Monday, 22 October 2012

Religion Kills [Updated]

Massacre of the Innocence, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565
One of the great lies religious people tell is that religion is a force for peace; that without religion there would be no morality and nothing to stop people rushing around killing one another. Like so many other claims made by religious people the facts directly contradict the claim.

Here is a list of religion-inspired massacres, i.e. a single event of mass killing inspired by religion or specifically of followers of a different religion, often merely a different sect of the same religion as the killers.

This is a work in progress, and probably always will be, as there will probably never cease to be excuses for religious massacres.

DateLocationPeople KilledNameDetails
782 CE Verden, Lower Saxony, Germany 4,500 Massacre of Verden Saxon prisoners killed on orders of Charlemagne during his war to forcibly Christianise the Saxons
30 December 1066 Grenada, Al-Andelus 4,000 Grenada Massacre Responding to a rumour that Jewish vizier Joseph ibn Naghrela intended to assassinate the king and usurp the throne, a Muslim mob killed him and the Jewish population of the city.
1099Jerusalem, Palestine10,000Siege of JerusalemDuring the First Crusade, a Christian force had laid siege to the Muslim/Jewish city of Jerusalem. When it fell, almost all the inhabitants was slaughtered. Reports spoke of streets being ankle-deep in blood.
16 March 1190York, England150-5001190 York MassacreDuring a period of Christian fervour stoked by the Crusades, and egged on by local gentry who were heavily in debt to Jewish money-lenders, the entire Jewish population of York, which had taken refuge in York Castle, were killed. Similar massacres had earlier occurred in Lincoln, Norwich and Stamford and were to be repeated elsewhere in England in succeeding years.
1209 Béziers, Languedoc, France 15,000+ Massacre at Béziers First major military action in the 'Albigensian Crusade' against the Cathars in Béziers, in which the Cistercian abbot commander, having been told that there were many Catholic Christians in the town, ordered his soldiers to "Kill them all. God will recognise his own". See also "Feel That Christian Love!"
1298GermanyMany thousandsRintfleisch MassacresA local Christian demagogue, the self-styled "Lord Rindtfleisch" claimed he had been given a mandate from Heaven to exterminate the Jews. Starting at Röttingen on 20 April 1298 where his mob burned the Jewish population, he then destroyed the Jewish populations of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Würzburg, Bamberg, Dinkelsbühl, Nördlingen, Forchheim and Nuremberg. He then moved into Bavaria and Austria where a further 5,000 Jews were massacred.
21 March 1349Erfurt, Germany100-3,000Erfurt massacreEncouraged by local Catholic clergy, a mob massacred the Jewish community of Erfurt, believing them to be responsible for spreading the Black Death. This was one of many such massacres of European Jews by Christians during the Black Death.
29-31 May 1453Byzantium (Constantinople), Byzantine Empire4,000-50,000Fall of ConstantinopleFollowing a siege from early April, 1453, Byzantium eventually fell to the Muslim forced led by Sultan Mehmed II. The victorious soldiers were given the traditional three days of freedom to loot and pillage. Estimates of the number killed vary from the entire population (of some 50,000) to just 4,000, mostly Eastern Orthodox Christians.
1555-1558England300+Marian PersecutionsIn an attempt to reverse the Protestant Reformation in England, encouraged by the Pope and her Catholic husband, King Philip II of Spain, Queen Mary ("Bloody Mary") instigated a campaign of executing leading Protestants, mostly senior clerics, by burning at the stake.
1570 Cyprus 30,000-50,000 Cyprus Massacre Ottoman (Turkish Muslim) forces conquered Cyprus and killed the Christian inhabitants.
23 August 1572 Paris, France 5,000-70,000 Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre Catholic mobs massacred French Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants) who had gathered in predominantly Catholic Paris to celebrate the marriage of the King's sister Margaret to the Protestant, King Henry III of Navarre.
1612Yorkshire, England10The Pendle WitchesFollowing an outbreak of witch hysteria, nine women and two men from Pendle and the surrounding area were tried for witchcraft at York Assizes. One woman was acquitted; the rest were executed by hanging. Another woman died in prison before coming to trial. These form a small sample of some 500 English 'witches' to be executed.
September 1649 Drogheda, Ireland 3,552 including 700-800 civilians Drogheda Massacre An English force of Cromwell's Puritan "New Model Army" massacred the Irish Catholic Royalist garrison of Drogheda after a brief siege, following the Parliamentarian victory in the English Civil War. See also "A History of Ireland - 3. Rebellion, Cromwell and Jacobites"
1649 Wexford, Ireland 2,000+ including 200 women and children Wexford Massacre Fresh from their victory at Drogheda, Cromwell's Puritan "New Model Army" sacked the town of Wexford and ran amok, killing at least 2000 people, including 200 women and children 'executed' in the market square. See also "A History of Ireland - 3. Rebellion, Cromwell and Jacobites"
