EFFECTS OF RELIGION IN A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY AND ITS IMPLICATION ON POLITICS
1.1 Background of the Study
Nigeria is a pluralistic society with multi-ethnic and multi-cultural status. Furthermore, the practice of religion is also pluralistic in nature with three religious as the accepted and recognized ones. They are Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religion. These religions have elements that unite them and those that divide them. These religions co-exist in the same entity called Nigeria. One daily basis adherents of these religions interact and mingle with one another. This to a good extent makes disagreements and even clashes inevitable. According to Okwueze (2003) it
is unfortunate that the history of religious pluralism in Nigeria is replete with all kinds of sad experiences as religion became the step which has facilitated the country’s movement from one crisis to another. The crisis usually threaten he enthronement of democratic governance or its sustainability where it is already in existence. In a pluralist Nigerian society religion has been a source of peace, progress and in many instances a source of crisis. It is seen in some quarters as a means of acquiring political legitimacy in which case religion dictated the pace of the political democratization, process which hitherto nurtured consciousness in the country.
According to Anugom (2004) there has been an asymmetric of an opposing relationship between the two dominant religions of Islam and Christianity in socio-political affairs of the country without any doubt ethnicity arises when social relations antithetical to a group functioning and when social groups are competitive rather than co-operative. They are
characterized by cultural prejudices varying degree of socio-economic backwardness and political discrimination.
Statement of the Problem
The practice of religion in a pluralistic society is a two edged sword. It can bring about overall peace in that every body will be involved in one religion or the other and for the fact that all religions teach and worship of God and acceptable moral values and the society will be better for it. One the other hand if there is element of manipulation it can portend a lot of trouble for the country. This is so because favouring a particular religion in a pluralistic society means marginalizing others. A situation of this nature does not guarantee peaceful co-existence. According to Okwueze (2002), one of the most fallacious arguments people make is that religion belongs to one world and politics to another.
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