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With God on our side [Fiji Sun, 24 February 2009].

17/03/2012

With God on our side- whose side?

God may be very irritated.  Probably bemused, or even amused.

Over and over, He hears humans proclaiming “God is on our side, God helped me to win, God asked me to apply for this job, God saved me, God punished them”.

Such claims have been made for decades- by coup leaders, political parties, by church leaders, by rugby players, by song or beauty contest winners, by chiefs, by appointees to senior government positions, by people who survived a natural disaster.

And recently,  even some opponents of the Interim Government have claimed that the floods are God’s punishment for coup supporters.

This misuse of God’s name is a horrible national disease that is spreading and helping to destroy our nation from the inside.

It is time for us to stop this pervasive misuse of God’s name.

And our religious leaders must take the lead.

Praying is OK

   Of course, whatever our religion, most of us have prayed to God one time or another, while many pray daily.

For His/Her help in achieving some challenging task- whether at school, at work, at play, or in our personal relationships.

We have all prayed when we face personal crisis which we cannot handle on our own.

Most of us have felt better because we are able to pray to the highest being we know.

And many of us do feel that we do better because of our praying.

But this personal praying for help, is a far cry from proclaiming publicly, that God is choosing “us and not others”.

That is where the damaging use of  God’s name comes in.

Rugby and God

   Look at rugby, very appropriately referred to by commentators as our “national religion”.

For decades now, our rugby sevens teams and our stars, have boasted that they were going to bring back the Melrose Cup, because “God was on their side”, and “through Him all things are possible”. Etc etc.

Whenever we won, they claimed “God was on our side”.  But how dare we imply that when we won, God was not on the side of other teams who lost?

And whenever we lost, did our rugby stars ask whether we lost because “God was not on our side”, but that of “others”?

We all know that rugby or athletics, or netball, is a sport, a game like any other.

Winning and losing is decided by the performance on the day of the players and teams- based on coaching, talent, attacking and defending skills, effort, guts, passion, and often, just sheer chance- the bounce of the  ball, a sudden gust of wind, an injury to others.

Surely, God does not take any “side” in games of humans.

Any coach or leader who encourages our sports people to believe that praying is the key part of winning a game, are doing them a great disservice.

If our sports people believe this lie, they do not even comprehend why they really won.

Or they do not understand why they lost to a better team, and what they have to do to perform better in the future.

The Commissioner and God

   Recently, Teleni claimed that he was appointed as Commissioner of Police because God had asked him to apply for the job (pray, which mobile network did God use?).

Does this mean that God was not in favour of all the other applicants, including all the other senior police officers who had far more professional police training, qualifications and experience than Teleni?

How can a Commissioner of Police make such an outrageous claim?  How can the appointing authority allow this?

Why do our religious leaders stay silent over this outrageous misuse of God’s name?

Then, while our Interim Prime Minister claims that he believes in the equality of religions, this same Commissioner of Police mounts a Christian Crusade in a supposedly secular police force.

He abuses his Indo-Fijian police officers.   How can his line Minister (Ganilau) and Interim Prime Minister (Bainimarama) finds this behaviour quite acceptable?  Or are they really afraid that Teleni is outflanking them by trying to build links with the Christian fundamentalists?

What may be noted is that while all this contradicts all the fundamental pillars of the Charter (a justification of the 2006 coup) and the work of the NCBBF, Archbishop Petero Mataca (the co-chair of the NCBBF) remains quiet.

The only positive side to all this has been the SDL’s progressive statement, criticizing Teleni’s behavior and supporting the equality of all religions.

But sadly, the misuse of God’s name is becoming more and more widespread, creeping down to all the activities of ordinaryFijipeople.

God taking sides everywhere?

 

   So many times we have seen on TV winners of beauty contests claiming that they were helped by God to win.  So God did not find the other contestants  beautiful or worthy of winning?

A song contestant wins, and attributes his win to God’s support.  Nothing to do with his singing skills, or the number of text messages on his behalf?  And God did not think that the other singers had the same talent or performance?

A girl who survives a land-slide claims God protected her.  So did God not want to protect the other two children who died?

God and coup leaders

 

   All our coup leaders have claimed that God was on their side, guiding them, inspiring them to commit treason against legitimate lawful governments.

Supposedly God was on the side of the Fijians, the Methodists and Rabuka in 1987 and 2000?  And was God opposed to Bavadra, Reddy, Chaudhry, Indo-Fijians and Hindus and Muslims?

Did God then change His mind in 2006, coming on side with the military, the Fiji Labour Party and Chaudhry, the Hindus and Catholics?  And is God now opposed to the Fijian political parties and the Methodist leaders associated with the SDL?

Even opponents of the 2006 coup don’t spare God. According to two frequent correspondents fromDubai andTurkey, God decided to punish Bainimarama and the 2006 coup supporters, by sending the recent floods.

So God also chose to use floods to punish the thousands of innocents around the country, for the sins of a few?

Sadly, many religions promise that those who sin will be forgiven only if they come back to God.

How easy it is, whatever crimes you have committed against society, to pray to God for forgiveness, some “representative of God on earth” forgives you, and then for the sinner to act as if he has no further dues to pay to the society he lives in, and which he has sinned so grievously against.

How many sinners and coup plotters continue to resort to the name of God, because of all their guilt feelings about their crimes and sins against their fellow men and women?

Where are the responsible religious leaders

 

   We all accept that every human being must have freedom of worship to Whoever is their chosen God, and in their chosen religion.  Or even to choose to be agnostics or atheists.

But these are private matters for each individual.

Surely none should proclaim that God is on one particular side, with some particular ethnic group, political party, the military, the police force, a sports team, a sports person, or a singer.

None should proclaim that God takes sides in wars between nations, or business, or the natural disasters of our country.

There are so many countries and instances where the name of God and the power of religion have been misused for selfish human ends, causing great misery to the ordinary innocent people.

Please responsible religious leaders of our country, have the wisdom and courage to tackle this growing misuse of the name of God.

Please religious people ofFiji, in this sad, devastated and deteriorating country of ours, stop using the name of the Lord in vain.

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