If I asked you how you became a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Budhist etc, I dare say your response would not be different from saying it was the religion you were born into from birth!
Almost all of us find ourselves in our current religions not because we intentionally or deliberately chose them for some specific and carefully thought out reasons but because that was the religion we got born into and grew to accept as the “right” religion.
One is a Christian or Muslim today because he was born into a family or society of Christians or Muslims. That religion becomes his first love because that’s where he starts worshipping from childhood.
We subtly get indoctrinated into our childhood religion with teachings that portray our childhood religion as the “right” one and the others as not. Only a few make religous switches later in their lives.
It’s the reason I say we are all victims of our religion by lottery of birth. Just take a moment to imagine which religion you would have been if you were born in Japan, India or China. Would you still have been in your current religion?
Imagine Christiana was born in Saudi Arabia or into a typical Muslim family/society and Abdullah was born in Israel or into a typical Christian family/society. Would they be the same people or different people and religion?
Obviously their religions would have changed and they would have been cool with it. Christiana would have probably been Salamatu and wouldn’t have worried about the fact that she’s a Muslim and not a Christian and Abdullah would probably have been Joseph and wouldn’t be worried that he’s a Christian and not a Muslim.
So if we are all victims of certain religions, why would we think some religions are superior to the other? In essence, are we saying God decided to allow some privileged people get born into a “superior” religion and some into an “inferior” religion? Because God doesn’t like those people and so made them to get born into those “inferior” religions?
Why treat other religions as inferior when you could have been a member of that religion if God had decided to get you born into a family/society of such?
The 1992 Constitution took cognisance of this peculiarity and provided in Article 21(1)(c) freedom to practise any religion and manifest such practice.
It is only under Article 12(2) that it limits this right and others by subjecting their entitlement to the respect for rights and freedoms of others and for public interest.
So it’s without ambiguity that except when the exercise of one’s right such as under Article 21(1)(c) infringes on the right of another or offends public interest one is entitled to practise his or her religion.
I therefore struggle to understand how a publicly funded school would reject a student because he’s a Rastafarian or prevent Muslims from partaking in Ramadan, a core pillar of their Religion simply because the school, which is not a private one but publicly funded, has its roots from another religion.
To me, it makes no sense to force down the throat of students, religous doctrines that they don’t subscribe to. It’s condemnable for schools with Islamic roots to force down the throat of non Muslim students, Islamic doctrines or schools with Christian roots to force down the throat of non Christian students, Christian doctrines while the school is publicly funded. It’s different if it’s privately funded.
We collectively fight racism across the globe when whites want to undermine blacks. We fight them because we believe we are all humans and no human is superior to the other.
But amongst ourselves, we think some religions are superior to others! Are we simply not being unprincipled and hypocritic?
Source Latif Lawrence Jorhowie
Ninth May, Twenty Twenty One
University of Cape Coast