By Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua
The relationship between Christians and Muslims especially in the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) is collaboration and not competition. In the spirit of dialogue of social engagement, we must not forget that humanity irrespective of religion has a burden of human limitations and natural inclination to sin, error and evil.
This is the meaning of the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3; Qur’an 7). God judged Adam and Eve not as Christians or Muslims or adherents of Judaism but as human beings who disobeyed God. Adam and Eve related to God as human beings. They were in constant contact with God in dialogue. They were at peace with God before their sin of disobedience that separated them from God.
God had to initiate a dialogue of intimacy with humanity. They did not have ethnic or religious nomenclature. They took responsibility for their sin in their own names. God addressed the sinners individually. Each of us will give account of himself to God (Romans 14:12). “The LORD God called Adam, and said to him, where are you? And he said, I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:8-10). NIREC members must grow above religious sentiments and profiling. Sin makes a normal human being to be ashamed of himself or herself before God. It is therefore a contradiction to kill in the name of God. Christians and Muslims must together condemn all acts of terrorism to deliver religion from terrorists.
The problem with extremists is that they have the garments of religion to a point of calling on the supremacy of God even when they are killing a fellow human being who is created by God. The only dialogue and peacebuilding organisation referenced by the Minister of communication in the US saga of religious persecution is NIREC as evidence of Christian and Muslim relations in Nigeria. We cannot then join the worldly people in this religious competition of which religion has lost more people or which religion has the highest number of terrorists. We must together and individually condemn the killing of Nigerians apart from the normal communiqués. We must impress on our religious leaders to tame radicals and extremists who are spoiling the name of their religion. Together, let us deliver the name of Nigeria from foreign terrorist mercenaries.
The terrorists are taking God for granted by calling his name when they are killing a human being. In a collaborative effort, we need to work together to liberate the Nigerian citizens who are suffering in the dens of kidnappers. We must not fall into the trap of the terrorist’s strategy of causing religious conflict between those who are ready and willing to defend the orthodoxy of religion. Let us keep praying for the interior conversion of extremists and fanatics so that they stop killing innocent human beings in their places of worship. Let us stop ethnic and religious profiling that can give a hiding place to enemies of humanity and God. A criminal is a criminal and no criminal must claim to be killing in the name of God of mercy and compassion. Let us pray for a change of heart for terrorists, their sponsors and profiteers who have become real threat to life and peaceful coexistence. If we must compete, let it be a competition in doing good, protecting life, promoting peace and ensuring justice for all irrespective of religion and ethnicity.
Rev Fr Cornelius Omonokhua is the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC -firstname.lastname@example.org) & The Secretary General of the West Africa Inter-Religious Council (WA-IRC – email@example.com)