My Grouse With Religion
by Joy Isi Bewaji
I don’t know anything about Islam. I’m not sure I have had any conversation about the Quran. I don’t know Buddhism. African traditional religions are largely ignored. Nigerians engage traditionalists secretly, by the corner of their depravities. This transaction occurs only in whispers; and applied derogatorily in conversations.
But what I know is Christianity. I pray to the God who came down as Jesus to die on the cross. That is the religion I believe in… and that is the only religion I can authoritatively speak for or against. And I speak bigly. My mouth is big. My opinions are large. And people get so frustrated they bake cake to show their contempt. It is called influence. Thank you very much. It is every writer’s joy to be read. But more importantly, it is every writer’s delight to cause a reaction. And as always, I have caused a massive reaction recently. It started with a Facebook rant about #HalleluyahChallenge and my thoughts about Nigeria, Religion and Under-development. And I stand with every word on my trending article – We have too many spiritual revolutions; what we need is a mental one.
As Christians, we are told not to question anything. I have sat in a church where a man of God said, “Don’t question. Just follow”. Just follow the word from the pulpit. Do not groom an opinion. And by God, do not criticize. Any view contrary to popular belief is against God. It makes you the anti-Christ.
But how then do you develop society without critical thinking? If Religion, the bedrock of our convictions and confidences, does not allow for contrary discussions and debates, how do we unlearn, deconstruct and rebuild? How do we groom a generation with smarts?
When we are not allowed to tear the word of God into bits and pieces for coherence and understanding… if all we do is pick the bits that feed our egos and satiate our delusions, how then do we move from children to pioneers? I am ONE woman with an opinion, and I rocked the foundation of thousands of religious people. Your faith is apparently built on sand. You are cussing and tearing out your weaves and robes because I dared to ask: “what has religion done for Nigeria?”
All the revivals, all the crusades, since I was a child… yet we still don’t have potable water. Small and medium scale businesses still cannot get funds, while pastors build mansions and buy private jets. How do we build a society that is so twisted in its understanding of development?
The grave intolerance of religion is what destroys any form of growth in Africa. This is a white man’s religion. It was introduced to slaves for comfort and hope. How is it that we practice without room for dissection or any form of doubt? And why is doubt or query attacked with such vehemence? Are you still slaves? When do you plan to apply your mind? This infallible word that cannot be examined, does it not make mockery of the brain the same God gave you? When then do you apply it? Did God himself not say, “come let us reason together”?
So I bring this to you, Nigerian Christians: how is it that your revivals are not building societies? Oh yes, you did mention that the #HalleluyahChallenge has nothing to do with building society, it is only for edification. So after this instruction, we continue to ride in third world shame? Is there any way in hell that this might change the way Nigerians transact business? Will it make employees more diligent at work? Will it allow for the unlearning of corruption (seeing that more than half the politicians are very religious and swear by the grace of God on their lives)? There’s got to be something about thousands of people praying by midnight beyond just a feel-good sensation rushing down your thighs like good sex. A deliberate prayer mission surely has to have a theme bigger than just spiritual masturbation?
The arguments I have bumped into on social media question my right to even have an opinion about #HalleluyahChallenge. And then they go ahead to ask: “err…what have you done yourself?” That is the ONLY way we know how to debate. It shows a lack of intelligence.
When CNN reporters gather to discuss the issues plaguing the Trump administration, for instance… only a Nigerian sits on a boiling pot of water in his living room asking the dumbest question: “What have they done themselves? All these reporters…Why can’t they go and be president?”
Critics, reviewers, reporters are legit jobs. You must understand that everything, as long as we are on this earth should be reviewed, questioned, queried. Let us teach our children to question everything. Little kids are still being punished in Nigerian schools for daring to ask a teacher any question that exposes the teacher’s extensive ignorance. We carry that over to religion. From little children to grown adults, many are yet to ask one significant question in their entire lives. From parents to teachers to religious leaders to national leaders, our lives are controlled by others. It is a cycle of insecurities, uncertainty and deficiency.
We are raped and robbed by the grace of God. Our roads are bad by the grace of God. Students of LAUTECH were on strike for months by the grace of God. OAU hostels are flooded by the grace of God. Mass communication students only get to see a studio after graduating by the grace of God. 5 year olds are raped and the perpetrators forgiven by the grace of God. Pastor commits adultery from a higher level of grace. NEPA is now PHCN yet still no light by the grace of God. Buhari will contest next election by the grace of God. Dammy Krane is released for fraud by the grace of God. Evans, the kidnapper, who paid for police protection for years has finally been caught by the same police – by the grace of God. Sigh.
It is not prayers we need. We need commonsense. I hope you make this article trend again. Thank you for making a revival of my thoughts.
As culled from Happenings.com