By Chris Odinaka Nwedo
It is bad that man has plotted to bring to scorn the terrain of access to God who created everything for himself. Because of selfish objectives into which religion has been turned, it is now used for chasing transient powers, prosperity and fame. The rebels have made God irrelevant in their brands of religious events. They have removed the Divine as the subject of religion. God has become an object with which the religious entrepreneurs and false prophets reposition and impose themselves on the gullible adherents.
Nowadays, one of the most amazing facts of religious life is that although masses of humanity are following spiritual leaders, few people seemed to believe that deceitful religious leaders and prophets actually exist. Currently, billions of people worship God in one manner or another. Never have there been more religious people on the face of the earth, never more worshipers of God—and never more false prophets and their followers. Tragically, few people ever bothered to do their homework on their own preachers, a fact that misguided preachers, televangelists, and spiritualists have used to keep millions in their blinded state. 1 From the time of Jesus till today, it became clearer to everyone that religion was destined to suffer grievously at the hands of the impious religious teachers and to be disbelieved by those who are challenging them to prove the faith by good work. Unfortunately, we have available scornful histories punctuated with scenes of inhuman tyranny of religious fanaticism that spared neither the saints nor places of worship. Millions and millions of innocent people have been brutally killed, sawn, burnt, boiled, scourged, raped, and torn alive by those obsessed with the blind religious fanaticism. Imagine Jesus was subjected to intolerable pain and condemned to ignoble death all to the gratification of religious rulers.
Religious histories of Europe and Middle East were painful stories of horrifying crime against God and man. ‘Christian “Crusaders” and Muslim Warriors killed each other and destroyed thousands of sacred places of worship in the name of same religion and God. Christians burnt and butchered thousands of other Christians during the Spanish Inquisition. Throughout the ages, Jewish people have been persecuted. They have been the objects of scorn of some religious people. The intractable animosities between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have continued to incense strife. Today unfortunately, the future is bleak with prospects of internal violent religious conflicts between Christian evangelical groups with the uncontrolled proliferation of motley Church proprietors. This is because of the increasing competition for prominence, space for expansion, verbal attacks and open criticisms against one another that are likely to ignite explicit physical confrontation.
In countries like Nigeria that seems to lead in the multiplicity of Christian evangelical groups, it is not exactly clear that there is such personal churches that has not started afresh after wreck and painful division between the first three and ten years. The breaking away commences with protests, court cases and boycott of services. Divisions and factions follow the boycotting of services. Interestingly, each division is further divided and each faction is factionalized. Consequently, Nigeria’s major streets are dotted with churches using warehouses and makeshift accommodations for church services.
In northern Nigeria, a good record of wealthy Muslims have mosques attached to their mansions, every patrol station has a mosque. The size and embellishments of the mosques in patrol stations or supermarkets are subjects to dispositions of the proprietor, and these are apart from the many in each street. Early morning and evening noisy calls for prayer and invocations rent the air. Frenzy movements of persons and vehicles to catch up with the prayers before they run out complicate the noisy calls for the prayers. Nigerian Muslims pray about five times a day while Christians are enjoined never to live without ceaseless prayer and reading of the scriptures. Many Nigerian Christians and Muslims follow the rhythms, unfortunately, no worthy fruits, yet, to demonstrate sincerity in these observances. This is because Nigeria is a country that seemed to harbor the most contagiously corrupt politicians and civil servants. Many Imams and Pastors have scandalously confessed involvement in human rituals for occult powers. There are also those either nabbed or implicated in armed robbery. It is unspeakable that many of our folks have been stolen on their way, killed, dismembered and sold in parts for ritual purposes. Currently, Nigeria has over taken India as the poverty capital of the world. It is also informative that Nigeria is a country hosting some of the biggest Church buildings in the world and has the largest numbers of the richest Pastors in the contemporary world.
Nigerian Imams and Pastors claim to be so powerful and so influential in the realm of the spirit yet the nation Nigeria is progressively plagued by catastrophes of all sorts. The religious rulers boast loudly of their prophetic and extra ordinary powers but these potentials have not been credibly used to prop up the dying nation and free the oppressed masses. Insecurity and bad government have underprivileged the masses as the nation is flagrantly wrecked without challenge.
