It was the French sociologist Émile Durkheim (1858–1917) who defined religion as a “unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things”. Since the dawn of time, mankind’s search to for God and a connection with the divine has led man to religion. In human’s search for God, religion is one thing humans at one point of their life of another will identify with. Almost everyone has one form of religion or another, through which they search for meaning and purpose. Religion is a very powerful, as it is a major determinant of the habits, attitudes and lifestyle of those who find themselves in it.
According to a report by The World Fact book by CIA, about 50% of Nigeria’s population consist of Muslims, 40% Christian and 10% practice traditional religion. Nigeria, being a very religious country has a greater percentage of her population as youths. It is a well-known fact that the youths play a major role in the development of a nation. It is therefore important to examine Nigeria from the standpoint of her youths and religion, as well as how they interact.
First, it is important to note that majority of Nigerians were born into homes where their parents practice one form of religion or another. Many were probably christened according to the dictates of their parents’ religion. It then became very easy for many to accept religion as a part of their lives, as they have been introduced to religion since birth. Consciously, or unconsciously, religion became a force in the formation of their perception about life.
Religion seems to exert a powerful force in defining the lives and attitudes of youths. For most Nigerian youths, religion is a major determinant in their the choice of clothes, food, social clubs, marriage partners, sexuality, lifestyle and general outlook towards life.
Moreover, religion in a way ensures the preservation of certain traditional values. While defining the lifestyle of youths, it does ensure they are kept in constant check through its doctrines. The prescriptive nature of many religion makes this possible. Most religions dictate what is expected of their faithful and how they should conduct themselves. Most religions encourage their faithful to practice love, empathy, purity forgiveness and piety. A major positive impact of religion on youths is in the preservation of these values, while encouraging them to become better individuals.
Nigeria, being a multi ethnic country with people from divers religious backgrounds, religion can be a powerful tool in the integration or separation of these people. Youths play a huge role in the integration or separation of people with different religious background like Nigeria. Religious tolerance and religious violence should be considered here. Overtime, youths have been used as tools to either foster unity or prevent it in religion.
Religious tolerance simply means respect for people’s faith and belief, while allowing them practice what they believe. Religion is believed to be one of the most sensitive issues that may cause conflicts in a society as it involves human belief and faith. For these conflicts to be prevented, there is a need for respect towards other people and their religious beliefs. When youths actively practice religious tolerance, religious crises can be prevented.
Religious violence is majorly caused by religious intolerance. When the respect for other peoples religious beliefs is absent, there is bound to be violence. The fact that religion is based on people’s faith and beliefs opens it up as an avenue to turn people against each other. More often than not, youths have been used as a tool for religious violence, with several ethnic clashes following after. Very many Nigerian youths express their disregard for other religions and even go on to disrespect people who have a different religious view. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is sinking into a terrible religious crises. Youths have a huge role to play in managing this.
Nigerian youths must play their parts as the interface between the Nigerian society and their various religious beliefs. Respecting one another’s religion and refusing to be used as tools to perpetuate religious violence are very important things Nigerian youths must take very seriously. They can engage in the creation of awareness on the subject of religious violence and how to prevent it.
Having established that the interaction between Nigerian youths and religion affects the Nigerian society, it is important to note that a positive interaction will bring a positive development, while a negative interaction will bring a negative development. However, the difference lies in the way the Nigerian youths choose to interact with religion.
- OmosadeAwolalauReligious Education and Nigerian Youth ( Beverly Hills Calf, Sage Publications, 1969)
Ojegbeje Lolade wrote in via email@example.com