What are the Problems of Religion in Nigeria?


What are the Problems of Religion in Nigeria?

Critics of religion in general may view religion as one or more of outdated, harmful to the individual, harmful to society, an impediment to the progress of science or humanity, a source of immoral acts or customs, a political tool for social control.

Religion, a supposedly godly concept which basically should cultivate love, peaceful co-existence, patience, tolerance, forgiveness and so on.

How come it has brought about so much death and vandalizing in our dear country Nigeria. Religion is the belief in and worship of a supernatural controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

It is a particular system of faith and worship. Forms of religion include: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Eckankar, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, various African traditional worship, etc.

No doubt the two major and widely accepted religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam as they both claim a very large percentage of the population thus pushing the African traditional worship to a pale background.

Religious crisis in Nigeria has mainly been between these two major religions except for comparatively few skirmishes between traditional worshippers and Christians or Muslims (Islam practitioners) now and then.

Some foreigners who do business and reside in the country also practice their religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism by Indians and the Chinese with their own forms of worship. So far they do not cause religious problems and are relatively few compared with Christians and Muslims.

It is quite disheartening that Christianity and Islam who both believe in one supernatural God, the creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is therein, are the ones causing the religious problems in Nigeria.

Needless to say, while Christian’s belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, who preached love, Muslims belief in the Prophet Mohammed, who preached peace. Both religions claim these personalities will lead them to the Almighty God. What then went wrong?

Moreover, Christians and Muslims alike dominate the corridors of power, the civil service, para-military and military forces, corporate bodies, market structure and all facets of life in Nigeria as almost everyone claims to be a member of either of the two religions.

Since her independence on October 1st, 1960, Nigeria has indeed come a long way and Nigerians have witnessed violence in its various forms: religious, ethnic, political and the likes.

In a country which is home to diverse cultures, beliefs, and tradition, each unique in its own way and adoring the country with beauty and colour, these acts of violence have resulted to the destruction of lives and properties.

These violent acts, killings, vandalism, and religious biases are all crises arising from religious confrontations and thus constitute the problems of religion in Nigeria.

10 Main Problems of Religion in Nigeria

Religious violence in Nigeria refers to Christian-Muslim strife in modern Nigeria, which can be traced back to 1953. Today, religious violence in Nigeria is dominated by the Boko Haram insurgency, which aims to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria.

The following are the 10 main problems of religion in Nigeria:

1. Problem of Dishonesty

Another scenario is seen in some very new generation churches where many unemployed youths spend lots of hours in church services even during the working days forgetting to practice that bible portion that says show me your faith by your works. They will do better to find gainful occupations as well as worship God. Otherwise the long term effect is that some of them too will become one of those clerics who want to extort congregants at all cost.


2. Problem of Tribalism and Disunity

Shocking as this may appear, tribal sentiments abound in churches and mosques. I have heard several Muslims from Southern Nigeria say that the Fulani/Hausa Muslims from Northern Nigeria look down on them, regarding them as inferiors; some even say infidels.

In some Christian folds, there are also tribal sentiments and discrimination especially against other worshippers who are not of the same tribe as the church founder.


3. Problem of Unawareness

In Nigeria, many people live in unawareness and will not even try to get clarifications on controversial issues before acting rashly. Religious faithful’s will rather act on what they hear and go into violent acts at the slightest propaganda. Many take whatever they hear from their clerics as the absolute truth from God Himself.


4. Problem of Hypocrisy and Monetizing Religion

Today, many churches are known to emphasize on money. Even poor congregants are persuaded to part with money often. Jesus said it was impossible to serve God and money. We think we can blend them without consequence but money always wins out, even among those that start out with the loftiest ideals. Money blinds us to the ways God works and the need for it pressures us to do what we wouldn’t otherwise freely choose to do. I know pastors who walk on eggshells each week, knowing they can’t honestly share their journey and not run into trouble with some faction in the church.

