The Washington Times - January 5, 2009, 05:32PM

    After having just written about long-time Brit atheist Tony Flew’s change of heart in 2004 (when he announced he was a deist), here’s a London Times column by another atheist on why Christianity has benefited Africa. Read about it here.

    Raised in Malawi, Mr. Parris has driven about the continent quite a bit and he describes how Christianity cancels out the typical African subservience to whatever “big man” is ruling the roost at the minute. Local superstitions, love of hierarchy, general passivity and a timidity about standing apart from the crowd are typical to African mentality, he says. What Christianity has done is free up African spirits.


    This is not a column most of us could write in that few of us have grown up in Africa. I wish the writer could have commented on whether other faiths are good for Africa. His purview is sub-Saharan Africa, which is majority Christian. I also wish he could have commented on Rwanda, where Christianity seemingly ran deep before the Hutu-Tutsi rampages in the mid-1990s.

   Also the same, it’s clear to most of us who have traveled through Third-World countries that nearly 100 percent of all their schools, hospitals and other institutions have come from religious groups. It was Christian missionaries who set out to abolish temple prostitution involving young girls in India. Go to Haiti and I’m willing to bet every charity there is sponsored by a religious - almost always Christian - group. Think how many U.S. hospitals are run by Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Jewish and Catholic groups.

  - Julia Duin, religion editor