By Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh
It looks like humanity was designed to repeat a mistake over and over again. This is because before the lock-down occasioned by the corona virus pandemic; religion (particularly Islam and Christianity) had assumed a state of potentate in that it dictated people’s beliefs, relationship, and mode of dressing, commerce, politics, and education. But despite its potency and power, it has had a minimal success in dictating global peace.
Karl Marx once defined religion as the opium of the masses. In other words, he saw and spoke of the ability of religion to control the human mind. Now, was that a wonderful attribute? Jesus answered this question when he told the Pharisees that man was designed to have dominion over the Sabbath and not the Sabbath to reign over man. In other words, the dominion of religion over man has never enabled him to understand self or the real place of religion in human affairs.
In 1918, a disturbing outbreak of a deadly influenza (Spanish Flu) affected over a third of the world’s population; ending lives in the range of 20-50 million people. Imagine the great panic it created globally then? Not long after that scare, the Great Depression slammed against the American economy in 1920, bringing every economic activity to a grinding halt. These catastrophic events took place in the 20th century. Then the world survived it amidst a holy revival the catastrophe had triggered in Europe and America.
Several decades later, with the industrial revolution growing in eminence and capability to replace human/manual labor, the desire to get closer to God began to wane. People began to be lazy to do the things of God and, that continued until – in a bid to revive spirituality, a strange and outrageous doctrine found its way into the church in the 70’s. Meanwhile, the growing dissension and resentment against the US and Europe sparked the rise and adoption of terrorism in Islam and was code-named radical Islamism.
Global political power, for the Arab world – which was the bone of contention – between the Middle East and the New World saw the Middle East co-opt religion into their politics with the intention to spread it abroad. Europe and the US responded by turning from a religious state to a secular state with the intention to globalize secularism through democracy. The idea was to create a cosmopolitan culture which will be controlled by the US but will give people the freedom to worship anything.
So, who doesn’t love freedom? Therefore, while Islam made efforts to dominate global politics, secularism appealed to more and more people especially in Africa. Quite interesting also is the fact that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE are in sympathy with secularism not only for economic gains but for the fact of remaining the eyes of the West in the Middle East. That way, America remains the world’s super cop; policing the world as they so wished.
In Africa and particularly Nigeria, secularism found itself conflicting seriously with religion. The dangerous hold of religion on the minds of Nigerians is such that it made for permanent slavery to foreign powers. This is why every year; in pilgrimage to both Saudi Arabia and Israel, Nigerians went with a mindset to find God abroad! But these countries see our pilgrimage as tourism and a source of revenue. And they have never pretended about it. In fact, their swift actions to lock-down since the corona virus outbreak said that much.
Now, I expected you to ask: if the countries who are the forebear of Christianity and Islam saw religion for what it truly is – personal relationship with God in your closet – why are we dying under the burden of same religion? Yet, the influence of religion in Nigeria did not stop there. Two things still baffled me: One, the secret behind the enormous wealth displayed by church founders. Two, the extreme ignorance and poverty entrenched in the lives of the minors of the Islamic faith.
With the Covid-19 pandemic – in my opinion – there will certainly be a deconstruction of those weird beliefs and ways of conducting self that we’ve always held as well as a revelation of the sacredness of human life. Already, countless countries – irrespective of religion or secularism – have shut down their borders just to preserve life! More people are currently interested in remaining alive – by obeying the do’s and the don’ts of Covid-19 – than they are with the last sermon they heard in their churches and mosques.
Those who have never opened their Bible or Qur’an are forced – because of boredom – to do so now. It is amazing the manner of testimonies they now had to tell! It is said that to be blind was no crime at all. But to be blind and to not realize it was not only a taboo but sheer madness. Many are arrogantly ignorant. Whoever told me that there would come a day when civilization as we know it will be so shaken and reshuffled; I’ll have opposed him. But look at where we are today with global oil price floating around $11 USD and -$3 USD and, this is just the beginning of sorrows.
This tells you that when all else fails; human life remained paramount and, has been so way back in time before even religion. Adam – the first human being from God – was introduced to worship (not organized religion) just so that in constantly doing it, he would learn to pick instructions from God that will help him fulfill the task of reigning over the earth. Today, it has become an offense for persons to congregate with the intention to worship; organized religion is been tested. But if worship had remained as God intended, would there have been the need to arrest or criminalized persons?
What then should we do? Jesus also answered this question when he said we shall worship neither in Jerusalem nor on this mountain because God sought for true worshipers; that is, those who will worship him in TRUTH and in SPIRIT. That sounds like a personal or a one-on-one fellowship that should be done in your closet, doesn’t it? Since the practice of worship has been long from creation till now, the only place to truly worship is in your privacy.
God’s plan is to have you in a personal relationship with him so that he could instruct you on how best to fulfill his destiny for you. By crowding in a building as our own accepted style of worship, the society; Nigeria and the world continues to degrade because you and I cannot identify the needs for which you and I are sent to solve. Check the lives of those who’ve discovered their purpose for living and you’ll see that they hardly had time to kill in the name of God or engage with trivialities.
Their drive is a focused hunger to accomplish their task and to leave this world better than they met it. Look at it this way; if we’ve had true worshipers in the corridor of power in this country Nigeria since 1960, would the country’s patrimony have suffered severe pillaging from those entrusted to administer it? If true worshipers existed in the land and the news says that a cure for the virus has been found, will you prefer to die instead of to live just because the cure came from the opposition religion?
What if the lock-down persists for up to 6 months, will you worship in private or turn lawless? Remember that this is just one plague and the world is in great disarray. Remember that this is just one plague and thousands are dying every day. Remember that this is just one plague and you can’t even worship in the mosque or the church. Is it not time we faced reality and stop seeking to remain what we are. Attitudinal change is the way to go. It is difficult. It is painful but any successful change of habit is worth the sacrifice.
I conclude this piece in the hope that you’ll let this lock-down open your eyes to the real purpose of religion – which is to help you discover self and what you’re sent to accomplish in this life – in order that you may break free from the vicious grip of organized religion and its proponents (fraudsters and pastorprenuers) whose only interest is to subjugate you and keep you from ever understanding why you were created. For God did not create you to fund organized religion or to kill in his name. He made you so that you could be light to give direction to many and salt to preserve lives.
Comrade Mmoh, an advocate for attitudinal change writes from Abuja. 08062577718.