OPINION: Is Atheism on the Rise in Namibia?Articles/Opinion, Featured Contributors/Columnists, Latest News Thursday, April 14th, 2016
By Leo Igwe
From spreading the ‘good news of theism’, he is now propagating the ‘gospel of atheism’ and from being the ‘Saul’ of charismatic Christianity, Keith, a former pastor from Namibia in Southern Africa is now a fire brand ‘Paul’ of skepticism and an unrelenting apostle of freethought in his country. Recently I had a brief chat with Keith and asked him why discarded theism and embraced atheism. He said:
“I prayed a lot as a former pastor, believing that god would stop all these wars, hunger, poverty etc. in Africa, but to no avail. After many years of praying and fasting as requested in the Bible. I gave up after many years of being a Christian”.
Keith did not stop at renouncing Christianity and his belief in God, he went on to educate himself. Keith embarked on a journey of intellectual nourishment, a knowledge seeking journey, searching and researching, questing and inquiring into issues:
“I got educated through Internet and by reading a lot of books including the Bible and the Quran. I also did a lot of research on almost all religions. I found out that all religions are man-made and a god concept was invented by men”.
Keith’s experiences has attested to the fact that reading the Bible or the Quran does not make one a believer. It doesn’t. In fact reading the word of god or allah with open mind is actually one of the shortest routes to godlessness. Again did you notice the role which the internet played in his deconversion? Well, I find it interesting because, at a time when representatives and spokespersons of muslim communities in Europe are attributing the so called radicalization of their youths to the internet, Africans such as Keith have something heartwarming to say about the information superhighway. They tell us that the internet is the signpost to their intellectual awakening, to the new wave of reason that is sweeping across lives.
Keith said that the internet empowered him with knowledge and information which he needed to free their minds from the chains of dogma and religious delusions, to leave the pulpit of faith for the pulpit of free inquiry, then came a realization: “So all those prayers couldn’t make any changes because god never existed in the first place and my prayers were not answered. I found out it was all a hoax, the biggest lie ever told. I realized that I had been taken for a ride”.
Now Keith has some words for Africans:
“Africans are still enslaved by these religions. Killings, maiming, raping and many ills are still continuing no matter how religious Africans are…Atheism and science to me are therefore the answer to the world’s problems”
Really? I only hope so. Keith further explains how the family reacted to his decision to ditch god for good:
“Well, I had been a skeptic while a preacher…you know reading the Bible more and more exposed itself that it’s ‘hoax’. Towards the end of the year 2013, I drew the line and decided not to be a hypocrite any longer and made known my true feelings. Of cause it wasn’t received well by family members and peers. The hardest of all were my immediate family (they are all charismatic born again members). Although they heard my story and respected my decision, it did not go down well with some of them. They still have this feeling that I would repent and join them again. They are still praying and fasting for that day to come. Wishful thinking and wasted prayers I guess. My mind is made up particularly now that I am having more knowledge about science and atheism’.
Keith was not contented with the decision to leave religion, he came out as an atheist. He declared publicly that he is an atheist:
“At the beginning of this year I came out into open and declared myself to be an Atheist (5 months ago). My lovely wife respected my decision but it took her two more months to join me as well. My children are still hanging in the air, wondering my sudden change. I have been attacked by some former members left and right. They put curses on me. Some apparently are praying for my return to the pulpit. Some debate me on issues on my Facebook page etc…”
Keith tells me that Namibia is not really a Christian nation:
“Although they call Namibia a Christian nation…not all are true followers. Out of 80% Christians only 35% are church goers and perhaps 5% can truly say they believe in god. There is therefore room for atheism. Most educated Namibians do not have time for religion, so also most of the poor people in the country”.
Keith says that most of the atheists in Namibia are in the closet and do not want to declare their atheism openly and publicly. However he claims his out campaign efforts are already yielding fruits and that despite the acclaimed religiosity in Namibia, some people are beginning to embrace his ‘good news’ of atheism and freethought.
It is a matter of time, he states “they will come into the open”. Then and only then shall we categorically declare that atheism is on the rise in Namibia.
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