Religion ““ just like “intelligence“ ““ is one of the most difficult concepts to define. From being defined as “the belief in spiritual beings” (Edward Burnett Tylor, 1871), a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”( Durkheim) to “a feeling of absolute dependence” (Friedrich Schleiermacher), modernism has given rise to varieties of definitions of religion. However, one could say that religion is practices and other cultural systems of behaviours, ethics, and worldviews, which relate humanity to “an order of existence“ and explain why things are the way they are. Logically, therefore, one could say that religions aim to give a meaning to life. Often considered sacred, religion can be practised through different ways, including sermons, veneration (of God or deities), rituals, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, dance, trances, meditation, prayer, music, public service. Sacred rituals of a religion are performed through an authorised person (e.g. Priest, Imam, Rabbi,) who acts as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. Elements in religion, such as supernatural being(s) divine, sacred things and faith provide some degree of ultimacy and transcendence that helps to explain the reason behind the power of religion and the religious norms we obey. Sometimes, the power and fear factor associated to religion are abused by religious leaders for their self-aggrandizement. Clearly, fear and power attributed to religion start to crumble when too many questions are asked. Therefore, generally, faith – and to a certain extent, reason – has been considered a source of religious beliefs and the cement that holds religion intact.
Being considered as the mouthpiece of God, it is therefore not strange to hear priests or Imams or other authorised religious intermediaries making “religious pronouncements,“ which the followers often believe are from God / deities. One could rightly argue that religion is not like mathematics, which shows that one plus one is two ““ regardless this simple equation is tackled in Mongolia or Timbuktu. Religion is based on belief; it is either you believe or you don`t.
Perhaps, the above explains why religious pronouncements, prophecy and other acts attributed to God by our religious leaders have become a norm in our everyday African societies. Recently, a controversial Ghanaian pastor, Daniel Obinim, founder of International God`s Way Church, claimed that he was revealed that he will soon be a “˜god.` Of course, neither you nor I were there when God “revealed“ to the pugnacious pastor that he will be a “god.“ So it is either you believe or you don`t believe the pastor`s claim. Worse still, despite in this internet age, we are yet to get hold of God`s WhatsApp number or e-mail address; so verifying claims like those from Pastor Daniel Obinim has become an intractable headache.
Since religious boils down to belief, it makes one wonder what those of us who believe in / “communicate” with God, think our Master, Oga God would do when He hears a statement like that attributed to Pastor, Daniel Obinim? For those who have forgotten, I remind you that Pastor Daniel Obinim claimed he will soon be a “god.“
Of course, you would expect God to kick the controversial Ghanaian pastor in his balls, wouldn`t you? Haba! Hold it! Didn`t you read in the Bible that God is merciful and full of (com) passion? What oh! But the same Bible tells you that God does not take kindly to those who use HIS name in vain or those who make fools of HIS name? Wow! It is now becoming complicated and if you like, ironic. Yes, complicated and sometimes ironic like the message of the Bible itself ““ and any text for that matter. The Bible, like any text, is full of double – and sometimes conflicting ““ meanings. This gives room for different ““ obviously never a single and static – interpretation(s). You now understand why gullible souls have become easy fish, hooked by the sweet mouthed pastors (sorry, I mean bishops, after all, who doesn`t want that quick promotion to a bishop?), who now capitalise on the conflicting messages of the Bible. Similarly, due to the multiplicity of meaning, the messages of the religious leaders have been put in the spotlight and scrutiny, having in mind these leaders have no monopoly of single meaning of their teaching.
Conflicting the messages might be, but the basic concept of Christianity / Bible and those other religions remain the same. Sadly, some religious leaders want it otherwise. But some believe that because religion can be the opium of the masses, many still follow the criminal-minded self-acclaimed pastors and bishops blindly. This unholy act of the fastidious fake religious leaders who feed on the simple-mindedness of their followers comes to the detriment of the teaching of various religions.
Back to the “god“ Bishop Daniel Obinim, who claimed he will soon be rubbing shoulders and eating fufu, banku, chichinga, Waakye, shoko and akotonshi with God. To “legitimate“ his message, Pastor Obinim explained how he got “˜spiritual gifts` and how God revealed the promise in a dream. Humm! Even if Pastor Obinim`s followers slept in the same bed with him, a dream is an exclusive “right“ of an individual. So before you crack your brain recalling ever hearing the pastor murmuring in his dream while receiving the message from God, the pastor explained himself vividly:
“I saw Jesus Christ in my dreams, who said: “˜Collect this angelic gift.`
Wondering how Pastor Obinim knew with certainty that it was “Jesus“ he saw?
