FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, May 29, 2022
tunga.lergo@sfcollege.edu
Gainesville, Florida, USA
RELIGION AND OPIATE ADDICTION: IN MEMORY OF DEBORAH SAMUEL

Late Deborah Samuel

arl Marx, of blessed memory (PBUH), correctly observed that religion is the opiate of the masses (poor). As much as I agree with him, I must say that not all religions are opiates of the poor, and even if they are, not all religions produce violent and ignorant addicts; even with regard to those religions that do, only the uneducated, the illiterate, and the feeble-minded actually become addicted and are manipulated to act violently. Consider the case of Nigeria: several religions and masses exist, but only Islam is fulfilling Marx's assertion. A person can insult Christianity and its Jesus/God, burn its churches, kill its leaders, stone, and kill its adherents, and commit blasphemy of all kinds, but Christians will not act violently to defend God or Christianity. Why? Because God does not need human defenders. Even the poor Christians love their enemies and "turn the other cheek" when offended.

Professor Bala Usman, of blessed memory (PBUH), wrote about the manipulation of religion in Nigeria, lamenting that northern elites and politicians manipulate religion to foster their economic and political interests. So true. Like an opiate, these northern elites and politicians use Islam to keep the northern poor in a state of madness, delusion/hallucination, euphoria, and hopelessness; they are readily disposable resources-cannon fodder-for political manipulation. Let us consider these disposable humans. They must be uneducated, uninformed about Islam and other religions, and unemployed, or at least economically dependent. In this way, when need be, they can become useful tools for religious manipulation and violence. This claim is supported by the fact that Northern elites have controlled the economy and essential institutions in Nigeria ever since the squaller British left. Yet, that region is the poorest, the most unemployed, and the most uneducated and backward region of Nigeria-and it produces the most violent terrorist groups (Boko, Haram, Fulani herdsmen). Why, we must ask, is this only occurring in the north?

Islam is in Western Nigeria. However, Muslims there do not violently defend Islam and Mohammed. And thanks to Saudi money, the Koran baton has reached down south to the Atlantic Ocean and been passed by the Yorubas, in Western region, to the Igbos, in the east, that they might embed it in the Eastern shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Although Muslim Igbos and mosques are in eastern Nigeria, Muslim Igbos do not violently defend Islam and Mohammed-only the northern Muslim masses do. One must wonder, then, if the northern Muslim masses are easily manipulated in the name of Islam. The difference is poverty, education, awareness, and common sense.

There are also non-Muslim masses in the north, particularly in the Middlebelt, whose religion is an opiate for the masses. The majority of them are Christian. Their addiction symptoms, however, are different from those of Muslims. These Christians are addicted to the promises that "your reward is in heaven" and that "God is your protector" as opposed to "you mortals are His protector."

Indeed, a large proportion of Christians in Nigeria have fallen victim to a free-market Christianity that has demasculinized and commercialized its God. The addicted adherents are told that they should love their enemies and bless those who curse them; turn the other cheek not once, but seventy times seventy; be good farmers by sowing seeds to make a preacher rich while they become poor; await their reward in heaven or just may be you also may be rich on earth. Some redeeming good can be found in the Christian addiction, though; at least the addicts are not violent. They respect life and believe that their God is powerful and mighty enough to defend them and Himself. Although I support such a philosophy, I see danger within it.

I abhor violence of any kind. I believe that a true God does not need mortals to kill for it or defend it. However, if the followers of any religion, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, "Shangoism," and so forth, are being killed and maimed, of course they should defend themselves and not wait for their God to miraculously defend them. Nigerian Christians must realize that Jesus Christ will not physically arrive or send the angel Gabriel to descend and fight for them.

Christians in Nigeria, adherents of both the free-market variety and the institutional one, should stop taking the "turn the other cheek" piety literally and start protecting themselves, human life, and the dignity of all God's creatures. The cheeks of followers are not endless-very soon, there will be no cheeks left to turn. No be prayers they go chop always nor sowing seeds that will provide them with freedom and security. Christians do not be deluded. The door will open, but you must knock.

Opiate addicts are usually out of touch with reality and rationality; often, they have difficulty regaining cognitive function. If you asked those who murdered Deborah to explain how she insulted them, many would not even be able to supply the correct answer. There is no evidence in her recorded post, made in Hausa, that she insulted Islam or Mohammed. She was simply angered because some people were using the WhatsApp forum, which she was a member of, to post, in her words, "useless messages" about a prophet. Islam and Mohammed were not even mentioned. But apparently, the facts were irrelevant to these opiate addicts; these ignorant and uneducated religious-political disposable humans stoned and burned Deborah to death.

While the world waits to learn if the Nigerian government will render justice, and while her parents struggle with their inconsolable grief, all Nigerian Christian churches should honor Deborah by establishing Deborah Samuels Day to remember her martyrdom and take steps to ensure that no one else will ever have to endure such an experience.

Deborah, you are now free from the limitations of this material world. You are with the true God of humanity, who needs no mortal defenders; the saints in heaven; and your Blessed Mother, Mary.

Pray for Nigeria.

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