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God, worsening Israel-Hamas conflict and the growing crisis of faith

In the 21st century, the world experiences many crises that create a sense of despair and the questioning of various beliefs. Among them is the crisis of faith arising from wars and natural calamities that test the limits of hope and trust. While some calamities are natural, others including epidemics and climate change are human-induced. Wars are often man-manufactured to advance individual, societal, and geopolitical ends. Greed and the defence of perceived core interests create an air of conflict inevitability over whose interests has divine support.

Since each side claims to have divine blessings, the question is whether there is one God who is responsible for wars and why or whether there are many Gods competing to assert divine supremacy on Earth through wars. The likely relativity of God explains the thousands of competing religions afflicting the Earth with wars. The Einsteinian possibility of God being relative erodes faith in the sense that certainty in God’s capacity and benevolence becomes relative to which God. There is a ‘crisis of faith.’

There are various wars and misdeeds associated with faith dealers which are largely responsible for the growing crisis of faith. The ‘dealers’ abuse faith with their greed, hunger for Earthly powers, envy, and connivance to exploit others. They come in the names of prophets, apostles, imams, pastors, mullahs, bishops, reverends, sheikhs, and servants of God, and evangelists. They purport to ‘anoint’ and often sanctify dubious people and invoke God in assorted mischiefs.

Faith dealers, frequently in cahoots with political dealers, engage in and condone atrocities in the name of religion. It happened in Kilifi where governing authorities purported not to know of the massacres at Shakahola and the Kenyan coast in the name of faith. Some cults, connected to mainstream religions and the politically powerful, raise doubts as to the humanity and validity of religious faith.

Faith dealers even defame each other and fight in places of worship over money, religious power and who should be converting whom. The conversion or ‘Moratorium’ feud in the 1970s between American Baptist minister Billy Graham and Kenyan PCEA pastor John Gatu, for instance, had a lot of racial and colonial connotations. Gatu dreamt of decolonising and Africanising the Church. He therefore called for Western missionaries to stop their conversion activities in order to reduce African religious dependency. This infuriated Graham who insisted he had the authority of the Jesus ‘Great Commission’ to preach and convert anywhere. Graham often reported to the White House after his ‘crusades’ abroad, as he did following his 1960 ‘crusade’ in colonial Kenya to counter Mau Mau influence.

Wars and protracted violent conflicts are on the rise in Congo, Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, the Sahel, Ukraine, and Gaza. While many are often committed in the name of religion or have religious angles to them, others have racial, geopolitical, and imperialistic attributes. They all undermine faith, especially when religious and political leaders appear to lack the ability or moral authority to stop the chaos. In the Middle East, for instance, geopolitical interests as well as cultural and religious inclinations make those who should help to end wars blind to evident atrocities.

Leaders in the United States and the conceptual West, often noisy in moralising, have lost their moral bearings and trust. With neither Catholic Pope Francis, nor Islamic Hizmet leader Fethullah Gülen, nor other religious leaders able to persuade those fighting to stop killing each other in Palestine, the likelihood of human self-annihilation out of the Gaza War plunges ‘faith’ into crisis.

With the rapid proliferation of religiosity, with warmongers claiming exclusive access to God, there is a growing crisis of faith. ‘Faith entrepreneurs’ render God relative to interests, waste public resources with the connivance of public officials, and discourage faith. This relativity becomes clear during wars. Ignoring Aurelia Augustine’s assertion that faith should make sense, they generally undermine faith. There prevails a world ‘crisis of faith.’

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Prof Munene teaches History and International Relations at USIU

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