Religious moderation and Ghana’s quiet war

As fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims unite to attempt to “get rid of these people in the society,” a statement both ugly in composition and in sentiment, the small and mostly silent homosexual community in Ghana finds itself on the brink of persecution. It is for this reason, that while I still maintain that violence is not the property of any single group of people, I must admit that if religion is not a necessary cause for violence and oppression, it is at the very least a sufficient one.

It was sufficient for many in Uganda, including the truly reprehensible David Bahati, just as it was for the Taliban in it’s war against women and schoolchildren. Of course unlike Uganda, the situation in Ghana is going unreported. Even Ghanian human rights groups have remained relatively silent, if not out of fear then out of apathy.

The point that I feel needs to be made, is that moderation is the property of the individual, and not of religion. In fact, any praise for “religious moderates” carries with it the implicit statement that their religion is better off being “moderated.” As for the “progressives” among the religious, I will say readily that their support for the separation of church and state is one of the best kept secrets the church has going at the moment. The problem however, is that when it comes to situations like Ghana, progressives tend to feel sorrier for themselves than for the actual victims of oppression. If they were half as adamant about opposing the horrific situations in Ghana and Uganda as they are about distancing themselves from the perpetrators, then the difference would be shown, and there would be no need to tell. I’m not saying that progressives of both monotheisms aren’t every bit as opposed to theocracy as I am, but rather that I would very much like to see the same outrage and indigence that boils over whenever they’re linked with their more extreme brethren, directed at those brethren themselves.

Forget the atheists/agnostics, if Christians and Muslims become the foremost critics of their own extremists, then there’s no need for  outside commentary, as it will be a self correcting mechanism. When the message of the church changes from “we’re not like them,” to active and vociferous opposition, then there will be no need for people like me to worry about the possibility of theocratic infringement.  A certain number of ‘crazies’ will always be a given, however just because they are prominent, doesn’t mean they are necessarily representative. On the other hand, it is up to believers who wish to be distinguished from the fanatics to prove it – and not just give it lip service.

The other question I feel I need to ask with all seriousness, is now that we’ve seen what it looks like when a nation is run even partially by religious law, how can the humane and gentle believers among you continue to embrace a text which claims that these are the laws of love personified? Does it not at the very least gnaw at you?

Ghana, as Uganda before it, now stands on a knifes edge. I can think of no more important duty for those committed to human rights, than to stand with our Ghanian brothers and sisters regardless of our religious beliefs. Let Ghana serve once again as an example of the dangers posed by theocratic infiltration of the government, and let the condemnation of it be whole and without qualification. To stand for Ghana’s gay community, is to join in the stand against violence and oppression by religious fundamentalism. It is one that is necessary both for the believer to re-take his faith, and for the nonbeliever to continue to live in a free society. It is at its heart the battle against cruelty, savagery and tyranny, and the oldest and perhaps most poisonous of totalitarianisms. It is time that the world know that hate has been exported to Ghana, and that Ghana know we won’t forget, and that we won’t stay silent.

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