Katutura — WE respect Armas Shikongo for usually taking a public stand on important issues.
His principled stance on the Palestinian question for instance comes to mind here.
However, we would like to engage in that public debate about religion called for by Shikongo in his article ‘A Faith-based View on ‘Setting Religion Aside’ in Namibia’ (The Namibian, 24 April). Shikongo responded to the assertion by Gwen Lister that religion should be set aside in Namibia because of the moral decline in the country.
In our view, Namibia has remained a morally decadent society, not because of the lack of religion, but primarily due to the socio-economic conditions of the majority.
With regards to religion, on the contrary, religion is already flowing out of our ears in this country! As Namibians we remain unfortunately a highly superstitious and gullible people. All this talk about ‘faith’ and ‘spirituality’ are simply forms of superstition but we still seem to fall for it. In fact, Namibia demonstrates the clear link between high levels of religion and high levels of disempowerment and oppression. Bakunin wrote that ‘as long as we have a master in heaven we will be slaves on earth.’ The obsession with a supernatural being is not only profoundly disrespectful towards humanity but also serves as a smokescreen of what social reality actually is.
Some have described religion as a mass delusion. To imagine that if you speak to yourself (‘pray’) and some people hear you, that ertainly represents the height of irrationality and subterfuge. Or to imagine that you have a direct line to some supernatural being is a serious delusion of grandeur. Just how far can narcissism go?
In this regard, Gwen Lister was spot on when she said that religion did not help us become an honest society. If anything, religion closes people’s minds. And, indeed, religion bullies people with its distorted and unscientific view of reality from childhood already. We should debate honestly whether this could be regarded as a form of child abuse since children do not have a choice in being exposed to such views.