Editorial Comment: Religious beliefs should not threaten lives

Having started in Chegutu, the disease has spread countrywide.

SOME have suggested that if 90% of Africa’s churches were outlawed, there would be massive development on the continent.We, indeed, tend to agree with this idea because a deep analysis of why the continent continues to wallow in abject poverty will reveal that the greatest cause of our troubles is some of our very strange religious beliefs.

While people have religious freedom, it becomes a real problem when their beliefs affect others to the point of dragging a whole people into unnecessary suffering.One typical example which supports the idea that some religions are retrogressive is what has and is still happening in Zimbabwe where we have a sizeable chunk of citizens whose religious beliefs are threatening our very existence.

In the wake of a cholera resurgence, we have some citizens who are refusing to seek medical assistance and are not only dying but are dragging other people down into the grave with them.

A case in point was reported in our NewsDay edition yesterday. In a front page story we were told that four apostolic church members succumbed to cholera early this month after a pregnant woman belonging to the sect refused medical assistance, opting instead to seek assistance at a church shrine.

The woman spread the disease to 12 others at the shrine and three of them followed her into the grave. This is a classic example of how damaging some of our beliefs can be.How can a nation progress when it continues to be wiped out by such medieval diseases as cholera, a water-borne disease with everything to do with sanitation? It is lunacy of the highest order for one to believe that a prayer to their God, gods or ancestors will protect them from such known diseases as cholera whose treatment and prevention is dependent on a simple solution: Sanitation.

The incident shows us that some religious beliefs are driving cholera numbers which had surged to 17 730 as of last Saturday. The Health and Child Care ministry said 318 people have died due to cholera since it resurfaced as a single case in February last year. Having started in Chegutu, the disease has spread countrywide.

We are convinced that these numbers are not a true reflection of the situation on the ground given that we have religious groups among us which secretly conduct their business and obviously hide cholera patients at their shrines where many are dying and not being captured in the national records.

Granted, the country has serious challenges of water and sanitation, especially in urban areas, but some of our religious beliefs are evidently further complicating the situation.We sincerely believe that it is high time our churches are regulated and all those religious groups whose beliefs are in conflict with national laws on such critical matters as health, must be banned. Period.

When religious beliefs threaten everyone’s health, government must take action because health matters are critical to national development.

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