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A god of “ridiculous miracles”


Earlier this month Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean televangelist, visited Zambia for what was dubbed the Zambia Miracle Night. He was accompanied by his wife, Prophetess Beverly Angel.

It is unclear exactly how many people attended the event but Lusaka’s Olympic Youth Development Centre was filled to capacity with people hoping for a miracle.

And if reports are to be believed there were many miracles. A man was reportedly cured of deafness after fourteen years, while others claimed to be cured of diabetes and high blood pressure. Most notably were reported cases of HIV being cured, though the number of cured patients wasn’t specified.

In such cases one cannot discount the power of the placebo effect. People went to the event expecting a miracle and believed they were going to see someone endowed with special powers from God. The mind is a powerful thing and such ‘miracle healings’ are more likely a result of a strong belief that healing is coming rather than a miracle bestowed by a gifted preacher or prophet.

Zambia Red Cross medical personnel were reportedly on hand to test patients before and after the healing and claimed that diseases were in fact cured at the event. However there was no mention of a follow-up. For all we know the above-mentioned conditions could have returned. And specifically in the case of patients being cured of high blood pressure this is problematic as our blood pressure can change throughout the day. A healthy reading at one point in the day does not mean one has been cured of low or high blood pressure. But swept up in the fervor of the event the faithful do not stop to think of such things.

But let us for a moment imagine that people were genuinely cured of their illnesses at this Miracle Night. There are over 35 million still infected with HIV – why should we be impressed that one or two were cured when millions more continue to suffer from the disease? And a bigger question is that if God existed then why would He allow so much disease and suffering to persist in the first place? Why praise God for healing a few people when billions continue to fall prey to disease? Non-believers often question how a benevolent, all-knowing and all-powerful god can allow suffering to persist and do nothing about it. This is a valid question which so far has not been adequately answered by religious apologists. Furthermore, why are miraculous healings more likely to happen at special events such as the one in question in Zambia? If faith healing were a reliable alternative to modern medicine then we would replace doctors with preachers.

Prophet Uebert Angel, the televangelist who performed the 'healings', is one of a growing number of millionaire African preachers with several entrepreneurial ventures. He attained British citizenship but has since moved back to Zimbabwe and grown his ministry, Spirit Embassy, from there and opened branches around the world. Much is known about his educational background and business ventures but as a Forbes Africa article about the ‘prophet’ noted, “there is still a lot about him shrouded in mystery.” After the miracle night Angel tweeted that it was a night of “ridiculous miracles,” and I’m inclined to believe him. Apart from diseases being cured, some audience members claim ‘miracle money’ appeared in their pockets and unexplained prepaid credit in their mobile phones. I agree that this is ridiculous because surely if there is a God there are better ways for Him to make his presence known. A kind and loving God would do more than give a few random people free phone credit and a little money in their pockets. If God were to come out of the woodwork and prove His or Her existence beyond a reasonable doubt and eradicate poverty, for instance, then sure, I’d be impressed. But we cannot let ourselves be impressed/fooled by unverified reports of miracle money. We cannot be sure those people were not planted in the audience to testify to false miracles. And more importantly there is no irrefutable evidence of faith healing working. We do have many cases though of people worsening their conditions or even dying because they chose faith healing over conventional medicine.

Picture: from spiritembassy.org

Cape Town to shut pro-gay mosque

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque, which also allows women to lead prayers, must close, a local official has told the BBC.

A City of Cape Town councillor says the newly established Open Mosque has violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces.

The mosque officially opened its doors on Friday despite criticism from members of the local Muslim community.


Court topples Uganda’s anti-gay law

By Emma Margolin

According to msnbc, Uganda’s Constitutional Court has nullified a draconian anti-gay law that carried, among other penalties, life-long prison sentences for so-called “aggravated homosexuality.”

In a decision Friday from a panel of five judges, the court found Uganda’s recently-enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act “null and void” because it was passed without a quorum of the necessary one-third members of parliament present. Ugandan officials have not yet announced a decision on whether they’ll appeal the ruling to the nation’s Supreme Court.


An Atheist Elementary School in western Uganda

By Hank Pellissier

Brighter brains institute interviewed the founder of the first atheist school in Uganda, in western Uganda, near Ruwenzori National Park - just 22 miles from the Congo border - there’s a recently established ”atheist” school, called Kasese Humanist Primary School.

Brighter Brains Institute: Are you the founder? When did you get the idea to start the school? How did you get the initial funding?