For those who still doubt, the controversial priest, who is well known to the police, went ahead:
“So, if I`m faithful to Jesus Christ, maybe the next spiritual gift He will confer on me will be a replica of what happened in Exodus Chapter 7 in the Bible where God told Moses: “˜Now I`ve made you a god, so whatever you say is final.
Still not clear? Wait! We are told that God first promoted the pastor to Bishop. One thing you must notice about many of these charismatic pastors, bishops, and other modern religious leaders, is the rate at which “God” promote“ them. Not even political appointments go so fast or climb so high. Perhaps these religious leaders are so honestly, obediently and religiously devoted to their God that their Oga never wastes time in showering them with goodies. Since being promoted to bishop, we are told that God even became angry with himself for making Obinim an “ordinary“ bishop. Before you knew it, the Holy Bishop Obinim was promoted to an angel. The next promotion, according to our authoritative source, who spoke on condition of anonymity will be to become a god.
Oh, Charlie! You make paaaaa!!! To become a God?
Angel Obinim corrected:
“But now God has not made me God. Maybe the next time God will say: “˜Obinim, now I`ve made you a god, you can even conjure up money.“
Money? Chineke oh! What could a religious leader be doing with the money?
“I have more than 20 houses given to me by Jesus Christ. I had about eight Range Rover cars which I gifted to my pastors. I had five Infinity SUVs and three Chryslers which I also gifted to my pastors because my car is. “If you cross that car, it stops automatically, and its door is not slammed, it shuts by itself. It is also bulletproof.“ Bishop Daniel Obinim intimated arrogantly.
Wait! Getting confusing, isn`t it? Angel Daniel Obinim claimed that Jesus Christ gave him more than 20 houses? I am not sure Jesus Christ works at the Ministry of Housing. Nor is Oga Jesus an estate developer. But how come, Jesus, who never even owed a donkey managed to give Daniel Obinim 20 houses? Are you really sure those houses were not given to Daniel Obinim by someone else? Perhaps Mr devil who claimed to be Jesus? Could it be that bishop Daniel did not hear the name of the guy who gave him the property well? Our reporter has agreed to add this amongst many impending questions she wants to ask Bishop Obinim.
You are talking about 20 houses; what of the five Infinity SUVs and three Chryslers Bishop Obinim claimed he gave to his “junior“ pastors? So, Oga bishop Obinim, were those cars given to you by Jesus Christ too? SUV? Yes, I remember Jesus had or borrowed one when he wanted to enter Jerusalem as “King“. The only difference is that His “SUV“ had no roof, no engine talk less bulletproof. Jesus` “SUV“ was called a “donkey“ ““ a borrowed donkey for that matter. What a rich Master Jesus was!
Wait! Bulletproof? Why does Bishop Daniel Obinim need a bulletproof car? Don`t tell me the ultimate bishop, angel and soon to become a god Obinim is afraid to die? Haba! Jesus, his Master died willingly for the sins of his followers, whom he loves dearly, and off he went to his father. Why can`t angel Daniel Obinim, who claims to emulate his Master Jesus, do the same? Very strange that Daniel Obinim seems to prefer this “worthless” earth to the rich and happy paradise, heaven, where he can rub shoulders with other angels and gods!. Another question, our reporter jotted down for “god“ to be Obinim.
Bishop Daniel Obinim:
“If you cross that car, it stops automatically, and its door is not slammed, it shuts by itself.“
Obviously, Bishop Obinim was claiming that his car` brain power is more or less superior to that of a human being. Wait! Human beings, we are told, are created by God. Then these human creatures, went ahead to create cars ““ including Bishop Obinim`s “superior cars.“ How come are these cars more intelligent than their creators? It is like Bishop Daniel Obinim, claiming to be more intelligent than God, his creator. You never know. After all, Bishop Daniel Obinim has become so smart that he is materially richer than God, his Master. Perhaps, could that explain why he will soon be a god? Wow! Lucky him, he has a Master, who seems not to be too greedy, envious or competitive like many of our African religious leaders. Otherwise, someone would have been expecting a long query from His Master!
For the pastor, who caused some commotion on the social media for flogging a pregnant teenage member of his church (as if Jesus flogged even the worse sinner), a controversial priest who recently made news headlines after he was arrested over suspicions of fraud, surely for the bishop who allegedly instructed his church members to attack members of his opponent`s church, nothing is impossible for Bishop Daniel Obinim ““ definitely, not when one can make claims that can hardly be verified by his followers.
Gullibility and fastidiousness have put religion in a spotlight, denting the good teaching of religions, and making a religion become a lucrative enterprise. With a high degree of sense and sensibility, one may ask: are our present religion practices aimed at God glorification or Personal Aggrandisement?
The above story is a parody. It is entirely fictitious; therefore none of the characters mentioned in the story are real.