Religion in our dear country is very important. It is as good as a means of identification. Saying you are an atheist will only make you look like the devil in human form, ‘how can you not believe in God?’. Whether or not you believe in God, you can testify that religion has done good to a large extent by encouraging positivity, giving people hope and faith, giving people reasons to live, creating an illusion of a better life whether or not there is actually a better life. The church for example creates a vicinity of joy, where people can go so they can be happy and forget their worries. It also keeps people in check with its laws/commandments, ‘do not lie’, ‘do not steal’, ‘do not kill’ and so on. Most of these laws go in line with the laws of the society, thereby giving people more reasons to abide with the laws of their country. Nevertheless, does religion not promote ignorance?
Ignorance is not uncommon in Nigeria. As the saying goes “what you don’t know won’t kill you”. Nigerians would rather bask in ignorance because of the ‘fear of the unknown’ face that fear and conquer it. People prefer to not know their HIV status because they think they are better off that way, ignoring the fact that early detection is important. They would rather say ‘I don’t have it in Jesus name’ instead of actually going for a test. This belief does not only apply to HIV, it also applies to other sickness like cancer, and also, other aspects of life. As a matter of fact, not only uneducated Nigerians think like this, in fact, I know of an educated woman whose breast lump developed to cancer because of her ignorance.
My friend told me about one educated young woman who had a lump in her breast. Her family members advised to go to the hospital and have it checked. She refused and decided to go to her pastor for a ‘miracle’. This woman turned out to be unlucky because she eventually had to cut her breast. Apparently, her pastor could not stop cancer. Obviously if she had gone to the hospital, the chances of her having to cut off her breast would have been really slim. She was blinded by religion to hide behind faith and be foolishly positive, in lieu of being realistic. I’m pretty sure God won’t be mad at her if she had gone to the hospital and escaped cancer. Even the Bible says, ‘faith without work is dead’, meaning your faith alone cannot move mountains, you have to put in effort. Religious leaders will Sometimes only encourage ignorance and make people believe in miracles so that they can build their congregation in church, instead of telling people the simple truth. You cannot underestimate Nigerians love for miracles. Quiet a number of us would rather go 30 days fasting and prayer in order to make money, rather than working for money. This makes it very easy for religious leaders to lure people by promising them miracles that can solve whatever issues they have, instead of telling those people the right and proper thing to do.
Not long ago, a young lady commented on the popular Hallelujah challenge, saying prayer is not the solution to Nigeria’s problem. The young woman gave her reasons which were obvious, but instead of people reasoning with her, she received a backlash. The actual truth is this, How is prayer supposed to help Nigeria when the people praying are part of the problem? You finish praying and still go out to engage in corruption, stealing etc. For example, a religous leader asks people to pray for a good president, a corrupt leader comes to the church/mosque and gives a huge sum of money to the church/mosque and in return, the religious leader blesses him by praying for him. Alas, every member of the church/mosque becomes a supporter of that politician because he has been ‘annointed’. Eventually, an incompetent leader gets elected because he was ‘annointed by a man of God’. How then is the country supposed to change for the better when people vote for politicians because of the dumbest reasons? God is not going to come down and make that change, we need to stop being hypocritical and do the right thing.
The linking circle of ignorance and religion keeps going on and on, through almost every aspect of our lives as Nigerians. Instead of taking normal measures to ensure your security, your pastor will sneeze on handkerchief for you to use as a form of protection while he walks around with security guards. Your religious leaders will emphasize on the importance of tithe, telling you God will bless you if you pay your tithes but say nothing about helping orphans or paying taxes. How about preaching about the importance of paying taxes? These same people will tell you to keep praying and fasting for your country while they keep endorsing corrupt politicians. Imams will preach against sin but do nothing about child marriage happening among Muslims in the north. If men of God cannot preach against things like child marriage and rape, then what exactly do they stand for? Performing miracles? How then is prayer supposed to solve anything?
We need to be realistic, faith is good, but what good is it if we do not act on it? Religion does not have to be linked with ignorance.
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