Sunday, May 7

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Is Daniel Nkado an atheist?

by Daniel Nkado




For so long a time now, I’ve tried to keep my religious status out of the way.

But living in Nigeria without a religion is nearly an impossible thing to do.

You have to have something you believe in. You know, something that guides you.

Something that provides you cheap hope, cheap security and, sometimes, the incredible opportunity of a glimpse into your future!

Also something that provides an easy excuse to any ‘sin’ you might have committed, or still is committing. Something that gives you what to blame for all your life’s failures, and a sexy platform for your life after your death.

Denouncing your faith also means cancelling your name from the expected and unearned reward of grace.

Much like attending a party only to miss out on the souvenir.

And for many Christians, too, very importantly, somewhere to go every Sunday. Of course people must see that new hair you did, that recent wonder you just picked from your tailor.

Taking all these things into consideration, religion becomes such a great huge deal for a lot of people, so precious and profound they dare not wish it gone.

My closest friends were the first to know about my lack of belief in religion.

They were all so very shocked.

Daniel don’t do this, they begged.

Don’t let the devil use you too.

Don’t fall astray.

Please.

Some were sharper with their disappointment – “If you continue like this, don’t talk to me ever again and I will never have anything to do with you again!”

But the truth is that I’ve been very sceptical about religious teachings since a long time that I cannot effectively say when or where I stopped believing entirely.

Growing up in a nice Christian home, my parents fed me religion like a meal.

From my grandparents to my direct parents, evening prayers are a stiff ritual.

I learned Psalms, hymns, worship songs and praises. I felt compelled to quote texts from the Bible at any slightest provocation, pray the loudest when I feel someone is around and share threatening posts on Facebook and Whatsapp, all in a bid to earn God’s favour, and, to a great extent too, my parents’ admiration.

I shied away from sin at all times. Even when I sometimes slip—as a human that I am, like my then pastor would say, grace is always there to wipe my guilt away.

Doesn’t that last part sound so wonderful? Taking no responsibility for anything at all?

Even better, I might not let anyone know about this wrong that I have done. Because in Christianity, letting your sin out is a much more destructive event than committing the sin itself.

Funny how people prance around every day adorned in this flowing cloak of hypocrisy.

One man of God I know even once declared: A sin is not sin if no one sees you committing it. It is between you and your God, period!

But all these times, deep within me, I know there is something else. There is something in me that gives me more motivation to do good and treat people nicely and not cause anyone harm intentionally.

I know that that thing is not my religion. Or the big Bible on the table in my room. That thing is greater. Far greater.

It is my sense of humanity. My only true religion. I choose to call it conscience. Because I am human and knows all it means to be human, I know by instinct, what and what I should do, or not do. I do not need religion to teach me that.

‘Are you an atheist?’ many have asked me.

No, I am not, I would hurriedly reply.

Atheism may seem too startling a word to use, so I always tell people that I am a secular humanist instead.

And most times they might not have heard the word, therefore giving me ample time to escape.

Please don’t ask me why—a man was once forcibly committed to a psychiatric home in Northern Nigeria because he mentioned he has become an atheist.

In fact, I’ve said enough. Let me run back in and hide before they come for me.

3 comments:

  1. Nice word bro, speaking out against religion in Nigeria kills faster than Aids

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well written. Though I'm one a few still holding on to their faith, I must commend your writing.
    And atheist or not I still love you Daniel

    ReplyDelete
  3. I simply do not discuss it openly unless prompted. No need to make waves or attempt to debate. Doing so can make the faithful feel threatened or feel animosity towards you. The simplest statement when asked is for me to say “I’m not religious”.
    If prompted further by questions like “do you believe in God?”, I use vague answers like “not in the way that most people do.”

    ReplyDelete

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