Do not be afraid to repeat that every religious scholar in the 21st Century who is worth your serious attention knows that God is a human invention.
On the other hand, most ordinary believers are taught that God existed before man and made man. They see God in some independent ‘personal’ form, a rather spooky being able to occupy different spaces anywhere and everywhere. They have been taught that other gods are false and should not be worshipped because they are made by man.
So, the ordinary believer lives with a total misconception. He thinks that he should worship and pray to God because God actually exists and has power.
For his part, if he has done his scholarship, the priest probably understands that God is an abstraction that was conceived (or made) by human minds.
This is in fact what all civilisations have always done. They worship gods they have conceived, whether those gods are represented in some natural or artistic form, or not.
I sometimes listen to people with over-sized egos masquerading as prophets and apostles of the only true God. They scour the Old Testament for narratives vaguely resembling our times as evidence of a prophetic calendar that even prescribes the fate of our specific country and Museveni’s endless rule.
They spin yarns about a God whose plans cannot be changed by prayer. Then they spin yarns about a God whose plan can be influenced by prayer.
But if this kind of contradictory stuff does not make you dizzy, and you look closely, the Bible-totter’s first version of a God whose plans cannot be changed is primarily in the interest of evil powerful men, who can only be replaced when and how God planned. Ordinary citizens need not have a say in the matter. So, things like democracy and elections are irrelevant. God can choose an Amin or a Museveni with their gun-barrel methods; just as He often used violence to determine power in the Bible stories.
The second version of a God who can be influenced by prayers is primarily in the interest of the Bible-totting pretender, who manipulates gullible followers into believing that intense cash-backed prayers and exotic oil smears can bring God to cause miraculous turns of fortune. The authoritarian’s God and the prosperity preacher’s God are thus on one axis.
Where columnist Gawaya Tegulle expressed shock in this paper last Sunday that Pentecostal pastors had gone to State House to congratulate President Museveni on winning “the most peaceful election in Uganda’s history,” I instead found the visit completely natural.
I would have been extremely surprised if our religious phoneys did not celebrate the survival of a regime that has given succour to their weirdly primitive Christianity. Apparently, in their view, God is not yet troubled by the growing fascism of the regime.
I sometimes feel sorry for God; because He cannot talk. He cannot define the nature of his evolving ‘existence’. He cannot disown the power ordinary believers wrongly assume He has; whether it is the power to stop bishops fornicating, or to remove despots, or to stop deadly viruses. He cannot cry out that misrepresentation will kill Him.
Africans in particular have condemned this God to buffoonery. While the pastors’ comedy at Entebbe State House was entirely expected, a whole president in the body of John Magufuli prescribed for Tanzanians three days of prayers to stop Covid-19!
Why do our political and religious leaders think like cave-dwellers before jumping into their smooth black 21st Century automobiles?