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The adverse effects of religion in Africa

By Baluku Shafik Siriwayo

Shafik is a sixteen-year-old student at Isaac Newton High School, a humanist school in Kateera, near Masaka, which is supported by the Uganda Humanist Schools Trust. He is also the Director of the Bahasi Help Orphans Family Foundation in Bundibugyo, Uganda. In this article he argues that religion is holding Africa back because it inculcates fear, fatalism, and a lack of creative and critical thinking. It also negatively affects education because parents are encouraged to hand over large amounts of money to religious leaders. Shafik likes studying science and agriculture.

Religion is a major cause of conflict in Africa and the world as a whole. Each denomination always believes that its ways and practices are the approved and acceptable ones, and therefore that others are either inferior or a threat to them. This has led to verbal and sometimes physical confrontations and even the loss of property.

Religion in Africa does not encourage creative or critical thinking. Religious dogma and practices are conservative and static. Religion generally teaches that a supernatural power has the final say in how things are destined to be in one’s life. Whereas critical thinking is encouraged in other parts of the world, it’s not so in Africa. Religion takes precedence over all other things in our lives, thus it is no surprise that hardly ever do we implement or innovate in any of the technological advancements in the world.

Religion creates a sense of fear or timidity in its adherents. Most religious sermons are warnings or threats to people to do or refrain from doing things to avoid a curse from God. It’s quite common to hear statements like “If you don’t pay your tithes, your blessings will be withheld by God and you’ll be poorer.” and “If you don’t repent, you will die sooner than you think.” The reality is that a lot of these untruths sink into the consciousness of their listeners, who are usually afraid to go on their way to think independently and act on their own. It’s the same with young people when they are indoctrinated in their homes, schools and churches, to toe a certain line or face hell fire or danger in life.

Parents are not even able to pay for their children’s school fees and other needs because of the daily requested offertories in large amounts, and frequent fundraising campaigns in the church. This money is not charity based. Instead, a few church leaders and their families gain from the funds raised, hence making the church leaders rich at the expense of their poor believers.

The different teachings of all the religions and denominations leads to discrimination. It also leads to a situation whereby, for example, Muslims cannot cooperate with Christians and African traditionalists.

We plan to feature Shafik's charitable foundation for orphans in the March edition of Humanistically Speaking.

Further information

You can support humanist schools in Uganda.

Donation link and website is here.

You can email Shafik about his charitable foundation or connect with him on WhatsApp

Mobile: +256 706 942333

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