Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Religious Bigotry Redefined By The Church
Recently I went to church spotting a black jalabiya my wife bought for me on a trip to India. I wore it so proudly because I am a fan of Arab fashion. I say this proudly for the right reasons. They are elegant and yet not revealing, gorgeous yet comfortable.
Little did I know that the sight of me looking like a young Alhaji from Northern Nigeria - thanks partially to my dark skin - sent an entirely different message to my “brethren”.
Few days ago I was told that as a worker in the church I should watch my dressing! Hello!
I was told that as a Christian I must be conscious of the “fact” that by wearing Jalabiya, I was promoting Islam in the church and this would mislead others.
This was the most devastating nail on the coffin of religious tolerance which I always knew was dying in Nigeria.
My heart raced to my recent struggles with understanding Nigeria’s brand of politics that only focuses on religion, ethnic zoning, quota...etc without regards for values, competence, manifesto and capacity.
Since General Muhammadu Buhari became the presidential candidate of Nigeria’s main opposition party, the issue of religious insensitivity has come to the fore as reflected in the discussions leading to his possible selection of a fellow Muslim as vice presidential candidate.
The term ‘Muslim-Muslim ticket’ became very popular.
It didn’t matter if a Muslim like the outgoing Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola, would help make an Intergrity-Competence ticket. Many Nigerians only saw the Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Well, now that he eventually settled for a Christian, a pastor to make things very “perfect” for the Christians, I guess suddenly all is well. Right?
I have a lot of respect for the eventual VP candidate, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, whose antecedents, I must say, qualify him as the type of quality leader Nigeria needs. However, I think it’s unfortunate that he is seen by many Nigerians more as a Redeem Pastor than as a world class technocrat that he is.
Being a Pastor in one of Africa’s biggest congregations, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) is the major reason many will vote for him and in any case, that was the same reason many voted the incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan.
President Jonathan, though not a pastor, particularly played the religious game more than any President I have known in my adolescent to adult years.
With tens of media men in attendance, he would visit the headquarters of the same RCCG for the monthly ‘Holy Ghost Service’, to enjoy the public intercession and anointing of the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, whom I consider to be one of the most respected ministers of God in the world.
As much as I sometimes feel Mr President only honours his God with a special place in his life and mandate, one may be right to call his moves some high level 'famzing'.
Either ways you see it, the 'public church going' worked on us and that is why he keeps “doing it”.
At least Jonathan won the 2011 election with a landslide margin against the proudly Muslim Buhari, although I have never seen the retired General going about kneeling before Islamic clerics or publicizing his Jumat attendance. Not even during Sallah celebrations or towards any of the elections he had been part of.
Now, Buhari towards the 2015 elections – his fourth attempt at Presidency – has been labelled as the religious bigot trying to rule Nigeria at all cost in order to enforce Sharia all over the nation.
If there is any politician who has been the biggest beneficiary of this religious sentiment that has swallowed the issue based politics that Nigeria needs most, it’s been the Christian among the two contestants.
I am worried because we may never get the right leader if we tie leadership to religious sentiments. With my recent experience, I just cannot help saying we are overdoing it.
I am more worried for the Christians because they have been the worst victims of extremism and consequently the more scared of the two major religions. Sadly they are gradually becoming the same problem they dread.
Here I had been, pondering on the disaster disguised as religion, which has eaten deep into thecountry and has battered all the dreams of our founding fathers, of a nation where peace and justice shall reign, them someone tells me he doesn’t wish to see anything associated to another religion in the church.
If this mindset is what the church is producing, then I wonder how God's kingdom would come on earth. I wonder how they would ever truly "pray for the peace of Jerusalem".
My people perish for the lack of knowledge, says the Holy Bible (Hosea 4:6) and it simply reminds me that many of Christians would miss heaven not because of popular sins like fornication, greed, adultery, anger, idolatry, slander...etc, but because of the lack of tolerance for the “sinner” or “unbeliever” that Jesus died for.
Wikipedia simply puts the jellabiya as a traditional Egyptian garment native to the Nile Valley. I want to believe whoever supplied the information knows better than I do.
So, I have a question, how did my brethren know that the linen robes that Jesus wore were not similar to the Jalabiya that I love to wear? Jesus NEVER wore suits, trousers, ties, collars and all the fashion items approved in the church today, and that is a fact.
I have thought of placing an order for four new jalabiyas. Now do I go ahead and damn the reactions or I should just conform “for peace sake”?