For a fact, there are significant differences in religious beliefs and practices. Like in other aspects of life, every individual has the right to worship God or a deity, or not, according to their conscience, with freedoms and safety respected.
Nigerians are very religious people but often fail to practice the tenets of their faith without unduly imposing it on others. There are three major religions in Nigeria: Christianity, Islam, and Traditional beliefs. While the country is divided along religious zones, with Muslims predominantly in the North and Christians in the South, traditionalists appear assorted and are found in numbers across regions, not actively seeking converts or taking offense when deserted by adherents. According to Bishop Kukah, “It has the rare quality of accommodation and tolerance to other religions.” Yet, just like the remaining two religions, it suffers from the crises manufactured by intolerance, as exemplified by the recent clash between Masqueraders and Muslims in Ogbaagba, Osun State.
Discussing Christian vs Muslim crises would take up too much space, considering the thousands of lives and billions of properties lost to such senselessness.
Almost every religion shares the same basic principles of tolerance and love, deeply associated with their laws. Surprisingly, these principles are often misconstrued by self-proclaimed “Men of God” who corrupt the minds of their followers, leading them to arms struggle in the name of spreading the Love of God—an irony!
I have often pondered the essence of religion and concluded that it helps humanity shape their character positively to live together in peace. Taking up arms against fellow humans in the name of religion contradicts the peace that religions advocate. God is a force of nature, attracting individuals without physical or psychological coercion. I have seen Pastor’s children turning to ardent ISESE worshipers and Imam’s sons preaching the word of Christ.
Each religion may wish every citizen to be its member, but social and economic realities dictate the need for pluralism in religion, which is beneficial to society. All religious scriptures preach love and peace. Without peace, educating human society is not possible, and without love, conviction cannot take place concerning the teachings of the scriptures.
Goodwill messages, emphasizing good human relations, doing what is good, and love of God through acts like Zakkat (almsgiving) and Tithes, are strong teachings of the Quran and Bible. Injustice in the name of religion is unacceptable, and religions are assumed to be sources of strength for fostering good human relations. Unfortunately, Nigeria records several crises of religious conflict.
Religious bodies, including CAN, are enjoined to ensure that good preachers are promoted in society. Communities need to encourage religious tolerance and embrace humanity more. Political authorities and traditional rulers should promote kindness to humanity as a collective agenda. Homes should provide training at the family level, with parents receiving guidance from mosques and churches, subsequently introduced to their members.
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not represent the opinions or views of Osun Defender.
Comrade ABOSEDE OLUWASEUN “Safety” , is a Unionist, a right activist and a Social Crusader.