@Uchekorie: Can we question these men of God? (Y! FrontPage)

by Uche Okorie

I have always marvelled at Organized Religion- that structured pursuit of great interest often followed with great devotion by adherents which has an eerie capacity to not just befuddle but to render logical reasoning sacrilegious.

Often times in my personal life, I have been at great odds with organised religion as we know it. Don’t get me wrong, religion has its uses. Its capacity to serve as the moral compass of society can scarcely get enough praise. Neither can its inherent potential to guide human conduct towards a nobleness of spirit nor hence deeds be overlooked. But after all said and done and on the strength of contrite introspection, it is my considered opinion that organised religion of the variants that flourishes in Nigeria is seriously blemished and thus deserves a critical evaluation.

Even without any statistical backing, I make bold to say we have the highest per capita religious men of God who have become gods of men globally. A large chunk of our religious leaders and institutions are deeply flawed but enjoy a near immunity from logical introspection due to a combination of numbing factors. It’s not just because, at the purported ideological (or at best window dressing) heart of the deadliest internal conflict in the history of Nigeria is organised religion in the form of a manic, terrible, blood curdling mutant variant of Islam that takes no (Christian, Pagan, Atheist or Moderate Moslem) prisoners in its avowed viciousness. It’s not even because of the historical inadequacies of organised religion like Christian Inquisitions and Slavery, Islamic Jihads and other such fanatical expressions of religion, but because of the sober awakening that a dispassionate examination of our contemporary religious milieu evokes.

I am a Christian by birth and by individual conviction, and stress this fact I must. I am a Christian who believes in the gospel of salvation and in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is who I am. Yet I do have significant issues with the many Nigerian mutations of Christianity that approaches the Christian doctrine in a staccato of self-serving polyglot haze.

1453512_pastor1_jpg271c2dd3855d62f56d22e479f84da0f4I mean let’s face it, what drives our religious ministries in Nigeria? Does it have anything to do at all times with the propagation of our faith and the deepening of our relationship with our maker? Not necessarily so.

 

I have always had a problem with and will always do, the ‘golden calves’ actuality of Nigerian Christianity that elevates Pastors and leaders of the church to the realm of infallible and unquestionable deities.

I have always had and will always have a loathing for the mass hysteria induced and reinforced by organised religion through its lopsided focus on some portions of Holy Books mainly for self-aggrandisement but carefully orchestrated by the religious hierarchy to prey on a legion of human fears and failures of human institutions.

I mean let’s face it, what drives our religious ministries in Nigeria? Does it have anything to do at all times with the propagation of our faith and the deepening of our relationship with our maker? Not necessarily so.

If you ask my opinion, I’d say that the religious ambiance of our day feeds fat on our fears, riding on these fears to build tremendous material empires. It preys on our fear of the unknown, our fear of the dark, our fear of morbidity, our fear of failure, our fear of human intentions, our fear of poverty, our fear of death and so on. It feeds on the colossal failings of our Nigerian institutions and the many fears it begets. Why do you think we have a thriving anti-accident and sudden death gospel ministry? Surely it has something to do with our badly tarred death trap roads big on grandiose political promises and short on quality construction materials; basic road signage; and speed limits enforcement. Why do we have a thriving prosperity ministry? Surely widespread endemic poverty in the land must have something to do with this. Why do we have a ‘fire and brimstone’ rain on my enemies’ religious hustle? Of course you can’t feign ignorance that our high unemployment rate and societal desperation fostered by an obvious lack of social security has something to do with it. Why do we have an all-consuming faith based Ministry that so surreptitiously encourages a culture of totally abdicating the dictates of logical solutions to personal and national problems and delegating all and every responsibility for our lives to God? Could it be that our timid acceptance of our lots in our personal and national life has something to do with it?

We have a religious system dominated by two religions that was impetuously imposed on us and radically altered our world view. Many decades later the local offspring of these foreign religious establishments have adorned the garb of hallowed solidity, with any criticism or examination of perceived shortcomings met with needless religious hysteria. Again I ask why I can’t as a Christian question the interpretation of Christian doctrines and pastors. Why can’t a Muslim question doctrinaire absurdities propagated by his Imam that conflict with the Quran? Why can’t we on the basis of personal conviction and even logic question religious institutions and men of God?

Contrary to popular religious belief, I am convinced that faith and logicality are not at variance. These concepts are not at odds with each other. After all look at creation and all around you and tell me if you don’t see logic in action. I don’t know about you, but I serve a logical God who created me in his own image and likeness with logical faculties including the ability to think critically and challenge the status quo.

If I may ask when you swallow some of the religious crap of the day which has no basis in faith or logicality under the excuse of not speaking out against religious institutions and personalities who are you emulating? Certainly not Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus constantly questioned the religious institutions and personalities of his days. Remember the Pharisees and Sadducees? How about the turning of the Temple into a place of commerce-something akin to the unscrupulous accumulation of wealth and influence to the detriment of the flock, some of which church leaders in Nigeria are guilty today?

While the chief Western and Arab propagators of these religions and new world order have long moved on and have defined the relationship between the secular and the religious walking a distinct line that calls into account the institutions of religion and mostly building model prosperous nations, we still hold on tenaciously to a totally unnecessary and pesky code of religious omerta where our religious institutions and authority figures can scarcely be questioned for fear of eternal damnation.

Well I do think it’s time we begin to question, to discuss and most importantly to push for reforms to some of our erring religious institutions. There is certainly no damnation for those who do. How do you think that the Inquisition and other religious monstrosities gave way? Certainly through questioning. The only person that is infallible and hence beyond questioning is the Almighty.

Of course you can choose to denounce me as a heretic. You are well within your rights to do so. But I am sticking to my guns.

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Uche Okorie tweets from @Uchekorie

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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