Tuesday, 15 July 2014

ORGANIZED RELIGION: INSTRUMENT FOR MASS DELUSIONS


The divide along religious lines in Nigeria (or other supposedly religious countries) is widening everyday and with intense ferocity. At this rate, the religious chasm is not only going to increase the hate between 'warring' factions, but will also swallow them up, with the chasm emerging the only winner in this fight. 

Have you listened to religious messages recently? Do you hear the new trend of messages that religious clerics deliver? Are you worried about what these messages are doing to the individual and then, to the general populace? And don't get it twisted: this new trend happens with ALL religions.

It doesn't matter if it is Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Judaism. All organised religions are spreading a whole lot of hatred, intolerance, violence and an apathy for nationalism. This trend is quite appalling because most religions hide behind a facade of tolerance and peace. This is making freethinkers and atheists nonplussed by the whole religion thing. What is worse is that many freethinkers feel that religious adherents have lower intelligence quotients than their counterparts if they can accept the seemingly numerous flaws of their religious inclinations. Many people think organized religion is a farce!

Few days ago, this Tafsir (a body of knowledge which aims to make clear the true meaning of the Qur'an, its injunctions and the occasions of its revelations) was on radio and the central message was that Muslims were better than everybody and Christians and Jews were people Muslims needed to be wary of. Now, this Tafsir was playing in a plural society where both Christians and Muslims dwelt. The Mufassir (commentator or exegete) seemed to have an issue with Christians eating pig (though not all Christians would go near the meat). He also used America as an example of how Christianity was not cutting it for him. It didn't matter that America is rapidly removing all traces of Christianity from her constitution, morality and even her society. Any Christian listening to that message would have been uncomfortable. If they had kept listening, they would have felt the gradual stirring of anger that would be fed by the continued commentary of the Mufassir. Over time, the anger might turn to hate. Since there is a lot if hate between Christians and Muslims in the nation at the moment, it shows that these hate messages have been going on for a while. These types of messages should not have been aired on public radio! 


Now, Muslims are not the only ones preaching hate messages (however subtly) to their teeming followers. Christians and churches are also doing it. Pastors, some preachers, and some people higher up also speak in hateful tones from their pulpits. Christians are told that, by virtue of accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior, they have become better than others. They are taught to see anyone who hasn't accepted Christ as unbelievers and some sects in Christianity even go as far as saying that Christians shouldn't associate with Muslims. Hence, the society is made up of two major religious groups who think they are better than the other and who refuse to be ruled by the other. Does this ring a bell?

Our politicians so aware of these divided lines that they never field two Muslim candidates nor two Christians. That is why PDP forced the hand of APC into releasing the names of their party leaders because it had been rumored that APC was an Islamic party. It is no wonder that these hate messages are sometimes spoken in subtle tones or in blatant exclamations, depending on the location and the audience. Why can't preachers dwell on the tenets of their faith rather than tearing other faiths apart? Why can't these preachers remove their personal issues from their messages because, in most cases, these differences are mainly personal interpretations of what scriptures require. Since the times are changing, shouldn't the way scriptures are followed also change? Thing is, if a religious group is bent on always critiquing other groups with different beliefs, one begins to wonder if they are not overcompensating for something they lack. Preachers should take a cue from Dr. Ravi Zaccharias and Ken Ham, who explain their faiths rather than critique another's. If preachers explained their faith in languages as simple and understandable as possible, people will love their faiths because they understand it and not because they hate other beliefs.

