KAMPALA, Uganda — A religion with origins in Japan is quickly amassing a following in Uganda, winning converts in a sleek campaign that has attracted the attention of Christian clerics offended by its beliefs.
Happy Science advertises itself as a global religion with a goal of teaching “the truth about life, the world and ourselves.” The religion says its grand mission is to create a world filled with love, peace, harmony and prosperity.
The success of Happy Science in Uganda was put on public display late last month at a lecture given by the religion’s middle-aged Japanese founder on his first visit to Africa.
Buses decorated with the image of Happy Science founder Ryuho Okawa ferried people from throughout Uganda to attend his lecture inside the national stadium, causing traffic jams and upsetting athletes who had planned to use the venue for Olympic trials.
Uganda’s population, one of the youngest in the world, is heavily Christian, and Happy Science officials want to use the East African country as a springboard for what they hope will be success across Africa.
But the group’s visibility, as a result of old-fashioned missionary work and the frequent appearance of members on national television, has brought scrutiny.
Vow of allegiance
Some Christian clerics have gone on the offensive, saying the religion should not be allowed to take root in Uganda. They are especially hostile to an essential part of Happy Science: That Mr. Okawa, the 55-year-old former market trader who started the religion in 1986, is also the deity.
Happy Science officials said in an interview with the Associated Press that the religion is open to all who show interest, and that those offended by its beliefs are free to stay away.
“Master Okawa is a part of the El Cantare consciousness,” said Brian Rycroft, the South African head of Happy Science in Africa, referring to the deity’s name in Happy Science teachings. “You could say he is one with God.”
A Happy Science temple in the Ugandan capital is decorated with a golden statue built in the likeness of Mr. Okawa.
The fine art is the holiest part of all Happy Science temples, members said, advising against photographing the altar. Those wishing to join Happy Science make a simple vow of allegiance to Mr. Okawa.View Entire Story
By Andrew P. Napolitano
The president's men trash the Constitution to pursue antagonists
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Opinion, analysis, and musings on politics, pop culture, reinvention, and the resultant flotsam and jetsam floating around the right-of-center quadrant of the Left Coast.
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
We welcome you to the intimate and personal thoughts on the news and events we, as editors, watch, read, and discuss with our writers every day.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention