In the Name of God?

Among the many things I talk about on Twitter is religion. I used to be a very religious person. Growing up poor, having a God was the only source of my hope and strength. When thing went well, I thanked God and when they didn’t, well, I prayed for his mercy or thanked him because the Bible teaches that all things work together for good to them that love God. I loved God.

Beyond my Christian faith, I sought God in other religions. I was very open minded since I was about 14 and loved to listen to people talk about their faiths. Seeing them have passion that equalled or surpassed mine for their deity and the way they proclaimed similar things as I did but for a different being really amazed me.

I find it also interesting that many religions have another thing in common, they have been used as a vehicle for violence in the past. Very wicked things have been done by really wicked people in the name of the God they professed to worship. Some religions now claim to have changed and no longer encourage such violence while some others still support violence actively and/or passively.

Because I am Nigerian, live in Nigeria and I am familiar with Nigerians that are religious, I will speak mostly about religious Nigerians (based on my observations). To reiterate, what I will be saying in this post about religious people are actually about religious Nigerians, and are based on my observations.

Religious people are among the most hypocritical people I have met. They preach one thing while actively doing the exact opposite. When called out, they only apologise after exhausting all haughty options. They would usually start by threatening in the name of their God and some may go as far as appointing themselves their God’s avenger. This behaviour is also exhibited when (logical) questions are asked about their (articles of) faith.

Therefore, I usually wonder what it is with religious people and their obsession with being constantly hyper defensive. A very simple question could trigger all their defensive mechanisms and they take no prisoners in deploying their defense weapons.

Why are many religious people so opposed to free thinking? Asking why, how, where, what, which, etc, is so frowned upon that anyone who questions is quickly accused of blasphemy. Of course, there are some questions that are permissible. For instance, you may ask how to get eternal life (the answer is to be born again in Christianity) but you are forbidden from asking what the proof of the eternal life is.

Then there are the sacred cows. These are the religious leaders. They take upon themselves very lofty titles and demand utmost respect from their followers. These ones may preach whatever they please and live however they choose (sometimes, contrary to the doctrine of their faith) but they must not be questioned. Questioning them is akin to challenging them in the minds of their followers and woe betide the human that challenges these earthly gods.

People like me who have refused to accept blind faith are therefore constantly demonised by religious people. I am constantly attacked by the same people who preach love. Irrespective of whether I am questioning a doctrinal teaching or holding a religious leader accountable for their actions, hordes of religious people come at me weapons in hand, insults on their lips and wickedness in their hearts. Ironically, they do it in the name of their Gods.

I really do not know whether they see the contradiction they live and choose to continue to live that way or they are completely ignorant of it. I don’t know whether they know that they are not different from those who enslaved, beat, murdered, plundered and destroyed in the name of God in the past.

Maybe these religious people need to be reminded that if their powerful God needs to be defended by mere mortals, then maybe his power is illusory. Why should a mortal kill another mortal for blasphemy when the person blasphemed against could have killed the blasphemer himself (but usually does not)?

The two major religions in Nigeria do a good job of branding themselves as peaceful and their progenitors as peace personified but the many violent acts committed in their name robs them of that reputation.

So, to the religious people reading this, when next you come across a question or unpopular opinion about your faith and you feel the urge to result to violence of any kind, take a moment to ask yourself whose name you are going to do it in. If you tell yourself that you do it in the name of God, then there is a problem with you and your God.

I would love to hear your thoughts, so please share them. I would also love to hear from you, so please contact me.

As usual, thanks for reading.