Speaking of understanding, this one is strictly for Christians. One major problem with the church (that is, all 
churches) is the fleecing of church members due to their ignorance of what God's word says. This is usually because many Christians want to receive God's word from the mouth of a pastor and not from God himself. There is nothing wrong with hearing God's edicts from a pastor; it becomes wrong when that is the only source of your message. EVERY Christian needs to study themselves and seek God for themselves. It is quite sad that most Christians do not. As it is widely known that Christians do not study for themselves, it is doing a wealth of damage to their reputation and image! It is common knowledge that there are over 100 Bible verses about 'Tithes and offerings', or better put, 'giving to the Lord', but the most important of them has got to be 2 Corinthians 9:7 'Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver'. It becomes compulsion when your pastor tells you to sow a seed for something you want in the future. It becomes compulsion when your preacher tells you that you shouldn't offer less than N500 in your offerings. It becomes compulsion when 'men of God' live in 5-star luxury and still tell you to buy DVDs when you don't even have food to eat, respectable clothes to wear, or a good roof to sleep under. The church runs corporate social functions that are geared at expanding the church's influence and though the nation is wallowing in its corruption, very many church 'members' are only concerned about how they can improve their church activities and in some cases, how to outdo other churches. This, among other reasons, is why Christianity is a joke to a lot of people. Add that to the disunity among faithfuls and you have a pot of trouble, confusion and shame about to brew over! The time has come for Christians to study for themselves instead of always depending on messages which will never build their faith. 

One other major problem of religion that cannot be swept under the rug is the issue of choice. In most cases, people are not allowed to choose their own paths. They are either born into families that believe in one faith or in communities that are predominantly another religious faith. Many just grow up, following in their parents stead. Maybe that is why many Nigerian youth are not bothered about finding out their religious values. They just accept it -hook, line and sinker- and run with it. They do not bother to understand the tenets of their religion talk more of finding out why others have different beliefs. Where they choose to follow other paths than those set by their parents or their immediate communities, they are considered outcasts and in some cases, they are threatened, brow beaten and with a show of real 'stubbornness', killed! The fear of death and coldness from loved ones keeps more people in their religions than any other thing. In the end, most people will choose 'life' if given an option between it and death. Must have something to do with the fact that life is tangible and death seems to be about the unknown. Oh! And the death doesn't have to be physical. Since more and more young people are into pop culture, maybe it is their only way of standing up against a system that represses them. The older generation needs to ask themselves these questions: Are the younger generation interested in organized religion? If there wasn't the threat of excommunication and death, would young people believe in what their parents and communities believed? Do young people understand what their religion is about? Do they WANT to understand? If religion doesn't preach blessings for obedience, pain for disobedience and a fitting afterlife for all our actions, will people even give religion a second thought? These are questions that religious proponents need to be asking themselves. 


Now, many people fault Muslims on being violent people who are always quick to pick up arms when the wrong thing is said about them. It has been said that anything said against Islam, her prophet and her ethics (especially if said in derogatory undertones) usually ends in bloodshed. It is also said that as one, they feel any slight against one Muslim is a general strike against ALL Muslims and can take up an issue that happened in Denmark to cause chaos in Nigeria. Many people conclude that Muslims are passionate about their religious issues, even unto death! What many do not realize is that the Christian faith had also being a source of many many deaths in the world. During the Crusades, anyone not 'accepting' Christ (like one had any choice when faced with the sharp edge of a sword) was killed and their properties confiscated. The Catholic Church made a fortune in death and torture and while doing that, served up Jesus on a platter of silver. They killed people who had different views from the ones set by the church. The Cathar Movement, a group of gnostic Christians were deemed heretics and a genocidal war approved by Pope Innocent III almost completely wiped them out as at 1321 CE. The church also, between 1347 and 1349 blamed many Lepers, Jews, Muslims and Witches for The Black Death epidemic. These groups of people were accused of poisoning wells and spreading the disease. From the 1430s, the church had brought up trumped up charges against 'witches', blaming them for stupid reasons like male impotence and using the opportunity to go on killing rampages.  For over a century and a half, a time known as the 'Burning Times', 
the church was responsible for the deaths of millions of people; the actual number is not known because of disparaging accounts between the church and independent historical sources. 

Was that the worst the church, and hence Christianity, did? Of course not! The British were preaching Jesus yet robbing Africa blind, fattening her coffers and growing in economic strength! We still have ornaments in England that belongs to Africa as a whole and Nigeria specifically. But hey, they gave us Jesus, didn't they? Let us not forget that the slave masters and traders were using and abusing their slaves because somehow, the Bible okays the having of slaves (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9). What they failed to note was that these two verses gave guidelines on how slaves were to be treated. Fast-forward to today and we have 'Christians' who think it is okay to be racist and rid the world of 'minority races'. 

