By Tunde Temionu
Although theocracy and democracy have different approaches, when viewed from the human interest angle, politics and religion are interwoven. They are the two hopes that man leans on for socio-economic survival and a spiritually purified life after death. They are also the two most lucrative and tax-free institutions in the world. And they have been at loggerheads over governance since the beginning of the march of civilisation. Religion and politics are about the same age. But it seemed religion was far ahead of politics in governance. Obviously, one of the fundamental objectives of religion was to rule the whole world. But, partisan politics, under the umbrella of democracy, took over the power of governance from religion in style.
On the surface, religion is teaching moral values and using the same to woo prospective members and also to sustain the existing membership. As we have multiparty political arrangements, so also do we have multi-religions. The former is penetrating the people via democracy, and the later via the scriptures.
Under sincerely motivated intentions, the world needs politics and religion for economic, social and spiritual growth. So, this piece is not meant to cast aspersions on politics or religions. Rather, its precept is to remind the two giant institutions of their real responsibilities to the people, and the need to chart a true path to a religion that reflects our true creator, not creators, and allows the world to live in peace, harmony, love and liberty that will make everybody a true part of society at large.
If we are sincere about one creator, then the world should worship Him with one voice.
Records show that there are thousands of religions in the world. And there are about 12 most popular ones. They all worship their gods in different ways and have different beliefs as if we have different creators! The lack of harmony among religions gives the psychological impression that we are still in search of the real path to our creator! Obviously, the degree of the negative conduct of the movers of both politics and religion has made people doubt their sincerity.
It is logical to believe that there is only one creator. But, the doctrines of the various religions have thrown the world into religious confusion. Studies have it that more than 20% of countries have official state religions. Also, another 20% of countries have a preferred or favoured religion. Records as well have it that many countries are ruled by religion. Even in Nigeria, about 12 states have laws establishing religious institutions. According to World Atlas, a few countries with a theocratic government include Yemen, the Vatican City, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania and Afghanistan.
From experience, the characteristics of theocracy are indications that the appetite of religion in governance is still very high. In fact, in some countries, like Lebanon, a head of state must belong to a particular religion. No doubt, partisanship is a cardinal element in politics, and politics is the propeller of governance. So, wise thinkers are still not convinced that partisanship complements religion. If it does, why are most religion-governed countries still at loggerheads?
By democratic principles, politics has a right to the power of governance. Religion does not, but had acquired it initially at the early march of civilisation. And since religion is not ready to completely quit governance, the rivalry of these two governance-power-hungry entities will continue to adversely charge the polity of the world. Hence, the duo, like aggressive marketers, must contact the grassroots to excel.
The grassroots remain the most powerful endorsement of the movers of both politics and religions. They come from all walks of life. They are security conscious, and therefore concerned about who rules them.
So, in order to secure acceptability, and for personal gains, the drivers of politics and religion keep bomb-shelling the grassroots with frictions, rhetoric, rewritten history, sanctimonious handouts, deceptive manifestos, pseudo-healings, propelled by determined and aggressive membership drive, all in the name of phantom salvation and care for the people. While religion is teaching morals as the way to heaven, politics is promising good governance as the key to a better life that is not forthcoming!
Multi-religion is a divide and rule device that turned the world against itself! Consequently, the lack of a single doctrine is fuelling the rivalry between religion and politics to the detriment of world peace.
The purported objectives and common interests of these two great institutions that the whole world is looking up to for everything including the kingdom of God are the development of the human person and human-interest projects.
Astonishingly, most of the drivers of these two giant institutions no longer hide their precept for prosperity and self-interests. Hence, the people suspect them of personal aggrandisement, which is against the ethics of human-interest projects.
Already, people are aware that all the human and inhuman characteristics that give politics its good and bad name also exist in religion. The innocent public is not oblivious of their do-or-die and charged electioneering atmosphere, killings for the sake of power, position and money, aiding and abetting terrorism ¬cum insurgency, encouraging thuggery and accepting gifts from the proceeds of criminals and high degrees of immorality. Because of these ills, many people are of the opinion that most drivers of politics and religions lack a human face and godliness.
Man claims to know, through inspiration, the beginning, and how God created everything. But based on studies, a lot of people strongly believe that the only fundamental procreation process known to man is through birth. By this process, all men are born equal. No matter the precociousness, one does not know anything at birth until the attainments of various stages of growth.
Man is vast in science and technology, but the secret behind the mysteries of creation and the creator are beyond human knowledge.
Naturally, as the ability to think propels the senses of reasoning and maturity, out of confusion and curiosity, some questions that are difficult to answer, at times, form vague notions about the creator and creation. Such questions like Who made God, and where is His place of abode? How old is the world?
If you were lucky to know your grandparents when you were young, since your level of reasoning then was limited to your age and maturity, you naively thought that your great grandparents were probably the oldest generation.
All of these, and similar questions about the creator and creation were the challenges that triggered man to the incessant search for the truth about the creator and creation. But humans, in the name of religion, have capitalised on this curiosity to exploit their fellow humans for personal gains.
Although the scriptures, in the name of inspiration, have answers to all these questions, humans have the world map, and have gone around the nook and cranny of the universe and beyond, yet have found no track of God’s place of abode! But we are dwelling on the teachings of the scriptures that God is everywhere. Yes, it’s more logical to say that God, as a spirit, is everywhere than to say He lives up or down.
In early times, and before civilisation introduced orthodox religions to the world, idol worshipers strongly believed that the gods they worshipped were their creators. From available records, before the world eventually settled down for the existing multi-religions that are in practice today, there were controversies about atheism and agnosticism.
Records also have it that at the same time, 3/4th of the world population were following Hinduism as their religion, while 1/4th practised Judaism and other religions. And their various counterparts like Jainism, Buddhism, Egyptian god, Roman god, even the Yoruba country believed in “Orunmila”.