Research & Response
We can only address religicide and enter covenantal partnerships if we understanding some key issues. GCP focuses on:
Identifying the root causes of anti-religious violence.
Articulating the distinctive resources that religious communities already possess to combat and recover from violence.
Learning from and developing best practices for political, cultural, societal, and agricultural regeneration of at-risk traditions and land.
In recent years, members of GCP have written or collaborated on the following projects:
The Possibilities and Limits of Interreligious Dialogue: Reasoning from “Hearth to Hearth” A Path of Peace across the Borders of Competing Religions
Forthcoming book: Religicide: Confronting the Roots of Anti-Religious Violence (2022)
A covenantal approach demands not only careful research and an open ear but also a practical response. At present, our pilot project, Regenerate Shingal, is designed to assist Yazidi religicide survivors recover from genocide and rebuild community in their sacred homeland. We meet people where they live and support their survivor-led efforts to rebuild their lives.
Link to Ways to help page
Religicide: The Yazidis in Iraq
Genocide: Yazidis have been persecuted for centuries because of their ethnicity and religion. The community has suffered hate crimes, terrorist attacks, forced relocation, governmental neglect, and attempts by Arab and Kurdish governments to erase Yazidism as as a category. The genocidal attack by ISIS in 2014 took place from within this context and its devastating affects can only be combatted from within it.
Ecocide: Decades before ISIS existed, Saddam Hussein’s regime forcibly moved Yazidis from their homelands into collective villages in an attempt to exert control over the population and separate them from their ancestral homeland and traditional way of life. ISIS continued this ecocidal attack, driving the entire Yazidi population from their homeland, destroying farmland, houses, shrines and infrastructure in an attempt to make Shingal uninhabitable for Yazidis.
Femicide: Killing or harming women has long been a strategy in conflicts, also against Yazidis. Whereas ISIS killed most of the men they captured, in the case of women and girls, they went far beyond murder or rape, enslaving them with the intention of destroying Yazidi families and the Yazidi community as a whole.
Factocide: The proliferation of disinformation about the Yazidi people and religion has fueled their oppression. There have been persistent and false interpretations of their religion, which led Yazidis in Iraq to be labelled falsely as “devil-worshippers.” ISIS built on this prejudice, justifiying countless atrocities on the account of these lies and leading others to do the same.
The pre-conditions for the 2014 attack against the Yazidis were combined with new factors to enable the onset of this religicide. Most notably, the Yazidis:
Could not leave: They had no freedom of movement. Few Yazidis were permitted to leave Shingal in advance of the ISIS attack, although many asked to do so.
Coud not defend themselves: They had no security, protection, or weapons for self-defense. Yazidis were not permitted to keep arms for themselves and were abandoned by the troops, who had been under order to protect them.
Did not know: They had no access to intelligence or early warnings. The vast majority learned of the attack a few hours later when they saw that the Peshmerga troops were leaving or had left. By that time, it was too late.
Could not connect: They had virtually no allies on whom they could rely. The majority of their neighbors, many of whom they considered friends and allies, sided with ISIS. International forces did not take action until it was too late.
These existential threats emerged in tandem and magnified one another. To fight religicide – marked by genocide, ecocide and factocide – will require the promotion of religious freedom and rights, including freedom of movement, security, access to open-source intelligence, and deeper connectivity.