FEATURE ARTICLE

E O EkeThursday, November 8, 2012
eoeke@aol.com


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THE OPIUM OF THE PEOPLE

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ne of the greatest evils and act of moral depravity committed in the world today is committed by religious organisations. The groups that are terrorising people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Nigeria and Libya are all religious. They are destroying properties and killing innocent children, women, men and elderly people because they believe that the world view they wish to impose on all is the right and correct one. They extort money from the poorest of the community by subjecting them to weekly traumatic emotional psychological abuses. Through their fire and brimstone teachings of heaven and hell, religious organisations sow fear and anxiety which compel people to seek comfort in hope of eternal bliss. This psychological conditioning renders the people susceptible for exploitation by the priests, pastors, imams and general and local overseers. They use this money given to God to fund opulent life style for themselves and families, which is not even possible for the average person who they claim they have brought to God. Their mantra is that they are doing the work of God and their brain washed and adamant members agree and they quieten their conscience. However, when one looks at what it really means to do the work of God and how it is stated in the holy books, it should be done; one fails to see a semblance of what they are doing, to the work God intends for people to do. In fact, their behaviour and conduct stand utterly condemned as depraved and contemptible by the holy books.

To justify their rape of the people, they juxtapose an ancient tax system operational in a theocracy when man were not expected to pay income tax as a necessary requirement by God while they people are unaware that no one but themselves and their families benefit from the tax. They fail to understand that it is not the intention of God that heavy financial burden should be laid on the people in his name. They act oblivious that Jesus did not establish his church so that a group of lazy and unscrupulous individual like bar Jesus would use the effects of his teaching on human minds to exploit the ignorant and the gullible. They refuse to take on board that Jesus himself did not collect any tithe or offering from anybody to fund his life style and did not live in comfort at the expense of the people.

When Jesus saw the hold of the religion and political authority on the people he saw the futility of protesting and he cautioned, give to Caesar what is Caesar, and to God what is God. Even though he was telling the people to pay their tax, although he knew it was unfair and exploitative, and to continue their devotion to God and living according to his will. He was not justifying the multiple taxation and exploitation by the religious leaders and the government. However, exploitative churches in particular misuse the quotation to justify the double crushing and impoverishing taxation of income tax and tithe and offerings by churches.

On a visit to Nigeria, I attended a church which attended before I left in Nigeria. I could not recognise the church I attended as a child. From the beginning to the end every single activity had been choreographed, to emotionally blackmail and compel the people to give their money to the church. It was simply a fund raising meeting by the unscrupulous. People were first softened up for exploitation by emotionally charged message that exploited guilt. They were told how sinful they have been and how angry God is with them. The preacher drew from the worst social situation in Nigeria, like armed robbery, kidnapping and government corruption and claimed it was signs of end of time instead of pointing to the behavioural, economic, political and social reasons for them. Then he gave a message of heaven and hell fire which was developed from dichotomous thinking and explained it to the people in concrete manner. The people were now completely primed for exploitation. When he called on the people to give to God and urged them to give until it hurt, I knew that the people were completely under his hypnosis and would do as he said because they believe that it was the only way to gain the blessings and the favour of God. At that point, the evil of religion became very clear to me. There I was, sitting in a congregation of people hypnotised by faith and being exploited for the good of a few.

Even though the fortunes of people in Nigeria is directly related to their profession, business and connection and relationship with those in power, the preacher told the people that their fortune has a relationship with how much money they donated in the church to God . None of the people who were then in religious coma could see the illogicality of his assertion. I could see that there can be no relationship between what someone gave in the church and the person’s fortune because that would automatically mean that God can be bribed and a negation of every single character of God. In their possessed state, the people agreed and shortly when the offering plates were passed round they gave generously. The preachers then said; give to the Lord, the more you give, the more the Lord blesses you. I could not believe what I heard. It sounded like gambling companies telling the gambler, the more you spend the richer you will be. I sat there not with the words of God in my mind, but actually the words of Karl Marx for I was witnessing the people taking opium and could see that indeed it puts them to sleep and that they would wake up looking yet for more while their problem of ignorance remains.

I often wonder why people who claim to be religious do not see the evils of the exploitations that go on in the name of God. The religious organisations register themselves as charities and operate as multi-national companies. In the name of charity or doing God’s work, they receive donations, offerings and tithes (religious tax) from the people and build schools, hospitals and other businesses where only the rich would be able to afford. The turn away children of the poor from schools and universities built from generous donations from the members. They turn away the poor sick from hospitals built with their donations. Yet, they quote from the Bible ‘freely you receive and freely you must give and do nothing. How can it be morally acceptable and compatible with the values of God for an organisation to build institutions in the name of God from free donations and exclude the children of the poor and the sick poor. Today they have in deed made merchandise of God’s word and God is not amused.

The people must get knowledge and with the getting of knowledge as Solomon counselled, they must get understanding and realise that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and that knowledge of the holy is understand. The believers need to understand what Jesus meant when he warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you, many shall come in my name and deceive many”. I suppose believers should pause and think and then ask themselves, why did Jesus lament that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light? Why did the apostles not set up private churches where they exploited the people every week to fund life lavish life style in the name of God?

The exploitation, abuse and criminality that is taking place in churches and many Christian and Islamic ministries in our time is unprecedented in the history of the world. In the past when a society is degenerating, religion used to provide the only moral compass. However, in our time, like the time of Jesus, those who claim to know God are actually more in the wrong than the people they condemn. No wonder, Jesus told them first take out the beam in their own eyes before attempting to remove the speck in their brother’s eyes. Religion is indeed the opium of our time and the addicts need help.

Ours is a rotten society whose moral debasement knows no bound. Knowledge is indeed the principle thing and the eyes of the people need to open so that they can see that the priest who rent his coat to demonstrate his piety is actually the murder who conspired to kill the only man who was doing the right thing.

Oh God, help humanity to see that many things are not really what they seem, that we live in a world of forms. Help all to take heed and pursue wisdom and understanding before they believe. Help them to wake up from the slumber of the opium of the people.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

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