Religion, Leadership and Nationhood

“Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Opium of the People by Karl Marx)

Religion has become, a make or mar phenomenon in our nation and most nations of the earth. You are either religious or apostate. And with it, we have become a nation inebriate with a concept that has ended up enslaving and colonizing us more than even the colonizers in the first instance. Karl Marx called it the sigh of the oppressed creature, but its not only that, its a tool in the hands of the oppressor as well.

Vladimir Lenin, speaking of religion in Novaya Zhizn in 1905, alluded to Marx’s earlier comments: “Those who toil and live in want all their lives are taught by religion to be submissive and patient while here on earth, and to take comfort in the hope of a heavenly reward. But those who live by the labour of others are taught by religion to practise charity while on earth, thus offering them a very cheap way of justifying their entire existence as exploiters and selling them at a moderate price tickets to well-being in heaven. Religion is opium for the people. Religion is a sort of spiritual booze, in which the slaves of capital drown their human image, their demand for a life more or less worthy of man.”

The World System as we know it now, as been bedeviled by Religion. Nation states have been plagued, built and destroyed on religion. Empires, person-hood,  and leadership all have one thing in common, religion. Is it not interesting then, and safe to postulate that, the center of all issues, all conflicts, all national discourses, all leadership failures is not rooted in corruption or poverty, but in religion?

I like the way Myle Munroe states it in his book Rediscovering the Kingdom, “The greatest threat to the future of the world is religion. Nuclear weapons, terrorism, SARS, shifting governments, military coups, and AIDS are simply tools used by religion. More wars have been fought in the name of religion than any other influence. Millions have died over the past 2,000 years under the destructive hand of religious zeal. Misplaced and misguided religious passion has produced such historical scars as the Crusades, the Inquisition, ethnic cleansing, and the horror of the Holocaust”.

According to a report by Pew Research Center released on Jan 14 2014, “Violence and discrimination against religious groups by governments and rival faiths have reached new highs in all regions of the world except the Americas. Social hostility such as attacks on minority faiths or pressure to conform to certain norms was strong in one-third of the 198 countries and territories surveyed in 2012, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Religious-related terrorism and sectarian violence occurred in one-fifth of those countries in that year, while states imposed legal limits on worship, preaching or religious wear in almost 30 percent of them”.

What does this tells us, religion has always played a pivotal role in nationhood and government and its all at the nuance of whichever leader that is in charge and holds the instrument of power to wield.

So you ask the question, what really is religion? How come it holds such tremendous power over certain nations, breeding conflicts, hardships and slavery. How does it affect leadership? What is the connection? How do we connect the dots?

To be Continued.


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