Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Letter of the Day | Sinister people exploiting religion

Published:Tuesday | October 26, 2021 | 12:05 AM


The incident in Montego Bay last weekend is reminiscent of the 1978 infamous Jim Jones massacre in Guyana when Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones instructed all members living in the Jonestown, Guyana compound to commit an act of “revolutionary suicide”. The massacre by Jim Jones accounted for 918 killed and only God knows what would have happened at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration MInistries were it not for the quick intervention of law enforcement officers.

It’s a chilling saga that has left civil society in wonderment as to the insidious effect of religion on the psyche of its followers. Karl Marx characterises religion as “the opiate of the masses”. I am here processing what he said and really believe now that such phrase is worthy of reflection.

I have embraced Christianity in general and Seventh-Day Adventism in particular, with the Bible as my rule of faith and conduct. I approach scripture not seeking to find support for my philosophy but to allow scripture to inform me as to what God’s will is for my life, and when I discover biblical truth, I allow it to transform my life.

I am alarmed at how some preachers prostitute scripture for self-gratification and are quick to misrepresent the Holy Canon. In 2021, in the midst of an education revolution and a renaissance of learning, that we should learn of such uncivil, barbaric, bizarre, evil acts being done in the name of religion, this sure is a reflection of the high level of Biblical illiteracy that exists in the land.

Besides, it shows the exploitative nature of religion. Through charisma, the art of manipulation, and false far-fetched promises, many have been lured into a state of vulnerability and a motivating factor for cruelty and exploitation. The ancient prophet Hosea rings true “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.

The gullibility of those not rooted in biblical doctrines is not unique to Kevin Smith’s pathways to destruction. During the pandemic, it has become so clear how people would barter truth for errors, science for speculation, and sense for nonsense. I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear of COVID-19 cults who force their followers into mass suicides for not taking the vaccine. Faith leaders who attract people to themselves and not to the Saviour of the world, in my book, are suspects of evil and should be under the radar of law enforcement officers.