By Fr George Adimike
Humanity merely survives and hardly thrives whenever reason recedes into disuse. With the marginalisation of reason, primordial instincts and unconverted id drive human actions. And when humans invest their interests in religion in this arational condition, they reap the dividend of fundamentalism, which funds religious violence. Unfortunately, the culprits perpetrate these dastardly acts in the name of God and religion, abusing His name.
They portray the God of life as a bloodthirsty war-monger, the God of peace as a divisive belligerent harbinger of crisis and the God of love as a hateful sadist who glories in hatred, violence and hostility. These religionists express devotion without discipline, faith without understanding, piety without virtues, and strip life of its sacredness and empty death of its mystery.
Under the sovereignty of instincts and triumph of the undisciplined id, the unhealed emotion and untaught habits operate and perpetuate violence in the name of religion, nay, of winning adherents.
The unhealed and unredeemed Adamic nature in man, the untrained primordial instincts and the ego-driven ‘old man’ in each of us drive our commission of atrocities in the name of religion. Some religion’s adherents and promoters invest fear and reap a bounteous harvest in fame, money, faith, favour and followership.
To keep them within their grip, they sustain and take deceit or falsehood a notch higher. This Adamic instinct underscores people’s proclivity to do beastly acts in the name of faith. In this way, they misrepresent God and cause many to abandon Him. Religionists should appreciate that God’s otherness requires a cautious approach in religious messaging.
Therefore, preachers of faith of various religions fail to realise the responsibility they owe to God and man by presenting their message in such a way as to promote the true glory of God, which is man fully alive to the peril of faith in God. As such, the struggle and scramble for the earthly kingdom, which man in his insatiability never abandons, should not be confused with working for the advent of the reign of God.
The level of adherence of a particular religion to the reign of God, which is love and peace, verifies its authenticity and measures its status. Earnestly, beyond the question of equivalence of religions, one of the most significant challenges facing religionists is the correct understanding of the faith and its tenets. Any wonder, evil and despicable acts being perpetrated in God’s name because of the misunderstandings of the faith will be abetted.
Without a new appreciation of the true raison d’être of religion, many, instead of experiencing qualms of guilt because of their violent acts in God’s name, entertain a feeling of entitlement to a prize. They do it for a premium precisely because of the way they misunderstand their religion. All these realities give religion a bad name and offer agnostics and atheists an alibi to stay away.
The bastion of truth, love and liberty appears to have become the harbinger of violence, beacon of hate and merchant of death. As a result, instead of religion being a beacon of hope and agent of unity, it appears to do the opposite such that to some people’s mind is a force for evil.
Because of the things that happen in the name of religion, it becomes difficult to convince the world that religion is a force for good. While it is convenient to associate a particular religion with violence, a critical study shows something ominous, namely that violence is more associated with the unredeemed Adamic nature and semblance of Cainic attitude, which humans project to religions.
This is seen in the fact that world religions at various times perpetrated violence and indeed tend to perpetrate violence where they have the comfort of dominance. Arguably, religion is not the problem per se as the culture of religion. The elements in an unhealed man manifest and wear pious attire, operating sacrilegiously in the name of God. Yet, religious violence remains anti-God because it is anti-man. Hence, it happens not in the name of God.
Generally, violence is a defeat of humanity. It is generated by the human person who, within the realm of the dictatorship of convenience and narrow and myopic perspective, defies reason and faith to exhibit unbridled instinctual nature. Religious and tribal induced violence has led to killings that keep rivers of blood ever current.
In the name of religion and tribe, some unconscionable bloodletting fellows refill these rivers of blood, such that the whelming tide of blood flows unabated. These violent acts, which neither serve man nor God, only feed the rivers of blood.
In our clime and time, the treatment and value attached to human life make the Hobbesian state of nature an el dorado. It is not only that life is short, nasty and brutish, but its scale suggests both approval and norm. It is akin to the culture of death and baffles one’s imagination how society professes the sacredness of life strongly, yet the actual culture is the normativity of death.
For instance, the government slumbers while the killer herdsmen engage in the killing sprees. They chose to offer one alibi or the other; if they are not caught in slumber, they act as solicitors and advocates for the violent terrorists. In the violent destruction of human life, humanity’s deprived nature on account of the connatural imperfection manifests its lowest ebb.
It gropes in confusion in an eclipse of reason and awards defeat to humanity. Under the guise of our society’s fault lines of religion and tribe, the sacred identity, freedom of conscience, inviolable dignity and irrepressible right to life of every person are violated with abandon, with respect neither to God nor to man.
Fr George Adimike writes from Onitsha Archdiocese, Anambra State