Get access

“God Must Have Been Sleeping”: Faith as an Obstacle and a Resource for Rwandan Genocide Survivors in the United States


Nicole Fox, Department of Sociology, Brandeis University, Mailstop 071, Waltham, MA 02454. E-mail:


In 1994, 1 million Rwandans were violently killed in only 100 days. Devastating for some Rwandan survivors was the significant role that some Catholic parishes and leaders took in ignoring, facilitating, and even perpetuating the genocide. This article seeks to understand how Rwandan genocide survivors draw on religion as they negotiate their postgenocide identities in the United States and comprehend their current faiths, beliefs, and practices. Based on qualitative interviews with Rwandan survivors now located within the United States, I argue that the experiences of religiosity postgenocide serve as both an obstacle and a resource in postgenocide life, creating significant individual and local ramifications for community engagement, reconciliation, and trauma recovery.