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My Grouse With Religion

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by Joy Isi Bewaji

I don’t know anything about Islam. I’m not sure I have had any conversation about the Quran. I don’t know Buddhism. African traditional religions are largely ignored. Nigerians engage traditionalists secretly, by the corner of their depravities. This transaction occurs only in whispers; and applied derogatorily in conversations.

But what I know is Christianity. I pray to the God who came down as Jesus to die on the cross. That is the religion I believe in… and that is the only religion I can authoritatively speak for or against. And I speak bigly. My mouth is big. My opinions are large. And people get so frustrated they bake cake to show their contempt. It is called influence. Thank you very much.
It is every writer’s joy to be read. But more importantly, it is every writer’s delight to cause a reaction. And as always, I have caused a massive reaction recently. It started with a Facebook rant about #HalleluyahChallenge and my thoughts about Nigeria, Religion and Under-development. And I stand with every word on my trending article – We have too many spiritual revolutions; what we need is a mental one.

As Christians, we are told not to question anything. I have sat in a church where a man of God said, “Don’t question. Just follow”. Just follow the word from the pulpit. Do not groom an opinion. And by God, do not criticize. Any view contrary to popular belief is against God. It makes you the anti-Christ.

But how then do you develop society without critical thinking? If Religion, the bedrock of our convictions and confidences, does not allow for contrary discussions and debates, how do we unlearn, deconstruct and rebuild? How do we groom a generation with smarts?

When we are not allowed to tear the word of God into bits and pieces for coherence and understanding… if all we do is pick the bits that feed our egos and satiate our delusions, how then do we move from children to pioneers?
I am ONE woman with an opinion, and I rocked the foundation of thousands of religious people. Your faith is apparently built on sand. You are cussing and tearing out your weaves and robes because I dared to ask: “what has religion done for Nigeria?”

All the revivals, all the crusades, since I was a child… yet we still don’t have potable water. Small and medium scale businesses still cannot get funds, while pastors build mansions and buy private jets. How do we build a society that is so twisted in its understanding of development?

The grave intolerance of religion is what destroys any form of growth in Africa. This is a white man’s religion. It was introduced to slaves for comfort and hope. How is it that we practice without room for dissection or any form of doubt? And why is doubt or query attacked with such vehemence? Are you still slaves? When do you plan to apply your mind? This infallible word that cannot be examined, does it not make mockery of the brain the same God gave you? When then do you apply it? Did God himself not say, “come let us reason together”?

So I bring this to you, Nigerian Christians: how is it that your revivals are not building societies? Oh yes, you did mention that the #HalleluyahChallenge has nothing to do with building society, it is only for edification. So after this instruction, we continue to ride in third world shame? Is there any way in hell that this might change the way Nigerians transact business? Will it make employees more diligent at work? Will it allow for the unlearning of corruption (seeing that more than half the politicians are very religious and swear by the grace of God on their lives)? There’s got to be something about thousands of people praying by midnight beyond just a feel-good sensation rushing down your thighs like good sex. A deliberate prayer mission surely has to have a theme bigger than just spiritual masturbation?

Think!

The arguments I have bumped into on social media question my right to even have an opinion about #HalleluyahChallenge. And then they go ahead to ask: “err…what have you done yourself?”
That is the ONLY way we know how to debate. It shows a lack of intelligence.

When CNN reporters gather to discuss the issues plaguing the Trump administration, for instance… only a Nigerian sits on a boiling pot of water in his living room asking the dumbest question: “What have they done themselves? All these reporters…Why can’t they go and be president?”

Critics, reviewers, reporters are legit jobs. You must understand that everything, as long as we are on this earth should be reviewed, questioned, queried. Let us teach our children to question everything.
Little kids are still being punished in Nigerian schools for daring to ask a teacher any question that exposes the teacher’s extensive ignorance. We carry that over to religion. From little children to grown adults, many are yet to ask one significant question in their entire lives. From parents to teachers to religious leaders to national leaders, our lives are controlled by others. It is a cycle of insecurities, uncertainty and deficiency.

