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Opinions of Sunday, 18 December 2016

Columnist: Nketiah. Michael Kwadwo

How sensible are our religious beliefs?

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By Michael Kwadwo Nketiah

A little over a year ago, l felt publicly humiliated, psychologically tortured and emotionally rejected when a young Muslim lady l encountered during a campaign trail on campus rejected my handshake not just on the first but also at the second attempt.

Truth be told, deep within , l perceived her to be disrespectful, arrogant, pompous and profiled her to be one of those spoilt university girls who shake hands as if touching thorns, eat Banku and Ampesi with cutlery set, prefer bottled water to sachet and generally behave as if they excrete diamond, gold, silver and not the normal poo when they respond to nature's call.

Feeling embarrassed, l spent a minute with her and departed. Passing through town a year after this incident, l came across some brightly arranged and appetizing banana. Attracted, l proceeded towards it for a bundle. As l touched the palm of the seller upon retrieving my change, l saw a familiar face but struggled in identifying the face entirely covered in a trademark traditional hijab characteristic of Muslims. Suddenly she mentioned my name.

Afterwards, l remembered her as the lady who denied me a 'common handshake' on campus. She narrated to me how she has been supporting her mother sell banana, watermelon, oranges, apples, pawpaw, pineapples and other fruits her entire life. Her entire education she revealed was financed by the little pennies from this table top business. She explained her religion forbids her from shaking hands with the opposite sex hence her decision not to shake my hands the first time we met.

After our brief chat l departed but had a sleepless night thinking: why must the hands that refuse me a handshake take money from me? Is money more important than a human being? Doesn't her palm touch mine while taking the money? Is that any different from a normal handshake with another human being?

The mere fact that she cited religious beliefs for her actions settled everything. I forgave her at that instance with the revelation that her faith forbids her from shaking my hands but allows her to take money from the same hands she isn't allowed to shake. Afterall, l would have done same had l been her.

Are we all not mad followers of religion in Ghana and Africa? Did we not hear of university graduates, learned personalities with their masters and doctorates praying hours for the Ghana Cedi to rise? Did we not hear of a bunch of educated Nigerians eating fresh grass like goats because their holy -spirit possessed pastor ordered them to?

And just last week l got the shock of my life when news emerged that congregants of the End Times Disciples Ministries in Pretoria South Africa ate live snakes because their pastor Penuel Mnguni ordered them to do so under the prophecy that it would taste like chocolate as it was being consumed. Did we not hear of congregants sucking their pastor's sperms simply because their 'holy spirit possessed' pastor ordered them to do

My Grandmother simply dislikes the Jehovah Witness Church, its teachings, beliefs and practices infuriates her. She narrated to me how her best friend: a beautiful woman with four young children died painfully and miserably in the early 80's at Santasi simply because her husband, mother, father and pastor all members of the Jehovah Witness Church prevented the medical staff at the hospital from giving her a blood transfusion needed to save her life.

She laid on the hospital bed helplessly for 5 days and all she needed was a pint of blood to save her life. Annoyingly, they were praying and counting on God to save their daughter and wife. On the sixth day, her soul finally gave up. Yet her family cried upon hearing her death, people went to mourn with them and they even had no shame organising a typical Ashanti-styled funeral in her name and took money from people as funeral donations!!!

Today, all the children are multi millionaires, housing their father in a mansion and giving him the best treats of life whereas their mother who toiled daily for their early upbringing could not even live to see her children grow into millionaires all in the name of religion.

So I ask, if God himself sent his only begotten son to die for our sins and save the world from eternal destruction, why would such a loving God be pissed off should Christians donate a pint of their blood in saving precious lives? Or, why would such a loving God forbid his followers from saving lives with blood he has given them when God himself sacrificed the blood of his only son in cleansing the world of its sins ?

Do we understand religion at all? Are we just stupid and mad followers of religion? Was Karl Marx right when he asserted that religion is the opium of the people? Are the popular religious books: Bible, Quran and the rest even from God and Allah? Were these books even written by God or Allah through men?

How authentic is the authenticity of the Bible and Quran? Do we misinterpret the teachings of the Bible and Quran? Are the writings of the Bible and Quran the handiwork of men and not God or Allah? Why should Christians worshipping the same God argue and fight over Saturdays and Sundays as the holiest of days to worship God? Why should a Muslim man be on the same room and bed with his married wife but cannot pray together in the same place with the same woman?

I mean why would Allah allow a couple to be in the same room, bed and even enjoy sex together but wouldn't allow them to pray together? I mean why? Is sex and living together more important than prayer? Let me be honest in admitting, that l have no in-depth knowledge about religion. Neither do l intend ridiculing or undermining the beliefs, teachings and practices of a religious sect.

Afterall, l was brought up to be religiously religious just as you are. But growing up and reasoning on my own, l deem it necessary to subject my own religion and that of others to scrutiny and sane criticism, demanding answers, education and enlightenment on these issues giving me sleepless nights. If you have answers, antipodal opinions, explanations and diverse thoughts, let's kindly share them without insults, attacks and malice. Please this should not be used as,the basis,to attack any religion. Let's have an intellectual and enlightening discussion.

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