“The Need To Tame Religion Before It Kills Us”: A Rejoinder To Wole Soyinka By Victor Terhemba
“Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today.
Only the religiously possessed or committed would deny the obvious. The price that many have paid not just within this society but by humanity in general makes one wonder if the benefits have really been more than the losses.” These were the words of prof. Wole Soyinka, a wise septuagenarian.
I felt compelled to write this rejoinder, not to disabuse the counsel of the sage professor, but to lend my voice to his sentiments. This is because it really hit one of my core advocacies- the use of common sense. I honestly do not believe in the concept of religion, neither does this belief make me disparage the reign, omnipotence and preeminence of the Almighty God.
A cursory look at all the religions of the world, Christianity, Islam, Traditional religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc, you can compare and collect like terms. You most will realise that they are all founded on the same ideology, scope and purpose, albeit the method and form of activities may differ. These religions, according to their laws and fundamentals, all admonish us to be better individuals. They all advocates for the same thing; the worship of a supernatural being. These religions serve as a guide to the human conscience.
It’s in the light of the above that I have repeatedly defined religion as ‘a mere human invented tool of propaganda to regulate human behaviours’.
The reactions from religious bodies in Nigeria to Soyinka’s observations were inimical as it’s always been with any issue that the subject borders on religion. In one of the seldom causes of unity, both the Islamic and Christian bodies rose in unison to vehemently condemn the statement of Soyinka. A question they both failed to address is “have benefits of religion been more than the losses?” The answer to this is obvious, we’ve had more losses than gains.
Religion promotes further division of the people, bigotry, fanaticism and intellectual philistinism. More people around the globe have died from religious related crises than war and natural causes.
Dale Carnegie in one of his books, how to stop worrying and start living, agreed that religion is a good thing; it gives you peace and make your life meaningful. On the contrary, it is God that gives you peace and your life a meaning, through your personal relationship with HIM. Religion is just an idea, God is the only thing that is real.
For example, even before the emergence of Christianity the people of those days worship, praise and pray to God in temples. In the holy Bible, the people of the old testaments were not Christians but they were followers and worshippers of God Almighty. In fact, Christianity did not start until years after the death of Jesus Christ.
We should be more concerned about our personal relationship with GOD that guarantees our peace of mind. The kind of relationship that gives our lives a meaning. The kind of relationship that strengthens our faith and belief in GOD. The kind of relationship that makes us more empathic and kind to our fellow men. The kind of relationship with God that teaches us to pray directly to God instead to the god of the name of our pastors or sheiks. The kind of relationship with God that makes us know that wearing the picture of your pastor/sheik around the neck or chest cannot save or protect you from evil, only God has the power to save and protect. The kind of relationship that will make us realise that religion is a means and not an end. The kind of relationship with God that enables us to begin to use our common sense.
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Victor Terhemba Is a talent manager, political analyst and social commentator from Lagos.
Follow me on Twitter: @inkrediblesmog