Zambian President Edgar Lungu (below) lashed out at atheists during a recent speech in which he was trying to get the crowd to pray for more rain. He suggested atheists were to blame because they refused to participate.
Humanists International summarizes local media reports:
[Lungu] is reported to have led prayers for rain, while regretting that “there are some Zambians who don’t want to call upon God Almighty”. Multiple news media headlines reported his statement as: “Some Zambian fools think there is no God”.
He didn’t say that last line verbatim. But it’s the thought that counts.
If those reports are accurate, it means a head of state is both ignorant enough to invoke supernatural solutions to environmental problems and eager to throw atheists under the bus to deflect blame from himself.
That didn’t sit well with the Humanists & Atheists of Zambia, which said in a statement:
The freedom from and of religion is a right that everyone should enjoy without facing discrimination or prejudice and as such, it is necessarily to strongly denounce the sentiments shared by our president. Having different opinions regarding belief does not give anyone the right to show prejudice.
As Humanists we believe that Atheists can do a lot of good to this world without the need for religion, the belief in a god or other supernatural forces, we believe that this is the only life we have, and we can have fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
The same group announced a conference in June with the theme “I’m a Proud Humanist.” But their religious critics called on the government to ban the event, in part because it was taking place on the same day Lungu scheduled a day of “National Prayer, Fasting and Reconciliation.”
Here’s an example of the criticism they received:
The conference eventually had to be delayed, both because of the religious event and because it was too difficult to find a venue willing to host them. When they finally held it weeks later, it was in a secret location.
But even after all that there were still problems, said Larry Tepa, who leads that atheist group.
“On the banner of the event, we said that the venue would have been the ‘Atheist Hotel’ in the ‘Heathen Ballroom.’ In the end, we found a location, but only because we introduced ourselves as ‘Humanist Association of Zambia,’ removing any reference to atheism.”
It ended up being a relatively small conference, but another is planned for the future. It’s just another indication of how far atheists have to stretch things in Zambia in order to overcome Christian bigotry.
(Screenshot via YouTube)