, and torches—hardly instruments of classic warfare! On another occasion singers were positioned at the front of an Israelite army that was facing an overwhelming force of invading armies from several nations.—Judges 7:17-22; 2 Chronicles 20:10-26.
Moreover, when, on occasion, the Israelites engaged in wars that were not ordained by God, they were not blessed by him and they suffered defeat. (Deuteronomy 28:15, 25; Judges 2:11-14; 1 Samuel 4:1-3, 10, 11) Israel’s wars, therefore, cannot be invoked to justify the wars waged in Christendom.
In the name of religion, Hindus have fought against Muslims and Sikhs; Shiite Muslims have warred against Sunni Muslims; and in Sri Lanka, Buddhists and Hindus have slaughtered one another.
Typical of killing in the name of God were the wars that took place in France during the 16th century. The story of these wars comprises some of the bloodiest pages in the history of the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions in Europe. Let us examine these wars, and see what we can learn from them.
[Picture Credit Line on page 3]
U.S. Army photo