January 27, 2023 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Four Liberty University professors representing Liberty University School of Law, Helms School of Government, and Department of History participated in a timely conversation about the history, Christian philosophy, and modern-day prevention of genocide in different parts of the world as part of a conference held at Ariel University in Ariel, Israel, Nov. 15-17.
Law professor Yuri Mantilla, history professor Dr. David Snead, and government professors Edna Udobong and Dr. Kahlib Fischer attended the three-day conference, “The Holocaust and Genocide in the 21st Century,” hosted by Ariel University’s Center for the Research and Study of Genocide. The inaugural conference brought together university faculty from the United States, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic, and other countries to discuss how crimes against humanity on a global scale can be prevented.
The group from Liberty formed a panel that provided biblical perspectives on genocide with past and modern-day examples, including the Old Testament invasion of Canaan, the Holocaust, and the Christian reconciliation in Rwanda. They also discussed the role of nation-states and the Church in preventing genocide.
“The conference itself was very sobering simply because the topic of genocide itself involves such suffering and evil,” Fischer said. “But it was an honor to be a part of the conversation and discussion about ways to prevent these terrible acts in the future.”
“Genocides are still happening, and it is striking how little many people know about the Holocaust, other genocides in history, and current genocides,” Snead added.
As Christians who are keenly aware of their status as children of God brought to life by their Creator, the professors discussed the topics of human rights violations and genocide with their faith at the forefront.
“We have a biblical mandate to protect human dignity, and we need to be instruments of peacemaking and reconciliation through our Christian worldview,” said Mantilla, who teaches international law. “It goes back to Genesis 1:27, which says that God created each human being in His own image. This is the foundation for the fact that all human beings have an inherent dignity, and that is the foundation for the worth that all human beings have. This is why as human beings we have inherent natural rights that nobody can take away.”
“The challenges of crimes against humanity and genocide will persist until the Lord returns,” Fischer added. “We are called to work to defend the weak and defenseless and provide a biblical defense of inalienable rights, liberty, and justice. We hope that our students and future leaders will be inspired to engage on this issue for years to come.”
A group of Liberty students were also able to participate in the conference. Five government and law students delivered virtual presentations, alongside three students from other universities, on their research regarding modern-day locations for potential and current genocides, which included the countries of East Timor, Guatemala, Iraq, Myanmar, and Sudan. Students have been conducting the research as a team since the spring of 2021.
“It is especially important for students to understand these issues and understand the Christian foundations of international law and human rights. This can enable them to be part of global efforts to prevent genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes” Mantilla said. “Participating in a conference like this is important because it enables us to interact with scholars from diverse countries and highlight the relevance of the Christian perspective of human rights in the 21st century historical context.”