February 1692 to May 1693Salem, Massachusetts, Colonial America20. 19 hanged and 1 'prest'Salem Witch TrialsDuring another bout of Christian witch hysteria 20 people, mostly women, were executed, fifty more 'confessed', one hundred and fifty were imprisoned and a further 200 faced accusations of witchcraft before the Governor, William Phips intervened and stopped the trials.
1755-57Northwest China500,000-800,000Dzungar MassacreThe Manchu emperor, Chien-lung, sixth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, poet and art collector, massacred eighty percent of the Tibetan Buddhist Dzungar people in a series of campaigns of conquest.
April 1821 Peloponnese, Greece 35,000 Tripolitsa Massacre Greek Orthodox Christian forces captured the town of Tripolitsa after a siege and killed the entire Muslim and Jewish population, in the Greek War of Independence.
19 August 1821 Peloponnese, Greece 3,000 Navario Massacre Greek Orthodox Christian forces repeated their success at Tripolitsa and killed the entire Muslim population of Navarino and the surrounding area.
1822 Chios, Greece about 20,000 Chios Massacre Tens of thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians on the island of Chios were killed by occupying Ottoman Muslim troops.
30 October 1838 Caldwell County, Missouri, USA 19 Haun's Mill Massacre 240 members of the Livingstone County Militia attacked and killed a Mormon settlement in Caldwell County, Missouri, killing 18 Mormons and one non-Mormon. Although their names were known, no one was ever charged with the murders.
1850-1864China20,000,000Taiping RebellionA disaffect and mentally ill Hakka Chinese named Hong Xiuquan (born Hong Renkun) became convinced that he was the younger brother of Jesus whom he had read about in some pamphlets given him by European Christian missionaries. He decided that he had been sent to rid China of demons (i.e, Confucianists & Buddhists). The resulting Christian, violently anti-Confucian, anti-Buddhist, and above all, anti-Government, cult was eventually put down in a protracted civil war in which some 20,000,000 Chinese were killed. See also The Heavenly Peace Of Jesus.
11 September 1857 Mountain Meadows, Utah, USA 120-140 Mountain Meadows Massacre A Mormon force, the Utah Territorial Militia, disguised as Indians, together with Paiute tribesmen, attacked and plundered the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train, killing all the emigrants.
30 April 1876 Batak, Ottoman Empire 3,000-5,000 Batak Massacre Muslim Ottoman irregulars killed Bulgarian Christian civilians who had taken refuge in a church.
1894-96 Anatolia, Ottoman Empire 100,000-300,000 Hamidian Massacres On the orders of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, Muslim forces killed Armenian Christians across the Empire. Includes the 1895 Massacres of Diyarbakir, in which Syrian and other Christian denominations were also killed indiscriminately.
10 March 1906 Bud Dajo, Jolo Island, Philippines 800-1,000 Moro Crater Massacre An American Army unit under the command of Major General Leonard Wood and a US Naval unit together with a detachment of native police, attacked and killed 600 unarmed Muslims including many women and children in a village inside the crater of an extinct volcano.
April-May 1909 Adana Province, Anatolia, Ottoman Empire 15,000-30,000 Adana Massacre Religious-ethnic tensions between Muslims and Armenian Christians in Adana province, led to a series of anti-Armenian pogroms throughout the area.
21 November 1920 Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland 23 Croke Park Massacre A detachment of the British special force, the "Black and Tans", opened fire on the predominantly Catholic crowd at a Gaelic Football match between Dublin and Tipperary, during the Irish insurrection against British rule.
August 1933 Iraq 3,000 Simele Massacre Armed Iraqi and Kurdish Muslim forces killed 3,000 'Nestorian' Christians in an attempt to ethnically cleanse Northern Iraq. Methods of killing included running over children with armoured cars and bayoneting pregnant women.
29 September 1941 Kiev, Ukraine 30,000 Babi Yar Massacre Nazi Einsatzgruppen killed the Jewish population of Kiev.
22-24 October 1941 Odessa, Soviet Union 25,000–34,000 Odessa Massacre German & Romanian forced killed the Jewish population of Odessa and surrounding towns.
25 & 29 November 1941 Kaunas, Lithuania 4,934 Ninth Fort massacres of November 1941 First systematic killing of German Jews by the Nazi state.
1941-1945German-occupied Europe6,000,000The HolocaustLed by the psychopathic and delusional Catholic fanatic, Adolf Hitler, and encouraged by the German Catholic Church, the German state embarked on an industrial-scale genocide against European Jews who had been officially classified as non-human. Until the early 1960s, the Catholic Church's official position was that the Germans were doing God's work as a punishment for the Jews having killed Jesus. None of the predominantly Catholic Nazi leaders were ever excommunicated for their genocides.

