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Religion, National Cohesion and Nigerian Society

MAP OF NIGThe word “religion” has defiled acceptable definition as sociologists, theologians and other scholars made series of attempts to advance definitions that will be accepted by all and sundry.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the 8th edition, religion is a “belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with the worship of them”. In Nigeria three major religion are constitutionally recognized. They are Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion (ATR).

However, it goes more than this as there are other religious organizations that exist such as Eckankar, Free Masonry, Amorc, Judaism, Hare Krishna, Hinduism amongst several others.

Religion brings people of diverse culture together through collective worship. In his book “The elementary form of religious life”, published in 1912, Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, believed that religion reinforces collective conscience that enables social order, social control, social solidarity and co operation possible.

He said that through collective worship the integration of society is strengthened. Going by the ideas postulated by Emile Durkheim, without religion society will cease to exist. Since 1960 till today, Nigerians have witnessed so many religious wars, that had unleashed mayhem on the entire country. Of recent churches were burnt down in the northern part of the country. Christians suffered due to the incessant attacks on them by some radical Islamic fundamentalists.

Freedom of worship seems not to exist in the north, as church attendance drops on daily basis.

As far as I am concerned no true religion supports destruction of life and property. Even some pagans abhor violence. Considering the development of any given society, religion becomes a binding force for its continuous existence. No religion preaches division, but unity and integration.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes freedom of worship, hence religion practice is not disintegrating. Lack of religion tolerance is the bane of Nigerian society. Nigerians should tolerate one another in practicing of their religious beliefs to avoid frequent wrestling, so that the country will be saved for every one of us. ##



Damiete West



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