Chapter 10: Religious Views of Intolerance
The question to ask is why religion seems to be always the easiest way of breeding intolerance in the society. From the Torah to the Bible and then to the Qur’an, most religious sacred books have a lot of places they give positive nods to intolerance while imposing such as absolute words of God. In fact the positions taken by these sacred books are mostly the foundation of intolerance in our society today. Adherents of any of these religions see anything they view contrary to the teachings of their own very sacred books as taboo and anyone who do not adhere to the teachings of their religions, as outcast worthy of elimination.
Does God always command us through these sacred books to be intolerant to other people at all costs? Does being intolerant to other people increases our personal holiness and relationships with God? It is obvious that these sacred books today have more than 50% blames when it comes to issues of agreements and disagreements of what people believe in, what and how they should worship, and generally how they should behave in the society.
Any book that teaches its own peculiar moral codes should be ready to bear the responsibilities of misbehaviors of those being influenced by reading such books. Sacred books like the Bible, the Torah and the Qur’an also have to own up to the responsibilities of the outcome of their various teachings. If people they lead under any kind of prejudices, misbehave, then it means that the moral codes of such religious books influencing them should stand out for proper questioning and thorough investigation. It’s not normal or excusable to use religious writings’ moral codes to measure the morality of everybody in the society irrespective of whether they believe in such moral teachings or not.
With no prejudice to the universality of truth, one can never impose what he finds as truth in his own religion to be the only viable barometer to measure the morality of the rest of mankind. Every religious instruction has its undertones and that’s what matters when trying to universalize such instruction. You have to understand that though religions might have the truth from their various perspectives, but no religion can claim the knowledge or ownership of absolute truth. Absolute truth is almost impossible for any religion, any person or any group of individuals to claim to have any kind of access to it.
How could religion who based some of their doctrines in mere assumptions and sometimes on mere fictions claim that they have any truth about what they propagate as doctrine of truth about God? Having assumptions on their matters of faith has already invalidated their claims of truth.
When sacred books influence people and form their prejudices, then the religions that have such sacred books should be queried, reviewed and restructured. This is because sacred books as we know them today can also incite intolerance which can lead to violence and breech of law and order in the society. This happens especially when these sacred books taken as only inevitable authority incites their adherers into causing troubles among themselves in matters where some group of people in the same religious sect refused to believe or adhere to what others are propagating as the real or better facts about their religion, or where the religious sect is trying to coerce other people in the same community (who do not believe in their religion) to get converted and adhere to their principles of religion.
In most societies today, religious adherence is necessary for proper identification of people. Though thinking alongside that line might not sound so authentic, but it is a fact. People easily define themselves and identify where they belong to by the religion they chose to adhere to. Take Nigeria for instance as a country where religion has taken some deeper parts of people’s lives in almost more negative direction that people no longer think and act independent of their religious views in even social matters. Nigeria case is somehow almost a hopeless case and it is degenerating in its geometrical progression each passing day. Muslims dominating in the Northern Nigeria while Christians dominating in Southern Nigeria. The meaning of “dominating” is real in its practical sense.
Southern Nigeria being mostly dominated by Christianity have their basic prejudices about Muslim communities living around them, while up in the north, to be a Christian is almost like being the devil. Christians in the northern part of Nigeria have always had incessant unprovoked massacres by the members of the Muslim community who always see them as infidels.
Sacred books attached to any of such religions serve mostly like dictators of ways of life that such individuals should led. Christians read the Bible and adhere strictly to its moral commands and religious obligations. Muslims do the same with the Qur’an (and by extension – Hadith) while Jews hold on strictly to the Torah. The conflicts in the instructions of these holy books presupposes the genesis of conflicts among the adherents of the religions that were formed based on the teachings and the principles of these sacred books. There’s no way people who live in the same community, but adhere to different religions would ever have the same worldviews completely deprived of their religious backgrounds. As much as their religious beliefs somehow influences their everyday lives, then there must be conflicts of interests and ideologies.
Religious intolerance is a child of prejudice that is not unconnected with supremacy attitude of people who believe that God has communicated to the world only through their teachings and for this reason, they think that it is justifiable for them to coarse the whole world to go only by their religions. They hold opinions that any other group of people that do not believe that God has communicated to them should be regarded as infidels, and all infidels deserve capital punishments. This is simple origin of religious conflicts, and most times these fights about faith are unfortunately being done in the name of God.
There’s no doubt that teachers and interpreters of these sacred books also have played some vital roles in giving intolerance some boosts in Nigeria and also in other parts of the world. This might be due to their strict belief in the erroneous dream of some religions to be the only religion in the world. When religion is left in the hands of people who cannot tolerate others, then such religion becomes weapon of destruction.