Eddie Ssemakula’s article yesterday, titled “When Your Lover Yawns” (from the Sunday Monitor of 19th June) was an interesting one.

In it, he speculates about what might have caused the abandonment of faith by a person who he once knew to be highly religious.

When I sit now to reflect on what could have driven my brother from his Christian convictions, I suspect one to be his lover(s). his girlfriend(s) must have yawned at him. Yes. Yawned. They must have yawned at his faith. They must have yawned at him every other morning he opened the scriptures.

They must have yawned everytime he picked the remote control and turned on a sermon. They must have yawned every time he showed them his sexual purity pledge card. They must have yawned. And he must have given up.

Ssemakula decides that it could have been the young man’s girlfriends that led him astray. One after the other, they purportedly kept “yawning” every time the young man turned on religious programmes on TV, read the bible, or declared his sexual purity – leading to this man’s apparent deconversion. He then goes on to quote various scathing utterances of Paul in the New Testament such as “do not be yoked together with unbelievers” to remind Christians that they should not associate too much with those that do not share their beliefs.

Apostle Paul called this whole obsession “yoking with unbelievers” and warned us “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and non-belief?

In the case of the young man Ssemakula speaks of, these would be the alleged yawning girlfriends.

What I did find odd about the article was that no mention was made of WHY these girlfriends might have been yawning. I will therefore propose some likely explanations, because I too have found myself “yawning” (or more accurately, express disinterest), when confronted by someone trying to preach to me:

  1. Perhaps his girlfriends have seen that the most pious among their flock are also the most hypocritical. They have seen the Catholic Church’s gross mishandling of the notorious child sexual abuse scandals, and how many of the prominent anti-gay pastors in the US have turned out the be gay themselves. They have also seen local bishops in Uganda receive brown envelopes from presidents, they have seen the most respected local pastors involved in financial fraud and sex scandals, they have seen choir girls at their local church get pregnant one after the other. In short, in their experience, the more ‘godly’ one has claimed to be, the more ‘immoral’ they have often tended to be – and we’ve all met people like that, haven’t we?
  2. Perhaps his girlfriends have come to realise that Christianity is one among thousands of other religions that have existed in the past. They see that all religions make mutually contradictory claims about truth, none of whose claims are falsifiable, or empirically verifiable, so there is no way to tell which religion is true, and which is false.
  3. Perhaps his girlfriends know that the bible, just like any other ‘holy’ book, was written by, and inspired by man. (Why should we take seriously what somebody called Paul wrote in the bible? He is a human being like anyone else, prone to the same faults and delusions as the next person. Not to mention the fact that almost half of the epistles attributed to him were not written by him but by anonymous authors). They may have also noticed the bible’s many factual errors, as well as its contradictions. They might also be aware that a council of bishops met and decided by voting what books would or would not be excluded from it.
  4. Perhaps they know that purported accounts of alleged miracle healing are reducible to fraud, exaggeration, misreporting, or the placebo effect.
  5. Perhaps they know that religion is not necessary for morality, fulfilment or purpose in life – and see that many people are living happy lives without it. The world’s two biggest philanthropists, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are, in fact, non-believers. Perhaps those ladies are even familiar with the volumes of actual research in existence that show a negative correlation between religiosity in societies and societal health, when measured based on indicators such as respect for human rights, democracy, level of employment, access to education and medical care.

And these are all facts.

If, in the face of all this, some self righteous person went about saying that all who do not abide by the religious doctrine he holds to are wicked, damned or evil – then one cannot be blamed for yawning, can they?

So rather than point fingers at non-believers when one of their own loses their faith, believers like Eddie Ssemakula need to start pointing the finger at themselves and ask why it is that they believe what they believe – and why others are increasingly not compelled to believe the same.

Fortunately, many believers are reasonable people. They realise that a lot of what they believe cannot be proven so they take it on faith, and so will not try to impose their beliefs on others. They recognise that believers in all manner of differing religions will inevitably find themselves interacting with those from other religions, or those with none, as they go about their everyday business – whether at office, school, hospital, their neighbourhoods and now even on the Internet. They also recognize that piety does not equal morality, and so prefer to judge people on the basis of the content of their character, rather than on a person’s self-professed religious beliefs. For this reason, Paul’s calls in the bible for believers not to be ‘equally yoked’ with non-believers (i.e. non-Christians) are not only impractical but also unnecessarily divisive.  Thomas Jefferson was indeed right when he said: “Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.”

Our level of human interaction and cooperation has today come to transcend religious (and of course, ethnic) differences – which any sensible person would contend is a wonderful thing – regardless of what anyone’s religious book says.

By the way Eddie Ssemakula is the same guy who one time wrote an article in about me, also in the Monitor, called “Onen Needs to Experience Jesus”.