Freethought Kampala

Thursday, October 6 2011 at 7:30PM

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4 Windsor Place
South Glamorgan
CF10 3BX
029 2039 8998

James Onen

What's the talk about?

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.

As a founding member of Freethought Kampala, James will give you an insight into the experience of being a skeptic in a deeply superstitious society, including the 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.


Please note this is not the usual 3rd Monday of the month.

No booking required. £4 per head (back to £3 next time!).