A youthful exodus from the church?

What a time to be alive! We are living in a period in history where a generation has chosen to question everything from political views held by their parents, to what they are allowed or not allowed to do, basically everything that seems to in any little way control their behaviours and/or mannerisms. And true to their character they do not blush at the challenge of questioning religion.

As one born smack dab at the start of this new wild generation brought together by technology, I have been swamped with all sorts of ideas. My views on a myriad of things are as fluid as sexuality in modern times; it changes all the time. So, gun to my head. Do I believe in religion? No. Am I spiritual? Again, it changes all the time.

Like most young people struggling to come to terms with this reality, we find that money talks too loudly, in virtually every aspect of our lives. I believe we have grown up in an era where everyone has grown so economically inclined to the extent that they’d do anything to get money, including religions. I mean, look at the case of the lead preacher of Salvation Healing Ministry pastor Kanyari, who had Kenyan rapper Nyashinski make a reference about him in his song, saying “walisema nimepotea kaa zile mbegu watu walipanda na Kanyari.”

About nine years ago, Kanyari was caught in the act, performing fake miracles using potassium permanganate, which turns purple when dissolved in water, by Nyali MP Mohamed Ali (Jicho Pevu) – then an investigative reporter at KTN. The expose threw him off balance taking cover and wishing time would erase from our minds his exploits.

Last year, however, Kanyari emerged telling gullible followers that he will reward anyone with Kes30,000 if they made a Kes500 offering (panda mbegu).

Other approaches by pastors and self-declared bishops fleecing unsuspecting followers exists and they all make it very hard for many to believe in religion when this is the kind of spiritual experience one is exposed to.

Similarly, I’ve heard of a case of a friend, who of course with our obvious child-like inquisition asked the parents why innocent children were being killed in wars in Syria. To which the parents replied, “hiyo ni maneno ya Mungu, usijali kuihusu.” That’s God’s plans, don’t worry about them.

Such easy answers might have served in a different era, where information was scarce, but today, we are confronted not only with the brutality of the world, but with very little perspective on what to make of them. My friend couldn’t reconcile what a harmless baby could have done to deserve such kind of death. So away went his faith, in a ‘non-caring’ being.

It is pretty sad actually, for most of this kind of youth, that life in itself has gotten us to a point where we have had to question what was basically considered the cannons of existence. A belief in a God, a constant will to live and a hope in a better future. Indeed, true to Francis Imbuga’s words, “Now we have nothing to look forward to. We have killed our past, and are busy killing our future.”

But even in all this despair still springs the ardent believers, who have been taught to look at the world with closed suspicion. The faithful one. The trusting one. The ones who know what it means to love without ceasing and to believe without seeing. Today, these are rare rather than norm, the sole carriers of the spiritual word. Be it the Bible or the Quran.

Some of them attest to their faith by stating the fact that various prophecies that were mentioned in the Bible are coming to pass in this day and age and that this very denial of religions and deity are signs of this great end.

It scares me to an extent, I feel to a level, there’s no way it’s just mere coincidence that some things happen just the way a human wrote it at some point in time. There is an uncanny resemblance of the scenes of fear gospel everywhere, from the tornados and earthquakes, floods and severe droughts, which might just also be due to climate change. There has to be something else going on that is beyond our comprehension.

Others I have encountered in faith are those who have learned the inadequacy of their flesh, and their smallness in the grand scheme of things. They simply peg it to the fact that the experiences they’ve encountered in their lives haven’t just been the flick of a thumb, or the resilience of a human being. That there has to be something on the other side. This especially for people of faith who have had a deep experience like losing their loved ones. It seems to become paramount to believe in this extraterrestrial being just to have that comfort in their heart that their loved ones are in a safe and better place. Hope that they too will pass gently into the night. The kindling of mankind.

Today, like it has been since time immemorial, there are young religious people and young atheists. However, there’s one thing they share. The common agreement that religion has been superseded by a sense of spirituality; the closeness we feel to ourselves that is deeper than mere self-love, it has to be a connection to something powerful, yet unnamed.

Our separation from the church has more to do with the practice of the extremist believers. As Mahatma Gandhi said, Christians are so unlike Christ.

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