Following the publication of my article a few days ago, my inbox became inundated with curses and death wishes from Christians – the same people who say their religion is peaceful and tolerant. To give the reader a flavour of what these righteous Christians have been emailing me, here are three examples:
One wrote: “I have known him to be “mentally unbalanced” for some time now. Everyone should watch out for his write-ups: you will be convinced how many thousands of “demons” are residing inside his body. He is evil, mark my words.”
Another wrote: “It is very sure that you are an agent from the pit of hell. I pity the people that are spiritually blind that are following you. My prayer for you is that may it not be too late for you.”
Yet another wrote: “If of all the ills in our society the only thing you deem fit to write about is the man of GOD (ADEBOYE) then your UNTIMELY DEATH IS NEAR. GOD SHALL VISIT YOU IN HIS ANGER.” (the block letters emphasis is the writer’s, not mine).
These comments prove me right that religion does not make people moral. How come the people who say heaven is a fantastic place are this scared of death? How do they imagine they will get to this fantastic place? Well, I have got news for them – everybody is going to die.
Death and suffering do not discriminate between Christians and unbelievers. Pastors Bimbo Odukoya and Myles Munroe both died in their prime in plane crashes. Pastors Chris Okotie, Anita Oyakhilome and Chris Oyakhilome, have all experienced divorce. If the Bible story is to be believed, even God has died (most Christians believe that Jesus is God). But don’t ask me who was in charge of the universe for those three days when God died.
Some others wrote to say I am stupid. With all due respect to them, I am not the one who believes that donkeys and snakes can speak with perfect human diction or that Adeboye’s car drives without fuel or that pastors can resurrect dead people. Believers always demand respect for their beliefs. The irony, though, is that their beliefs do not accord me any respect or liberties. Their holy books call me a sinner. They say I am worthless and wretched, and will burn in hell for eternity unless I believe the claims their gods make about themselves.
And if I were gay, I might even get lynched; if I were a Muslim woman, my husband might beat me whenever he finds me to be disobedient; if I were a Muslim apostate who renounced Islam, then I might be killed. But the moment I respond by criticising these ideas, I become the aggressor and the person who persecutes believers.
Every time I say anything critical of religious leaders and institutions, believers tell me to read the Bible and to look at God rather than man.
Well, let’s do that then. In the Bible, God:
1). Killed infants.
2). Endorsed homophobia and misogyny.
3). Personally carried out or supervised the genocide of non-Jewish people because He was jealous of their gods. Even though He is omnipotent and could provide a fertile settlement for the Israelites, He doesn’t do this. Instead, He instructs them to dispossess other people of their lands.
4). He is so insecure He requires constant assurance and praise from His worshippers.
5). Jesus and his father (God) tell Christians to forgive their enemies 490 times in a day, but they cannot forgive their own enemy, Satan.
6). In the Old Testament, God forbade the eating of pork, shellfish and even the wearing of clothes made from different fabric. When it came to slavery, He not only endorsed it but He gave rules to regulate it. God had a chance to redeem Himself in the New Testament when He transformed Himself into Jesus (it’s a complex story, but basically He got Virgin Mary pregnant so she could give birth to Himself, even though she was betrothed to another man). Anyway God (now Jesus) still refused to condemn or outlaw slavery in the New Testament. Nowhere in the Bible does God outlaw slavery. If we agree that slavery is evil, what does this say about God?
7). In the case of Islam, Allah admonishes Muslim men to beat their disobedient wives in Quran 4:34
It’s evident these books, and their gods are not a dependable source of morality. Believers are in fact more moral than the gods they worship. Every time a believer rejects the literal interpretation of a scriptural verse that commands violence, bigotry or a behaviour that falls below the modern moral bar, they demonstrate that human morality is not derived from religion. If you think it is wrong to murder a gay person as prescribed in Leviticus, then congratulations – you are more moral than the person who put that verse in the Bible – God. When was it ever right to murder people because of their sexuality?
Africans were enslaved for nearly 1000 years by Arabs. The Europeans colonised and enslaved Africans for about 400 years. To achieve this effortlessly, they gave the African a tool to keep his mind in bondage. They understood that once you capture the mind, the body is yours to do as you wish. That tool is called (foreign) religion. Think about it – why would the oppressor give the slave a tool (book) that would liberate him? Religion is a tool for control, and we see everyday how pastorpreneurs use it to control their gullible followers. Show me one way that religion has benefited humanity and I will prove that the benefit can be derived without religion.
To the extent that religion is an expression of a people’s culture and their identity, I would argue that by embracing foreign religions and rejecting our indigenous religions, we (Africans) have lost our sense of identity. We have several Christian and Muslim religious holidays but not a single one to recognise our traditional religions. Our Christian brethren go to Jerusalem to pray at a wall while our Muslim brethren travel to Mecca to stone the devil – our governments heavily subsidised these pilgrimages – but we refer to the religions of our forefathers as paganism, idolatry, satanism, and savagery.
The suspension of reasoning is a foundational and an eternal requirement for religious belief. It explains why it’s painfully difficult to have a rational debate with believers who have foregone reasoning.
Take the case of the Virgin Birth, for instance. Which is more probable – that God magically inseminated the Virgin Mary with His seed or that she conceived after she had sex with Joseph (or someone else, but a real person nonetheless)? You have to suspend your reasoning faculty to believe the former – yet millions of people believe this story to be true. Is it any wonder then that millions of gullible people are exploited in the name of religion?
Pastor Adeboye and his fellow pastorpreneurs can perform all types of miracles and magic. From resurrecting dead people, driving cars without fuel to curing every disease known to man – you name it; they have done it all! Curiously, the only miracle these supermen cannot perform is making money appear from thin air. They have to manipulate and emotionally blackmail their followers to give them money. They do this by quoting Bible verses that threaten their followers with diseases, pestilence, and death. They say the money is for God, but they never explain why an all-sufficient God requires money, something that man invented. What is evident is that these pastors are obsessed with worldly existence. They love what money can buy – cars, posh homes, business empires, private jets, etc. As we say in Nigerian parlance, yeye de smell. So, who is the enemy – these charlatans or the person who exposes their tricks?
For those asking about my religion – I have none. I’m a secular humanist.
Humanism is the worldview that humans are capable of morality and self-fulfillment without the need for the belief in God. I have discussed this in a previous article.
To conclude, I do not feel threatened by death wishes because death is an inescapable fact of life. I find no use to be held captive by the fear of death because everyone will die. Religion, like all forms of superstitions, thrives on fear – the fear of death, hell, Satan, witches – and the pastorpreneurs love to exploit these fears to their advantage. My aim is not to offend believers but to stand up to those who exploit the desperation and gullibility of our people to profit themselves. If my message offends anyone then perhaps it is time for them to re-examine their beliefs. A good idea will stand the most rigorous scrutiny – being abusive or violent is not a good way to defend one’s beliefs.I’d love to see Adeboye fly his private jet without fuel. I’d love to see him, and his fellow pastorpreneurs grow an amputated limb. I’d love to see them go to our hospitals and empty the beds of patients. Until they do these, I’ll remain a sceptic. And I hope you, the reader, would too.
Ijabla is a medical doctor, and he writes from the U.K. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org