We are raped and robbed by the grace of God. Our roads are bad by the grace of God. Students of LAUTECH were on strike for months by the grace of God. OAU hostels are flooded by the grace of God. Mass communication students only get to see a studio after graduating by the grace of God. 5 year olds are raped and the perpetrators forgiven by the grace of God. Pastor commits adultery from a higher level of grace. NEPA is now PHCN yet still no light by the grace of God. Buhari will contest next election by the grace of God. Dammy Krane is released for fraud by the grace of God. Evans, the kidnapper, who paid for police protection for years has finally been caught by the same police – by the grace of God.
Sigh.

It is not prayers we need. We need commonsense.
I hope you make this article trend again.
Thank you for making a revival of my thoughts.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. I salute for the courage to question and put your thoughts to pen. I am a christian but I dare the same line of thoughts as you. I salute you again kindred spirit

  2. I first came across your post on Facebook. #Rants and I have been so inspired. I am Ghanaian and our societal challenges are more or less the same. Thank you for speaking up and for challenging the rest of us to speak up and do something. Thank you. Your blog is now a part of my weekly online visits. Thumbs up

  3. I agree with you 100%
    Many of us in Nigeria are now more Catholic than the Pope. Practising religion more than the white man that brought it to us.
    We need a moral rearmarment.
    As we question the politicians we need to question religious leaders too on there verifiable impact on the society

  4. Hello Joy,

    You do make some very very valid points in your article, no doubt. I agree with you on many fronts however there are some notions I’ll like to correct.

    “As Christians, we are told not to question anything. I have sat in a church where a man of God said, “Don’t question. Just follow”. Just follow the word from the pulpit. Do not groom an opinion. And by God, do not criticize. Any view contrary to popular belief is against God. It makes you the anti-Christ.” – this is not true for Christianity (in the true sense of the word). Any church or assembly of believers that preach this, is not doing the correct thing and this, among some others is a very valid reason to leave an assembly and get some real Christians to fellowship with.

    Any Christian that cannot translate the Word that edifies to the works of their hands and also allow it to transform the way he/she thinks and acts, in truth is not a Christian. Simply because, “by their fruits you shall know them”. Fruit is something you can see, touch, smell and eventually taste of.

    From my explanation above, we can see that the church in Nigeria is, largely, on a sandy foundation. Nothing real, nothing concrete. Just a competition with the world and not truly seeking the essence from within to change its environment outside and around it. I say this as a Christian who has grown from the dumbing era of my faith to a more enlightened position; as one who has sat and fellowshipped with fellow Christians and I know the kind of things we talk about and eventually do. It is our mission to change the world.

    So,a fraction of followers should not spoil the whole. They should be simply seen as who they are, non-Christian. This isn’t to say people should not participate in the #HalleluyahChallenge. In fact it is a very awesome activity and it’s a beautiful things that on this, thousands can lift up their hands to worship. But f nothing changes after all this, then it becomes obvious how the numbers do a thing because it trends and not for the substance that has the potential to change the world. It is indeed a sad thing but just know I TOTALLY feel your pain. May God grant us the wisdom that is profitable to direct us to do exactly what He expects of us, and to stop revelling and rejoicing in mere and empty chaff! Amen.

  5. There’s a reason I have 1,500+ friend requests pending and 29k followers I refuse to engage. I have no patience for lazy thinking
    Sadly Im one of them. I admired you from the very first article of yours I stumbled on. Trust me I’m not one of them retards!

  6. Thought provoking. We surely need a revival, not another religious gymnastics, but of thoughts and minds. One question has refused to leave my mind after reading this- that’s, what has religion done for us?. Thank you Isi Bewaji (Mrs/Miss)

  7. God bless you ma’am, we need comon sense and pragmatist approach rather than being lazy and delegate everything in ‘God’s’ care’…heaven helps those who help themselves they say…

    We all tagging religion as if its a bad thing in itself, I beg to disagree, as much its been given bad name, it’s never s bad thing in itself, because it did shove its will down our throat that we must do, the problem is its adherents. We want something to do everything for us, even thinking, we don’t want to use our head at all. That’s why it’s easy for charlatans, pastors, politicians et al to have one(many) on us.

