From the July 2000 issue of the Socialist Standard
The tragedy that befell Uganda in the month of March this year is worth analysing and talking about. This was in South Western Uganda in the village of Kanungu. Over 500 religious believers, belonging to a sect (cult) called The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, set themselves ablaze and all perished in the inferno. Worse still, as police continue to search, mass graves of believers of the same cult were found in different places in the homes of the followers’ leaders and elsewhere.
The impact of religion on people especially in Africa is that of doom. The principles of religion are all similar and only differ on the surface. First, there is a belief in supernatural power. Second, there are prayers and rituals. And third, there is a belief in life after death.
The belief in supernatural powers, a god and a spirit world arose out of people’s lack of understanding of the universe and their own particular limited environment. This was coupled with their own curiosity, desires and needs. Humans have been the creator and inventor of God in their own image. In fact, it’s not a case of God creating Man but of Man creating God. God and all gods exist in people’s minds only.
The Kanungu incident is a case of religious fanatics whose leaders had predicted the end of the world come December 31 1999; they believed that there was not to be a year 2000 with the old generation but a new generation with they, believers of this cult, going to heaven. So they made their heaven.
Their mass graves at Kangunu, like any other graves, are an indication that there is no life after death. There is only death after life. Their testimony was based on biblical extracts. However, as usual, false testimony always testifies against itself. It is an easy thing to tell a lie but it’s difficult to support a lie after it has been told.
By extracting verses from the bible and relying on them in addition to trying to put them into practice, some religious groups have gone as far as destroying fruit trees, having free sex and not accepting family planning methods, refusing medical treatment, and selling their possessions.
Christians marching ‘the way of the cross’ in Uganda
The bible, which claims to be a holy creation and the foundation for christianity and several other religions, was of course a human creation and there is still a minority today who would accept it word for word. Yet it is inconsistent and self-contradicting. In fact it would stand no favour had it to face a court of law. It’s a book of lies. Today numbers of “educated” and “artistic” people are employed to blend truth and lies in whatever proportion they calculate is most effective in misleading the public. The big lie being that people should be contented with the life which the market system imposes on us while waiting for “a paradise life” after this life.
From childhood people are mentally conditioned into religious beliefs, superstitions and the like. And as people sense a lack of control in an increasingly complex and alienating world, they are more susceptible to beliefs in the supernatural whether religion, magic, dreams, creatures from other planets or whatever. People who have religious beliefs replace faith for reason and logic.
We live in a harsh, competitive society where everyone’s hand is turned against everyone else. Yet human beings need social contact and companionship. The harsher the reality the more fantastic the solace offered by religion. It is no accident that early christianity spread amongst the slaves of the Roman empire, nor that in Africa and Asia where poverty is so harsh, we have the devout religious zealots.
The religious view sees workers as incapable of solving the problems that confront them. The consolation they offer is one beyond the grave. They believe that human beings should adapt a slavish attitude, be humble, be grateful and not attempt to abolish the ills that afflict them.
We socialists see humans as an animal species that has succeeded in adapting the natural world to meet its needs. We view with wonder and astonishment its magnificent accomplishments in the fields of science, medicine, agriculture and advanced technology. We place our faith not in gods and supernatural forces, but in the intelligence and knowledge of the working class.
The transformation of society will not be brought about by the action of gods, but by real men and women determined to end capitalism and establish socialism.
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