Some Rwandans Turn to Atheism After Genocide

Irene Nayebare of The New Times Rwanda has a tough-to-read piece (with graphic descriptions) about how some citizens lost their faith after surviving genocide or watching their family/community members get killed by people motivated by religious beliefs:

Atheist Eric Bright (T. Kisambira – The New Times)

For [Jacques Musoni], there was no way he could keep on praying for a God who seemed to be dead. He said God has never done anything for him. He always asked himself why that God chose to let people be killed in front of him like that. If it’s his decision, he argues, then that’s how he must be defined.

“He doesn’t exist. I decided to not waste time any longer. And if he exists, I don’t see any difference between him and genocidaires,” he says sternly. “He’s a God who ruthlessly murdered innocent babies, a God who proudly committed terrible massacres in the history of mankind.

It also turns the pages of history where colonizers came to Africa with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other.

“If it was for the love and word of God, they shouldn’t have called us names like hommes singes (umushenzi), or monkey men, and ultimately sold us to slavery in America,” said [Thierry] Dusange. “Why do people keep on believing in this nonsense? If you hate colonization, you should also hate religion. They are the same and one wouldn’t be possible without the other.”

It’s really the simplest argument against God’s existence: If he exists, either God can’t prevent evil or God chooses not to prevent it… both options make Him out to be an evil being, not worthy or worship. The other, more realistic option, is that God doesn’t exist and some people just do horrible, horrible things (often in God’s name).

For what it’s worth, there are no numbers or statistics in the article that defend the headline (“Rising atheism among Genocide survivors”). Still, when you’re so used to hearing about all the people who cling to religion in the face of tragedy, it’s important to recognize that there are also those who reject God’s existence instead.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • indorri

    Well, technically, the first option wouldn’t make him evil, just unable.

  • Alexander Ryan

    If it’s possible for humans to keep other humans in line, an eternal omnipotent being being unable to do it sort of marks his good image, if any.

  • Kevin Beach

    And unworthy of worship. Why worship a powerless god?

  • cipher

    He said God has never done anything for him.

    Well, we all know that answer to that one; his faith wasn’t strong enough!

  • pagansister

    If I had had to undergo the horrible things he went through, I’d not believe in any divine being either—-never understood how some folks say they were stronger in their religious belief after a horrible experience—-

  • Doug Matheson

    I had been doing health education and management work in Rwanda for a bit over 3 years, working as a “missionay”, when the genocide broke out. Four days later we got out, and spent the next week in a neighboring country. I learned a lot there, and the first chapter of my book “actually THIING vs. just BELIEVING” is drawn directly from Rwanda. I haven’t worked for a church since leaving there, and no longer set foot in one. The critical challenges of our times call for problem-solving type thinking… and that means respect for verifiable evidence, and an honest willingness to change our mind, possibly our most cherished belief, if that’s what called for. I’m going to try to contact Irene Nayebare. Any of you can get a preliminary look at my book at