‘religion Is The Opium Of The People’
This statement by German sociologist and economic theorist, Karl Marx, resonates several years after, as organised religion remains the most powerful force in the society. Like the depressant drug, opium, which reduces arousal or stimulation in various areas of the brain, religion prevents people from using their brain. Otherwise, why would people, who generally question ideas, resist intrusions and fault government policies suddenly become docile when it comes to religion?
In December 2011, a video surfaced online that showed how Bishop David Oyedepo viciously slapped a teenage girl who said she is not a witch. In the video posted by SaharaTV on their YouTube channel, it appeared people came out for an altar call when the Bishop asked a teenage girl how long she had been in witchcraft. The girl replied, ‘I am not a witch, I am a witch for Jesus’. An outraged David Oyedepo called the girl a ‘foul devil!’ He asked her if she knew whom she was talking to, as the girl nodded her head, the visibly angry Bishop delivered a brutal slap that caused the teenager’s head to jerk backwards violently.
Bishop Oyedepo’s deliberately cruel assault on the teenager received encouraging shouts from the congregation as they cheered him on. It is baffling that people in their right minds would cheer on a ‘man of God’ as he assaulted a young hapless girl verbally, physically and emotionally under the guise of deliverance. Jesus casted out demons, did he slap anybody to deliver them? Rather than object to the Bishop’s method, his congregation of docile religious folks nudged him on and when the Bishop made negative proclamations against the girl, they responded with thunderous shouts of ‘Amen!’
That is the same sort of encouragement David Ibiyeomi, a self-proclaimed son of David Oyedepo, received from his own congregation as he threatened the life of another man and called him a ‘bastard’ repeatedly from the pulpit. Ibiyeomi claimed that he would not keep mute while popular On-Air-Personality, Ifedayo Olarinde aka, Daddy Freeze ‘insults’ his father, David Oyedepo. Yet, he kept mute when his ‘father’ insulted and assaulted someone else’s daughter and even bragged that he ‘slapped a witch’ afterwards. Apparently, the apple does not fall far from the tree; a child grows up to be similar to his parents both in behaviour and physical characteristics, which probably sheds more light on David Ibiyeomi’s furious tirade against Daddy Freeze. He made denigrating remarks about Freeze’s failed marriage, his place of birth and his ‘menial’ job as a Broadcaster. Ibiyeomi even called Daddy Freeze a ‘half-caste’, ‘a Somalian’ and ‘a Bastard’. All these foul words proceeding from the same pulpit where Ibiyeomi speaks ‘blessings’ into the life of his congregation. It should not come as a surprise though; Ibiyeomi learnt verbal and physical assault from his ‘father’. At least he is not a bastard.
However, didn’t the Bible ask children of God not to curse with the same mouth with which they bless? “Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh (James 3:10 – 13). Of course, an opium-induced congregation saddled with religion would not know better, which is probably the reason their Pastor cursed the day Daddy Freeze was born and like Bishop Oyedepo’s congregation, Ibiyeomi’s congregation responded with resounding shouts of ‘Amen!’
Although David Ibiyeomi has proven that, he is a true son of Bishop Oyedepo but his actions contradict expectations from sons of God. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44 -45)
As for the people who take pleasure in defending unacceptable behaviour from Pastors, using scriptures like ‘touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm’, the Bible says Jesus is the anointed one. People touched him and did him a lot of harm. They cursed him, abused him and spat in his face. They called him a glutton, flogged him publicly and eventually nailed him to the cross. Yet, Jesus did not threaten to tear them apart, instead he prayed for them, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.
2nd Timothy chapter 2 verse 23 says, “The man of God should shun ill-informed and ignorant questionings because it only fosters strife and breeds quarrels. The servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome, he must be kind to everyone and mild-tempered; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong. He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth”.
The ultimate desire of God is that all men would come to know the truth. Jesus said he is the way the truth and the life. Did Bishop David Oyedepo or David Ibiyeomi’s action bring people closer to knowing Jesus? While I do not support the methods of Daddy Freeze especially when it involves using abusive words against Pastors, his criticisms provided an opportunity for Pastors to respond with sound Bible doctrine that will reveal Jesus. Responding to criticisms with threats and curses is counterproductive.
Meanwhile, people who question why Daddy Freeze has not spoken against Muslim clerics are rather cynical. How many Muslim clerics have the celebrity status or wield the sort of influence that some Pastors have? How many Muslim clerics live in opulence and flamboyance “in the name of our Father’? How many Muslim clerics own jets that you know? How many times have Muslim clerics made the news for controversial reasons related to either money or adultery? Do Muslim clerics come out in public to make proclamations and predictions during elections? Do Muslim clerics threaten people with curses if they do not submit 10% of their income? So why should Freeze call out Muslim clerics?
Everyone has a brain and it needs to be used, period. If you will, you can continue to defend Pastors even when they err, you are only practicing stubbornness and the Bible says stubbornness is similar to idolatry. Placing the system and ideas of men over the integrity God’s Word is religion and since religion works like opium, it incapacitates you from thinking.