Negative impact of religion in Nigeria

Tochi Juliet
By Tochi Juliet
Quran and Holy bible

According to Karl Marx, religion is defined as the 'Opium of the masses in this; he likened religion to oppression.

Religion has been used by many as a tool of exploitation and subjugation. It is a more natural method used by some church heads to wield emotional power over their subjects.

The negative impact of religion cannot be overemphasised. It is seen as the primary cause of crisis and conflicts in today's world.

Today, Nigeria is witnessing a series of conflicts that are constructed from differences in religion. Nigeria basically is made up of two religion; Christain and Islamic religion. However, these two major religions are on the verge of tearing the country into two.

Religious diversity has led to conflicts about control of state power, unequal allocation of resources, citizenship issues, state collapse, economic decline and ethnoreligious clashes, and so many others.

In 2010, Nigeria witnessed a terrible religious crisis in the northern states of the country, particularly the Plateau state. The 2010 Jos riots were clashes between Muslim and Christian ethnic groups.

It was a crisis where more than a thousand were killed, houses, churches, mosques and vehicles were set ablaze during at least four days of fighting.

In March the same year, Many Hausa-Fulani were killed and dumped into wells. So thousands were equally killed in riots in 2001, and at least 700 died in subsequent violence in 2008.

Muslims burning properties in Jos as a result of religious crisis

From 2001 till now, Nigeria is still witnessing religious crisis which has led to the loss of lives and properties.

Religion instItutions, before now stands as the last hope of a common man. Meanwhile, in the world of today, religion has become a means whereby the poor masses are being sapped dry of all their resources.

The belief in the almighty and total adherence to whatever proceeded from the church has led to what one can describe as 'mental slavery.'

Religion, especially churches, are seen as the easiest way of getting rich. There are many who are into the business of pastoring churches in a bid to extort from the poor masses.

Some of these pastors have managed to attract a large congregation to their churches and have built high income-generating assets. Some of them own private jet while their congregation walk on barefoot and some managed to feed but still will offer seed offerings in the church.

Some pastors see religion as the possible way of wielding emotional power over their subjects, who dare questions them when bible has said 'touch not my anointed'. This particular phrase in the Scripture has been used as a defensive weapon by this set of vipers.

Mental slavery is the highest form of slavery. Some religion stands as a perfect image for mental slavery.

Christians are expected to be the reflection of Christ. From what we have learnt about the person of Christ in the scripture, he is an embodiment of humility and charity. He has, in so many places, defended the right of the poor.

The church of Christ in today's world seems to be the reflection of self and not Christ. Take a look at mission schools which are owned by churches and different religious organisations.

My grandfather once told me that during the time of the colonial masters, mission schools are the best schools as they offer quality education without collecting a dime. They were instituted to meet the demands of the common man as education is concerned.

However, the reverse happens to be the case in today's world as we have church-owned schools which only has the rich in attendance. Many of these schools, the poor can't access the gate as it is only a school for the rich.

It has left me perplexed because the poor who can't access the gate of these schools are the ones that contributed significantly to the establishment of the school.

I'm left to ask how an organisation that found its root for the benefit of a common man as in turn become a disease that has eaten deep into their bonemarrows.

These people will contribute financially and equally physically yet will not rip the fruits of their labour.

I can recall a story vividly by my grandmother on how she carried stones and sands used in the building of St Theresa college cathedral Nsukka without wages or reward. She did it because she is a member of a catholic church and the laity has to build everything in the church without expecting a penny in return as their reward is always in heaven.

However, what brings tears into my eyes is that none of us could attend the college because we couldn't afford it. The church never considered we contributed immensely to the growth and the building of the school.

Religion in itself I have discovered is not necessarily evil, especially Christianity but the ignorant adherent of it has used it as a means to display their ignorance, stupidity and hatred.

Men from creation is a wicked soul, and that explains why men have turned religion into a tool of man's destruction.

The authentic Religious leaders will have to take responsibility for invalidating the perceptions of the existential threat to religious identity that has become entrenched in many people's daily lives.

Some religious leaders have preached peace and tolerance, but the message does not trickle down fully. Also, a good number of them preach what they do not practice. More has to be done in the area of religion, especially in the emancipation of Nigerians from religious mental slavery.