Belief in a divine Saviour is neither necessary nor sufficient to being a good person, nor to fight the corruption in society. So says a Christmas message published today from the Uganda Humanist Association.
Our Chair, Peter Kisirinya, made the statement via letter to the Daily Monitor. He was responding to an article by the Archbishop Orombi of the Church of Uganda: “Uganda needs Jesus to end corruption”. (Orombi’s argument has also drawn fire from others accusing the Church of hypocrisy over corruption.)
Peter’s letter appears as the highlighted “Big Story” on the Letters page, and also serves as a Christmas message from the Uganda Humanist Association.
However, the letter as published is edited and omits Peter’s title, meaning that readers won’t know he is writing on behalf of UHASSO.
The full, unedited letter is published below.
Writing in the Sunday Monitor (18 December) Archbishop Orombi diagnoses that this country is corrupt and superstitious and immoral. He prescribes that Ugandans this Christmas should “dedicate or rededicate our lives to Jesus”.
But ours is already a predominantly Christian country. Every Sunday the churches are full. The fear of God is instilled in children by most schools and most parents. Most people believe in Jesus as a divine figure. Surely, few countries in the world are more Christian than Uganda is today. And yet corruption deepens, we over-rely on overseas aid, and HIV/AIDS is on the rise again, indicating more thoughtlessness, and more extramarital affairs.
If Uganda is saturated by Christian belief already, then it seems that belief in Jesus alone simply does not help. (Indeed, there are many countries in the world with less corruption, less cheating, which look after orphans and widows better than we do, and which have low church attendance and low levels of religious belief.)
The Archbishop suggests that belief in Jesus as Saviour is the only important thing. But on the evidence, this belief alone is neither necessary nor sufficient to improve our society.
The Archbishop says of Jesus that “he will save people from their sins”. But it is we who must save ourselves.
If we pray, that’s fine, but we must also act. If we believe, that’sokay, but we must also be good. If we worship Jesus, fair enough, but we must also respect our fellow humans, regardless of their religious beliefs.
Anyone can say they believe in any religion, but what matters is their personal integrity. Do they respect what is fair and just? Do they want to empathise and understand other people? Do they have compassion, do they care, do they contribute to society? The world is learning that these are the important human questions. Whether we happen to believe in the divinity of an ancient Nazarene preacher is one thing and it is easy to say that you do. But can you truthfully answer ‘yes’ to the above questions? Would the people that know you answer ‘yes’ on your behalf?
It is not our religious beliefs which make us. It is our human values and personal actions that are the real test of morality, and which are much more central to the feeling of universality and love that Christmas is really about.
Chairman, Uganda Humanist Association
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