SONGSOPTOK: To what extent do you practice ‘religious tolerance’? Since when (how long ago)?

SILAS ABAYOMI: Socially, I will say to a full extent, and mathematically,  I will say: a hundred percent.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe all religions are the same?

SILAS ABAYOMI: No, I do not believe so; there are fundamental differences among religions of the world. There are over ten major religions in the world today, these include Christianity both denominational and non-denominational groups; Islam with several brotherhoods; Hindu and its three major traditions: Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism “whose followers considered Shiva, Vishnu, and Shakti (also called as Devi) to be supreme deity.” Still, we have Shinto, Taoism, Judaism, African Traditional religions.

These religions have different beliefs, dogmas, holy books, leaders, rites, varied worship procedures, ecclesiastical systems-structured and non-structured, and different architectures. Regardless, I listen to people different religions, more so, I respect people’s opinions, even when they run contrary to what I believe, I still allow individuals say their mind. However, I engage people in a more intellectual, knowledge-focused, research-supported discussion.

Moreover, I do not allow discussion degenerate to debate; instead, I involve people reasonably. More so, I do not allow debates end, or hurt friendship; rather, they strengthen relationship, creating room for future engagements.

SONGSOPTOK:  In case you practice religion, do you consider all your religious beliefs to be true? What about those of others?

SILAS ABAYOMI:   I hold all my religious beliefs to be true. With that said, yet, it does not belong to me to ridicule, look down, berate, and mock other beliefs and their adherents. If time allows, I engage individuals with different religious beliefs in a wholesome discussions, religious issues are carefully and unambiguously discuss anytime they come up; without any mindset, our discussions always end well.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe that all faiths are equally beneficial and equally harmless to society?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  No, I do not.  Still, when it comes to faith-based issues, I am very careful. I come from a multi-religious society where people are very sensitive to religious issues. Religion in my society is a-three-way-lead:

1) In some areas, it is cultural, religion has been part of some people and their immediate environment for generations; these people see their religion as part of their existence. To them, religion is inseparable.

2) Another way, religion has become family inheritance, there are tens of thousands families in my country (Nigeria) that have affinity with certain religions, and families through generations practice these religions.

3) My society allows or creates room for people to change faith or belief for different reasons, which may include, but not limited to marriage, education, life sudden changes, migration and other issues. Even with that, cautions are still required. Still, you respect the person that changed his or her faith, even when you do not subscribe to the change.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you believe all religious groups are equally beneficial and equally harmless to their followers?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  No, I do not. From what I have seen, read, and heard, ignorance and poverty had led millions to make wrong religious choices; place of birth, or what I may call accident of birth had made past and present generations gone wrong; unfortunately, however, some future generations may not have control on choices of faith, they will make. Sad to say, these unfortunate individuals in these environments run like a cycle, where they can barely change what their immediate society throws at them.

SONGSOPTOK:  Should members of any given religious group refrain from criticizing religious practices of others?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  Society evolves or develops from a constant feature: "change"; critique is a major part of this change. Although, critique is "commonly understood as fault finding and negative judgment, it can also involve merit recognition"; moreover, it can result in providing opinion about good and bad of something, from where corrections are made for the better.

SONGSOPTOK:  Do you usually refrain from talking about your beliefs to others? Should you be ignoring your own religious ideas?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  No, I discuss my beliefs with people respectfully and passionately just as I listen to other people’s faith.  I do not impose these beliefs on people; reasonably, though, I engage those who want to know where I stand on certain matters.

SONGSOPTOK: What are the different ways religious tolerance, including secularism, can help (or hurt) the demands of a complex world?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  I believe religious tolerance will help and promote national and international unity. We live in a world of multiple cultures, various religions, different political, and economic ideologies. Allowing people to practice what they believe, without imposing other people’s views on them promote peace, unity, and concord.

SONGSOPTOK:  Should ‘religious tolerance’ be a part of the school curricula?

SILAS ABAYOMI:  Yes, it should be. More so, society should encourage cross culture exchange.  Be ready to learn from others and appreciate what they stand for; do not judge people by your subjective standards.

SONGSOPTOK:  Religious acceptance and bigotry appear to be the two sides of a coin (unbiased). People are equally likely to choose one over the other. Do you agree with that observation? Please explain.

SILAS ABAYOMI:  People will certainly make choices, wrong or right, but society should control and to a certain extent regulate human behavior. This is where laws, rules, regulations, standard public behaviors come in. When laws are broken, rules are sidetracked, regulations are undermined, then civil institutions: the Police and judicial system take over to protect the society. We must remember when we have a society, we have a religion, or we have religions.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Subhodev Das

(Chief Advisor: Songsoptok)


No comments:

Blogger Widgets
Powered by Blogger.