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Church, State must work to end fundamentalism

By | October 6th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

When Johannes Rebmann and fellow missionary Johann Ludwig Krapf left Germany for Africa 150 years ago, they said it was because the continent was not yet "infected" by a wave of rationalism that had engulfed Europe.

Here, in a continent where the reliance on reason as a source of knowledge or justification hadn’t taken root, superstition and nonsense could be replaced by Christianity untainted by Western secular ideas.

But the very conditions that made the continent the perfect place to teach the Gospel in 1846, having survived to this day to a large extent, now pose a new problem: Susceptibility to dang-erous pseudo-religious ideas.

We have decried this in editorials on the persistent confusion over mass hysteria in schools (the ‘ghosts’ problem) or on the activities of some churches and self-proclaimed ghostbusters. Therefore, we were heartened when no less a religious figure than Benedict XVI saw fit to warn not just of the West’s secular exports, but also of the virus of "religious fundamentalism" across Africa.

Excess of religion

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In nations like ours where individual and political freedoms have, historically, been restricted, religious freedom has tended to be close to absolute. Unfortunately this has meant that groups claiming a religious background run riot spreading whatever ideas they will. A proposal by the Government to control this by registration of churches has proved an unpopular option. Education, it seems, may be the best vaccination. Church and State should be united to banish superstition.

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