When it comes to religion choices, Christian clerics get easily threatened and frayed especially when their brood explores new-age options. Take for example the popularity of the controversial Japanese ‘Happy Science’ religion that is amassing followers from Uganda. Snitching the devoted right from under the Christian cleric’s noses, this new-age religion blurs the boundaries and reveals “the truth about life, the world and ourselves.”
Happy Science founder Ryuho Okawa was in Uganda recently and got a taste of his popularity when more than 10,000 followers convened for his lecture inside the national stadium, causing nasty traffic jams and disrupting Olympics trial. Uganda’s population is said to be the youngest in the world and predominantly Christian. Naturally Christian clerics are up in arms and are determined not to let this new religion take root in this East African pocket.
While many are citing Uganda’s poverty as one of the reason for conversions, others believe that clever manipulation is the reason why Okawa has a dedicated temple and shrine to his name. His lecture in Kampala had many students thinking it would be the kind delivered in the science period at school. However the missionary work like the distribution of mosquito nets and the awarding of scholarships to rural schoolchildren has been instrumental in getting people to convert to Happy Science. These kinds of handouts also have their pitfalls, some researchers estimate that many are not serious followers, but are sticking around to leverage the freebies and benefits. Ikuko Kobayashi, a spokeswoman for Happy Science, says that their religion seeks harmony and is not in competition with anyone.
[Via Washington Post]