By Fr Christopher Sichinga
Fr. Eugine Ngoma, editor for Africa Ecclesial Review magazine wrote that children of God should avoid acts of violence and promote peaceful co-existence regardless of faith affiliations. This is what we desire to see. The ideal situation is to build a better co-existence that is genuine and practical. Peaceful coexistence despite our differences in worship and beliefs is what is needed.
It is sad that there is competition between different religious groups that is breeding damage. There are serious allegations that each religion is searching for appropriate ways to defeat the other and to totally eliminate it beyond recovery. Every religion is looking at the other as a threat and not as a neighbour. Some religions are forcing their dress code in schools to replace the school uniform. Bibles have been torn apart in some areas, land disputes have turned violent especially if it concerns a Muslim and a Christian. The issue of selling beer and pork have been a cause for instability in some market places.
Extremism can lead people into armed conflict
Sadly, young people are at the centre of all this. They are being used and abused in the name of religion. A wide range of religious literatures are circulating to the youth today in an attempt to indoctrinate them.
Fr. Kingsley Tebulo of Kapire parish in the Diocese of Mangochi of the Catholic Church believes that the youth are taken up by religious fundamentalism.
“There’s unhealthy competition, cheap popularity, superiority complex and natural hatred based on religious grounds. Something serious has to be done before it is too late,” says Fr Tebulo.
Fr. Tebulo says the youth need to be helped to understand that religion is the conscious of the society and not a threat to the society.
Curbing religious extremism
In order to fight against religious extremism government should make a deliberate move to support the interreligious dialogue. There is also need to revise policies in religious owned institutions like schools and hospitals to favour the core business of that particular institution despite their religious affiliation.
There have been some wild calls for some places to be regarded as Muslim or Christian state. Such calls must stop because they fuel violence. Some churches and mosques should be checked to see what they teach. Children have to be educated according to the national curriculum and no one should undergo solely religious education.
Some hatred towards some religions arise as a result of radical and hate speeches in the media. There is need to prevent sentiments that may provoke other religions. The young people should understand that, despite our religious differences, we all have the same heavenly destination.
All young Muslims and Christians should be helped to understand that religious radicalism and fundamentalism has never developed any country elsewhere. No one should do evil in the name of religion. A good blend of faith and reasoning is what is needed.
The young people should stay away from their religion if it teaches them to hate their brothers or sisters just because they do not belong to the same religion.