Are you in the UK or Ireland? If so, see you soon!
Many thanks to Dr. Adam Corner of Cardiff University – who found me while undertaking research in Uganda on the communication of climate change early this year. He suggested to me that I should consider coming to the UK to talk about the work we are doing in Kampala towards the promotion of critical thinking and skepticism.
At the invitation of the British Humanist Association and several skeptic groups in the UK, I will be delivering a talk titled “The Rise of Skepticism In Uganda” in London, Cardiff, Lewes, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin.
Thank you – to all that have made this possible.
The Rise of Skepticism In Uganda – by James Onen
Irrational beliefs – such as the acceptance of the power of witchcraft – are pervasive across the African continent, and are not restricted only to peasants and the uneducated. In fact, nearly all of the educated African elite believe in the efficacy of witchcraft. It is hard to believe that given all the advancements in medicine and science in the last 500 years, most Ugandans (and indeed most Africans) today still attribute their misfortune and sickness to evil spirits and demons, courtesy of witchcraft. These beliefs benefit from the tacit support of mainstream religions (particularly the fast growing ‘charismatic’ forms of Christianity) which, while denouncing witchcraft as evil, fully endorse the view that it is efficacious. In their view witchcraft is seen as evidence of ‘Satan’ at work. Mainstream religions are also guilty of promoting a belief system that leads to:
Pastors conning thousands of believers by stage-managing fake miracles
Many HIV positive believers dying because they were abandoning ARVs based on unsubstantiated miracle testimonies
Making people believe that they have been bewitched or are victims of ‘generational curses’
The lack of a rational voice in this public conversation about what are spiritual matters prompted a number of local rationalists to come together and form Freethought Kampala, a club that seeks to promote reason, logic, science and critical thinking in a highly superstitious society. We host monthly meetings, and have many of our views published in the mainstream newspapers to be read by tens of thousands of Ugandans. We also have a strong online presence via a blog and Facebook page.
I will give you an insight into the experience of being a skeptic in a deeply superstitious society, including our fight against witchcraft,in Uganda, the phenomenal rise of charismatic forms of Christianity in Uganda, and its impact on belief in the efficacy of witchcraft, the politicisation of Religion, Spirituality, and mass conformity, the rise of skepticism in Uganda, challenges for skepticism in Uganda and the way forward from here.
DATES & VENUES:
Thursday, October 6, 7:30pm
4 Windsor Place
029 2039 8998
Sunday, October 9, 6:00pm
The Exchange Dublin
Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar
Monday, October 10, 7:00pm
The Parlour Bar
2-4 Elmwood Avenue,
Belfast, County Antrim BT9 6
Tuesday, October 11, 7:00pm
Wednesday, October 12, 6:30pm
The Camden Head
100 Camden High Street,
London NW1 0LU
Thursday, October 13, 8:00pm
Lewes Constitutional Club
139 High Street
Lewes, East Sussex