Excerpts from Religious Hypocrisy and Fanaticism in Nigeria. The Apex Problem of a Religious Nation The Contemporary Religions and Religious Issues ODEY SIMON ROBERT

Introduction

The highest societal matters arising in our contemporary society nowadays are religious- inclined, while others such as linguistic, political, socio-cultural and economic follow, and of course, now clothed with ‘textiles and ornaments’. ‘Religiousity’ without religion is a great challenge to nation-building in a seeming religious nation like Nigeria. It appears that the higher the number of religions in a nation, the higher and more compounding, degenerating and endemic the social vices therein. What best accounts for this course is religious hypocrisy and fanaticism. The situation presents contradictions to the thrust of religion– morality, faith and pragmatism, ethics and aesthetics. Religious thus seem to have digressed from their classical precepts, thrust, vision, mission and goals for the otherwise in recent times. Also, it thus seems to be an irony or a dilemma of a societal institution tied to faith, clothed with pretence and the reverse of what they (religions) preach/uphold or pursue.

Nigeria, a religious nation, is rather plagued with religious woes, even worse than those of the biblical Egyptian plagues on being recalcitrant to Israelites’ freedom demand and order, perhaps her people– Nigerians– are guilty of worse heinous sins and sacrileges, not just against God Almighty but humanity too, than the then Egyptians’ and Sodom/Gomorra’s. The paradox is that a nation of religiousity without religion is bound to be distressed by religion. It is not an over statement to note that only barely 5% of Nigerians, like her ‘religious chameleon’ contemporaries elsewhere, are truly religious, while others are religious hypocrites, fanatics, entrepreneurs and capitalists, preaching and spreading the negative of classical religious tenets, precepts, mission, visions, goals and what have you. The gross incessant decline of religion in an enlightened and advanced era! What an irony! What a dilemma! What a shame! The three leading religions: Traditional Religion, Christianity and Islam are all pirated now, like the minors, living merely on their past glory respectively, languishing for real faithful and saviours.

However, until we rise, become willing and retrace the right ways and attitudes of our past religious heroes and as well tolerate religious pluralism with shared general focus on truth, morality and one faith, devoid of discrimination, religion shall continue to be an endemic problem rather than a solution to our contemporary society. Let’s pause, ponder deep and retrospect for the deserved change (see Robert and Dibie, 2015). Let’s answer some self-posers, like where have we got it wrong? If the thrust of all religions is faith cum morality, why should there be hypocrisy, fundamentalism and fanaticism? Why the religious discrimination? Why the incessant religious crises? Has the theist (one) God Almighty, most Merciful, Omnipotent, Omniscience and Omnipresence become pluralised with religions, the varied yet the same means of worship and belief in Him? Why are we after religion, not God? Apart from linguistic and approach yardsticks, are these various religions not the same? Who has ever seen God physically? If none, why then do we hate one another, God’s physical representatives yet claim we know/love God? The posers are inexhaustible. Our foregoing muse has been given credence to by Obilor (2006:161) thus:

Among the many identifiable ailments ravaging Nigeria are religious in nature. At the heart of the many identifiable solutions to the ailments must include religious solutions. There are many religions in Nigeria. The good news is that Nigerians believe in one God, who is the Father of all, the creator God and the Merciful God. This good news is a sure hope that Nigeria will certainly overcome her distressed condition, especially in relation to the religious ailments. The worst condition of distress is when it is religious in nature. Nigeria is infested with religions. At the heart of Nigeria’s woes are institutional sins. By this, I mean that sin, in its many forms, is the cause of the distress condition of Nigeria.

The above affirms our position that religion is the core source of Nigeria’s problems that degenerate to extreme ethnic hatred, corruption, favouritism, nepotism, jungle justice, etc. – (regional politics), where the elder statesmen of a particular state could swear that Christians (non-Muslims) can never rule the state and vice versa, though the latter very rare, thereby causing and fuelling all forms of political and societal problems, including gangsterism, thuggery, assassination, gerrymandery, oligarchy, anarchy, gerontocracy, etc. unemployment, underdevelopment, illiteracy, poverty, etc. However, when religion is truly practised, the reverse of the aforementioned and lots more would become the case. It begins with religious tolerance, understanding of religious pluralism, practical religions (Puritanism) devoid of attachments, political and economic, and hypocrisy and fanaticism, to interpersonal core and national integration devoid of segregation. Religion and culture form the basic thing that affects development in any given society (Odoh, 2005:132).