By Jide Jegede
A religious peace and conflict studies expert, Kehinde Ayantola, has berated efforts by adherents across religious groups and scholars to appropriate God to themselves and their respective religious beliefs, describing the act as abduction of God.
Ayantola, a professor of religious ethics, sociology of religion and religious peace and conflict studies at the faculty of arts, University of Ibadan gave the expose in his inaugural lecture delivered at the premier university’s Trenchard Hall recently.
Entitled ‘Rescuing God from His abductors’, the lecture dwelled extensively on the means through which the ‘abductors’ struggle among themselves to claim exclusivity to the ownership of and access to God.
This, according to the scholar, has resulted in many factors that have consistently threatened peace and tranquility across human history and existence.
He identified religious functionaries and religious followers, western researchers, contemporary academics, religious fundamentalists and radicalists as the abductors of God, who only see their belief and knowledge of God as supreme and sacrosanct, while also dismissing others’ conviction about God as inferior or outright false.
“Taking God forcibly outside His space (world) and beyond His will which, manifests in why He created people male and female, black and white, short and long, placed them in different geographical locations and assigned them different responsibilities within the context of their different geographical enclaves,” he reasoned while highlighting what ‘abduction’ of God entails.
Ayantola also noted that the abductor take advantage of religious ignorance of their followers to perpetrate their acts.
“Religious ignorance in the context of our discussion refers to lack of knowledge or information about particular religious beliefs and practices.
“It could be lack of sufficient knowledge or information about the religion we practise by another person belonging to a religious faith different from ours,” he further noted.
The consequences, according to him, include social exclusion, commercialisation of religion, lust for materialism, spiritual pride, title consciousness, false teaching, exploitations, sexual immorality and ritual performance among other vices noticeable in religious circles.
He however offered some tips to effect the rescue of God from his ‘abductors’.
These, he explained, include accepting the equality of religions, understanding the cultural background of religions, identifying and accepting religious pluralism, promotion of objective religious education/studies, accepting the limitation of religious scriptures and traditions as well as monetisation of religion in public places.