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Monday, May 29, 2017

Fetishism of Religion and it's Contradictions

Written by: Jackson Agbai Abbah

In our very eyes, we are experiencing a phenomenon, which if not checked, will eclipse, consume and destroy our country. That phenomenon is the wholesale abstraction of religion and prayers, without any consideration for true work and moral uprightness. Everywhere you go, the precept is praying, fasting, and speaking in tongues, than in taking practical steps to achieve results. In our sports, schools, government circles, markets etc. the emphasis is on prayer than practical work.

In football, the club or national team coach who prefers to collect money and field less disciplined and talented players, regales us with calls for prayers and intervention by God, when confronted with impending loss, the consequence of his indiscretion (as if the opponent does not worship the same God).

Students who refuse to dedicate one or two hours in a day reading their curricula, but spend gallivanting hours in tarry nights and worship grounds, will spend hours before the examination, praying for Gods intervention and miracles. School administrators and teachers, who refuse to guild students through the ethics of discipline and hard work, easily encourage them when faced with impending failure to become prayer warriors and fasting arrowheads.

Politicians, government and private employees, conspire daily to grant and execute contracts at rates ten times their normal values, as a result, their outlandish lifestyle very much above their legal income, is applauded by spouses, friends and relations who ensure they pay tithe, regularly, or perform Zakhat.

Governors who refuse to execute projects that will improve the lives of their subjects as they constitutionally swore, but divert monies so budgeted to private accounts and businesses, find comfort in donating huge amounts of money to churches and mosques. As we daily, such donations are followed by prayers of the pastors and imams whose churches and mosques are the beneficiaries of such donations.

Matrimonial quarrels that sometimes lead to divorce happen every day as a result of infidelity, a sin which impacts limited individuals. We do not know or hear of any spousal quarrel or divorce resulting from corruption or stealing of public funds, a sin so perverse in magnitude and ramification that it leads to mass poverty or ruination of organizations and businesses. Rather, wealth arising from such corruption, stealing or outright fraud is celebrated as blessings from God, with the culprit encouraged to pay tithe or grant Zahkat as atonement of tainted conduct.

In our market all over the country, whether in Alaba, Aspanda, Ariaria, Ochanja Ogbete, a new tendency has taken ascendency. It is the routine of traders abandoning whatever they are doing by 12 noon each market day, to worship the living God. Here, men, young and old, girls and women, spend an hour singing, praising and praying to God almighty.

It is a sight to behold the seriousness and commitment involved in these sessions. The intensity and pomp during these sessions will put Lucifer to great envy. But moments after these prayers, the participants whose stores are filled with fake, expired and adulterated products, feel no guilt in selling these products to the next unsuspected buyer.

They swear by God and guarantee the goods are original. If after buying from them, you discover defects in the products and return same, they deny ever setting eyes on you, and you soon discover the receipt issued to you, was equally fake.

In our churches and mosques, those who are reserved the front seats are the rich men and women, who are known, or famous. They are allowed prominence even when their source of wealth is questionable. They partake in most activities of the church or mosque including long fasting periods, and tarry nights. In determining positions in the mosque or church scant consideration is given to the more qualified candidate.

Rather, the pivotal consideration may be tribe, state or local government of origin. For some northern Muslims, it is a taboo for a southerner to lead them in prayers. In some churches ruled by elders, the elders in majority from a particular ethnic group will insist on which tribe the next Reverend or pastor will come from.

In some churches, it is sacrilegious and regarded with scorn and odium, for poor member to trespass to areas meant for the rich and special members of the church during occasions. On Sundays while going to church, our rich born again families, dress with their children. Their houseboys and girls can be spotted from afar in their rag tag dresses, most times, wearing bathroom slippers.

These flotsams and jetsams of society, who otherwise should have been grateful to God for allowing them live with a wealthy family, who labour and do all the household chores, are lucky if they are allowed the privilege of attending a public school.

While their masters children attend private schools with N500, 000 average school fees a term, they are denied attendance of a low level public school where fees maybe N40, 000 per term, despite the quantum of wealth at the disposal of the master.

Pastors, Reverends, Overseers, Imams are all competing with worldly people on material things. Most will not wear apparel except by a known designer. Their competition for whose car is costlier, has now acerbated to whose airplane is more expensive.

The latest vogue now is owing a university. Every denomination wants to own a university. During worships, special offerings are made for building of the university. Poor members are encouraged to go and work for free in the construction site. When the school is completed, very exorbitant school fees are charged, thus eliminating the child of the poor member who had expended his labour free of charge.

Meanwhile, at the corporate affairs commission, the legal ownership of church vests in the overseer, his spouse and children. It is apostasy to question this.

I do not know what use four to six luxury cars or private jet will be to a man of God. What is the difference between such a servant of God and the secular man? Despite pretensions to the contrary, it is crass and irresponsible materialism. I know these monies can be used to establish factories that will create wealth and employment.

Luxury private cars and private jets are not income yielding assets. In fact, they consume so much so for maintenance. Have these men of God bothered to ask, where the graduates from different universities will be employed? In a country where the state has shown great incapacity for ideas that will create employment, shouldn’t religious leaders take the lead? While serving as a corper in Ekiti state in the ‘80s, I saw big factories and hospitals owned by the Catholic Church.

Today, I understand they are now moribund. Given the phenomenal hold religious leaders have on their members, is it not time they start talking to members about investing in assets and wealth creating enterprises, than the present atmosphere of obtuse consumption?
I do not know of any country in the world with the number of churches and mosques that are abound in our country.

Abbah writes from Lagos.

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