The JOS Horror; God, Why? – In the midst of the pain and sorrow that we ‘all’ feel about the heinous killings in Jos, and all the other crazy things going on in Nigeria, We sometimes wonder: where is God, where is religion? Yes, you may wonder; what sort of religion will compel its members to commit the sort of atrocity as witnessed in Jos? What sort of God will command its followers to kill in his name?
Writen by Daniel Elombah
In narrating the horrific tragedy that befall Berom Christians in three villages in a community near Jos, where Christians were shot and butchered in Cold blood in the early hours of Sunday 7th march 2010, the Angilcan Diocesse of Jos lamented:
“They were mostly women and children. They were defenceless. They were unprotected. They died without knowing why or how. Some were butchered on their beds while many more were killed while trying to flee from their attackers; Muslims who feel these people do not deserve to live and do not deserve the lives they have. Women were hacked down as they tried to cover and protect their children with their bodies. Little babies were snatched from their mothers and thrown into the burning flames set by the attackers”. (read http://elombah.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3095:jos&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=67)
Still, a Nigerian northern Muslim wrote: The hard fact which the Christians “failed or deliberately refused to acknowledge is the fact that what happened to the innocent Beroms of that village had earlier happened to the Hausas and Fulanis/Muslims of Kuru Jentar, Mai Adiko, Tim Tim, Bisichi, Gero and so many other villages. Hundreds of men, women, children and infants were brutally massacred, with some burnt to ashes, and their remains dumped in wells, suck away and abandoned mining pits”.
YOU do not have to look far to see that evil and suffering abound. Wars kill civilians as well as soldiers, Christians and Muslims. Crime, disasters and violence are commonplace. Perhaps you have recently been a victim of crime, prejudice or injustice or lost a friend or relative in a religious or other crisis. In view of what you have seen and experienced, you have very likely asked, ‘Where is God?’
SOMETIMES a person asking the question “Why?” seeks comfort as well as answers, for when the question springs from severe loss; there is a great need for solace.
In the midst of the pain and sorrow that we ‘all’ feel about the heinous killings in Jos, and all the other crazy things going on in Nigeria, We sometimes wonder, where is God, where is religion?
Jerry Fujuno commenting below the horrific Jos pictures I posted on my facebook wrote: “I have been wondering…Has religion in Nigeria not caused more problems than it has solved?”
Yes, you may wonder; what sort of religion will compel its members to commit the sort of atrocity as witnessed in Jos? What sort of God will command its followers to kill in his name? Are you distressed about crimes committed in the name of religion? Do the warfare, terrorism, and corruption perpetrated by those who claim to serve God offend your sense of justice? Why does religion seem to be at the root of so many problems?
Does the fault lie with all religion? A widely respected religious figure, Jesus Christ, indicated that false religion produces bad works, just as a “rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” Of course, many were aware of the hypocrisy in religion.
Today, Religion . . .
MEDDLES IN WAR AND POLITICS: “Across Asia and beyond,” says the journal Asiaweek, “power-hungry leaders are cynically manipulating people’s religious sentiments for their own needs.” As a result, the journal warns: “The world threatens to sink into madness.”
A prominent religious leader in the United States declared: “You’ve got to kill the terrorists before the killing stops.” His solution? “Blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” How many religions can you think of whose members engage in war?
Because of the evil that many religions have caused, like many others, perhaps you feel that religion is irrelevant to a better life. Religion has lost its widespread appeal? Why Many Have Turned away From Religion.
The role of religion in war was well-known, as was the abusive conduct of some clergymen. But most people felt that religion itself was good. Others liked the mystique, the tradition, and the music; some even saw value in the threat of eternal damnation in hell, which is a teaching not found in the Scriptures. Then, several developments changed the way that many people viewed the churches.
Many however insist that “The Jos crisis is not about religion. It is about politics, land ownership rights and about putting food on the table. It is above all about failure of leadership at all levels of the Nigerian government.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo told Christiana Amanpour of the CNN, the Jos crisis is not a religious but an ethnic, economic and land problem.
Ethnic intolerance varies in seriousness—from offensive or thoughtless remarks to efforts to exterminate an ethnic group as a national policy. What is the root cause of ethnic intolerance? How can we avoid showing it? Is it reasonable to hope that one day all the families of mankind will live together peacefully?
Ethnic hatred goes back a long way. For example, in the 18th century before our Common Era, an Egyptian Pharaoh invited the Hebrew Jacob and his large family to settle in Egypt. Later, however, another Pharaoh felt threatened by this large group of immigrants. As a result, the record says: “He proceeded to say to his people: ‘Look! The people of the sons of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we are. Come on! Let us deal shrewdly with them, for fear they may multiply.’ . . . So they set over them chiefs of forced labor for the purpose of oppressing them in their burden-bearing.” (Exodus 1:9-11) The Egyptians even ordered all newborn boys of the descendants of Jacob to be killed.—Exodus 1:15, 16.
