12 June 2017

South Africa: Knysna - When Prayer and Praise Get in Your Face

While Knysna was burning and people were dying, emergency and disaster management groups were overrun with religious people starting prayer chains, praising their god for signs of rain, and thanking him for the generosity and hard work of other people.

Last week raging forest fires struck along the Garden Route, destroying houses and lives. At last count, the death toll stood at six, while 408 formal houses and 200 or more informal houses were destroyed. Thousands were left homeless.

The amazing people of the region, and of the country, did so much to help. While it was burning, Knysna was completely isolated for a time, without power or telephone lines. The community stood together to fight the fires, save the lives of people and animals, and give aid to those who lost everything. Similar scenes played themselves out in other affected areas along the coast. The strength and generosity of people in a disaster was heart-warming.

But to me, there was a sour note. Under normal circumstances, I avoid talking about religion, knowing that rational discussion of religious belief is impossible and my atheist views only upset believers. I don't like to write about it for the same reasons. But...

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