Religion in the Dock: The People vs. Religion
“All rise!” shouted the court clerk as the Judge entered the court. Quickly, everyone stood up and watched as the Judge sat down facing them.
The People have charged religion to the Court of Humanity. Religion refused to get a human lawyer but chose instead to represent itself. The court clerk made the information known to all the people that were present. She read the charges against religion and they include inspiring acts of terrorism, aiding the subjugation of women, and causing division within the human community. The Judge invited Religion to introduce himself. After the introduction came the trial proper.
“I am sure you are aware of the charges already,” said the Judge. She wrote something in her note before looking up again. “I am moving straight to the trial since you don’t have an attorney. On the first charge of being responsible for terrorism, how do you plead?” she asked.
Religion cleared his throat before responding. “Not guilty, my lord,” he said.
The Judge was amused and ordered Religion to state his case.
“Thank you, my lord,” began Religion. He made obeisance before he continued. “The fact that I am a strong phenomenon is undeniable. I have power but to be accused of using that power to cause terrorism is damaging to my image. As we both know, when a group of people are not pleased with a particular system, they create fear in the minds of others through acts of terrorism. Terrorism thrives on fear and when it thrives, it shows the human system as being vulnerable and unable to meet the needs of its own people. Fear, that’s the objective of terrorism,” he explained without breaking a sweat.
“All those things are done in your name. What do you say to that?” asked the Judge.
“My lord, I am aware that some extremists now hide behind the veil of religion to cause terror in different places. To those people, I will say they are slaves of their own minds. They try to establish their doctrinal supremacy by striving to remove all forms of religious freedoms. But in all the books that are written in relation to me, the fact that people should love one another and not kill each other is explicit.
“Surprisingly, God has been named as the one that gave the commandment for their acts of terrorism. That is easy to say. After all, no one has seen God. The deluded ones want to pursue their own agenda by claiming a divine mandate. But if we all agree that God is an all-loving God, would he have commanded Muslims to kill Christians or made Christians to persecute the Jews? My lord, it is obvious what this people are trying to do. They want people to fear that the human system has broken down and that they now have a divine mandate to fix it. But I tell you today that it is a façade and it will always fail.” These were the answers that Religion gave to the Judge’s question.
“My people said you allow men to subjugate women. What do you say to that charge?” asked the Judge.
“Who am I to tell one gender to subjugate the other? Isn’t it the same God that created both men and women?” asked Religion. He paused to see the reaction on people’s faces before he continued. “None has a choice over his gender, my lord, the same way you don’t have a choice over the family you were born into. But you are a human being all the same. Your gender, I believe, should not be responsible for the way you are treated.
“Thus, the charge against me aiding the subjugation of women is totally uncalled for. Show me one place where I have appeared to anybody and commanded him to say or write anything on my behalf. It is human beings that did all these things. All the human laws that supported the hegemony of men and despise the person of women are manmade. The people that wrote those things did so because they were men who protecting their territory.
“My lord, tell me, how many of these laws that are written in my name were penned by women? I heard you say none. You see, in the war of nature, men have an upper-hand against women. And as you and your people always say, it is the victors that always tell the story not the vanquished. The women were vanquished in many cultures that no matter what they say now, it would count for so little. So, my lord, I am not guilty of anything as you can see. Men have only used their position in the society to take advantage of women and that has nothing to do with me because I am innocent,” he explained.
“How about causing division among humans,” asked the Judge.
“Well, my lord, I have never caused division anywhere,” answered Religion. “It is your people that breeds division among themselves and has overtime grown intolerant of one another’s belief and way of life. The people don’t know what good they are missing out on by being divided. You see, every man wants to prove that his way is the best and register his supremacy in the minds of others. Anybody that is against what he thinks of himself is an enemy.
“Even nature is not to be totally exonerated from causing division among people. Some are Negros while some are Caucasians. They inhabit the same world but are divided by their skin colour. Some people are brown skinned while some others are white skinned. Some people are rich while some are poor. Some are leaders and some are followers. Some live up to old age while some die in their prime. Even nature made some people men and some women. Isn’t this division? Why is nature not being charged to court to stand alongside me and answer to the same charge? Yet, one thing is sacrosanct. Your people are highly prejudiced people. One thinks he is better than the other because he is white and the other is black or brown. Their division is fuelled from within themselves.
“I am not responsible for what people believe about themselves, their universe and the Divine. Might I add that no man has ever seen me? What they believe about me is what they choose to believe. If that is what is causing division among them, I don’t think I should be charged for that. There are many things in their universe that divide them besides me. Perhaps they should charge all those things to court too so they could all be united. I have never been responsible for what your people believe about me and how they use that to pair up against each other. I have nothing to do with that division, but your people’s ego does. Perhaps you should admonish them that people have the right to believe in anything insofar as they are not breaking any natural or divine law,” he explained.
The Judge was impressed. “What a case,” she said. She turned to the People’s Attorney. “Do you have any questions for the defence?” she asked.
The People’s Attorney stood up. “No questions, my lord. I am equally impressed by the defence case as you are,” he answered. He sat down and began scribbling something in his note.
What do you suggest I do with you then, Religion? You don’t think I will let you walk free,” said the Judge.
“As a matter of fact, I want you to declare me not guilty. I am not responsible for what your people are accusing me of. For in all, my lord, I am an abstract object like the air you breathe. I can see nothing and feel nothing. I can say nothing and do nothing. I am just a victim of human frailty and their usual way of blaming others for their errors. My lord, look around you. Every problem in the world is caused by human activities. Nature is good without the intervention of humans,” responded Religion.
“Climate change, human trafficking, corruption, killing of innocent including women and children, racism, slavery, terrorism, and many more are caused by the people who now sought to incriminate me. I maintain my innocence but charge the people instead to admit their own errors instead of laying some of them at my feet. My lord, I beg to take my leave so that all of you can figure out the solutions to your problems. If you want me to say any last word, it will be that the People should accept one another for who they are because no one is superior to another, he quickly added.
“You are indeed right when you said we caused the problems for which we now accuse you. Let me apologise on behalf of myself and these people. We are sorry for accusing you wrongly. We have indeed done badly in not living and following peace with one another because of our selfish interests. All these are indeed evidences of our weaknesses as humans. I agree that we could do better and that we should own our errors because they are ours,” admitted the Judge.
“By the power vested on me as the Judge, I hereby declare you not guilty. You are hereby absolved of all charges and free to return to your abode. Congratulations,” declared the Judge.
“Thank you, my lord,” said Religion.
“This court is hereby adjourned,” announced the Judge and stoop up to leave.
“All rise!” shouted the Court Clerk.
Everyone stood up while the Judge left the courtroom. As soon as he was out of sight, religion also strolled out of the courtroom and went his way. The People were disappointed and they left the courtroom grumbling, thinking about charging Religion sometimes in the future. That time, they were sure he wouldn’t escape punishment.
Written by Segun Ogunlade