Bwambale M Robert:Yes, I am the founder of Kasese Humanist Primary School. I first founded Kasese United Humanist Association in the year 2009 with a vision to spread free thought in my area.

Atheist Alliance International was the first organization to send a team of 4 volunteers - they came to a pilot school we opened in Kilembe under the name Kilembe Valley Humanist School. This school was relocated to Kasese a year later (in 2011) to serve a wider semi-urban population. We renamed the school to be Kasese Humanist Primary School.


“Africa Has Too Much Religion”: the Amazing Journey of John Adewoye


John Adowye’s story is almost unbelievable. A gay Catholic priest who could never overcome his fear of hell, he left Nigeria for the United States, hoping he could turn straight. After three futile years, John not only has accepted his sexual orientation but has become a strong, critical voice of religious oppression.

A gay Nigerian boy who enrolled in seminary and became a priest to escape bullying? Who didn’t grasp Catholicism’s anti-gay doctrine until the age of 22? And who, fearing the fires of hell, immigrated to the United States after reading an Exodus pamphlet promising him he could “convert” from gay to straight? Yet, a Nigerian who today says, “Africa has too much religion”?

John Adewoye’s life story includes these, and many other, remarkable events.


More Than 60 Women, Girls Escape Islamist Abductors in Nigeria

Maiduguri, Nigeria:  More than 60 women and girls abducted last month by Boko Haram militants in northeast Nigeria have escaped their captors, sources said on Sunday.

According to ND TV, local vigilante Abbas Gava said he had "received an alert from my colleagues ... that about 63 of the abducted women and girls had made it back home" late Friday.

A high-level security source in the Borno state capital Maiduguri, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed the escape.


Nigerian atheist freed from mental ward, held for blasphemy against Islam, gets death threats

According to Daily Journal, Nigerian atheist released from the mental ward to which his Muslim family committed him by force said Thursday he is getting death threats for blaspheming against Islam.

Mubarak Bala, a 29-year-old chemical process engineer, said he is in hiding in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria where Shariah law holds and some interpretations have blasphemy punishable by death.

He has been incarcerated in a mental health institution by his family after saying he had lost his belief in God.

"People are threatening me, I mean life-threatening threats," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He said he was too frightened of drawing attention and wouldn't allow an AP video journalist or photographer to come to his hiding place.


Nigeria: 'Boko Haram' attack villages near Chibok

According to BBC News Africa, four villages in north-eastern Nigeria have been attacked by suspected Boko Haram militants who targeted at least one church.

Some unconfirmed reports say 40 civilians and 6 insurgents were killed as militants and vigilantes clashed.

It is the latest assault on villages near Chibok, the town where more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted in April.


Nigerian man is locked up in a mental health institution after saying he is an atheist

According to The Guardian, a Nigerian man has been incarcerated in a mental health institution by his family after saying he had lost his belief in God.

Mubarak Bala, 29, is said to have been forcibly medicated for "insanity" for nearly two weeks, despite a doctor's opinion that he has no psychological problems.

Campaigners are calling for his release and say the case highlights the fact that atheists are a persecuted minority in many African countries.

Bala's Twitter account uses the handle "ExMuslim", and his profile says: "Chemical Process Engineer. I stand for Truth & Justice. Religion insults human conscience & reason, duped me that I have another lifetime. Agnostic Atheist."


Atheists in Kenya want Prophet Owuor to verify his miracles

According to Standard Digital, the president of Atheists in Kenya Harrison Mumia has written to Dr. Prophet Owuor challenging him to show up at Kenyatta Hospital on  July 19 for purposes of verifying his miracles.

In a letter sent to news rooms, the atheists question the authenticity of Prophet Owuor’s miracles and they claim that there is no sufficient evidence to demonstrate that they happen.


48 Killed in Terror Attack on Kenya Town


 The gunmen went door to door in the Kenyan costal town, demanding to know if the men inside were Muslim and if they spoke Somali. If the extremists did not like the answers, they opened fire, witnesses said on Monday.

Al-Shabab, a Somali al-Qaida-linked group, claimed responsibility for the hours-long assault on Mpeketoni in which 48 people were killed. The attack began Sunday night as residents watched World Cup matches on TV and lasted until early Monday, with little resistance from Kenya's security forces.

After daybreak, Kenyan troops and residents stared at the bodies lying on dirt streets by still-smoldering buildings. Two hotels and many vehicles were set on fire.