The Sunday Mail
Shingai Rukwata Ndoro Chiseling the Debris —
LAST week, we had time on Zimbabwe not being a Christian state! This week we would like to take it further.
#1. It is a constitutional position that Zimbabwe is a secular republic and a constitutional democracy that recognises the multiplicity and diversity of citizens, religiously and non-religiously. The public sphere should not impinge on religious freedom exercised in the private sphere while the exercise of religious freedom should not interfere with the public sphere.
#2. Zimbabwe has a constitution that guarantees that every citizen has a freedom of thought and conscience to be religious and non-religious.
#3. Every citizen has freedom of association to be religious and non-religious. To disregard such religious plurality and cultural diversity of the people of Zimbabwe creates and feeds hate, bigotry, hostility and animosity!
#4. As a progressive constitution, it is recognisable that there are no constitutional or legal privileges for any religious affinity, affiliation and practices or lack of it other than the general application of the law for private voluntary organisations.
#5. All religious organisations are as good as any non-religious private voluntary organisations. Constitutionally, being Christian is exactly the same as being non-Christian and non-religious. All are human beings and citizens!
#6. It is easily observable that Christianity is a very popular religion because of the circumstances of history. Zimbabwe was once a colony of a European country then a Christian state, Britain.
Therefore, Christianity still has sustained and protected colonial advantages and privileges and the motive force for most public holidays and events.
#7. Any form of religious affinity, affiliation and practice is a domain of personal and private life not be to be used to discriminate against those who are non-Christian and the non-religious (humanists, agnostics and atheists).
#8. There are some false and dubious statistics lacking facts and evidence that have been used to claim a domineering and majoritarian position of Christianity and this has been used to discriminate and dehumanise against non-Christians and the non-religious.
According Nick Spencer, writing on religious statistics, “religion (has a three-fold division which) involves cognitive elements (what we belief), social elements (how we define ourselves) and behavioural elements (what we do) … (It is) important to draw distinctions between belief, affiliation and practice … You cannot simply ask people whether they believe in (the Divine) or not. Putting aside the inevitable response, ‘What do you mean by (the Divine)?’ (Something that can only be explored properly by qualitative research), belief is not a binary thing, like a light-switch. The interesting question is not so much whether people believe, but how strongly…” (The Guardian, June 9, 2009)
So far the available statistics about how many Christians there are in Zimbabwe, are based on manufactured data because measuring religiosity is a broad and complex matter. What about religiosity is being measured? There are three religious things to measure – cognitive elements (beliefs, affinity or persuasion), affiliation and practice (conduct, attendance and observances). What are those statistics used for?
Statistics on religion have been used to discriminate against minority religions and the non-religious. They have been used as a basis to justify domineering advantages and privileges for those who are in the majority. This is the source of sectarian religious discrimination and even antagonism. It has been used as the justification for overbearing tendencies by some in the public affairs of the country.
Let us secularly recognise and celebrate our human diversity and plurality without anyone domineering or by making others feel victimised in the Public Sphere.
Feedback: [email protected] and Twitter @shingaiRndoro. A gallery of previous articles is found at www.sundaymail.co.zw/author/shingairukwata