Christians tend to monopolise religious discourse in Zimbabwe. Which is why Damaris Muga stands out like a sore thumb.
The 25-year-old computer scientist says he does not believe in God. After reading various religious texts and listened to thousands of sermons, his conclusion is that God does not exist.
He is not alone in this.
Muga was raised as a Catholic, but as he grew older he found himself assailed by doubts.
“It was a gradual process,” he says of his drift from belief to non-belief in Christianity and its teachings and rituals.
Muga says his father is aware of this, but is having a hard time accepting it.
“When I visit him, he does pressure me to go to church. Even prayers at home, it’s a family affair and I don’t have to participate. I just sit there and listen,” he says.
For his counterpart, Tinotenda Chimonyo, the shift was abrupt. Raised by an ordained pastor, she very quickly decided to go against her father’s beliefs.
“There was no transition period. I just knew it; I don’t believe in God and there is no spiritual void in me.”
Frank Macharira, has been “in the closet” for a long time because of fear of stigma, but he is gaining the confidence to tell a Christianity-dominated society that he simply does not hold the same beliefs as them.
Theology expert Dr Prince Mbuzo, however, says one way or the other, most Zimbabweans follow some sort of spiritual system.
“Ours is a way of life rather than a faith. For instance, one cannot attend or conduct funeral rites, then claim to be atheistic because in African tradition, these are acts of worship. Religion and culture in Africa are one,” he explains.
Heaven’s Gate Worship Centre’s Pastor Joseph Wambuya attributes the growth of atheism to the emergence of a “knowledge society” which can question everything.
Ps Wambuya and Dr Mbuzo concur that youths are increasingly turning against belied in God because of “disappointment in religion”.
“Atheism is gaining currency because intellectual aggression is exposing the bankruptcy of religion. Believers are doing little to defend their God,” says Ps Wambuya.
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