The powers and influences of these religious elites are easily felt in their capacities to hoodwink the pitiable adherents. It is speculated that Nigeria has more billionaire religious men and women than billionaire politicians that share national patrimony among themselves. Nigeria’s religious rulers use wit and pulpit to campaign for personal wealth and power, while politicians expropriate oil revenue and funds from state sources. The nation’s spiritual and temporal rulers source wealth and powers furiously and inordinately. The fact is that the way religion has been practiced recently is more the greatest obstacle to the world. Look at the ferocity with which fanatics shade blood and waste lives of innocent folks to impress their paymasters.
In India, Muslims destroyed thousands of temples and Gurdawaaraa and replaced them with mosques. Sikh adherents were brutally murdered by Muslim leaders and individual fanatics acting alone. An Islamist, Aurangzeb converted millions of Hindus into Islam, and brutally murdered many millions who refused this forceful conversion. Children were cut into pieces and placed in the laps of their mothers by the Muslim Jihadists. And in 1984, thousands of Sikhs were dragged from their homes by the fanatic Hindu mobs and burnt them alive in Delhi and other parts of India in reprisal.
Within Islam, many sects such as Shias, Sunnis, Sufis, etc., often inflict torture and continuously kill on one other. When Sunnis are in power the Shias are slaves and the same is the Sunnis when Shia rulers are in control. For years in Iraq under late Saddam Hussein Shia Muslims were repressed and denied rights of religious expression. The war between Iran and Iraq presided over one of the most senseless and merciless massacres of fellow Muslims. Even today Shia and Sunni Muslims mutually attack each other with breathtaking casualties both in the villages and in the mosques. Shia pilgrims in both Pakistan and Iraq are always easy targets for Sunni religious warriors.
In Saudi Arabia, there are credible allegations that the Shias are subordinated and treated with scorn. Riots in Bahrain that threatened the Kingdom to the foundations were inspired by religious hatred among the Muslims themselves. Native Americans, Canadians and Australians were violently decimated by fellow Christians even after they were converted to Christianity. Christians still denigrate fellow Christians within the same church or congregation because of race, background or colour. Ironically, as of this day, the genocide, pillage, repression and destruction throughout the world continued in the name of religion and God.
For so long Nigeria has been under heavy attacks and bombardment by the intensely religious Muslims. They are fiercely fighting and killing Christians, and are devoted to annihilation by violence moderate Muslims perceived to be too weak to do the will of Allah. Since the misguided elements started the campaign of massacre and willful destruction tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost and properties of countless values ruined, all to the glory of Allah. Unfortunately, Nigerian nation is not the only victim of the despicable atrocities. In Mali, the same exceptionally religious Muslims massacred fellow Muslims and demolished mosques and stuffs they considered unfit for their new vision of Allah. As the Malian holy warriors slaughter fellow citizens, destroying putting and buildings on fire, another fierce Muslim group, El Shabab, are executing plans to spare neither the war impoverished Sudan nor the people until Islamic Sharia Law is constitutionalized.
All through Africa and predominantly Islamic nations, ‘more holy’ Muslims are engaged in pockets of furious resistance for the Allah’s sake. The terrors and never-ending carnage are compounded by targeted assassinations, indiscriminate but intense chastisements of victims accused of deprecating Koran or disparaging holy prophet Mohammed. It is indubitable that anyone surrounded by these irrational holy people is disaster-prone inescapably. Afghanistan as a nation became shrunken and undermined due to her many disorientated mullahs, religious warriors and swiftly grown religious extremists. So many Afghans live in anguish and pain because of the ill fate Islamism brought upon them.
