Post Mortem

If religion fails to liberate

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 5/14/2019 10:37:55 AM IST

 There should be some purpose derived/realized or there must be some minimal benefit that the adherents should receive or some kind of utilitarian value garnered by the worshippers who adhere to religion. If religion fails on the aforementioned counts, why do we need religion? Religion is considered as an agency/institution/ organization formally entwined with the commands: DOs and DON’Ts that are intrinsically insulated within its pre-fabricated dogmas, traditions, doctrines and host of others. So, the very purpose of each and every religion is supposed to ‘unite’ or ‘bring together’ or ‘cement’ individuals/groups/communities for higher levels of spirituality and ethical values. Further, it assumes that the Homo sapiens per se are not mere material entities alone, but spiritual too—wherein there’s an inner quest/ urge simmering in him/her to approximate higher values. So, religion per se basically and fundamentally takes care of spiritual enhancement of its adherents.  

Given the conditions, sociologically and theologically speaking, the claim religion makes sounds good.  But, the incidents that happened recently at Christchurch Mosque shooting where many Muslims died; on the Easter Day, a series of bombings in three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka killing hundreds of worshippers and others who were present within the vicinity perished. These incidents convey clear messages that the religious extremists of different religion have resorted to terrorism. Religions have become the core of what’s happening irrespective of their shades, belief systems and theological variants. These incidents clearly convey that the fundamentalists have taken over religion to kills and intimidate people. At this juncture, we need to view religion not solely on the basis of religious and doctrinal parameters, but see through the ways with which religion is webbed with culture, politics, economy and other societal facets.

Religion is placed at the crossroads, where religion is dubbed as the most pernicious tool placed in the hands of fanatics and far-right extremists. Therefore, it becomes mandatory to reflect on the survival of the present and future generations. Many tend to follow without reflecting: why one should go to church or mosque or temple or whatever? They blindly follow the crowd or as generations pass by traditions and practices are set and belief systems formed and thus have become part of our rituals. Whether the meanings or values offered by religion make any sense or difference in the life and witness of its adherents or not—many do not want to know? If religion fails to instill values and teach how to be good, then the rituals that the worshippers adhere and follow through their life time have no value and no use. Obviously, the religious beliefs and practices have become routine and mundane and lost its significance.  

If we look at the evolutionary theory we notice that there were phases in which humans with their reasoning capacity kept elevating from one phase to another. Homo sapiens per se are given the capacity to think and act rationally. By entering into critical inquiry they have ability to transform themselves and the world around them. So, human beings are not just geared towards materiality, but also in search of higher levels of life—spirituality which religion is supposed to offer. Religion apart from facilitating spiritual nurturing should imbue ethical values that are grounded in the religious texts pushing towards highest good by transforming the adherents to become moral beings. In recent times religious institutions and establishments are filled with moral decadence that mirrors exactly what’s happening in the society. Religious establishments fail to offer corrective measures as they are soaked with all kinds of misdeeds and nefarious activities. And so, religion fails to play any corrective role in the society as it is soaked with many ills. Nowadays religion mirrors the society, which means whatever happens in the society happens amongst those who claim to be the custodians of religion. If this is the state of affairs,  how could one expect religion to be functioning light the light house to guide the society or providing normative principles for making the society—morally grounded.. 

Religious establishment ought to impart moral values and engage in promoting eternal virtues and ethical principle such as peace, justice, sharing, freedom, love, equality, dignity, so that its adherents would understand how to lead a life—as moral beings. Religion must become a pivotal force that galvanizes moral accountability and ethical responsibility in all the societal functioning. On the contrary, those who are at the helms of affairs in the religious institutions indulge in all sorts of things that negate the basic core and tenets of religion then religion has failed in its function. And so, religion in recent times mirror’s what’s happening exactly in the society. The moral values that are part of the religious tenets are gradually waning. As a consequence, violence, intolerance, hatred and lynching taking place—in the name of religion. 

Religion is like two-edged sword—can be used for destruction as well as for edification. In a world of insecurity and unpredictability, religion ought to have offered or guided the people and those in power the ways and means of protecting the lives of people thereby moving towards establishing common humanity. While on the other, the fundamentalists of religion and its establishments are heavily engaged in the destruction of human lives with all sorts of diabolical designs and so now religion and its agency are construed as the core of all contestation that triggers and thus posing major problems in the world—involved in inhumane activities such as liquidation and intimidation. If religion and its agencies fail to promote common good and common humanity, then its use and presence in the society needs careful scrutiny.

Religion is one of the most powerful tools and as an agency/institution which should get engaged in the transformation of society.  On the contrary, we have increasingly been witnessing hostilities and conflicts—all in the name of religion. Wherever there are conflicts and whatever may be the political slogans, rhetoric and narratives religion and identity are nuanced in such ways instilling hatred and venom against others. The entire discourse is premised on nationalism whipping up the passion by invoking ‘religious majority’ as against the ‘religious minority’. If the core values of religion are not followed and promoted; if religion and its establishments are  used to furthering political projects by distorting its basic tenets and if it is used to abuse women and children; amazing money and accumulating properties, then those who believe in religion have lost their case and by all means should get rid of religion.  

Dr. John Mohan Razu


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