THE DEGRADINGVALUE OF RELIGION

No doubt that Nigeria is one of the most religious countries in the world! Ordinarily, such a global recognition goes with certain responsibilities, because there cannot be honour without responsibilities. But, what do we have in the country today? When any nation is at cross roads, the people look up to the religious leaders for moral direction! This was the case of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El-Salvador who became the linchpin for the liberation struggle of the country from the socio-political and economic subjugation of the people. The same thing can be said of Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist Preacher who became the symbol of the America's civil rights movements. Two major renowned religious leaders of all times who changed their societies during their earthly lives were Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammed!For example, Jesus Christ taught, preached and healed for only 3 years when He participated actively in His earthly

ministry, yet, His Message still have effects and resonance in this modern world than any known philosophers of the past! For instance, Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato Taught for 50 years and Aristotle taught for 40 years. All together, the three philosopher-kings taught for 130 years, yet, the impacts and the effects of their teachings cannot be compared to that of Jesus Christ who only taught for 3 years! In Femi Falana's article “Unasked Questions About Corruption” published in Thisday Newspaper of November 30th,2012, he said: “The roles of religious bodies in the fight against corruption have also become haven for corrupt individuals whose monies are used to sustain them. Instead of speaking the truth, religious leaders have suddenly become appendages of the ruling class using their vantage position to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor members of their congregation who often see them as next to God”. He asked “Why is it that in spite

of the stinking poverty in the country, religion is hastily becoming another source of psychological trauma for the ordinary Nigerian? A poor man goes to church or mosque and is greeted with SUVs and other flashy vehicles belonging to the cleric. Even when the congregation cannot afford to eat two balanced squaremeals in a day, some of our religious fathers deliberately or inadvertently display wealth”? Sometimes, if you look at the character of the people in one of the world's most religious countries, you will be tempted to canonize some of our pagans; yet, these are people we want to convert! In most government establishments, it is hard for a staff who was employed to serve the people to do so without demanding for underhand exchange. The worst is when arich employer is demanding for a sumptuous amount from a wretched applicant who is looking for any means that will help him live for the next morning, before offering him or her the needed job. Because the

law forbids bribery and corruption, there have now nicked-named it “appreciation”. My question is, when appreciation becomes compulsory, what do we call it? The answer needs codification to become law! Also, religious leaders are not left out, because, some of the muse mind-controlling strategies and motivation to exploit their congregations,making religion the “opium of the people” and not a permanent solution to their problems as Jesus Christ said “whoever the son of man sets free is free indeed”. For these types of clerics, Mr. Falana has a word for them, “… Some of the most corrupt individual in Nigeria find it easy to go to churches and mosques on Sunday and Friday without fearing that tough messages await them there”. As a guest speaker of the 2009 BBC Reith Lectures entitled: “A New Citizenship—Markets and Morals”, Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University in the first phase of the lectures asked: “What Are the moral limits of

markets”? In the lecture, he condemned what he called“Market triumphalism”, a phrase he used to describe how market has removed the moral stigma attached to certain aspects or elements of human activities. For Example, out-sourcing pregnancy or commercial surrogacy, and the selling of prayers and miracles. There are some priests who place a price tag on the efficacy of the prayers they offer to their church members. Please, what I mean here is different from corporate chaplaincy! According to Sandel, “One of the most pervasive tendencies of our time is the expansion of markets and market-oriented reasoning in to shares of life once governed by non-market values”. “… A more vigorous and searching public debate about the moral limits of markets is an essential aspect of the new citizenship”. He called for a change, saying, markets should be subjected to ethical principles and social justice. Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope emeritus in one of

his sermons decried what he termed “Dictatorship of relativism”. A Concept he used to warn against an ideology “that does not recognize anything as definitive, and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's ego and desires”. While the society is fast degrading, some of our clerics are smiling to the banks. Is it not ironical that, while our religious institutions are expanding, crimes and other social vices are expanding at the same proportion?The question now is who is to be blamed? My answer is the man in the mirror!What about you?

Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara is an activist and public affairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerians for Change!07065862479, [email protected] 29, Ben Mbamalu Crescent, Achara Layout,Enugu State.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Edwin Uhara