Religion! Good or bad for mankind?

As we celebrate Eid Mubarak and the 9th anniversary of the world trade center attacks the coincidence of both events taking place at the same period all but made an otherwise solemn anniversary and celebration of abstinence ironically caught up in a clash of sentiments, political intrigue and rage. The idea of religious intolerance and freedom of speech had never been so closely scrutinized. In fact 2010, more than any other year in recent memory, has seen the moral standing of the leaders of our churches and mosques being questioned. From the catholic priest involved in sex abuses to the imams accused of inciting extremism through their preachings. This and many more have made me even more curious to challenge the very role religion has played for mankind since the beginning of time. 

Religion is probably as old as the world especially if you believe in the bible and it’s teachings. Even if you didn’t, history tells us people of different races had always had a god or being that they believed in, prayed to and revered. Belief meant that the human mind had come to acknowledge the existence of of a Being and a creator to which they owe their very existence to and are forever obligated to show loyalty to. They also had in their god ‘s something or someone they could pray to in times of need, success or as a matter of responsibility. Prayers are offered with the utmost severity it desires with different god’s requiring various forms of worship. Some will worship by letting their’s or someone elses blood spill, others with an uncompromising let off of their physicality. Some worship routinely as culture is passed from one generation to another. Some god’s are so revered people consider their life and the life of their fellow human beings less sacrosanct than that of a god they can’t see. They will sacrifice humans, animals and just about anything to appease their gods.

And so religion has become a part and parcel of mankind from the beginning of time. Religion has influenced everything we do from the way eat and drink to what we eat and drink. It has influenced our family values, societal norms and ethics. With the good also comes the bad. People have sacrificed, murdered, and killed all for the sake of religion. It is that side of religion I really can’t comprehend. While should we kill fellow humans for the sake of religion? Is it worth dying for? Even the greatest preacher that’s ever graced this earth Jesus Christ never for one day employed or supported violence as a way to spread the word. Rather Jesus used common sense approach, which is nonetheless uncommon, in dealing with the various obstacles and reproach that he would encounter. Ironically, his message was forced upon a larger world via methods of violence, victimization and fear by the Romans, crusaders and those who used it as a tool to propagate their political influence upon people. The result is severally documented extra judicial
 Killings, death by wrongful accusation and oppression that has transcended from generation to generation. The worst of all is war. Millions and millions have been killed throughout history over religious inspired wars all over the world. 

Aside from Xtianity, Islam has also contributed it’s own fair share of violence and religious motivated killings. Muslim extremist have exploited the use of Jihad into waging war against the so called infidels. Even within their religious sect, women have been kept in bondage, subdued and rendered second class citizens. Prophet Muhammed who is regarded as the founder of Islam surely never hoped to see a world made so violent and full of hate for sake of religious intolerance. 

So where does all this leave us? Surely, the sanctity of the religion should never be
Superior to the sanctity of human life. We as humans should be make ourselves aware of our religious values and ethics and not allow the so called imams, pastors, jihadist or crusaders tell us what is right or what is wrong. Today’s world is dominated by extremist from all sides of the religious divide. Marriages have estranged families from their loved ones due to so called religious values. Religion has been so politicized its been an integral part of nepotism. Contracts and political appointments are awarded to people not because of their competence but due to their religious affiliations. Pastors and Imams have become objects of worship rather than the mere conduit of the subject. They revel in luxury and opulence amidst congregation that’s mostly made upon the poor and vulnerable. 

The news making the round this weekend was that of a disgruntled pastor who had threatened to burn the koran on the anniversary of 9/11. Preposterous as this may sound, it received huge attention from the media, Pope and even the President of the US. So why would anyone fret because a book is about to be burned after-all the koran is in the mind of its believers considering that the pastor is actually not breaking any rule? Their concern however, lies more on the outrage and reprisal attacks that will certainly take place. American and Nato forces have people fighting wars in the middle east and surely a seemingly innocuous act may end ip being a water shed in the battle against terror.

Before this Koran burning issue, we have been inundated with news about a so called ground zero mosque about to be built close to the place were we had the world trade center. We have seen Americans, who pride themselves as the propagates of the free world become so polarized over this issue. Back home in Nigeria, the crisis in Jos and some parts of the north more than ever makes we wonder if all this is worth it after all. Stories of neighbors turning against each other have been told. No other motive aside from religion can allow such dastardly acts to be committed without remorse or recourse to commence sense. 

Can we then do without religion? Definitely not? But we can do without it’s negative influences and idiosyncrasies and messengers of deceit and exploitation. All we need to do is imbibe the values of tolerance, understanding, love for one another, respect and the sanctity of human life. As Jesus aptly put it the two most important commandment was to believe in the existence of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and also to love thy neighbor as thy self. These values are not lost on us in any way. Its just that we allow ourselves to be susceptible to the teachings of men who are hell bent on enforcing their false interpretations and beliefs.

The teachings of the 2 most important influences in religion, Jesus Christ and Muhammed, never allowed for the kind of violence, hatred and prejudiced so permeated within our sensibilities. Therefore, we most draw our values from their teachings and not from man as the hearts of men should never be relied upon. Mass murderers, such as Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Bosnian Generals of the Serbian wars have all used religion as an excuse to commit mass murder. This we must stop in the final analysis to avoid extinction. 

Religion is for man and not man for religion.  Religion is all about worshiping of a god or gods and as such should not be viewed as an end in itself. The sooner people begin to see it as such the world will be a safer place.                    

What's your say?