This write up is not intended to be academical or an intellectual attempt at redefining religion or how it is perceived everywhere.
This is with the intention to inculcate the whole essence of what we believe and how we believe it.
I am not addressing my message to those who see religion as what you portend outside more than what you should be inside. Wait a minute! My audience is actually the people I just mentioned.
People who have intricately misrepresented their beliefs and religion. People, who are cloaked with everything externally edifying but totally undignified inside. People, who have believed a lie, adopted it as lifestyle and profoundly make themselves examples of what significant religious life should be.
I am pointing my arrows of love to the great masses of our people who on daily basis never bow down to reflect on their lifestyles in relation to what their Holy Book says or taught. People who are in grandiose deception of lusts for life, money and religion. Yes, lust for religion. They are professional prostitutes of the letter of the Books and completely defiant to the spirit of it.
The Holy Books to them is a covering of their menace and a shield of their atrocities.
I speak about a people, though so many, who are lost in their faith and relished in their misunderstanding of what religion was intended for in the first place. People with big robes and attires that are reflective of certain religion but only for show.
I call them Religious Las Vegas. May I define religion from the dictionary before attempting to infer what it means to me? Merriam Webster dictionary has this to say about Religion: Service and worship of God or a supernatural Commitment or a devotion to religious faith Personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices A scrupulous conformity or conscientiousness to beliefs held to with ardor and faith in service of God or deity Every of the above points to a supernatural agent called God or Allah in the two dominant religion in Nigeria- Islam and Christianity.
Another common attribute in the definitions is the sets of practices, services, attitudes, worships and beliefs that are in consonant with the different religion.
The third common denomination is that Religion requires devotion, a commitment, actually scrupulous conformity and conscientiousness on the part of its adherents.
Religion demands ardor and faith for it to be relevant. Taking a cue from the above then, it becomes obvious that people can easily be identified who are religious.
There is the external part of the requirements of religion which are the works of it. Anyone can fake that. However, there is the part of it that imposes commitment and devotion, conformity and a hearty conscience to the dictates of the religion. The externalities are there, with its deception and hypocrisy.
The internalities of religion is what is grossly lacking in our society in Nigeria. A friend of mine told a story of a white guy who came to Nigeria to visit him. The expatriate, as we call them, went to Church with my friend who is a manager of one the international conglomerate industries in Nigeria.
It was a big church with a lot of attendance. The visitor was so unsettled during the service, which was a concern to his host, he was seen looking bewildered, frustrated and infuriated at the same time. After the service was over, his host asked him what went wrong with the service and his attitude.
This is what the visitor told my friend verbatim; “I see religiosity so outspoken on the faces of the entire congregation but it was impure, ungodly and full of pretense. Can you please explain to me why the gap seen outside the church is also here in the church? I see the super rich and the unhealthy poor.
I see a gulf between them too. What exactly has religion done to man or vice versa?” The truth is we have so much of religion that is external but lack the internal truth to uphold us.
This happens in the Mosque too. We have people who recite the creed of their religion very well but only listen to the voice of their greed and lust. We have Pastors and Imams, who are so embellished in their absurdities and recklessness, but with a lot of external influences, who at the same time are redefining what our religion should be. People this day simply follow those who have imposed themselves as spiritual leaders and mentor without asking questions.
They are told what to do and how to do it. These hypocritical leaders have taken religion out of reach of the masses of our people. They know it all, and should not be questioned. Nigerians have relapsed into the trap of religious deception so badly that it has become a way of life.
We now have a new culture imbibed by the false teachings that are pervading our psyche and society. Violence is now been used to define Islam and greed is defining Christianity. Clerics now see personal fights and disagreements as what their followers must engage in for relevance.
When my pastor is not your pastor’s friend, then we are sworn enemies. If my Ulama is disengaged from yours then we have to fight it out for reckoning. What an absurd! What a travesty!! Our cities are riddled with all kinds of evil and our political leaders are also our religious superiors in the church and mosque.
They seat “so close to God” in the special seats and just simply sleep off the message when seldomly preached. The carriage needed to suggest concern in our plight is long gone with the winds. We are left alone on the street to fend for ourselves what the nation should have provided us, yet our leaders in the church and mosque who have it all, suggests we wait on God. Some even preached contentment with poverty along reliance on the rich. The question that begs to be answered is, who made those who are wealthy in our midst rich?
How did they get wealthy? They stole from our commonwealth and then rubbed it in on us by dropping pennies on our lap as wages or donations or helps. Who is fooling who? The problem here is not all on the leaders but also on the followers who hitherto has refused to ask legitimate questions from their leaders.
I am sick and tired of religiously cloaked liars who in their quest for beatitudes of this world take advantage of the poor and use them as puns when there is the need for it. I have no respect for any man based on what decorations you have around your neck or your head, or the title that is attached to your name; if the basic devotion and piety that punctuates our religion is absent.
Where are our religious leaders in the face of incessant religious mayhem that has attended this nation for years? What they teach is how to retaliate and seek revenge. They take it a notch further, by teaching more on the thin string of difference that exist between Christians and Muslims. I agree that some of them do not realize that we have so much more in common than in difference. Just like life itself, my neighbor is different, but I have a command to keep peace with him in love.
The two religions teach that for God’s sake. Jihad which both religions recommends is being redefined from what the Holy Books say. The twisted minded man who claims Islam as his religion sees it as mayhem against ‘others’ who are not conformed to his way of thoughts.
Twisted. Christians defines it as hatred for the Muslims because “they are out to kill us”. Jihad is simply a linguistic word that connotes internal (more than external) fight against the ‘demons’ in ourselves (self) who makes the government of God impossible in us. Jihad is when the spirit of love, patience and forbearance subdues the carnality of hatred, intolerance and disrespect. Jihad is self-control.
Enough is enough. Let all of our Religious Las Vegas go into their closet of self-evaluation and come out with the certificate of self discipline and control in order to make religion what God intended it for. Let every religious leader show the proof of internal sanctity and piety before they impose it on others.
Let us arise and take our religion back from the religious cloaked deceivers.