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Published On: Fri, Apr 3rd, 2020

COVID-19: Between religious and governmental laws

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By Segun Ige

“Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” is the question posited to Jesus Christ by certain Pharisees and Herodians in a bit to catch Him in His words. In their hypocritical-, wicked and crafty-laden conspiracy, they press further: “Shall we give, or shall we not give?” But in His unsearchable and unfathomable wisdom and insight, He responds in a question-and-answer way, saying: “… bring me a penny, that I may see it. Whose is this image and superscription?” Since their answer is “Caesar’s,” He then responds more rhetorically – “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” To be sure, the quid-pro-quo ends as it were as they are greatly astounded by the unquestionable, unbeatable and unconquerable sagaciousness of the Son of man.
Needless to say, a whole lot has been and is being said concerning the Conoravirus pandemic. Most TV Stations’ breaking news are fraught with or topped by the epidemic. Even more serious is the issue that tremendous times of the news’ hours, generally, are devoted to the virus. Still reiterating, it has affected the globe in one way or another. With China being its first detector and with the “Beacon of Truth” Dr Li Wenliang’s much earlier death, indeed in his almost-mid 30s, the virus has vituperatively clamped down on unprepared, uninformed and unalerted countries. In China, it was reported that many a Chinese first regarded the Li-Wenliang detection of the virus a fallible proof and so didn’t take it absolutely seriously.
The U.S. appeared to be wiser. Almost immediately after her first confirmed case, her immigration border has been ordered impassable by President Donald Trump. The Trumpian administration seems to emphasize the importance of bringing one’s absolute power to bear – again, immediately – at the hearing of death-involving information, for instance. By the way, he had already, through the Secretary General of the State, made it known that there wouldn’t be visa – in particular to those who are solely seeking double citizenships for their unborn child or children, to be precise. For me, I think with that establishment it is relatively slightly easy for the U.S. to have an edge over every other country, that is, if their confirmed cases and death tolls, as yet, were put in perspective comparatively.
Nigeria could not but cast some doubt at the cornerstone hearing its information. Well, they’ve soon forgotten that, I suspect, its rejection would ultimately experience resurrection. Then I began to understand the importance of taking every bit of information extremely seriously. As there hadn’t been any case of the Conoravirus, I’d tell my younger brother (funnily sometimes calling me ‘Englishist’!) that it would still, like Ebola, find its way in Nigeria. I just believed that. Anyway, I think it’s born out of the lackadaisical and attitudinal disposition of the country. Even more considerable, some Nigerians are yet unflinchingly not persuaded of its presence in the country, even as I write now. So stupid to be infected by the virus before believing, isn’t it?
Now, looking more closely, the federation has declared no-more-than-20 members in every denomination; I mean in every religious assembly. In Nigeria, again – and in Africa – religion seems to be our breath of life; it seems to be the anchor for our souls. Our activities are characteristically dictated by our firm belief in God. For while the Muslims pray to God five times a day, especially with Friday being their most holy day, the Christians themselves, who at least hold three meetings a week, do have their own specially-corresponding Sunday services. Although my inner man does not so much appreciate the ‘social distancing’ of a thing, I should and would be so unborn-again if I’d been one of the transgressors of the laws of the land. After all, it’s for my safety, you say!
Permit me to immediately express my mind, namely, that I surely do not find it utterly delightful that the pillars of a country – religion and politics – would eventually be at loggerheads. From time immemorial, religion and politics have not only proven to be strongholds, but have also demonstrated to be inseparable. Siamese twins that they are, they define the design a nation would take. The fact that the Pharisees and the Herodians’ politically motivated question was thrown at Jesus – ‘a religious leader,’ some might call Him – should have undoubtedly informed us of this submission. T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral, for example, details this ancient nexus. What’s more, the protagonist Archbishop Becket’s religious-cum-political affiliations result in some murder or other. Reading the play with a few others in my second year at the university, I shouldn’t but have come up with the word-formation Relitics, which is a derivative of the stylistic mechanism of blending – religion and politics in particular. Simply put, Relitics, if my memory does not fail me, is the power play between religion and politics, and which is so difficult a thing for a person be involved with, disinterestedly, having begun to corroborate the two. It’s a dangerous game to be played by him who’s got longer throat or ‘pepper throat,’ as my then-lecturer Professor Hope Eghagha would have tellingly described.
Imagine the death-route disobedience the religious rebels are following. Some want to even prove religiously superior to the political powers that have been. That’s like putting the horse before the cart! And these are His disciples or, if I may say, followers. If they were genuine disciples, they should not have clad themselves with the Absalomique regalia. Rather, they would have, as obedient children, imbibed the principles, patterns and parameters practically portrayed by the Prince of Peace and the Teacher come from God. Apparently, they are detached from the basic understanding that even Jesus did not discourage the so-called law-abiding Pharisees and Herodians from paying or giving tributes to Caesar. From Jesus’ answer, it is clear that the one does not and should not hinder the other; and if it were, it would have been a false abominable balance; but to be sure, the latter is weightier. Giving the things that are God’s God requires absolute surrender, acceptable sacrifice, astute self-crucifixion, abiding servant-hood and abandoned self-will. This hard-core heaven-bound injunction would have clearly necessitated further questions, since, of course, they could not have followed hard after it. That is to say that the sanction of the government on religious bodies that their congregations should not be more than 50, and thereafter 20 or 25, didn’t serve as an outright infringement on their religious worships. Point blank, the world has so gone digital that we do not need to be massively present in some synagogue for to worship. The world has gone digital-driven that a single message or sermon could be streamed in a fell swoop. And it reaches everywhere! Indeed, what the government is telling us – with the invasion of COVID-19 – is to be more globally and locally technologically-driven, and as such that should be our day-to-day life. No cause for alarm! Stay Safe!

Segun Ige can be reached on

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