Monday, 27 August 2012

When the church gets dirty!


The Roman Catholic Church again! When will the Roman Catholic Church stop meddling with politics and state affairs? Yesterday, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland read letters in over 500 Catholic parishes in the country urging them to protest vigorously the plan of the Scottish Government to introduce same sex marriage. I find this deplorable for the simple fact that it is not right for the church to meddle with the business of the state.

The mission of the state and that of religion are two different missions. The religion is here to nourish the spiritual needs of her members while the state is there for the temporal needs of the citizens. While the religions focus mainly on their own members-for instance Roman Catholics for Roman Catholics, Anglican for Anglicans, Quakers for Quakers, Muslims for Muslims-the state is there to offer a level playing ground for all. This is important not only to ensure a level playing ground for all but also to ensure that no one religion dominates and imposes her dogmas on others. It will also ensure that the rights of minority religions are protected in states with majority religion.

It is because of this that the state must strive to maintain a secular stand and work vigorously towards distancing herself from any religion or adopting any religion as the state religion. It is also for this reason that I have been in the vanguard of the call to separate the state from religion and enthrone the American version of First Amendment in the constitution of all the countries in the world! To refresh your memory the first amendment said;

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

This is very important bearing in mind the formidable role the church could play in influencing a government to do evil against its citizens. The 'silent' role played by the Roman Catholic Church during the Jewish Holocaust is still fresh in our mind! And the fact that the Vatican state played a formidable role in allowing the Nazis to escape to different parts of the world is deplorable and shows the danger of allowing the church to meddle with state. Is it also not shocking that a civil case of trespass by Pussy Riots in Russia’s Christ the Saviour Orthodox Cathedral suddenly became a criminal case just because the Orthodox was involved? And think also of the cozy relationship between the state and religion in Iran!

Bearing this in mind, one would have thought that the governments and the churches must have learnt their lesson, but it seems to me that their memory is very short. It is against this backdrop that I am highly disappointed about the news that the New York Cardinal, Timothy Dolan, the nation's most prominent Catholic prelate, will deliver the closing blessing to the Republican National Convention in Florida next week.

This is highly embarrassing! The Roman Catholic Church is a highly respectable church and it will do her more good to still carry herself with some dignity.  The cardinal’s choice is not good for democracy and it is neither good for the church. There is increasingly cozy relationship between the state and the church and this should worry all the lovers of democracy worldwide. It seems to me that the American Roman Catholic Church is working very hard to play the role being played today by the Ayatollahs in Iran! This is very dangerous and you should be scared!

I think that at the moment we are better off and contented living in a secular state where laws are product of rational thinking by rational beings and am pretty sure that we cannot even begin to contemplate or imagine living in state where laws are imposed on people simply because one man claimed that God revealed a book to him in a mountain or a cave. This is 21st century and the idea of theological laws in 21st century democracy is ridiculous and should make us to press the panic button.

Nigeria is in a state of mess today due to where the two main religions of Islam and Christianity have put us. Despite being a secular state, at least in theory, these religions have succeeded in cobwebbing into every sphere of public life in the poor country! Could you believe that despite the fact that people still die of lack of adequate healthcare in Nigeria today, the government still sponsors pilgrimages yearly to Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem and Rome? Since when did religion become more important than the health of the people? The health of the people should be the supreme law!

I am therefore worried that Cardinal Dolan would appear in Tampa to ‘endorse’ the Republican agenda and I have no doubt that this gesture will cause an irreparable damage to the image of the Roman Catholic Church not only in the United States but across the globe. If the Republicans invade any country tomorrow if they win the next election, the implication would be obvious; the Roman Catholic church endorsed and blessed it just as she did for the Nazis in the early years of Hitler’s government and of course the crusade; Deo volente!

This will also damage the ability of the Roman Catholic Church to be a moral voice for the oppressed and the voiceless and deprive her of the moral pedestal to play an opposition role to the excesses of any Republican government in power.

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