Whatever Happened to Religion;

It’s late in the hours of Friday morning and am struggling with a ten paged document that I need to submit in to one of my clients before it clocks 6.

The television is playing as a distraction like it normally does when I have a late night assignment and for three dedicated hours I’ve ignored it.

Am so glued to my work that I haven’t even bothered to check what channel is playing but I don’t have to wait long because just then a jingle for a popular television show makes its way through into my attention.

The jingle plays clips from the program whose byline is “KI KYOLIFA TEWERABIDE ” loosely translated as “”What’s that moment you will never forget even in death?

It’s a long name for a program if you ask and the screen where the words are scribbled but the name only serves to highlight the drama that comes with it.

KI KYOLIFA TEWERABIDE” is an uncut talk show that borrows the Socratic approach in its execution and while it has no presenter it, it still makes up for this in the shape of the pastor who hosts the program.

Recorded in the pastor’s church-Revival Christian Church, Kawaala during the confessions segment, the program seeks to address problems faced by the congregation and in doing this it does an excellent job, people who share what they will stick in their mind beyond death leave the house of God with a new-found relief after prayer.

The preacher uses his facial expressions, emphasis on questions and the power of his lips which can part anytime into a smile and he works up his audience while he interviews his congregation, the person wronged in this case pours out their heart to the preacher-turned presenter who interjects wherever he can and tries to lead on the person confessing by putting the person’s thoughts into perspective while the congregation laughs their lungs out.

I had until today been deprived of the opportunity to watch the show but it seemed like I was in luck, at the opportune moment just before I could finish my work and retire to my bed, it had played and being a person who doesn’t believe in coincidences I split my time between my work which was almost done and the confession session on Abs TV.

For today’s program there is a young woman who braved disapproval from the congregation on account of having a boring story was narrating her struggle through life thanking God for her husband and professing love for him while requesting the preacher-presenter to pray for her marriage life and she tells the story with humor and gives us the intricate details into her love life and then the preacher asks her what she does when she’s missing her husband.

She goes into detail to explain how she loves to sing for her man and just when it could get no better the preacher asks for a demo and she actually sings her man a song, the presenter leads her on while laughing with every note she executes and after torturing my ears for the excess of a minute the preacher asks for her husband’s name which she divulges.

The congregation is heated up and they go into bouts of laughter as she sing and the man of God takes the opportunity to tease them.

“Now where those of you who didn’t want her to speak?” he laughs.

After a long monologue we’ve discovered that she’s having trouble in her relationship and that the complication arises from the fact that they have different ideas on what their baby should look like.

Her man wants a child who looks like her while she wants her child to look like his father, the preacher after finding out who is more attractive of the pair (which is none but both since they are equally attractive) solves the problem by suggesting that the child’s face does resemble the dad and the body parts below be for the woman and with the confidence of a man of God he dedicates their relationship to the almighty.

But it’s not the prayer that bothers me, pardon me for acting religiously correct but the fact that the audience sat there disinterested by a confession because it wasn’t funny baffled me, the last time I checked we went to church to pray, praise worship and thank God (in the order my priest had put it in confirmation class.)

Like the previous clips I had received in my Whatsapp inbox, the confessions at this church followed a comedic trend. Confessions were packaged to provoke laughter and it was no surprise that the program like the church it was aired in had a following; the program producer and presenter surely knew how to package a program that would be loved by an audience.

It wasn’t about just the word of God but how you presented it, every episode came with a drama of its own, sometimes it was a young woman thanking God for a new smart phone she received on valentine’s day while the pastor teased her into a cat-mouse game where she kept the preacher and audience in suspense while she stalled for time before she delivered the revelation with the shyness of a maiden and told the congregation that a man who likes her had given it to her.

On other days it was three parties who came complaining, where a responsible Christian in her attempt to save her brother in Christ from a gold digger drew forward the man in question and the gold digger who as if on cue also attends the same service and the result is a  heated show where the parties argue while the preacher sits on his throne moderating the drama by interjecting in where he feels a need for clarity.

In this scenario the preacher makes statements like “So you feel the man is too ugly for you taste” where the respondent would reply in affirmative and the preacher goes an extra step “you mean when you look at him theirs is nothing that is attractive?”, she reply in the affirmative and goes on to list in the most comical way possible how she can’t stand the man’s hairstyle and sense of fashion, she’s willing to go on all day but the preacher consequently guides her.

With my work done I felt I had seen enough of the show and headed for my bedroom but the thought still lingered on and I kept wondering how religion had turned into such a joke.

What had gone wrong?

I couldn’t quite fathom whether it had been that time In the early years of this century when another preacher had fundraised for the construction of a new church to replace his old one which was in a sorry state and instead bought a “hummer”  car or had it been when another messenger of God had decided that coins no longer looked attractive in her Offertory basket or had it been just recently when another famous preacher decided that rice had to be holy and began selling a kilo of rice at fifty thousand shillings(more than ten times its actual price).

One thing I was sure of was the fact that religion in this country had slowly but confidently lost track and if possible needs to be fixed.

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