The rate at which religion tends to find its way into virtually all that we do, has become very alarming. However, the issue is not with the various religions, but with those who believe and follow these diverse believes.
It is no news that everyone is free to practice whichever religion suits him or her, but it is sad to note that that freedom has been abused and to a great extent has become man's captivity.
People (especially Africans), tend to always throw away rationality in their dealings with religion and issues regarding belief. Some go as far as terming their irrational as "faith". For instance, one is sick but because his/her religious leader has spoken on exercising faith by not using medications, he/she follows the rule dogmatically and the end result is not palatable.
The great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant noted that "The autonomous man, insofar as he is autonomous, is not subject to the will of another. He may do what another tells him, but not because he has been told to do it. He is therefore, in the political sense of the word, free."
It is in trying to address this issue of freedom and rationality that this article has been written. For this piece, Christianity will be the focus and the major reason is because Christianity is the most populated in the world. Bringing it back home to Africa, and narrowing it down to Nigeria, statistics show that Nigeria has the largest Christian population of any country in Africa, with more than 85 million persons belonging to various denominations.
Some major examples of rather controversial Christian practices will be presented, as to help draw the line between religion and rationality. For all the examples that will be highlighted below, the basic rule or yardstick of judgement will be if the practice or act by these preachers, pastors or prophets follow any biblical principle.
It is only rational that if one says he/she is a Christian, then the bible is the perfect book by which his/her actions would be measured. One would find out that most of the examples do not borrow from the bible, nor follow any rational principle. Hence the question, "why are many people still deceived?"
1. Pastor makes members eat grass
A certain Pastor Lesego Daniel who is the founder and Head Pastor at Rabboni Centre Ministries, said that he was basically trying to prove that humans can be controlled by "the spirit" and they can eat anything to feed their bodies.
This clearly is a case of debasing humans to the level of ruminants. And of course some will defend the act by saying there was a time when a certain king was made to live among lower animals for about 7-years.
Then the question becomes how does it relate? In the bible story, the act was a punishment, but here was a full congregation being used for a so called "spirit experiment".
It is still a mystery how the South African pastor got to convince adult members of his church to resort to eating grass.
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2. Holy ghost foot mats
The same Pastor Daniel made headlines again when in a bid to deliver members of his congregation, he used them as "holy ghost foot mats"
The pastor in question was practically walking on his members and one would be forced to ask, where in the bible was such a miracle module presented?
3. Drink petrol-pineapple juice
The thought behind this action is rather simple, Jesus is said to have turned water into wine, hence this same man of God thought it wise to turn petrol into pineapple juice.
A viral video showed the clergyman praying for a bottle which according to him contained petrol, to be turned to pineapple juice.
He then offered it to his congregants to drink. Some of them were exclaiming how ‘sweet’ and ‘nice’ it tastes, some said it tasted like the blood while some others begged for more. The blood?
4. Human-donkeys and fake messiahs
Controversial Prophet Penuel, was not satisfied with having fed his followers live snake, asking them to take off their underwear and eat them; the man of God called one of his members simply identified as ‘Thabiso’, he commanded him "by the power of God" to turn into a horse and according to the church’s Facebook update, indeed it happened.
The man of God was said to have ridden on the horse, a perfect replica of Christ's triumphant entry. And again if your righteous mind has not been totally lost, you will want to question the rationale behind this miracle. Why continue to debase ourselves all in the name of religion?
Only recently, a church was discovered in Tanzania where the pastor’s feet must not touch the ground until he finishes his preaching. According to a Facebook user who posted it online, the able-bodied brothers in the church have to carry him on their back one after the other until the end of the service.
5. Holy milk and pastors that ask to be sucked
"I will give you the holy spirit through *jac*lation" was the claim of Valdeci Sobrino Picanto, a Brazilian evangelical pastor. He was arrested for deceiving his congregation.
Valdeci was arrested after deceiving the faithfuls using the name of the "Holy Spirit". He said his p*nis was blessed and that "the Lord had consecrated him with divine milk of the "Holy Spirit" and, of course, he had to release it in order to 'evangelize'".
One of the victim said: "He has convinced us that only God could come into our lives through our mouth and that’s why he would do what he did.
"Often, after worship, pastor Valdeci would take us to where the funds were kept at the back of the Church and asked us to have Oral s*x with him until the Holy Spirit would come through *jac*lation."
Again one is forced to ask, how does one get to be a victim of such scam? The act does not follow the bible principles, neither is it rational. Perhaps, since Mary was conceived of the holy spirit and gave bath to Jesus, then Valdeci saw an opportunity and many fell for the sham.
The Christian holy book warns that in the "end time" there will be so many fake pastors, preachers and prophets. Many of them will come well prepared to deceive, however, if Christians can just be rational a bit and think twice before leaping-in-faith, then perhaps certain issues will not rear-their-ugly heads.
Experts have said timelessly that religion is not the problem, but the people who practice these religions are. If Christians can do more of operating according to what the bible says in conjunction with what is rational, then they won't be swayed by just any wind of doctrine that blows by.