Challenges and Effects of Christian Religious Fanaticism in Public Secondary Schools
This study examined the challenges of Christian religious fanaticism in public secondary schools in the Agege Area of Lagos state. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. The population of the study comprised all the teachers and students in public secondary schools in the Agege Area of Lagos state. A sample random sampling technique was adopted to select ten (10) public secondary schools; twenty (20) teachers and eighty (80) students. Two questionnaires were constructed by the researcher, one for teachers and one for students. Three research questions and three hypotheses were designed in eth study. The research questions and demographic data of participants were analyzed using frequency counts and percentages while the research hypotheses were tested using the chi-square (x2) statistical tool at a 0.05 level of significance. The result of the findings shows that there are identified causes of Christian Religious Fanaticism such as rumours that can trigger off religious fanaticism; In public schools, students are assigned leadership positions on religious sentiment than on academic achievement; Struggle for supremacy/ recognition between the followers of religious groups can lead to conflict; Tension can arise if the faithful member of each of the group tries to demonstrate the superiority of their religion; Actions or inactions of school administrators on religious issues can cause conflict in the school; Ignorance can lead to a religious crisis in school; there is a significant relationship between religious intolerance and conflict and that Religious intolerance has a significant effect on national stability. Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made: having noted that religion is a necessary aspect of man’s culture, in fact, religion cultivates all aspects of man; political, socio-economic and spiritual domains. Religious tolerance and dialogue should be included in primary and secondary schools and should be made mandatory for all schools and colleges as it helps to sharpen the moral life of pupils and students. All governments’ policies should be aimed at strengthening the relationship among the various religious groups. “The policy should not be the type that will be of benefit to one religion while the other religion will be at disadvantage. God-fearing citizens should be put at the helm of affairs. This is because, leaders without the fear of God are bound to be wicked, undisciplined, corrupt and greedy
1.1 Background to the Study
In human history, religion is indispensable. Apart from one’s relationship with God, sometimes it serves as the instrument for political domination, intimidation, oppression, discrimination, threat and outright deceit. Religion is no doubt important and sensitive in the life of human beings regardless of where they domicile. It is on this premise that man continually seeks protection, direction as well as breakthroughs in all human endeavours. Karl Marx views religion as the opinion of the people and his perception has manifested in the lives of Nigerians consequent upon their propagation of new faith (Islam and Christianity).
Generally, religion equally provides succour for the people. Thus anybody or government that toys with it, does so at his/ her own peril. More importantly, religion be it indigenous, Islam or Christian cultivates, energizes, propels, regulates and harmonizes the society it binds its adherents to specific practices and particular moral, codes. It teaches man to choose what is good and discard what is bad. It teaches man to be humble in his interpersonal relationships and to be submissive to constituted authority.
A religious fanatic is someone or a group of people who have extreme religious ideas that are dangerous to both the practitioner and religion. In all the three prominent religions in Nigeria, Islam, Christianity and African Religion, the act of fanatism is associated with the religious belief which excludes social relations with people of other religious sects. It may even hamper mutual trust and confidence when such relations exist. (Okwudiba, 2008). Also, religious fanatism can be regarded as an aspect of religious intolerance. For example, many Christian and Islamic organizations have alleged discrimination against each other in admissions, policies, school fees, employment as well as the refusal of many states and governments to grant land to build churches in the Northern parts of the Federation (Ekoko and Amodi, 2009).
Conversely, religious accommodation is a situation whereby one embraces and tolerates adherents of other religions. If this is practised among students, there will be a high level of interaction among practitioners of the dominating three large religions. It is equally in line with the Nigerian constitution which emphasizes the need to respect freedom.
Recently, precisely on 18th June 2007, the then president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua noted that his administration may make religious education mandatory in schools in Nigeria’s educational institutions. Since the president made that statement, various and divergent reactions and responses have attended his proposal. The guardian (2007) devoted an entire editorial to examine the proposal. In the editorial, the Guardian (2007) agreed with the president that there is gross moral breakdown and indiscipline in our educational institutions. Restating the position of many other people, the editorial affirms that our educational institutions have witnessed violent crimes, juvenile delinquency, armed robbery, sexual abuse, drug abuse and many other social vices. The newspaper does agree that to eradicate this moral decadence, there should be moral and civic education that emphasizes character formation and re-orientation of values and the responsibilities of the citizenry. The newspaper also perceives compulsory religious education as violating the constitutional freedom of religion, for it can be abused and cause religious conflicts.
Depending on how religious education is conducted in a plural society, it can promote a culture of tolerance. A broad religious education curriculum that incorporates religious values from many religions is very important. Your religious way of life is not the only one that exists. There is danger in knowing only one’s religion. The Oslo Coalition, on Freedom of religion and belief (2001) opined that: Education should help to see that the others are indeed us, knowledge about other religions is an important pre-condition for the development of such an understanding, and hence also of a culture of tolerance.
Religious education can also help in promoting human rights and respect for the dignity of the human person. The Oslo coalition (2001) notes further that dialogue, projects and scientific studies show that most religions have resources in their view of man and their basic value foundations to support both the idea of human dignity and human rights. Religious education in school therefore can play an important role both in the search for common, cross-cultural values in a broader sense. A meeting with different religious and philosophical traditions might lead to change in the self-conception of the individual child.
In a similar light, the office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (2001) acknowledge that religious education can be a tool to sensitize to human rights issues, it affirms religious education is a contributing factor to the shaping up of one’s identity and may play a key role in multicultural societies and the pursuit of true globalization as long as it promotes values of tolerance and non-discrimination. This implies that wider perspectives need to be offered, which besides contributing to self-awareness and developing one’s own identity, also help in the understanding of other wider perspectives, thus responding to the logic of inclusion and feeling part of the same global community. The teaching of religious convictions based on those criteria would indeed favour the development of balanced individuals, aware of their own identity, including at the religious level but also open, curious and respectful, thus contributing to the creation of a conducive environment for the promotion and\ protection of human rights.
