RFI President Eric Patterson: “Two visions for Africa”

July 21, 2023

RFI President Eric Patterson wrote an article for WORLD Magazine this week in which he reflects on “Two visions for Africa” — one is “deeply rooted in Christianity, [and] the other represents imported secularism.” Patterson writes:

I recently traveled in East Africa and in the course of my work met two female college students. These two young women provide two very different faces of the future of Africa. Indeed, they demonstrate the war that is going on for the soul of their country. Will sub-Saharan Africa remain highly religious, and highly Christian, or will the next generation of students reject religious truth and religious freedom in favor of the anti-religious ideologies of that are taking over the West?

The first young woman is studying law at a European university. She sounded like any other Western college student: She had just finished up the school year. She looked forward to a beach vacation to unwind with girlfriends before heading home for the summer. She’s an urban young woman, well-educated, and she dressed and spoke like many students I know from my home state of California.

When she asked what I did for a living, and I told her about my organization’s work championing religious freedom at home and abroad, she immediately became suspicious. She challenged my view of the religious nature of humanity and religion as a source of social flourishing, arguing that religion is typically repressive and violent. She had a deep skepticism of religion in its own right, and of religious freedom as protecting superstition, anti-science, and hierarchy.

In sum, she is one face of Africa’s rising generation of citizens. Hers is a minority viewpoint in East Africa at present, but social media, digital platforms, global travel, and secular education are all propagandizing anti-religious messages straight from San Francisco and New York.

Read the full article: “Two visions for Africa.”