  8. Your claim of ignorance of other religions is a cop-out. There are more Muslims in Nigeria than there are Christians, why not question the impact yearly Ramadan fasts have had on our National development. You have to delineate issues of Faith and State. You understand Christianity only from your lense, you don’t know pentecostalism, Celestialism and other parts of the faith I can coin. Let people of Faith practice their faith when there’s a clash demand action from the State – as most Nigerians have been doing for years. Psalm 150:6 did not specify a particular medium of expression. Let them challenge as long as it doesn’t infringe on you and the State.

  9. You know what dearie, this post is about you, it’s about your displeasure and personal disappoinment with what you think Christianity hasn’t done for you, and you have chosen the #HalleluyahChallenge to vent, to make yourself feel better, however, your personal displeasure cannot invalidate a sect of people who have a reason to be grateful, a reason to believe, a people who are not culpable for the nation’s state, what you’re doing is like someone seeking to scrap Father’s day because they had a bad father. Your argument is subjective and no one needs anyone’s permission to be excited. The nation’s state certainly cannot issue Christians a sentence of guilt and depression. Everyone is entitled to their eurekas and sobs if they so please.

    “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds”

  10. I just enjoyed every word of the article! nail on the head ‘truths’! turn the people into sheep and they will follow you! for imagine the horror if they would start thinking for themselves! please do keep spreading the word!

  11. Truth be told, today’s pastors are more self seeking than God seeking. Pastors of old worked and didn’t take a penny out of the church. They depended on gifts from people when they didn’t have a regular job. They were selfless, just wanted to serve and help humanity. Today’s pastors blackmail you into giving to serve their ambition. They are more interested in luxury than missions. They boast about having the best things in life when people around them don’t even know where their next meal will come from.

  12. Thank you for carefully dissecting the rant this way, I think you presented your criticism and reasons better with this article than the first. Presentation matters a lot, in as much as you would want to make a point, I believe the goal of your rant is to cause a change in the way we view these things not to cause a ripple.
    Fu

  13. We have intelligent people in this country. That’s for sure. I enjoyed reading from both sides of the divide.
    Can’t say I agree with you Joy, but its been interesting reading your perspective

  14. Dear ma,
    I too know that every one has his or her calling. I also know that we tend to mock whatever we don’t understand. If he was devinely inspired to embark on the Hallellujah thing, should your opinion matter? One thing i know is that the more a person knows God, the more he/she realises she does not know Him.

  15. The question u shud ask yourself as a writer,anyone can pen any thought down,the question is what is wrong with us as a person?Christianity shapes your life,but will never force it shaped.its your reeponsibility!
    You arr asking what halleluyah challenge has done to the economy,am a not a fan of halleluyah challenge neither do i join them,but asking diz question is quite unfortunate u ve nt bin to undrstand the grace or gospel of christ.Halleluayh challenge is a place of prayer according to the man that started it,wouldnt you rather love an environment filled God-consciousness thatn environment that talks abt gay,transgender,equal rights,turning everything upside down.my sister understand this asking what Christianity has done to the economy?ask ur self how productive ve u bin to your own locality.why not vent your anger in the direction of your leaders than your faith? I know soon you will come to understand why u need Jesus more than u think.i pray not in hard way but in love….

  16. True words from a highly developed mind. I ask questions all the time about the origin of man and I meet evasiveness and abrasive comments and reactions. I have attended countless church denominations and meet a lot that is wrong with us as individuals and a society. Our infrastructural, economical and sociological backwardness hurts to the deeps of me. People chant ‘God will do it’…’In God’s time’…’America is 400 years, we should be patient’. But I say, there are established, working models for development all over the world. Our Government officials, Political office holders and elite travel round the world, they are these models…yet they come back home and do nothing but allow us stew in this degradation…all in the name of God. Funds to actualise development is not the problem…yet they do nothing. They are sworn into office on the bible or Quran, and go on to loot the coffers dry. The only book allowed black/African slaves to read back in the slave trade era was the bible and they were beaten raw to do this. Today, we still hold on to that book and destroy our essence as a people and a society. It hurts.

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