By George Kimando
In 1988, a revolutionary monthly magazine, Parents, was launched in Kenya. It was an instant hit.
And why? Because it brought to the public domain in an open and explicit way matters that were considered taboo before: Sex and relationships.
These were issues that were hitherto spoken of in whispers. The few foreign publications that dared publish such content were read privately by adults and under blankets with the aid of a torch by minors who were cheeky enough to steal them from their parents.
Parents shed light on many grey areas, yet in a decently persuasive manner that was difficult to ignore and dismiss.
To this day, the church and moral cops within government are playing catch-up in redefining the conversation, now beyond reach after the fuelling by technology-driven exposure and news feed.
This scenario is being replicated in another deep area of society: RELIGION.
The subtle rise of HUMANISM as the preferred choice in serving God is gradually overtaking the traditionally held religious beliefs and practice.
I had an interesting discussion about this a couple of weeks ago with a strong advocate of this thinking.
She first got in touch after reading my thoughts on why we have an increasing number of atheists in Africa, reason being that most African converts to Christianity cannot reconcile the God of such love, compassion, and justice with the atrocities committed by the same messengers of the gospel in colonising and subjugating Africans.
She tells me that many people, especially the exposed young and middle-aged populations, are increasingly questioning religious beliefs and practices more than ever before. In Africa, especially, as we build more churches, poverty levels are on the rise, and human suffering is prevalent more than ever before.
One fundamental tenet of this thinking is advocating the divorcing God from religion. They deem religion as a form of societal mental prison, where some people took ownership of God and the rest have to pay homage to a certain religious altar to be aligned to God.
They believe that over time, religion – like politics and other social organisations – have largely been used as tools of mass control. The leaders abrogate themselves the gatekeepers status to heavenly goodies, whether in this life or the hereafter.
Hence, they posit, religion – like a capitalist economic system – takes wealth/faith from the majority and concentrates it in a few from where the rest go for benediction and benefactoring; the subjects pay homage to the capital/faith owners to gain favours while kept on a leash to produce more and expand the barns of the capital/faith owners.
Yet, if we were loving, compassionate, and just as God is, then we do not have room for such exploitative and selfish systems of life where a few have more than they could ever make use of even in three lifetimes while the majority of others lay claim to nothing. And in this, religion is used to pacify the disillusioned majority with the hope of a hallelujah life after death (most likely caused by the penury they have been subjected to in their worldly lives).
This is what HUMANISM advocates: Love, compassion, and justice for humanity.
When RELIGION is preaching fear and condemnation to toe the humanity line, HUMANISM preaches mental liberty from the shackles of religion, and advocates goodness for its own sake.
Whereas these were issues that were being whispered about before, they are now being discussed in the open and gaining traction. Like Parents brought to the fore the sex and relationships conversations in the late 1980s, HUMANISM is turning over the RELIGION conversation to the public domain in an unprecedented manner.
(Un)fortunately, the church and religious platforms are complacently deaf, preaching more fear and condemnation to a growing population of resilient people determined to find their spiritual footing in a God they understand in the reality of what they experience from their fellow humans, especially the religious and political leaders.
Instead of playing catch-up, religious institutions can take the lead and guide the conversation. I am not sure though that this will be a good thing.
Perhaps if religion preached these tenets of Love, Compassion, and Justice and followed them up with standing up for them in word and deed, and where the laity would feel they have truly found God in truth and spirit (by the actions of the proclaimers of the word following their very teachings), adherence to religion and seeing God for who He truly is through the eyes of religion will not be a struggle.
Have a Humanism reflective Sunday, and a great week ahead!
(Feedback to [email protected]
Facebook: George Kimando