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What African Evangelicals think of Florida's Quran-burning preacher

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American evangelical preachers – such as Jones – can be highly influential in Africa, where evangelical Christianity is growing fast. Here, African Evangelicals take their cues from American brethren on issues such as homosexuality or the ordination of women as pastors, but when it comes to an extreme action such as burning the holy book of another faith, not one single pastor is known to have followed in Jones' footsteps.

At the moment, Evangelical and Charismatic Christians now form 10 percent of Africa’s populations. They are starting to find space in political arenas as well as well as in the development sectors. While preaching “fiery” messages that stress strong devotion to God and the much loved “gospel” of self- improvement, Evangelicals are also building schools, hospitals, providing relief, and taking care of the less fortunate. Destruction of places of worship or burning of sacred books do not appear to be among their priorities.

Across the continent, Evangelical Christians join up with the many interfaith networks to fight common enemies. When disasters such as droughts, floods, or even conflicts or wars strike, you will see pastors, bishops, imams, and sheikhs in towns and villages uniting their people to toil against the challenges. Working together against common challenges has brought about respect, understanding, and tolerance.

Even when extremist members of one faith attack the members of another faith, inter-religious dialogue has been norm, and this trend is strengthening. Where American ideologues might view Islam to be a threat, African pastors and imams view each other’s faith as holding invaluable instruments of reconciliation and peace, including forgiveness, mercy, and love.

While Africans have their shortcomings, when it comes to matters of faith, pastors and imams have a track record of dialogue rather than provocation. Keeping these channels open gives Africans many meeting points; when used effectively, dialogue results in peaceful co-existence.

In northern Nigeria, where an Islamist group called Boko Haram started burning Christian churches, some Muslims volunteered to act as guards for Christians as they prayed. Christians returned the good gesture and protected the Muslims during their prayers.

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