Note: The Nazi German state also systematically killed a further 11,000,000 Romani, homosexuals, disabled, communists, Poles, Russians and Polish prisoners of war as well as some 1,200 Jehovah's Witnesses.
October-November 1946Noakhali, Bengal, British India5,000Noakhali GenocideA series of massacres, rapes, abductions and forced conversions of Hindus and looting and arson of Hindu properties, perpetrated by the Muslim community in the districts of Noakhali and Tipperah.
1947British Indian250,000-1,000,000Partition of India"Ethnic cleansing" of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu populations leading up to partition of India into India and Pakistan at Independence. In some areas Christians were also persecuted.
1975-79Kampuchea25,000Khmer Rouge MassacresThe Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot, attempting to introduce a primitive form of agrarian Communism, killed 25,000 Buddhists in an attempt to eradicate Buddhism. In all, the regime killed 1-3,000,000 Cambodians and ethnic Chinese, including doctors and intellectuals, targeting anyone with an education.
16-18 September 1982Beirut, Lebanon762-3,500Sabra and Shatila MassacresDuring the Lebanese Civil War, a unit of the Israeli Defence Force acting on the orders of Ariel Sharon, Israel's Defense Minister, sealed off two Palastinian refugee camps and illuminated them at night with aerial flares so that a Christian Phalangist militia could butcher the unarmed Shiite Muslim inhabitants including the women and children. Ariel Sharon later became leader of the Likud Party and Prime Minister of Israel whilst the leader of the Christian Phalangist murderers, Elie Hobeika, became a minister in the post civil-war Lebanese government
1975-1990Lebanon120,000-150,000Lebanese Civil WarMultiple massacres of various religious groups by others, taking advantage of the collapse of central authority and degeneration into warring factions and religion-based warlordism.
1994Rwanda500,000-1,000,000 mostly TutsiThe Rwanda GenocideAided by Catholic and Protestant Christian priests, following the death of the President in a suspicious plane crash, the Hutu population unleashed a pre-planned campaign of murder intended to exterminate the Tutsi. A popular technique was for priests to invite Tutsi to take shelter in churches and then hand them over to armed Hutu execution squads or, at least in one case, to order bulldozers to demolish the church and crush those inside.
July 1995Srebrenica, Bosnia8,000+Srebrenica MassacreBosnian Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica and surrounding villages were butchered by a Serbian Orthodox Christian force supported by Greek volunteers, led by Ratko Mladić during the Bosnia civil war which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. Many of the Greek volunteers who participated in the massacre are now in the Greek neo-Nazi 'Golden Dawn' party.
11 September 2001New York and Washington DC, USA29779/11Muslim fundamentalists hijacked four planes and flew two of them into the World Trade Center, New York and the Pentagon, Washington DC. In the fourth plane, passengers overpowered the hijackers but the plane crashed, killing all on board. The 19 hijackers also died.
13 November 2015Paris, France140+Paris 2015A number of Muslim fundamentalists attacked random targets across Paris, killing people regardless of faith, gender or age, by shooting and suicide bombings. At one nightclub, guests were executed one at a time until the police stormed the building at which point three of the attackers blew themselves up killing more victims. Other targets, apparently selected at random, included a packed restaurant and a friendly international football match between France and Germany. Other than killing innocent people for the sake of killing and to spread fear and insecurity, the objective for this massacre remains obscure.

Obviously, there are many yet to be added, and it doesn't include all those little religious massacres like mass witch burnings and the odd clutch of heretics. I'll add to it over the coming days.

Suggestions in the comment section, please.

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  1. You missed a significant one.

    The next time someone brings up the evils of Hitler, refer them to the Taiping Rebellion.

    1. True but I have many more to add.

      I have however blogged about that very thing in The Heavenly Peace Of Jesus.

  2. Become the younger brother of Jesus, kill tens of millions. Perfectly straightforward. Nothing to see here, move along...

    1. To be fair, the Qing Government and the foreigners were just as responsible for those deaths. Yes, it was a rebellion, but the Qing dynasty was failing, the poor were inadequately taken care of, officials were disaffected and unable to rise to government positions, and the Opium Wars had just occurred, straining the Qing treasury even more.

      Hong Xiuquan, for the most part, avoided massacres, looting, raping, etc., and actually got a lot of the people on his side as a result. There were the occasional massacre, and the massacres against them, but a LOT of the deaths came from battlefield casualties and the starvation from lack of supplies, starvation, and constant turmoil. They tried hard to get foreigners on their side in the attack on Shanghai, then got bombarded with cannons from ships.

