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Politicization of religion and social unrest

15 January 2014, 12:16 Nwanneh Emmanuel Madu.

With 21 religion across the globe and the struggle by various religious fanatics to lord their religion over others in the form of demonstrating the dominance of their God over others, the world has taken a different shape. Our social, economic, cultural and political life has been revolutionized, courtesy of religion.

According to Karl Max, religion is the opium of the people. It simply means that religion has made man's life and ideology too cozy for injustice to prevail without revolution. Religion is built on the altar of morality, peace and ethics but it is sod's law that it has been fighting the ideology
that creates it.

Religion, which has become an architect than antidote to social unrest has killed many people under the canopy of politics. Majority of wars and crimes around the world emanated from religious ground.
For instance, the Taliban and Al-Qaida activities in the middle east; the militant Hindu extremists and Christians in India; Christians and Muslims feud in Indonesia; Shiite and Sunni Muslim feud in Iraq; the Serbian orthodox Christian against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo; the Wahhabi and Sufi Muslims in Somalia; Buddhist and Hindus in Sri-lanka; Buddhist and Muslim feud in Thailand; the seleka fighters and the members of the  Christian self-defense militia called anti balaka(anti-machete) in Central African Republic (CAR) and the book haram crisis in Nigeria to mention but a few are major religious
crisis that have taken political dimensions.

Narrowing it down to Nigeria, religion organizations have divided themselves along political line. There are gradually becoming political parties of their own. Religion now influence the voting pattern of people.

A Christian is more likely to vote for a Christian than a Muslim even though that may be a death warrant to Nigerian’s prosperity. In most churches and mosque, political campaign are carried out as most of them have aligned themselves to different political parties. Clergies have used religious organization as tool for political campaign. In return for their political role, politician sponsor them and take readings in these religious organization. Most of these religious fanatics acquire state of the art armor to advance the quest for their religious supremacy through the donation of most
political actors.

The death of a Muslim president or major political actor gives Christians reasons for merriment and vice versa. The death of Musa Yaradua, former president of Nigeria and the former governor of Kaduna state, Patrick  Yakowa was a clear indication of how religion has been politicized and the parasitic relationship between religion and politics because some Christians and Muslims rejoiced over the death of Yaradua and Yakowa respectively. Attention is given to religious affiliation than the gains of politics and this has engineered a lot of social unrest as Christians do not feel comfortable living with Muslims and vice versa.

Religion has created harsh adaptation for growth and development. The dire vendetta and reprisal attacks fuelled by religion has created religious intolerance thus breeding perpetual animosity among clergies, politician, countries, continents etc. Those who do not belong to the same religion with a certain politician will become a problem to that politician by thwarting his/her efforts.

Political legitimacy is now dependent on religious affiliation and christian association of Nigeria (CAN) and various forms of Nigerian muslim association have failed to create equilibrium between political ideology/role and their
religious ideology/duties.

Both religion and politics regulate human behavior .Religion from moral perspective and politics from legal perspective. Rather than making laws that have the interest of the masses, politicians make laws  that will benefit a particular religion and force it on other people who do not share such belief.
 Various attempts has been made by some politicians to Islamize their states and beyond (for instance, sharia
law in zamfara state) and upholding it more than the constitution of the country. Every policy made by government is given religious interpretation (for instance, the osun state new education policy) and if not properly managed, will breed crisis.

The increase in religious tolerance will reduce religious bigotry and extremism. Most governments/countries have failed to checkmate the intolerant nature of some religion because of their political interest, thus, offenders are also hardly punished. In the context of the politicization of religion, religion has lost its real meaning and the romance between religion and politics has resulted to an unwanted pregnancy whose offspring(vengeance, intolerance, crimes, wars etc.) feeds
on blood and has been responsible for the crisis and death of countless people around the world.

Alas, religion as being housed by politics has done more damage than good and until we make religion an educator than an instructor, a blessing than a curse, a messiah than massacre, a friend than a foe, social unrest will be our companion and the tentacle of social unrest will spread with the speed of light.


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