So when you want to jump down the throats of Muslims for being violent, take a deep breath and assess the violence Christians have perpetrated through history and in some regions, is still perpetrating. Not to condone violence or anything but non-Muslims shouldn't be too quick to rant about having a peaceful religion when that religion had to murder and pillage people and towns to get to where it is today. Human beings are innately violent and religion is just our excuse to be mean and evil.  

And still to Christians, it is about time you get your head around the polity of the nation. While you are organizing soirees to welcome more people to church, the nation is tipping at the scales, ready to fall into war, famine and death. You cannot be so enamored of your church's activities that you don't take time out to address what is happening in the nation.  Moses looked up from his palatial living to realize that the Israelis were suffering in the hands of the Egyptians. He could have remained untouched but he addressed the issue at stake and helped get his people out of penury. Esther had to be reminded by her uncle that her queenly living would not prevent her from being eradicated (just like the other Jews) when the time came. The Model Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, stood up for Mary Magdalene, people who were sick, demon possessed and even went as far as driving people out of the temple for corruption. Since He is your role model, you need to take a cue from Him and stand up. Stand up for Nigeria! Stand up for her unity, growth, development and advancement! Stand up for the end of corruption, improvement in educational, technological and innovative areas and better still, stand up for truth! You keep burying your head in your church 'activities' and be rest assured that when you do lift your head, it will be to see you have no nation to worship in, no nation to organize church programs, picnics, conferences etc. It will be ineffective to 'pray for the nation' at that point. 



And to Muslims, when murderous, rampaging terrorists go up killing in the name of the God you live by, you should be the first to stand up to rally against them, and not wait till Muslims are in the casualty figures before speaking up. If you really love the God you proclaim, you should not sit by as video after video is released, with the leader of the terrorist group taking glory for the inhumane acts and according the essence of his actions to God you love so much. You should push for the advancement of education and the eradication (especially in the Northern part of the country) of the Almajiri system which has been a good recruiting ground for terrorists. You should push for the advancement of female education and the protection of all females who choose to study in however capacity. You should push for enlightenment of your men, women, children, and your communities on the essence of tolerance (especially religious tolerance) and the need for teamwork, regardless of a person's religious orientation. Go learn from what is happening in Dubai; an Islamic nation if there ever was one, but which has opened her doors to all tribes of the world and which, because of this, has become a center of innovation, technological advancements, low crime rate and which has billions and billions of vast foreign currencies coming in as daily revenue. Dubai has shown that they can do all and sundry if they work with both Muslims and Christians.......and even maybe atheists. That nation is a great example on how tolerance can further the ideals and fatten the coffers of any nation. For the government of Dubai, your money is what makes you good, not your religion, race, tribe or belief!

Organized religion has not done much good for the world (and for Nigeria in fact) but reminds us how different we all are. And in a country like Nigeria, it has done so much worse. Isn't it time we removed every iota of religion from our national polity? Don't you think we are at that point where religion should be a personal thing and not an instrument for mass delusions? Can't we see that organized religion has done more to disrupt the nation than any other combining factor in the entire history of this country? Religion might be the opium of the people but like the side effects of opium, the nation is constipated and being torn apart at the belly. This farce has just got to stop......pronto!


4 comments:

  1. Wow! This was a long read. phew!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Religion is supposed to promote the love of God to all creation and the total submission to His will, otherwise that is not God's religion, and any religion bereft of these fundamentals, may God have mercy, and save us their victims of the consequences of their delusions

    ReplyDelete
  3. Religion is supposed to promote the love of God to all creation and the total submission to His will, otherwise that is not God's religion, and any religion bereft of these fundamentals, may God have mercy, and save us their victims of the consequences of their delusions

    ReplyDelete