Religious adherence today, as it has ever been, is grounded in both good and bad reasons. The good reasons include things such as community, charitable works, comfort in times of need and a sense of personal significance or sacrifice. The bad reasons for religious adherence should concern us all – whether we are religious or not. If people turn to some version of God because they are poor and seek comfort in the idea of a hypothetical hereafter simply because there is no comfort for them on Earth, the priority should be to lift them out of poverty before teaching them mythology – it is important, necessary and desirable for the sake of humanity.
Similarly, religion requires a system of symbolic communication, such as language, to be transmitted from one individual to another. Philip Lieberman states “human religious thought and moral sense clearly rest on a cognitive-linguistic base”. From this premise science writer Nicholas Wade states: “Like most behaviors that are found in societies throughout the world, religion must have been present in the ancestral human population before the dispersal from Africa 50,000 years ago. Although religious rituals usually involve dance and music, they are also very verbal, since the sacred truths have to be stated. If so, religion, at least in its modern form, cannot pre-date the emergence of language.
Interestingly, a lot of people these days are quick to identify with one religion or the other but their lifestyles leave nothing to be desired. We wear religion like a cloth and take it off depending on the circumstances we find ourselves.
We have become chameleon religious adherents using religion only when it suits us or when we have an aim to achieve whereas religion is a way of life and at all times our attitude and behavior should be the same either in places of worship, workplace or in the society. Sadly, the latest additions to the countless issues, is the usage of religious platforms for political purposes and spreading hatred among our citizens. This is what we have observed in the recent past and it is worrisome.
Instructively, our reflection on religious freedom more generally must include respecting the choices that people make – but crucially it should also include respecting and enhancing people’s freedom to choose at all. If someone is coerced or otherwise led into impoverishing or demeaning themselves in the name of religion, our default attitude towards that should not be tolerance for the sake of respecting religion. Religion and Christianity have had people debating over their interconnection. Are these two really related. Is Christianity a religion? These issues are truly mind-boggling and emotionally draining since this subject has been one of the taboo topics in the world. In lieu with that, this article seeks to lighten the confusion brought about by these two by defining and differentiating them
On the other hand, spiritualism is a metaphysical belief that the world is made up of at least two fundamental substances, matter and spirit. This very broad metaphysical distinction is further developed into many and various forms by the inclusion of details about what spiritual entities exist such as a soul, the afterlife, spirits of the dead, deities and mediums; as well as details about the nature of the relationship between spirit and matter. It may also refer to the philosophy, doctrine, or religion pertaining to a spiritual aspect of existence. Historically, spiritualism was organized in small groups that conducted séances, or meetings for spirit communication.
Interestingly, humanity is the human race, which includes everyone on Earth. It’s also a word for the qualities that make us human, such as the ability to love and have compassion, be creative, and not be a robot or alien. The word humanity is from the Latin humanitas for “human nature, kindness.” Humanity includes all the humans, but it can also refer to the kind feelings humans often have for each other. Nigerians, as we march towards a new dawn humanity should be our race. Love should be our religion. Love supercedes everything including religion and ethnicity.
Even a commonly accepted definition of religion has proved difficult to establish, though not for lack of trying. Humans are characterized by the different natural qualities that include thinking, emotions, feeling, acting, etc. That is what makes us humans in a distinctive way. Our nature is completely different from the rest of the creatures in this world. We all have our individual natures that make us behave in a certain way. While it helps us in leading a comfortable way of life, it also becomes an obstacle or constraint at times. Therefore, this article aims to discourage ethnic profiling and politics of religion, as we approach the 2023 general elections. It is on record that no nation survives multiple civil wars.
Paradoxically, it is, therefore, a fundamental delusion to expect good leaders from a rotten society. Leadership is a function of the values of society. The people make the leadership, the opposite isn’t true. Without their active support, in tacit connivance or willful complacence, a king/leader will never get to the seat of state. Just as children don’t choose their parents. Wherefore, a society is only availed whatever quality it deserves in leadership. Therefore, weaponizing religion, taking advantage of the gullibility of the “masses” and promoting disaffection among our citizens, is nothing but a quick fix that will further aggravate the already tensed atmosphere. I make bold to say that we are all responsible for where we find ourselves as a nation today. We are culpable and complicit.
Conclusively, permit me to use the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who was reverentially described as the father of India. He had said; “Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: – I shall not fear anyone on Earth. – I shall fear only God. – I shall not bear ill will toward anyone. – I shall not submit to injustice from anyone. – I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” Therefore, we all have a responsibility for rebuilding the ruins of our beloved country Nigeria. Like Nehemiah who saw the need for rebuilding and did the needful.
Finally, it may not be out of place to say that one of the reasons behind the slowdown in global extreme poverty reduction is the slow progress in Sub-Saharan Africa – religion may have subsumed our humanity in the developing world. People should learn to preach religion tolerance instead of seeking for divisiveness and stoking religious intolerance, extremism and exuberance that portends danger. Desperate politicians jumping from one pulpit to another should have a rethink and desist from further polarizing our system, because of reprisals from the sister religious body.
ARISE ‘O COMPATRIOTS
Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI