RELIGION & CORRUPTION: Continued discussion among an Opawoye & Ajetunmobi Group

December 5, 2011

Society/Living

[Dr. Layi/Lati Opawoye and Dr. Abdasalam Ajetunmobi drew me into their social networks and I’ve not only been greatly educated from them but they – the networks AND the gentlemen – have greatly enhanced my Blog.  I’ve gotten tons of information through an ‘Old Boys’ from a certain Southwestern Nigeria high school network, about one of those “progressive” city/town unions, and, learnt facts about Islam that I did not know till the last Ileya Celebrations. 

Generally, I use only material by Ajetunmobi and Opawoye despite the tons of materials that I’m lucky to get through their sources because Opawoye, who’s sort of family, looks out for me always while Ajetunmobi can always be relied upon to give dispassionate opinions on various subjects.

I’m no academic (acada) but with this – though very brief – seminal contribution, I must come out on why Ajetunmobi’s essays continue to appear here in quantity next to mine on this Blog.  I thank them both.  TOLA.]

It’s quite misleading to suggest that “Christianity was not intended to be a religion,” or thatIslam in the real sense is not a religion.” I find it puzzling that we can still be trading at this stage on the idea that Christianity is essentially separate, different or incommensurable with religion. For sure, Islam is called the “Deen-ul-Fitrah” or the natural religion of Man. As I have explained before, the word religion, probably derives from the Latin “religare,” i.e., to “to bind, or tie,” means a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. The justification for Christianity, according to the last writer, is based upon the assertion that, because the “ministry of Jesus Christ was intended to provide access to the Living God without regard to ancestral origins” it is not a religion. That assertion has no foundation at all. All religions, including Christianity and Islam begin with belief in one ‘Living God’, two or more central holy figures or teachers to whom people can form “a relationship.” Almost all religions also involve a deity or deities capable of interacting with us, able and willing to intervene in our lives, to hear our silent wishes, and to grant them, and capable of doing literally anything. In the light of this clarification, the real question we need to address is this:

Has one religion the right to supplant another religion? Let’s put the question in the context of the “ministry of Jesus Christ”: Has Christianity the moral right to supplant the traditional belief systems, if evidence suggests that these systems as they now exist, equally with the Christianity, are of the same origin and also that they have equal standing with Christianity in the court of comparative religion? In addressing this question, we must remember that to have faith in the “ministry of Jesus Christ” is subjective not objective. As such it can’t be a ‘fact’ that can be used as a base point for logical reasoning. So, deeper thinking is required.

On the “fallacy of declaring one’s self as an atheist” (I don’t know anyone one has done so here), it is true that human beings “cannot function without some form of belief system.” But again, truly rational people proportion their beliefs to the evidence. René Descartes, a French philosopher dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’ held that speech and reason set man apart from all other animals, and thus non-human animals were beyond morality or ethical consideration. Accordingly, moral norms and values are accessible to human reason and they can be known by anyone capable of thought and action. Thus, without Christianity, the faculty of reason is transcultural as it enables individuals to deduce the correct moral code by which to live their lives.

Best regards,

AO Ajetunmobi

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UPDATE:  Spirituality and Corruption (further explanation)

by A. Ajetunmobi

… The point is that I found the suggestion made earlier about Christianity misleading because the meaning of religion was rendered scarcely intelligible to me. Now that I am capable understanding that Christianity is a religion, let’s now address the main issue, which is this: “Has Christianity the moral right to attempt to supplant the traditional belief systems?

Now, it is not an excuse to say that, because no one “had documented the religion of my ancestors,” we may not be able to address the above question. It is true that our “ancestors” and much of Black population in Africa left virtually no written records. But the key to the way our “ancestors” relate to God in a consistent manner,” could be found in ethnological inferences, archaeological excavations, oral traditions and language analysis. These are widely available; so, the above question is answerable.

As to the allusion of the “philosophy of one’s oppressors,” we have put things in perspective here: Who is “more versed in the philosophy of one’s oppressors, more than the philosophy of one’s ancestors”? Is it the person who is making a rallying-call, based on evolutionary principle and historical method, that there is nothing more supernatural in Christianity than Yoruba ancestral belief system? Or, is it the person who is making a revisionist claim to African root of Christianity, perhaps because Jesus, Mary and Joseph travelled to Egypt following the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem in Judea, or perhaps because of the glamorous and fabled province of Roman Africa and its dominant personalities, namely, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine?

Of course, there might be a reply that Jesus transcends all questions of ethnology. But, it must not be forgotten that God was alleged to have incarnated himself in a man of the Jewish race. Semites are not the same as Yoruba ethnic group? Or, are they?

Best regards, AO Ajetunmobi.

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CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX

Nigerians should go beyond prayerful or spiritual strategies

to combat corruption & other societal ills

A.O. Ajetunmobi

A serious suggestion made by X yesterday about “the formation of freedom group that will coordinate civil disobediences,” resonated with my own previous view that we should go beyond prayerful or spiritual strategy in combating corruption, poor governance and underdevelopment of the nation’s economy. If we make attempt to examine the latest results of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which I referred yesterday, we will see that my view is justified.

The CPI uses a scale of one to ten, with ten being highly clean and one being highly corrupt. And, as I reported yesterday, the least corrupt country is New Zealand (9.5) — followed by Denmark (9.4), Finland (9.4) and Sweden (9.3). Yet, in New Zealand, the weekly church attendance is 15%; 33% of New Zealanders report no religious affiliation at all; and, neither the current Prime Minister, John Key nor his predecessor, Helen Clark knew whether God existed as they both claimed publicly that they were agnostic.

In Denmark, only 31% of Danes agree with the statement “I believe there is a God”; weekly church attendance in Denmark is under 10%. In Finland, 84 per cent of the population belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and 13.5 per cent are not registered with any religious denomination; weekly church attendance is 12%.  In Sweden only 23% of citizens agree with the statement “I believe there is a God”; only 2% attends Church services weekly.

The top four most populated Muslim countries (Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Egypt) scored in the miserable range of 2.5 to 3. The only four Muslim majority countries that ranked in the top 50 were Qatar (7.2), The United Arab Emirates (6.8), Oman (4.8), and Bahrain (5.1) – with only one, Qatar, in the top 22, though above poor Saudi Arabia (4.4, 57thposition) and the United States (7.1). In the case of the United States, no other developed nation can match America for her piety, yet the US is in a distant 24th position, compared to a less godlike New Zealand (1st), Denmark (2nd), Finland (3rd) or Sweden (4th).

We must understand that the problems raised by corruption and bad leadership in Nigeria can only be resolved by Nigerians with a strong determination for dignified existence, free of kleptocracy. Two weeks ago in Kuwait, the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah and his Government resigned after corruption protests. It is worth noting that the thousands of Kuwaitis that stormed the parliament after police and elite forces beat up protesters did not give spiritual appearance to their problems before marching on the prime minister’s home to demand his resignation.

There is no need for us to give a spiritual character to the problems bedeviling Nigeria since, as it has been pointed out to us, there “was no epidemic beyond our control neither was any war.” In fact, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, made similar point in a speech made at The American University, Washington, D.C., on June 10, 1963, stating: “Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” There is sufficient food for reflection here, at least for those who can reflect.

December 7, 2011  rm

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I agree that the existence of two publics (i.e. civic and primordial) instead of one public, as in the West, is contributory to corruption in Nigeria. However, I think this problem of seizing largesse from the civic public in order to benefit the primordial public may be solved by the realisation that the civic public and the primordial public are rivals, and that the civic public must be squarely faced and met, albeit non-spiritually.

Of course, should the cards be “shuffled to our advantage,” there are successful models around the world to learn from. I already mentioned New Zealand where policing by God has been put on the back burner. And, even if we ignore the experience of this high income country, Botswana is an African country, rated 32nd and scored 6.1 on CPI scale, and which has consistently maintained a stable macro economy that has, to large extent, avoided the resource curse as in Nigeria rated 143rd and scored 2.3 on the same scale. Political theory is simple: “God helps those who help themselves.” I dearly want to believe that we do not need spiritual surveillance to stop us from behaving in a selfish and corrupt manner.

.

AO Ajetunmobi

December 9, 2011

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