Is religious diversity good for Uganda? - Voices from religious leaders.
In a religiously diverse country like Uganda, inter-religious dialogue is not just a necessity but a must. On 20th June 2013, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda participated in an inter-religious dialogue training workshop, organized by the InterReligious Council of Uganda (IRCU), one of CCFU’s partners on the Pluralism Knowledge Programme (PKP) in Uganda.
The workshop was intended to equip religious leaders with skills in inter-religious dialogues; and to suggest solutions to problems associated with religious diversity. Religious leaders were drawn from the greater north, that is, Karamoja, Lango, Acholi and West Nile regions and some representatives from Bugisu region.
During the workshop, some of the religious leaders were engaged in a discussion on their understanding of religious pluralism and whether or not diversity is good for countries like Uganda. Below are the reactions from some of the religious leaders.
Sheikh Mangali Muhamad Badru (Rep. District Qadhi, Bugisu region)
Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng (Retired Bishop of Northern Uganda Diocese)
“Religious Pluralism is to co-exist and respect among different religious ideologies and living together in harmony. As Ugandans, we need each other. Calamities hit us together regardless of our religious differences. We need to work together to solve common challenges using uniform fora. Religious pluralism is still a new idea not easily understood by everybody, especially at the local level. Religious pluralism needs to be rolled out in communities and primary schools”.
“Religious pluralism is where many religions, leaders and followers co-exist and fight to raise their flags high. Even at IRCU, there is competition. This hinders our moving together, in IRCU, our hearts are partly open and partly closed. Cooperation to some people is an advantage and it is a disadvantage for others. Religious pluralism is important because religions are here to stay and are very powerful in the community. However, too many religions can be mobilized to cause conflicts”.
Reverend Father Peter Oelu (Coordinator, Soroti Catholic Diocese Justice and Peace Commission)
“Religious pluralism is having many religions in a nation or in a world co-existing and conflicting at the same time. Coexistence is when we recognize that we need each other to build a nation. It is also when we recognize that many religions are a resource to build a nation and bring peace, fight poverty and unemployment and to have good governance. Everyone is important - regardless of their religion - in nation-building, fighting corruption and child sacrifice. However, in spite of having many religions, we are not portraying the benefits of this diversity. Corruption, child sacrifice, abuse of human rights and conflicts are still present in Uganda. Religious leaders preach the gospel only in houses of worship and do not live to the reality of the gospel”
Pastor Eulu Richard (Lira SDA Church of Amula)
“Religious pluralism is the existence if multiple religions or forms of its kind. It provides moral values and ethics, helps sinners to find the truth by listening, consulting, comparing and choosing the way, it supports the country to fight for peace, unity and prosperity, security, HIV/AIDS epidemics and disaster preparedness in diversity. There is however, a deficiency in biblical interpretation. It is important to dialogue with politicians to make the country peaceful.”
Reverend Baka Solomon D. (Adalafu Church of Uganda Arua Archdeoconary-Madi/West Nile Diocese)
According to Rev. Baka, religious pluralism is where many different religious people all worship God as being under one umbrella. Religious pluralism is important in Uganda’s context because it brings people to know God more and it changes human behaviour from bad to good. Too many religions have led to competition in society and people disagree with their own faith, rather than other people’s faiths. Others make themselves holier than others while others have strong standing rules of their religion”