I am reminded of those years when we were young attending Sunday School or listening to lectures on Religious and Moral education in Primary school. During those years of young age, we believed places such as Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Jerusalem and many others were special places in heaven. We only learnt later in life that these places are actually on earth and all one needs is a passport to visit them. It is also now as adults, we have learnt that these places also have political leaders and that some of them have not seen peace in a long time. We have also learnt that the places we thought were holy cities are actually befallen by war and instability. But of course, in church we still sing about the holy city of Jerusalem.
I am sure the Sunday School teachers then had it much easier, as we presented them with our blank minds, a clean slate on which to inscribe their doctrines. We were told God loves us and discouraged from questioning. We were taught to fear hell and resent Satan, so indeed we never learnt to question certain things and grew up on that one side of the religious philosophy. We learnt that every man or woman who stands in front of us preaching words of religion is the chosen one and represents holiness and, therefore, his or her authenticity should not be questioned.
Today, three decades plus of being exposed to religion, I am faced with highly questionable events of a religious nature. But it is still stuck in my mind that anything religious should not be questioned as that would be considered a sin or blasphemy before God. I am reminded of how Peter denied Jesus after Judas “sold” Him, how bad it was for Thomas to doubt that Jesus had resurrected, how callous it was for the people of Nazareth, Jesus’s home, to reject the Son of Man. It is not the rejection itself that is of concern, but its repercussions.
Still as an adult, I live in a world befallen by many problems — social and economic. And according to the men and women on the pulpit, bringing these problems to God is the only way of solving them. I never doubted the power of God in my life, but my mind is dwarfed in judging which one represents a true God. Or does it really matter what power one submits to, as long as the problem is solved?
Whatever the case may be, we learnt to submit and never to question. We learnt not to look at our problems from a realistic perspective, but from the lenses of spiritualism. We learnt that everything that is not happening in our lives is because the devil is the hindrance. That hindrance can only be cast away through prayers of different dimensions and sometimes in miracles. The human race has suddenly become timid at the whims of the spiritual men and women. Again, our minds are limited in terms of how far they can determine the source or genuineness of the spiritual men and women before us. Or does it really matter as long as one can solve one’s problems. But lines have been crossed.
In South Africa, they reported of a man of god who, two weeks ago, commanded his congregants to eat grass in order to get closer to God and as a sign that humans can survive on anything. So humans can eat anything just to be closer to God. Late reports suggest that grass may be not good for human consumption even under spiritual orders as the grass eaters fell sick after the incident.
I am sure all those congregants also knew before that grass was not good for human consumption, but still believed that grazing can be a sign of God’s power.
The leader of RMG Independent End Time Message Robert Martin Gumbura is alleged to have raped 11 women, including church members and others under his care, in the past nine years, but the recently concluded trial was conducted in respect of just seven of the women. This is despite spending many years of his life preaching against adultery, fornication and other sins. The details of Gumbura’s case again demonstrate either the lower levels of human gullibility or the power of indoctrination.
And all these summarily borders on the fallacious belief that the men of religion are always right, and their words are an instruction to man, and their power should be treated as holy and therefore not questionable.
The stories are too many to recount. For some, these cases are fulfilling biblical prophecy about the sprouting of false prophets signalling the ending of the world.
I am not convinced we can use misbehaviour to measure the nearing of the end. Perhaps these are just opportunists harvesting from the gullibility sown by the unquestionability of religion. But is this gullibility escapable given the myriad of problems which drive people to seek spiritual solutions?
But then again, there is true Christianity and the message of Grace that acknowledges the free will God has given man — where does this all come in? You tell me.