Curbing ‘excesses’ of religion
Should the state regulates the church? This is an issue that has been in the front burner for a while now. The reason for this, some argue, is based on the excesses of some so-called men of God, who feed fat on their gullible followers without corresponding benefit.
It is true that there are some incorrigible ‘Men of God’ in Christendom, just as there are fake Imams and herbalist fleecing the ignorant. But should one throw the baby away with the bath water? I believe strongly that the church and State can dwell in harmony and operate within set boundaries, such that one does not hinder the other. While the church takes care of the soul, the state administers to the needs of the body. But we can all see how well the welfare of the people has been attended to these past months.
Religion is an integral part of human beings. We all believe, except for some negligible number of atheists, in the existence of a Supreme Being, Who coordinates the affairs of men. And it has been proven severally that the spiritual dictates the material. Indeed, all men, including those serving as political appointees, are subject to God, Who is represented by His priests, bishops, etc. And since the Church and the Mosque are also committed to the good of the society, I see no reason why the two cannot function smoothly for the overall good of the people.
I believe there should be a clear-cut separation between the church and the State, even though the church operates within the latter’s jurisdiction. As some are clamouring for ways of removing quack pastors, imams and herbalists, similar overhaul should also be extended to the State, so that the collective wealth of the people would not be stolen or mortgaged arbitrarily by our elected officials. So, like they say, he who comes to equity must do so with clean hands. However, should government, after first cleansing itself, becomes desirous of putting in place a code that will regulate religious organisations, there should be some form of buy-in by the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Islamic community, even by representatives of
practitioners of the African religion. They should be carried along in the whole arrangement. By so doing, all relevant stakeholders would agree on appropriate ways of bringing back sanity into some of these perceived excesses without anyone feeling side-lined or victimised.
• Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.