By James Ogunjimi
“It is possible that mankind is on the threshold of a golden age; but if so, it will be necessary first to slay the dragon that guards the door, and this dragon is religion.” – Bertrand Russel
Before I pop the religion question, which is sure to elicit different reactions from different folks, let me say that my column, “IF THIS IS MY LAST” is a year old today.
Around this time last year, I started the column as a means to treat difficult topics that cannot and should not be left untreated. I started it as an answer to pressing issues that society has programmed us to shy away from and which over the years, we have allowed to ‘fly’.
“IF THIS IS MY LAST” is a column designed with the intention of thrashing out issues without caring who likes it or not, without giving a damn (apologies to President Lucky Jo) whose ox is gored and with the unwavering focus of a man conscious that the words he writes might as well be his last.
Ok…The picture of the Jordanian pilot roasted by ISIS is enough to make anyone with functional brain think hard and long about religion and how far it has gotten us.
And please, don’t start that crap about “ISIS is not Islamic; Islam is a religion of peace”; It’s stale. It is one of the reasons why we remain stuck. Those ISIS fighters, Al-queda, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, is it encyclopedia they read before starting their wars?
Is it inside the encyclopedia that they find promises of 72 virgins in paradise for killing infidels? Is it encyclopedia that orders the killing of infidels? Stop that shit about they not being Muslims, really, just stop!
Start by admitting that they are Muslims, but they are bad Muslims. Maybe then, we will have taken a giant stride in defeating these fish-brained morons.
Christianity, Islam practised and advertised PUBLICLY has done more harm than good for us. To say that the Bible and Quran supports peaceful co-existence of both religions is to live in outright denial.
Read your Bible, read your Quran. God in the Bible ordered the ‘utter destruction’ of people and nations that serve any other god aside theirs. In the Quran, non-Muslims are called infidels and whoever kills ‘enough’ infidels has reward of 72 virgins in paradise.
Now, this generation of religious leaders have been unable to ‘re-invent’ their holy books to fit into modern-day practice. In Uganda, Joseph Kony wasted thousands of lives in his bid to forcefully rule people with the laws of Moses. Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIS, etc have wasted their share of lives in their mad craze for their imaginary 72 virgins in paradise.
Listen, nobody is asking you not to be a Christian or Muslim. We are just saying we have had enough of it in the public. Let religion be private; no need to start wearing Hijjabs on the road; wear it in your house. No need to start carrying Bibles and boring us to death in public transport; do your preaching in church.
If we are ever going to get close to defeating the religious sociopaths roaming our streets, we must take away the ‘hold’ that religion has over people. Until you can walk into a company for an interview without anyone caring about your religious affiliation, we will remain far from freedom. Until you can aspire to a position without people caring what religion you practice, we will remain far from home.
Until our schools do what they are paid to do and not see it as an obligation to sing Christian songs on the ‘assembly ground’ on Monday to Wednesday and Islamic songs on Thursdays and Fridays, we will remain far far from home. Until we successfully separate ‘church from state’, we will remain far from home.
Your belief is your belief. If I choose not to believe, I am old enough not to. I do not need you to come and knock on my door time and again in the name of evangelism. If at my age I don’t agree with your religion, it is because I don’t want to. If I am in my house when it’s your hour of prayer, I do not need to be disturbed IN MY ROOM by your ‘call to prayer’. If your members don’t know the hours of prayer by now, it is their problem and I shouldn’t be made to pay for that.
Nations that care about the general welfare of their people (religious or not) need to take initiative if their people are ever going to stand a chance against the morons determined to implement archaic commandments in the 21st century.
They should start with limiting the powers of these religions, their utterances and the power they are allowed to wield over the people. Invitations based on religious standing should be cancelled out; if you are a pastor as well as a professor, you are invited to participate in national discuss AS A PROFESSOR that has something to offer and not as a pastor of any denomination.
As such, it will be an insult to me if you start your talk by saying “Praise the Lord” or “Let us pray”. Keep your religion at home and let’s see the real you without the weight of religion bearing down on you.
Nations that have the interest of their people at heart need to relegate the place of religion to the background by being accountable to their people and by being committed to their overall betterment. It is when people have no access to a good health care system that they will have to go to church and be told to fast and pray for 21 days because of ulcer.
It is hopelessness that drives people to have total and dogmatic faith in religion. It is when people have nowhere else to turn that they turn to religion and bask in its promises. When governments are committed to the betterment and improvement of their people, the blind faith and willingness to fight religion’s timeless battles fade away naturally.
Evangelism, placing speakers in front of your church or mosque and preaching to the whole street should not just be banned; it should be criminalized. The place of common sense should be popularized; if I am in my room and your noise is disturbing me, I should be able to go to the police station, make complaints and come back with no-nonsense officers who will haul the pastor or Imam’s ass to the station where he will be made to spend 2 days behind bars.
While the freedom to practice religion should not be tampered with, it should be emphasized time and again that it is a private affair. If you are my employee and you come to work with long ‘dabole’ Hijjab, I should be able to serve you nice query without being made to look bad. Abi when did your long Hijjab become ‘corporate’ wear?
If you’re my employee and I catch you reading Bible or praying during office hours or I catch you preaching in my workplace, I should be able to sama you nice query without being made to look bad. If you have talent for preaching, go to a church.
Religion should not take away common sense and a sense of what needs to be done. Right is right, whether or not religion calls it so. Wrong is wrong no matter what religion says about it; we don’t need religion to define the concept of right or wrong.
If I kill my neighbor, it is wrong; that a religion tries to justify it doesn’t make it right. I marry my friend, it’s cool, I don’t need religion to tell me that it is an ‘unequal yoke’ because she does not practice the same religion.
The year is still young; this year, we must be determined to listen less to religion and its dictates and listen more to the inner voice within us. Too many people have murdered their inner voice and natural intuition because of their over-dependence on religion and what religion says.
Too many people have unknowingly given up their ability to think straight because they have left the controls of their lives to religion to maneuvre. When they are faced with challenges, rather than think and ask themselves what to do, they ask, “what will religion have me do?”
Too many brains have been allowed to rust because their owners have abandoned them and have ’empowered’ their religious leaders to think on their behalf. This year, that brain must regain its usefulness; it is meant for thinking, use it.
Finally, religion is a private affair; keeping it private is key to subduing the powers of psychopaths bent on fighting religion’s battles. Nations must be actively involved in the ‘debriefing’ process.
Religious ideological houses like, ‘Ile Keu’ and ‘Sunday school’, where children of religious folks spend their formative years must be monitored closely. Dangerous ideologies must be ‘screened’ out of their lessons. Sanctions must be imposed and heavy reprimand must be handed to religious leaders who teach or propagate hate messages.
Religion accounts for 97% of terror attacks; until we ‘trivialise’ religion as yardstick for anything at all, it will continue so. Our world can be terror-free, but we need to make necessary inputs too.