Islamists in northern Nigeria, allegedly, swore never to pause bloodletting, killing and destruction until Islam is accepted as the only true religion. In what has sent shock waves across Nigeria, some Muslim suicide bombers fighting for the supremacy of Allah successfully infiltrated a heavily guarded cantonment, which is a major training institution for Nigeria’s Armed Forces, and detonated Improvised Explosive Devices in a Church. The first bomber reportedly infiltrated the Church as service was ending and detonated his IED, killing himself and five others. Just as people rushed to the scene of the blast, a second suicide bomber drove his car to the entrance of the Church and detonated another set of IEDs, killing five more people. This was in November 25, 2012. The horrific attacks and butcheries of fellow Nigerians have been going on for years in Nigeria. It is ironical that these exasperatingly horrendous attacks were planned and painstakingly executed by one religious group against another religious group in a country rated ‘holy’ in religious context. It is hard to take accurate census of the numbers of worship centres that have been attacked and defiled with the contemptible waste of innocent lives. For a clearer glimpse of the tyranny of the zealots let us patiently and with courage read this account below:
During the partition of British India in 1947, the blind religious fanatics showed their inhuman frenzy of murder and rapine on thousands and thousands of innocent people. Almost the entire population of Sikhs and Hindus in many parts of West Punjab, Sindh, and Frontier (now in Pakistan) were brutally massacred by Muslim Jihadists.2 Thousands of women had their noses and ears chopped off their faces, raped in the presence of their husbands, fathers, mothers and children. Wives, mothers and daughters watched in horror as their men folk were seized and their genitals mutilated, their extremities chopped off, their eyes gauged and their heads beheaded. Thousands of women jumped into wells and killed themselves to escape from this inhuman frenzy of murder and rapine. Children were tossed in the air only to be caught on razor sharp spears. The corpses and body parts with tattooed messages that there was no place for “Kaafir” filth in “pure” Pakistan was loaded into trains headed for Amritsar. Upon seeing and hearing of the carnage, rape, pillage and destruction, angry Sikhs and Hindus also killed many Muslims on the Indian side.3
The above are distinctive symbols of the terrible and bloodcurdling faces of religious fanaticism and bigotry. True religion does not teach cruelty and madness. It is distinctively true that God inspires or motivates love that is why He is God of mercy and compassion. It said that God is an embodiment of virtue, and true “religion teaches only noble values such as pure love for God and man, friendship, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, humility, tolerance, brotherhood, truth, honesty, justice, equality and freedom, contentment, charity, selfless service, peace, nonviolence, coexistence, patience, conciliation, piety, devotion, humility, morality, etc. Religion was never meant for teaching or promoting hatred, extremism, blind rage, violence, vengeance, hypocrisy, brutal intolerance, oppression, slavery, injustice, bigotry, prejudices, killing, materialism, addiction to evil passions, unfeeling towards others, wars, quarrel, and so on. Then, what has gone wrong?4 Something went wrong with the idea and practice of religion. What went wrong is that malevolent men and women with pretended piety impounded the space and turn it upside down to the sorrow of humanity and scorn of God. The nobility of religious practice has become contemptible. It is evidential that as religious men, women and embellished houses of worship are multiplying and expanding in scope, the contemporary society is swiftly turning anti-God, treacherous and impervious. It is bad that man has plotted to bring to scorn the terrain of access to God who created everything for himself. Because of selfish objectives into which religion has been turned, it is now used for chasing transient powers, prosperity and fame. The rebels have made God irrelevant in their brands of religious events. They have removed the Divine as the subject of religion. God has become an object with which the religious entrepreneurs and false prophets reposition and impose themselves on the gullible adherents.
Time and again we see rulers and members of religions incite aggression, fanaticism, hate and xenophobia – even inspire and legitimize violent and bloody conflicts. Religion has often distorted for purely power-political goals, including war. This is overwhelmingly disgusting. “It seems all world religions have been hijacked by a small group of crafty, fanatic and bigot clerics, clergy and their lackey establishments-corrupt rulers, opportunist politicians, selfish and greedy affluent class, brutal sect leaders, etc. The way they are doing it is by hiding their evil face and true colours behind that faith and religion. How can this cancer of religious corruption, bigotry and brutal fanaticism that is destroying the civilized world be eradicated? By ‘abandoning the false teachers’ and by ‘holding tight to the truth only. 5
‘To clean up this swamp of corruption and evil forces, therefore, it is high time for the people of all world religions to speak out against religious fanaticism and bigotry. People throughout the world must mobilize the silent majority to defeat this evil power that inflicts the horrible plague upon the world. Otherwise, the minority fanatics and bigots will only grow to create more havoc in the human society.6 It is incontrovertible that “there is nothing in the world so hellish as religious fanaticism and savage bigotry. Therefore, it is high time for the world-community of free thinkers, humanists and intelligentsia; and people of open mind, understanding, commonsense, and rational thought to stand up and be counted. They should unequivocally denounce this barbarism for what it is: the butchery of the innocent people in the name of religion and God. 7 It therefore time for people to re-examine “the tenets of their faith, constricted interpretations of their faith, any adulteration of their scriptures and theology, and recognize its role in the instigation of religious violence and killing in the name of their religion and God, as well as its role in creating a godless and indeed murderous civilization.8
Besides, we can only share the value and the beauty of our faith in God by preaching compassion, love and tolerance. Our claims to son ship of God make meaning only when they form tools for eliminating those conflicts which spring from the our repulsive attitude to others and “dismantling mutual arrogance, mistrust, prejudice, and even hostile images, and thus demonstrating respect for the traditions, holy places, feasts and rituals of people who believed differently… 9