The world’s religions have rarely been helpful in opposing ethnic intolerance. While it is true that some individuals have heroically opposed oppression, religion as a whole has all too frequently sided with the oppressors. That was the case in the United States, where the subjugation of black people was enforced by law and by lynching and statutes banning mixed marriages continued until 1967. It was also true in South Africa under apartheid, when a minority protected their dominant position by laws that included a ban on interracial marriage. In each case, some belonging to the ethnic group that promoted intolerance were deeply religious.
In its extreme expression, ethnic intolerance has spewed genocide and war crimes in such places as Rwanda, Sudan and the former Yugoslavia.
However, the Bible reveals a deeper reason for ethnic intolerance. It explains why some ethnic groups oppress others. It says: “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love. If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:8, 20) This statement identifies the root cause of ethnic intolerance. People practice it—whether they claim to be religious or not—because they have not come to know or to love God.
So if God is love, why has he allowed this suffering, wickedness and man’s inhumanity to man?
That question is not a new one. Some 3,600 years ago, a servant of God named Job asked: “Why is it that the wicked themselves keep living?”
Troubled by the evil deeds of his countrymen, the prophet Jeremiah of the seventh century B.C.E. asked: “Why is it that the way of wicked ones is what has succeeded, that all those who are committing treachery are the unworried ones?”
Both Job and Jeremiah knew that God is righteous. Yet, they wondered why there was so much wickedness. Perhaps you too are puzzled by this.
Some people blame God for wickedness and suffering. Others wonder: ‘If God is all-powerful, just, and loving, why does he not put an end to evil and suffering? Why has he allowed evil to continue until our day?’
Many people think of Almighty God as the ruler of this world, the one who is in direct control of everything. “Not one atom or molecule of the universe is outside his active rule,” said the president of one theological seminary.
It is not wrong to ask why God allows suffering. Some people worry that posing such a question implies a lack of faith in God or disrespect for him. On the contrary, if you ask this question, you are in good company. The prophet Habakkuk asked God in the Bible: “Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere?”
I don’t believe that God is the source of wickedness. Those who attribute such things as murder and terrorism to God are maligning him. “Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly!” So if you have suffered evil, rest assured that God is not the cause.
Who is this wicked one that causes suffering? Could another evil force responsible? THE idea of a cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil has prompted endless speculation by writers and philosophers throughout history.
Satan is cruel, deceptive, and hateful—traits that underlie much of the suffering that people experience. The victory in the battle between Good and the evil is determined by the answering of two questions: Is man successfully able to rule himself? Can Humans Successfully Rule Themselves?
Man is responsible for his actions. “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up,” says the Bible. Thus, some get enjoyment from oppressing others. The Bible further states: “Look! The tears of those being oppressed, but they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power”.
For thousands of years, humans have experimented with various types of rulership. Different forms of government, such as monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, autocracy, Fascism, and Communism, have been tried in the course of history.
“The Roman people found themselves engaged almost unawares in a vast administrative experiment,” writes H. G. Wells in A History of the World, published in 1922. He continues: “It was always changing, it never attained to any fixity. In a sense the experiment failed. In a sense the experiment remains unfinished, and Europe and America today are still working out the riddles of the worldwide statecraft first confronted by the Roman people.”
The experiment in government continued through the 20th century. That century ended with democratic rule gaining greater acceptance than ever before. Democracy theoretically reaches out to embrace everyone. But has democracy shown that man can rule successfully without God? Jawaharlal Nehru, former prime minister of India, called democracy good but added: “I say this because other systems are worse.” Former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing said: “We are witnessing a crisis of representative democracy.”
Even in the fifth century B.C.E., the Greek philosopher Plato detected a weakness in the democratic way of ruling. According to the book A History of Political Theory, he attacked “the ignorance and incompetence of politicians, which is the special curse of democracies.” Many of today’s politicians lament the difficulty in finding talented individuals who are qualified to serve in government. People “are annoyed by leaders who appear small at a time when the problems facing them are so big,” said The Wall Street Journal. It continued: “They are disgusted with finding indecision and corruption when they look for direction.”
Man’s Religion is the ultimate opium for politics and economics, the kind that drives the daily actions of individual and society.
To be sure, some insist that the Jos killings are not because of religion. It is because of power struggle over land and political opportunities. It is about a struggle between the “indigenes” who incidentally happened to be Christians and the “settlers” who happened to be Muslims.
But the fact remains that the perpetrators of the heinous crime belong to a religion, they believe in their God, they pray five times a day; some, unfailingly. And so I ask, what has their religion taught them? Is it to murder their fellow humans in cold blood?
Rather than blame God, Nigerians should concern themselves with the fact that their religion is a banner, something to wave before unsuspecting gullible masses. They declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, proving false to its power. By contrast, the Bible says: “If anyone makes the statement: ‘I love God,’ and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar.” Jesus even said: “Continue to love your enemies.”
Yes, Nigerians do not operate like normal human beings created by God to love one another, irrespective of Tribe and Religious beliefs.
Moreover, the Jos crisis is also due to lack of honesty, trust and transparency between different levels of government in Nigeria; “Someone, somewhere slept on the watch”. The question that should bother us is this: Who is responsible to stop the carnage but looked the other way and why?”