Uganda Martyrs Day

As written by me on Executed Today: on this day in 1886, twenty-two Christians were martyred for their faith in what is now the country of Uganda. They were burned alive. Most of them were only in their teens or early twenties.

There was one survivor, a boy who was inexplicably pulled from the flames at the last moment. I couldn’t find any reason for this, other than that he was only thirteen years old, the youngest of the group. But the chief executioner’s own son, who was fourteen, wasn’t spared. The only break he got was being clubbed over the head before he was burned.

The king who arranged this, Mwanga II, was only sixteen himself at the time; the martyrs were mostly his own pages. He was later overthrown and exiled. Ironically, Mwanga converted to Christianity himself a few years before he died.

I never know what to think about such stories. I prefer the Jewish point of view. Judaism does NOT invite martyrdom and they explicitly allow you to deny your faith and break religious law if that’s what you have to do to save your own life. I can understand and even kind of admire the strength and solidarity displayed by these boys, but at the same time…what a senseless waste of human life.

2 thoughts on “Uganda Martyrs Day

  1. forthelost June 3, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    In Judaism it’s acceptable to break religious law to save anyone’s life. There’s even a name for it spelled out in the law itself.

    • Meaghan June 3, 2013 / 7:29 pm

      He who saves one life, saves the entire world.

      I have read about people in the ghetto and concentration camps refusing to eat the meat in their rations because it was horsemeat and not kosher, even though they were starving to death, even though their own rabbis were begging them to eat it.

      One young man in the Lodz Ghetto asked his rabbi, “Are you telling me with 100% certainty that I will die if I don’t eat this?”
      And the rabbi said, “I can tell you you’re dying and need all the food you can get, and this meat will help you survive.”
      He refused to eat it, and died a few days later. He was 22. I don’t suppose a piece of horseflesh would have helped much at that point, but still…I don’t see piety in that, I see pigheadedness and stupidity.

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