While not a religious person myself, I recognize that religion does a lot of good for a lot of people—it creates community, provides support networks and a safety net, and often gives back to society through service.
I am honored to work with Christian Volunteer Service International (CVSI), an NGO that exemplifies the type of positive influence that religion can have on the world—CVSI brings people together in the spirit of service, providing a forum where people volunteer their time and donate their funds for the greater societal good.
Unfortunately, religion also brings people together for other reasons. Check out this link: http://vibeghana.com/2011/07/19/ghana-police-ordered-to-arrest-all-gays/
Christian and Muslim communities unite… over hate. This article doesn’t make clear that the government of Ghana doesn’t actually plan to start rounding ‘em up; it is really just a lone MP mouthing off as a homophobe in response to mass protests against homosexuality.
Try reading the first few paragraphs of this article inserting the word “Jew” for “homosexual”. Scary. Similar vibes have surfaced in Uganda in the last couple years and culminated in the introduction of a brutal anti-gay bill, supposedly inspired by American evangelicals.
Speaking of Western influence, a friend of mine who grew up in Africa mentioned that some Africans view homosexuality as a foreign disease that came with colonialism. She also passed along an interesting article on the subject (http://www.economist.com/node/16219402 ), quoted here:
“In many former colonies, denouncing homosexuality as an “un-African” Western import has become an easy way for politicians to boost both their popularity and their nationalist credentials. But Peter Tatchell, a veteran gay-rights campaigner, says the real import into Africa is not homosexuality but politicised homophobia.”
People spend extraordinary amounts of time and money interfering in the lives of others… I’m embarrassed for people who involve themselves in these crusades of hate. Is it really a zero sum game to give others rights and respect? Futhermore, when people fixate on this issue… I often suspect irony. Surely the resources and energy focused on this issue could be better spent elsewhere. Like on finishing the Nsawam Road bridge in North Accra. The traffic is horrible.