The fact that Nigerians are overtly religious is not a lie. In fact, we are notoriously religious. In every nook and cranny of the country, you will see a religious centre, either the Christian church, the Muslim mosque or the traditionalist shrine. Virtually every street has a place for religious gatherings.
In spite of this our obvious religiosity, religion has failed us on many fronts, hence the following charges against it:
Religion, you are supposed to be friendly and be the last resort of the common man on the street. You have a duty of making us good neighbours to our fellow men. But you have instead chosen to divide us and made us estranged from our neighbours. You have made us to quickly forget that we are human beings first before being a Christian or a Muslim or a Sango or Ogun worshipper. Because of you religion, we now live as enemies when we are supposed to be our brothers and sisters keeper. We have grown to a stage where our judgement of people is based on their religion and not their character.
Religion, you have turned to a tool of exploitation where religious leaders extort their followers who follow them blindly because they believe they are divinely inspired. You have made our people unable to see through the myriad of lies that pastors and imams and dibias tell to get something out of the people who managed to survive on their meagre incomes. In your name, many of our people have lost their sense of rationality and embrace dogmatism that is championed by the religious leaders.
In your name O Religion, human beings have turned to grass eaters. Some have been talked into giving out all they have in the hope of a heavenly reward that is not coming as fast as expected. In your name, we no longer tolerate one another, we no longer forgive one another, we no longer see ourselves as humans that are capable of making mistakes. In your name, people are being killed daily while some others are being maimed. Because of you and the crisis you caused, parents are being separated from their children while also leaving many homes desolate. You have succeeded in giving us a society where we now turn to the Bible or the Qur’an to suit our selfish purposes. You are the one that has made us Shiites, Sunnites, Catholics, Pentecostals, Penteyeye, Penterascal and we don’t realise it. You have turned us against ourselves because of the different beliefs we upheld in your name. Religion, you are the one that has made some people to stone the sinners among them to death for a sin that could easily be forgiven by God.
Even though you are ever present with us, you have done nothing to deter people from using your name to perpetuate evil acts and make us intolerable human beings. At this juncture, we would appreciate if you leave us alone. At least if you cannot help us to be better human beings who recognise the sanctity of a human life, leave us the way you meet us. Stop making us killers and mutilators all in your name. Because of our over dependence on you, we have remained backward as a people compared to people in other climes. We now live in fear of the unknown, fears that we might not have developed if we embrace rationality.
Because of these list of shortcomings and the continued silence on your part, I hereby challenge you to the Court of Humanity. Come and refute my claims if you think I am lying on your head. Come and tell me if you or the people that are practising your doctrines are to be blamed for all the bad things that are done in your name.
YOU HAVE NO CASE AGAINST ME, RELIGION ANSWERS SEGUN OGUNLADE
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man can see the Lord”
– The Bible
“But the good man who purifies himself by almsgiving… so also he that does good works for the sake of the Most High only, not in recompense for a favour. Such men shall be content”
– The Holy Qur’an
I have no interest in disproving the fact that you Nigerians are overtly and worse still notoriously religious. But you should know that religiosity without morality is nothing but sheer display of madness without methods. What have you and your people not blamed for your woes? Have you not blamed technology? Do your people still not hold your erstwhile colonial masters responsible for your underdevelopment after many decades the clever exploiters had left? How many times have your countrymen amended your country’s current constitution? Yet, your people, obviously oblivious of the reality that there is no perfect constitution anywhere in the world, always blame the constitution for your recurring tales of woes. Your people have never taken responsibilities for their actions; they would rather look the other way for whom to make the scapegoat. I put it to you that religion has not failed you but rather, you Nigerians are responsible for your woes. Bring on your charges.
Your first charge that religion is the reason you and your people are estranged from one another is the most ill-informed of all the blame game you and your people have always played. Were you not admonished to be your brother’s keeper? Have you forgotten the warning that “the second (law) is like unto it (the first law). Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no commandment greater than these?” Or how did religion estrange you from people of other religions when you are admonished to “do onto others what you want them to do you (and I hasten to add that irrespective of their beliefs)”? It is even hypocritical of anyone to accuse religion of making enemies out of their neighbours. All religions emphasise good neighbourliness.
You also accuse religion of being responsible for the exploitations congregants experience in the hands of their so called spiritual leaders. What you have failed to realise is that religion itself is a victim here. Besides, you and your people should even take more blames here than you have imagined. You and your countrymen aid and abet the criminality of the pastors and the imams and the dibias. Have you forgotten also the caution that you should “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God”? Do you and your people not make affectation of respect to these prophets of materialism among you who capitalise on your tendency to believe whatever they say? Indeed, your compatriots are accomplices in the crimes you erroneously accuse religion of. You are as guilty of the exploitation of your class as the pastors, imams and the dibias. Religion is only your victim. Poor religion!
Again, you accuse religion of being responsible for your killing one another when religion clearly encourages brotherly living among you. You have failed to realise that you and your people are the ones manipulating religion to further your selfish interests. And here again too, religion is an unfortunate victim, an unwilling tool in the hand of the political joobers parading your land as patriots, adding religious to their bigotry. Ask yourself what knowledge of their religion those who perpetrate terrorism and the like possess. Even when religion asks you to forgive your brothers when they offend you, you still accuse religion of being responsible for your unforgiving spirit. On the differing denominations within the religions, is religion to be blamed for this too? Did the Christian Bible not say One Fold, One Shepherd? Even the Christian denomination that uses that as its motto is more divided than any other known Christian body. Yet, you fail to grasp the fact that greed, selfishness, covetousness and flagrant disregard for the religion are the reasons for the divisions in religion, weakening it in the process. Poor religion is a victim again.
Mr Ogunlade, know that you and your people live in the fear of the unknown because you are too lazy to make a meaning out of your own life. The Holy Qur’an encourages every human being to seek knowledge even as far as China (the place believed to be the farthest in the world then). Does that not show religion’s aversion for ignorance, irrationality? If you and your people want to continue in killing one another, you may continue to do just do not put the blame at the foot step of religion. What you and your people are doing is to use the religion to showcase the bestiality in you. Here again, religion is a victim.
Having, said all these, I submit that you have no case whatsoever to file against religion. Most of the accusations levelled against religion are actually the accusations religion ought to charge you and your compatriots with. Religion has not interest in suing you because your court of humanity is not trustworthy. You cannot be a judge in your own case. The problem with your country and countrymen’s religiosity is its lack of morality. Look for and find the morality to accompany your religiosity, every other good thing shall be added to it.