When I read about Jim Jones and the mass suicide of Temple members, I thought the world has gone past that. Unfortunately, dogmatism and fanaticism in our world of today are so serious that lots need to be done in sensitizing people. In case you have not read about Jim Jones, let me give a summary.
In November 1978, a 45-minute recorded suicide that saw to the death of 909 people in Jonestown, Guyana took place. Jones, the founder of Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel convinced his members to commit a revolutionary suicide by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid. He successfully sold conspiracy theories to the members telling them that intelligence organizations are conspiring against the Temple, that men would “parachute in here on us,” “shoot some of our innocent babies” and “they’ll torture our children, they’ll torture some of our people here, they’ll torture our seniors.” Children were given the drink first by their own parents, families were told to lie down together. This dogmatism led about 1,000 people to commit mass suicide.
Bishop Gerald Glenn, the pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia, died on Sunday as reported by the Church. The Bishop died from the deadly Coronavirus after testing positive. Glenn is another reason why people need to be freed from religious dogmatism.
Despite warnings from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to maintain social distancing and avoiding mass gatherings, Glenn said in a sermon on March 22, “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” and announced he was not afraid to die.” This is a suicide, not martyrdom nor faith.
In Nigeria, some religious leaders have also been spreading unfounded conspiracy theories. While one Imam was reported to have asked his congregation to continue the Friday prayers, some Pastors are have been selling the Coronavirus and 5G theory.
Religion does not make people stupid except people want to be stupid themselves. We have seen people drinking fuel, eating grasses, the poor enriching the very wealthy men of God. Religious leaders have become idolized that people have found it difficult to think for themselves. It still baffles me that a man convinced 909 people to commit suicide!
Listen! Everyone has that natural ability to think. We are humans, not sheep. Sadly, it is this sheep title that some do proudly claim. What would a sheep do if not to listen to the shepherd? People should read, learn, and seek knowledge as these are the known cure to dogmatism and fanaticism.
And rest assured, God will not reward you for being stupid!
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman