What you need to know:
- Who knows; a God who demanded a child’s blood, albeit settled for a sheep’s, and then took His own Son’s blood thousands of years ago, might just appreciate if another human is sacrificed in Busoga today!
Britain’s leading broadcaster may have been slow to pry into the poisonous spiritualism Pentecostal/Born Again pastors are promoting in Uganda, but last Monday BBC featured a report showing how outlandish, even murderous, their fraudulent practices had got in Uganda.
The Pentecostal ritual murder in Busoga and the recently flopped resurrection of Owobusobozi Bisaka in Bunyoro, both of which BBC cited, may look extreme, but they are not necessarily absurd to people who have been conditioned to believe in the power of spirits.
If we choose to see things clearly, the ancient scriptural narratives of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son and Jesus’s crucifixion are stories of blood and human sacrifice.
They refer to a huge powerful spirit prowling out there that relishes the flavour of animal and (sometimes) human blood.
Who knows; a God who demanded a child’s blood, albeit settled for a sheep’s, and then took His own Son’s blood thousands of years ago, might just appreciate if another human is sacrificed in Busoga today!
Also, if you are close enough to God, perhaps an embodiment of God (like Bisaka?), you can rise from the dead before the End of The World; another mythical event.
Ritualistic symbolism and the elegance of form have redeemed Christianity from its savage pagan origins. Advances in knowledge also slowly reshape the dominant themes in doctrine.
The exorcism of demons or evil spirits, for instance, once a serious religious exercise, is now dead in enlightened societies. Why, because they see no evidence that demons really exist. And problematic psychological conditions are better handled by professional psychiatrists than by quacks in priests’ garments.
Pentecostal pastors want to reverse those developments. They have nothing enlightening to sell, so they exploit the generalised ignorance in Africa and other backward communities. Masquerading as revivalists, they peddle the discarded pagan stuff.
And because the discarded stuff claimed magical and spiritual power that did not exist, the pastor has to fake it, just as the ancient prophets did.
But while the passage of time bestows the blessing of mystery on the ancients, the immediacy of the actions of the new claimants exposes them more quickly as frauds.
For now, the intensity of their marketing enables them to sell their Jesus-coated theatrics in an African market that still believes in demons and witchcraft.
Meanwhile, a ruling elite that is as pathologically hooked to power as Uganda’s NRM would rather exploit the generalised ignorance and rent the support of the day’s fake prophets than labour to build strongholds in the sphere of knowledge and new ideas.
It is not an accident at all that the expansion of Pentecostalism in Uganda is exactly matched by the expansion of witchcraft, both under the watch of a government that pretends to be carrying its citizens into a more modern science-regarding future.
Some of the more cunning Pentecostal fortune seekers are now engaged in a sustained campaign to manipulate government to create a so-called ‘home’ (presumably a separate ministry) for religious affairs.
The undeclared goal is to create an equaliser for Pentecostals by reducing the power of the old religious establishments.
The relative autonomy of those establishments would be curtailed by dragging and incorporating them more deeply in the mechanisms of the corrupt authoritarian State. Once in that trap, the Pentecostals’ more brazen self-interest could be an advantage in the fight for positions and resources.
Again, predictably, the Pentecostals would campaign to lock out the witchdoctors, although in their thought processes they are actually their most natural allies.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.