About 7 years ago I met 3 American evangelical missionaries at a place I sued to work at. They were very friendly, and were eager to strike up conversation with me. As expected, eventually, they asked me about my ‘relationship with Jesus’. I told them I had none – and that i didn’t believe in ‘God’. They couldn’t believe their ears. I suppose a ‘non-believer’ was the last person they expected to encounter in a place like Uganda.

After getting over their shock, they began to tell me about how their lives were empty before they ‘found Jesus’. They then tried to convince me that MY life was empty.

I responded, ‘No, it’s not’.

‘Yes, it is!’ they insisted.

‘Actually, no, it isn’t’ I replied… and gave them a list of things that made my life meaningful, like:

  • My friends
  • My passion for music
  • My band
  • My family
  • People I care about
  • My job
  • My fondest memories from my childhood
  • Prospects of what my future might be like

All, to me, very important things that I cherish..things that make me wake up every morning… things that make me happy to be alive… and still they were trying to convince me my life was empty. WTF?

We went back and forth for a while, until they eventually gave up. They wished me well, and then they were off – and I was left baffled by their condescension.

I was reminded of this encounter with these evangelists after reading a very interesting recent post on one my favourite blogs, Common Sense Atheism. The author, Luke, in a post titled Christianity invents a “Problem” so it can offer its “Solution” compares religious proselytising tactics to cheesy television infomercials, where the vendors of a whole range of specialised household products try very hard to convince you of a problem you don’t really have, so that they can sell you their ‘solution’ to that ‘problem… which just happens to be their product.

Here are a few of the ‘problems’ that Christianity, for example, tries to convince you that you have, before it tries to sell you its ‘solution’:

  1. Your life is empty
  2. Your life is meaningless
  3. Your life is purposeless
  4. You are a wretched sinner unworthy of life
  5. You are doomed to ‘Hell’
  6. Demons are causing you and your family harm
  7. You and your loved ones are afflicted with a ‘generational curse’
  8. etc..

Then they sell you ‘Jesus’ as the ‘answer’ to these ‘problems’.

Of course, in Uganda (like elsewhere) this Jesus comes at a price – 10% of your gross salary (before taxation) every month, in addition to weekly offerings. Add to this -  a lifetime of unquestioning allegiance to the institution of the church, and hours upon hours of your life spent on empty rituals that accomplish nothing besides shielding your mind from reality by giving you an occasional emotional high.

All this – for problems that are… imaginary.