Are we victims of too much religion? By Abiodun Ladepo

A few miles to Lagos, just outside the village of Mowe, I hit the mother of all traffic. A couple of the churches along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway were holding their Revival services. I spent five hours on standstill in that traffic, unable to make a U-turn and return to Ibadan, and unable to move forward.

 As it turned out, another prevailing narrative in the land was that you were not a good Christian if your proselytizing did not involve shutting down major highways; forcing pregnant women to deliver their babies in unsanitary road-side conditions; forcing people to defecate on themselves while trapped in commercial vehicles holed up on public highways.

 You, as a “man of God” could then bury your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich and act as if you did not know what was going on around you.
If you pull a pastor to the side and attempt to have a commonsense discussion with him about the need to respect the rights of others as he exercises his right to religion, his antenna for Defense Mechanism of Projection springs into action. 

He lectures you about how Jesus Christ is the ONLY path to heaven and how we must worship Him at all times and at all costs. He asks you why you worry about the public expressway he has blocked when the expressway to heaven through Jesus Christ is twice as wide and pothole-free.

The imam at the nearby mosque tells you that Prophet Muhammad charged all Muslims to call one another to prayer regardless of whose ox is gored. The Boko Haram fighter tells you the Prophet charged him to wage a perpetual Jihad until the rest of the world is converted to Islam. And the majority of us buy that nonsense. The feeling of existential insecurity leads us to accept at face-value the balderdash that spews forth from their mouths.
Yet, both the pastor and the imam are themselves victims of an all-encompassing ideological indoctrination which has turned their world into a cocoon. Were their worlds open, they would, of course, question the process that got them to the extremes of their ideologies; for religion is nothing but ideology. I know that the ultra-religious reader will question my assertion that religion is ideology, and may, in fact, consider it blasphemous.

 But I challenge them to read up on the histories of both religions, and the other major ones – Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. What the overzealous imam and pastor have done with Islam and Christianity is re-package and propagate the ideas (or ideologies) of the Prophets in order to make them palatable for the gullible.
In a million years, Boko Haram will never eliminate Christianity from Nigeria no matter how vicious it gets. But the sadistic and narcissistic tendencies associated with religious bigots will never allow those members to see reason. From infancy, they had been exposed to the propaganda and ONLY the propaganda that paints non-believers as evil. They have oscillated, at various times of their childhood, between indoctrination and radicalization. 

The rest of Nigeria neglected to notice the Almajiri boy in Damaturu who, with no obvious physical defects, skips school but roams the streets begging for money and food. At the end of the day, that boy is pulled into a Madrassa in Birnin Kebbi and pumped full of food and a hefty dose of more propaganda in order to enrich and hasten his radicalization process. He is nurtured like this by his extremist handlers until he totally imbibes the principle of self-abnegation, believing that he must sacrifice his life for the good of others. 

At this point, after being fully radicalized, he is ready for the last stage on the continuum of extremism – activism. This Almajiri boy, now a grown man, is ready to act out his radical views in the form of the sort of mayhem that Boko Haram now inflicts on Nigeria. And on the few occasions that some Boko Haram activists have been arrested, they have used this self-abductive logic to rationalize their inhumane and barbaric atrocities.

As a nation, we failed these young men much as we failed the young men co-opted into the Niger-Delta militancy a few years ago. A viable nation ought to be able to recognize the usually obvious signs of degenerative social malaises such as the absence of functional education, functional medical services, and functional basic amenities. 

Early diagnosis of some of these problems allows a viable Nation to proactively devise means of interdicting the slide. Up till this moment, our solution to the Niger-Delta crisis has been nothing short of plastering the wound with a bandage. We did not apply any deliberate, permanent solution to the problem. In essence, once a new government comes to power and refuses to dole out cash to those militants like GEJ is currently doing, we would be back to square one. 

We would again then offer the likes of Edwin Clark the opportunity to stoke the bandwidth of discussion with incendiary remarks that serve only as accelerant that will help incinerate the polity. We would allow him to again revive and spread the old, tired feeling of victimization – the same feeling being adduced today by the aggrieved Boko Haram fighters.
Worse, we the followers celebrate these thieves. We clear the road for them when they come through. We shower chieftaincy titles on them. We kiss their feet and swear by their names. We the followers follow these faux leaders blindly.

 We let the poverty of our stomach lead us into poverty of ideas and poverty of courage. Rather than ask questions; rather than demand answers, we cower at the feet of these empty-headed leaders begging for crumbs from their ornate tables. We eat their left-over foods and the next day we rejoin the cycle of abject poverty to which they have consigned us. We watch them drive their exotic cars and wear their imported designer shoes. 

Their children go to school overseas and their family (including the family dog), receive regular medical check-ups in Europe. We see them everyday in our churches and in our mosques. And we pray to God to enrich us like he enriched them. We are victims of too much religion.
Abiodun Ladepo is based in Los Angeles, California, USA (

via peoplesdaily
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  1. I wrote the article but did not give it the title you gave it. You could, at least, have honored the rules of grammar by adding a question mark at the end of the title after changing my title into a question. I also did not send the article to your outfit for publication. Basic journalism etiquette demands that you credit your source.
    Biodun Ladepo