      I just studied the subject, and really, it's quite more complex than you might think.

    2. I have an article about the Taiping Rebellion here.

      As you can see, the inspiration for it, and for the massacres on both sides, was religion.

  3. Just one problem with your list of massacres. No. 6 Drogheda didn't actually happen.
    The historian working for the local authority in Drogheda has done a lot of research and finds that the people who were supposed to be massacred were alive and well AFTER the siege and doing very nicely thankyou trading with their neighbours. It looks like a good piece of anti-Cromwellian propaganda became the legend that everyone wants to print.

    1. Here's a citation you might like:

      "Being in the heat of action, I forbade them to spare any that were in arms in the town... The Officers were knocked on the head and every tenth man of the soldiers killed and the rest shipped to the Barbadoes (sic) ... I think that we put to the sword altogether about 2,000 men ... [this was all done in the spirit of God] and therefore it is right that God alone should have all the glory." - Oliver Cromwell

    2. I've been trying to remember where the article was, will try to get back later.

    3. This isn't the article I first read, but it goes over the main points.

    4. My list says only that the Drogheda garrison was massacred together with some 700-800 civilians, not the entire civilian population of the town. That doesn't seem to be disputed. The original source for this was "A History Of Ireland" by Robert Key, as I reference in first article of the series on Irish History, of which the article linked to forms a part.

    5. I should learn to read more fully.

  4. It looks like you are saying that the Nazis killed 11 million folks in addition to 6 million Jews. I had always been under the impression it was 11 million total when you add the other groups to the Jews killed by the Nazis.

    1. My reading of Wikipedia - Holocaust is that it was 11 million in addition to the 6 million Jews.

    2. how many jews lived in germany at the time of holocust that 11+6=17 million jews were killed ! Was hitler a religious person !

    3. (Understandably) Anonymous

      Not all the Jews murdered by the Nazis were German. In fact, most weren't, which is why I used the term 'European Jews' and not 'German Jews'.

      Yes. Hitler was a devout Catholic Christian, as a few moment on Google will show.

      You're going to have to be more creative if you want to deny the Holocaust in a way which will fool anyone with an IQ above that of a very thick plank, and can you do it elsewhere, please.

  5. To be fair, these deserve subclassification.

    Some of these are directly and blatantly inspired by religion ("kill them all. god will recognize his own").
    Some seem to have used religion merely as an excuse for massacres with straightforward material/political motivations. (And there's a lot of "We massacred the neighbors" in history.)
    Some seem to have used religion as a method of getting troops to comply with massacres which, for the bosses, had clear material/political motivations. (And there's a lot of "We massacred the neighboring country" in history.)
    Some were based in ideologies where people will argue about whether they were religions (I agree that they are religions, but people will argue).

    Religion still has a pernicious effect in all cases, of course. Without the ideology, the mass murderers have to admit "Yeah, we massacred them in order to take their stuff," or "because we don't like them", or "because we think they're gonna massacre us if we don't do it first". Sometimes mass murderers do admit that sort of stuff outright, but there's usually social disapproval. Religion is used to suppress the social disapproval reaction.

  6. Can you cite a source for the Catholic Church's official position of the Nazi's doing god's work? I've read a fair amount about Pope Pius' weaselly actions during WWII, but I've never seen this claimed.

  7. Let's not forget the 150,000 people killed as human sacrifices for countless centuries for the Mayans & the millions also killed as blood sacrifices for the Hindu god Kali!

  8. I'm afraid that your figure for the Khmer Rouge genocide is way off. It is actually estimated to be 1.7 million if you include starvation and forced labour:

    Also, it seems a little disingenuous to include murders OF the religious by the non-religious and not make it clear. The Khmer Rouge were operating according to an extreme communist and atheistic ideology. I'm glad that you included this, as it is fair, but it is one of the few items of data that does not support your case, so I think you should make that clear. We atheists should not fall into the same dogmatic blindness as the religious when they seize only upon facts that support their argument and ignore those that don't.

    Hope this has been helpful

    1. > it seems a little disingenuous to include murders OF the religious by the non-religious and not make it clear.

      What did you find confusing in the words: "The Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot, attempting to introduce a primitive form of agrarian Communism, killed 25,000 Buddhists in an attempt to eradicate Buddhism."?

      This was included for balance and specifically because it was the only example I could find of a genocide actually being carried out to further Atheism as opposed to furthering the ambitions of a despot who also happened to be Atheist and so was just as likely to kill other Atheists as to kill religious people.

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