Public secondary schools are those secondary schools built and managed by the state government. According to the National Policy on Education (2004), the five main National objectives of Nigeria as clearly stated in the second National development plan and endorsed as a necessary foundation for the National policy on education are building of:
i. A free and democratic society;
ii. A just and egalitarian society;
iii. A united, strong and self-reliant nation;
iv. A great and dynamic economy;
v. A land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens.
Nigeria’s philosophy of education is basically hinged on the integration of the individual into a sound and effective citizen of the nation at the primary, secondary and higher levels of education, both inside and outside the formal school system. It is in the light of this that the quality of instruction at all levels has to be geared towards inculcating the following values:
1. Respect for the worth and dignity of the individuals;
2. Faith in man’s ability to make rational decisions;
3. Moral and spiritual values in interpersonal and human relations;
4. Shared responsibility for the common goal of the society;
5. Respect for the dignity of labour, and
6. Promotion of the emotional, physical and psychological health of all children. For the philosophy to be in line and agreement with Nigeria’s National objectives, it has to be focused on self-realization, better human relationship, individual and national efficiency, effective citizenship, national consciousness, national unity as well as social, cultural, economic, political, scientific and technological development (National Policy on Education, 2004).
7. It is based on this background that the researcher embarked on the study of challenges of Christian religious fanaticism in public secondary schools in Agege Local government Area, Lagos State.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Religions constitute a formidable instrument of social change in any society against the backdrops of its inherent characteristics of maintaining law and order through the internalization of religious tenets and values. Religions are said to provide a healthy environment for a functional and vibrant society and it serves a cohesive and euphonic function in the society. The history of any nation cannot be written without reference to religion (Omoregbe, 2001).
Sadly, there has been evidence of Christian religious fanatics in Nigerian secondary schools characterized by violence, riot killing, aggressive attacks including willful and wanton destruction of lives and properties.
There are three major religions in Nigeria, unfortunately, this violent act often occurs among Christians and Muslims, even though the tenets of both religions emphasize peace. Some of the adherents of both religions have become overzealous and grossly deviate from the basic dogma of the religions. The effect of this violent act has always been unpalatable and disastrous, ranging from loss of lives, destruction of valuable properties and socio-political instability. Before the introduction of the aforementioned two foreign religions, African Religion then provided a conducive environment that allowed people from various backgrounds to live together peacefully.
However, the advent of the two foreign religions has brought disunity, antagonizing conflict and hatred among their followers which hindered national development which can only prosper in a harmonious atmosphere (Ilo, 2009).
There are different groups in Christendom owing to ideologies and doctrinal disparities. Protestants and sects/cults. The first two have the greatest followership. Noting that protestants were segregated from Roman Catholics, it has the following groups. Orthodox, evangelicals and Pentecostals. It must be acknowledged that from a general outlook it seems as if all are the same, however, there are lots of doctrinal differences and practices, which differentiate them. The distinguishing factor lies in the position each group accords to the extrasensory perceptions. The fall out of these is negative on academic activities in secondary schools. One of the negative effects of fanaticism on education is the disruption of school. Calendar. This is because schools are closed and academic distortive brought a standstill. Another effect of fanaticism on education is that it creates tension in school. Based on the problems highlighted above the researcher embark on the challenges of Christian religious fanaticism attitude on public secondary Schools in Agege Local Government Area of Lagos state.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The major purpose of this study is to examine the challenges of Christian religious fanaticism and the way out.
Other specific purposes of this study are to examine:
1. The causes of religious fanaticism in public secondary schools.
2. The relationship between religious intolerance and conflict
3. The effect of intolerance on education.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions guided the study:
1. What are the causes of Christian religious fanaticism in public secondary schools?
2. What is the relationship between religious intolerance and conflict?
3. What is the effect of religious intolerance on education?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses are tested in this study:
1. Religious fanaticism has no cause.
2. There is no significant relationship between religious intolerance and conflict.
3. Religious intolerance does not affect education.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study will be of benefit to students, Christian religious education teachers, school administrators and the society at large. Students will benefit because the findings of this study will disabuse their minds of those irrational thinking which lead to religious intolerance, hence they will see the need to tolerate other people’s religion to maintain a peaceful school environment that promotes higher academic achievement.
Christian Religious Education teachers will benefit because this study will sensitize them on the aspects of the CRE Curriculum which promotes a peaceful co-existence. They will as well inculcate the moral implications in the students. Their productivity in terms of noticeable behavioural changes in the students will promote their profession and give them a sense of worth and achievement.
School administrators will benefit because there will be discipline and high positive moral behaviour in the school system and this will reduce the stress which they incur in settling conflicts among students,
The society at large will benefit when the youth who are the future of the society are well behaved and can co-exist peacefully, the society will be egalitarian and achieve a vibrant economy in the absence of disruptions.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study covers five (5) selected public secondary schools in the Agege Local Government Area of Lagos state.
1.8 Definition of Key Terms
Religion: can be seen as the response of man to an inward experience which he considers to be a direct approach of the divine, seeking to reveal to him, the meaning of his existence and guide to external destiny.
Christian Religion: This is the religion that aims at developing effective knowledge of what Christianity is all about as expressed in the Bible, in church history liturgy and worship.
Fanaticism: Could be defined as a belief which does not tolerate social relations with people of other religious bodies.
Islam: It is the religion practised by those who believe in Allah and is based on the teaching in the Holy Koran.
African Traditional Religion: it is the religion practised by African traditionalists who believe in ancestral worship.