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Religious prejudice: A cancer to peaceful coexistence

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Added 10th December 2019 02:32 PM

The hatchery of faith-based psychological and physical discrimination is the theological schools and colleges that train preachers

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The hatchery of faith-based psychological and physical discrimination is the theological schools and colleges that train preachers

By Abubakar Obilan

It is maddening that there is a dearth of peace in the world yet all of about 17 religions we have in the world claim to be godly and are working to serve the sublime God.

All religions preach to their followers that God is merciful, kind and forgiving. Astoundingly, the global ordinary community is evidently peaceful, but the clergy are at war. Preachers sow discord, hate, disrespect, sectarianism and discrimination in churches and mosques. Preachers are the genesis and commanders of the global faith-based mayhem. They fight from behind and take advantage of the ignorance and poverty of the youthful devotees to the faith.

The present faith-based violence is only at its worse stage. Faith-based cold wars have existed since time immemorial, but the struggle for followers has made different religions employ different mechanisms to attract followers to their side. Propaganda is one of these perilous strategies employed to keep their flock and deter it from joining or associating with other religions.

I vividly recall in my primary school days our Christian teachers telling us that Muslims are bad people who worship an idol erected in Mecca (the reason they pray towards Mecca), prepare rice (pilau) using water with which they have washed their dead. The same teachers pronounced that the reason Muslims do not eat pork or abhor pigs is that Prophet Muhammad’s body was eaten by pigs. Likewise, many non-Catholics contend that Catholics worship pictures of Jesus and Mary.

Such systematic accusations and counter-accusations are irksomely founded by selfish preachers of religion, who choose to thrive on propaganda.

Systematic inimical and indifferent preaching has a far-reaching impact on service delivery and governance patterns. Those who accepted this propaganda about certain faiths and followers get employed in public offices with childhood adverse attitudes affecting their effectiveness and efficiency in serving the nation wholesomely, breeding discrimination, sectarianism and corruption.

The hatchery of faith-based psychological and physical discrimination is the theological schools and colleges that train preachers. World religion’s headquarters: Saudi Arabia, Vatican, Canterbury and New York, among others, usually offer study scholarships to their proponents worldwide, but when they graduate from those centres, they return home with curricula of those societies.

They import school curricula that were designed based on the cultural and political ideologies of those economies but masked in religious theological regalia, which eventually is preached to mosque and church congregations. Society becomes susceptible to squabbles of preachers who want their home countries to convert into their religion’s training centres instantaneously. This breeds political theology which erodes all provisions for coexistence, harmony and shared vision in society.

All religions believe they worship the same God. Unfortunately, every religion feels it is the best and aspires to dominate and assimilate all the others to follow their own. This mindset and attitude is perilous, a threat to global peace and is the main source of religious extremism and terrorism.

Over the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in violent religious tensions. Extremist groups have waged global war. The Rohingya in Myanmar are being ethnically cleansed by Buddhists and there have been outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Mali and the Central African Republic, among others, all in the name of prejudiced religious teachings and intolerance.

The world has suffered enough in the hands of selfish faith teachers who think that the best way to preach religion is to demean, castigate and subdue other communities. There is need to review, rethink and redesign integrated feasible, indigenous and effective curriculum in Uganda’s theological institutions whose output should be drivers of dynamic faith leadership that will pioneer social change by practising preaching with perceptiveness and communication that respects everyone in this inclusive society.

The writer is a Sheikh and educationist from Bukedea District in Eastern Uganda

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