Making religion the soft target

Making religion the soft target

Monday, January 4, 2016 11:22 am

Eseoghene Al-Faruq Ohwojeheri

 Sierra Leone was to have an election. The theme of that election was “the future is in your hands”. Just to mock this election, the rebels, led by Foday Sanko, who were trying to topple the government chopped off the hands of thousands of children so that their future will be nowhere since it was in their hands. Murder, rape, amputation, just name it, has been part of bloody wars fought for the love of diamonds, oil, money, and power all over the world yet one hardly hears discuss on the problem that greed, lack of contentment, and democracy, being about the only system that encourages struggle for power, is. But it seems that anytime religious belief, directly or tangentially, forms a reason for a violent crime, today’s world filled with Closet Atheists come down hard on religion; sometimes with diplomacy which waters down doctrines and at other times directly. Religion is the first victim of criticism; every other violence and death not caused by religion seem to just be “unfortunate”.

 If indeed politics is the act and theory of influencing people then nothing has made politics more dangerous than democracy and tribal/regional consideration. Democracy because it introduces the struggle for power and tribal and regional consideration because it increases the strong possibility of racism and mediocrity among leaders. But somehow these two are never suggested to be left out of politics. But guess what, “let us leave religion out of politics”. What has religion ever done to politics? There have been two world wars, one cold war, one civil war in our country, and religion was not the cause neither was it a factor. There has been the Genocide of Rwanda, the Apartheid of South Africa, the corruption of Nigeria, the poverty of Mozambique, the slavery of Africa, and religion was not the cause neither was it a major factor. What has religion done to politics? Even if we will not exclude democracy from politics because we are too timid to do so, how about tribal and regional considerations? We say we do but then the political parties zone offices and there is that “federal character” provision. See, we don’t. We have left the two most problematic phenomenon in politics but we campaign to leave religion out of politics. This is because religion is the soft target and is much more easy to blame. No one wants to touch the sensitivity of greed and materialism, and of course no one dares even talk about the apparent flaws in the concept of democracy because the forces behind these two are far more intolerant than the adherent to any religion. Mountain of evidences for this can be presented but in an essay of its own.

 After leaving religion out of politics for apparently no reason, words like “terrorism” and “extremism” are used to demonise it and create a phobia for it. The loss of one soul unlawfully is sad but this does not make acceptable the fraud that seem to exclusively link terrorism to religion and it does not change the fact that terrorism as a problem is heartlessly exaggerated. Fewer than 32,000 people died of terrorist attack between 2006 and 2014 (8 years) amounting to 4,000 people worldwide yearly. Again, a single life is worth more than can ever be estimated but it is an insult on the dead to play politics with their death. In comparism, 1.5 million people die from HIV yearly, according to the World Health Organization, many of them innocent women whose husbands brought home HIV due to a culture of fornication nobody wants to speak about. Another 1.5 million people die yearly from diabetes many of which is caused by obesity promoted by mighty Fast Food and powerful corporations who put tens of sachets of sugar in a small cup of drink and are above regulation. How 4,000 deaths worries us more than 3 million deaths is indeed fascinating. The reality is that many of these talk about terrorism and extremism is not really about the lives of people but the politics of demonizing religion especially the religion that seem to pose a political threat to the order of those who are godless by presenting an alternative everything. Islam.

 Demonizing Islam with violence is ironic because it just so happens that the bloodiest war involving a religious group is the war in Congo that just so happens to have a Christian group at the fore front. So far 5.4 million people have been killed and over 2 million displaced. It is the deadliest war since World War 2, but just like many of the “religious” groups said to be terrorising the world, the Lord Resistant Army did not start the trouble in Congo, it only got caught in  it. But if not that Christianity, with due respect to its followers, does not represent a threat to the new world order, Christianity would have been blamed for it. The LRA has multi-party democracy as one of its interests for example. I am sure beyond reasonable doubt that if Boko Haram was to have evolved during a military regime unfriendly with the west and they named democracy as one of the things they are fighting for, they would have gotten support even if they did worse atrocities. Afteral, bringing about democracy in Afghanistan caused 26,000 innocent non-combatant civilian lives and counting.

 In closing, the facts and figures are obviously on the side of the truth that religion is not the problem, it is just a soft target, easily blamed, with the excesses of its followers exaggerated. More bloodshed have come through politics, more deaths have come through diseases, more people have become monsters through greed, more oppression has been done through modern day system of governance and more democratic struggle for power have presented more threat to peace than has religion. If you are an atheist say so, don’t be a sissy blaming God and religion for all of the world’s problems.

 (Follow the writer on twitter on @faruqish. Read other titles at

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One Comment

  • JGravelle says:

    “…anytime religious belief,
    directly or tangentially, forms a reason for a violent crime, today’s
    world filled with Closet Atheists come down hard on religion…”

    And why shouldn’t we? When the Leonard family beat their son Lucas to death for wanting to leave their church, how can we NOT hold their faith, their church, and their religion complicit in that murder?

    Perhaps better asked: why don’t the devout share our outrage…?

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