Hitler is historically despised. He tried to wipe out an entire race in his conquest to take over the world. I don’t think he’s despised for world conquering (after all, Alexander the Great isn’t notorious) but for trying to kill all the Jews. That’s a pretty evil thing to do, right? Saddam Hussein also killed many of his own people, the Kurds and later the Shiites. While he didn’t make it his priority to destroy the entire world’s population of either group, these provoked the first Gulf War and later earned him an execution.
Ethnic cleansing, the violent removal of a group of people based on their race or religion, is pretty universally evil. It’s a rare find to hear anyone speak in defense of it, and while I found a few pieces on the internet about clearing out minority groups, none of them advocated violence. A lot of them were acutely opposed to cleansing through killing. This blog is not in defense of ethnic cleansing of any sort, it is (as it often is) about Christian hypocrisy.
The God of the Old Testament often commanded his chosen people to kill. While there are several commands about killing for committing crimes against God (worshipping false gods carried a death sentence, for instance) those can at least be shrugged off as simply a strong hand of justice (even if the crimes were rather silly, like touching the Ark of God). What is simply unforgivable is God’s command to cleanse the promised land, Israel.
Through Numbers and Joshua (the two main books about the Israelites’ original conquest) God repeatedly tells his people to kill everyone they come across, armed men as well as unarmed men, women, and children. This makes some sense in context – if you want to give your people land and there are already others living on it, they either need to be killed, enslaved, or driven out. Why not enslaving or driving out, though? Why murder people whose only crime is coincidentally living on the land you’ve been ordered to seize?
Numbers 31 offers just such a tale of enslavement, where Moses ordered the death of all male Midianites (no surprise, they occupied what would become Israel) and told his men to take the women as sex slaves. Really. Verse 18 is where he commands them to take the virgins, and the following verses describe how they can do it and still not be “unclean” (read: sinful).
Even if these acts can somehow be justified in the context of the bible, why would anyone worship such a God? He blesses his own people and the hell with everyone else. Did they choose to be gentiles? Did God order them to ‘get out’ before sending in his ethnic cleansers?
Where are the Philistines today? Or the Midianites? It’s the story of the flood all over again, with God killing everyone he doesn’t approve of. The God of the New Testament is a God of love (never once killing a group of people, and never did Jesus kill a single person in the name of his father). But to believe the entire bible is to believe that they are the same God. I wouldn’t worship Hitler’s or Saddam’s Gods. Killing in the name of a God wasn’t good then, or now. It’s evil.