I worked with a publisher that wanted me to change the content of He Loves Me so the freedom it espoused wouldn’t threaten pastors and they would be more inclined to read it from their pulpits and an editor that wouldn’t print an article I’d written even though he loved it because it might offend the subscriber base and they would cancel their subscriptions. We all know even a few percentage point decline in offerings or subscribers can mean spell a quick end to many of our institutions.

I know that’s hard to see from the inside. Everyone thinks they are doing God’s will as best they know how, rarely considering how much their need for income shapes their actions. I’ve told many a pastor who is critical of those who are done with their congregation, “If you could just step away from all of this for two years, you would be shocked at the things you’d discover when money no longer influences your ministry.” I had no idea myself how much the economic religious systems we’ve created blurred my vision until I found myself no longer dependent on it. What was scary at first turned out to be a great blessing? In short we get the Gospel we pay for, or click on, and the cost of that means we’re losing the vitality of the life of Jesus. Those who would be leaders have to make it complicated so people will buy their books and attend their seminars. I heard one man say recently to a group of ministers wanting to enhance their income to take their best teaching and craft it into a set of principles. “If you can systematize it, you can monetize it.” Yes, he pinged my yuck meter, but it does explain why we have more five-point plans than we have people ready to equip others to follow Jesus.

5. Problem of Religious Sentiments

A prevailing norm is that one religious group sees itself as superior to other types of religion. Such superiority complex fuels religious violence especially in Northern Nigeria. Surprisingly some denominations within the same faith feel superior to one another

6. Problem of Religious Preconception

Many children and converts are basically indoctrinated to view people from other religions as evil or inferior. Such teachings lead many to eventually become fanatics and consequently, propagators of religious violence.


7. Problem of Separation between Indigenes and Settlers

Religious conflicts usually arise between indigenes of a particular place and settlers especially if both sides belong to different religions. This is why indigenes prefer settlers who practice the same religion as their own. However, most often than not, indigenes’ and settlers’ religions differ. Already there is the crisis of limited resources; add to that religious problems and there is a catastrophe.


8. Problem of Fear of Domination

Another problem of religion in Nigeria often arise when it seems that the dominant religious group in a particular domain will be eclipsed by another especially as a result of increase in population of the other religious group. An example is the frequent Jos religious crisis between Christians and Muslims. It is not uncommon to find converts from one religion move over to their newfound faith and of course, this could lead to violence if there is no tolerance. Even here in Southern Nigeria, news once went around that a cleric physically assaulted another cleric of a different faith because the former was losing congregants to the later. It is better imagined what could have happened had there been violent retaliation. Further still, pastors are highly offended when congregants move to other denominations within the Christian fold. Religious skirmishes, even if not bloody also arise as a result of this.


9. Problem of Poverty

Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making.

It is said that poverty is a disease. It can lead to death and destruction. The poor and impoverished cannot even feed properly and are daily exposed to hunger and malnutrition not to talk of proper clothing or shelter. So what happens if a wealthy body of religious extremists offer these poor people food, gifts, houses and of course heavy money just to bear arms in order to kill and cause mayhem in the name of religion. 

I tell you; many of them will compromise with careless abandon. Poor people are viable tools of violence in the hands of elite individuals or groups wishing to create conflict. The high rate of poverty is a common cause of religious crisis as poor people have little or no access to proper education. This makes it easy for poor youths and their elder parents to be indoctrinated with violent and murderous creeds which they accept hook, line and sinker. It therefore shocks the senses that, in the name of religion, youths are made suicide bombers after being enticed with money for their families and assurance of heavenly reward. This is predominantly practiced in the Islamic Northern part of Nigeria as we are all witnesses to the horrors of the Boko Haram Nigeria as we are all witnesses to the horrors of the Boko Haram extremist sect.


10. Problem of Joblessness

Unemployment is used to describe a situation whereby the population of people ready to work is unable to get something doing. The idle mind they say is the devil’s workshop. Apart from the illiterate youths mentioned above, many idle educated youths are also used as tools to propagate religious violence. Idleness exposes them to violent doctrines thus; they become easily bribed and bought over.

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