Religious -> Extremism

Africa’s socio-economic and political plight is closely interwoven with religion. Religion can be a force for good but religious extremism can turn religion into a force for evil. Religious extremism depends on a radicalised form of religious identity and a purist interpretation of religious texts, beliefs and practices, and sectarian groups with impermeable boundaries and intolerance to religious freedom. It exists in any religion and poses a threat to Africa’s stability and is an obstacle to the continent’s transformation. 

SOPHOS AFRICA will seek to contribute to the promotion of freedom of religion and efforts to overcome misinformation that exists amongst religious adherents. It will also challenge ideas and practices that fuse religious and ethnic or national identities, which result in religious (and also political) extremism. It seeks to achieve this goal through four things.

First, SOPHOS AFRICA will engage with religious and government institutions in order to promote the role of faith in the public square and persuade relevant government offices about the importance of religious education in secondary schools and religious studies in the university.

Second, the organisation will work to promote a deeper understanding of factors and actors behind religious ideas and practices that pose threats to societal stability, peace and development.

Third, the organisation will work with stakeholders to develop sustainable methods and mechanisms through creating a critical mass of people who are able to stand for the promotion and preservation of peaceful co-existence, persuade others to do so, and influence public policy. 

Fourth, SOPHOS AFRICA will seek to create a united voice amongst Christians, Muslims and others where there is a common understanding of the importance of maintaining a secular state founded on democratic principles and where religion has a part to play towards societal flourishing. This will include helping nations to stand against forces that seek to undermine or erode foundations on which the principle of the freedom of religion is built.