Moninuola Komolafe on Irreligion: A Personal Narrative of Nigerian Non-Belief

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Was religion a part of family life? If so, what was a big moment of awakening and leaving the faith?

Moninuola Komolafe: Religion was a major part of my family especially because my father owns a church. I began participating in three-day fasts, revivals, and vigils when I was barely eight years old.

Occasionally, I had doubts but the turning point came at an outreach my church organized sometime in 2012. About eight of us laid hands on this madman on the street. He appeared healed and we had a crowd behind us chanting and praising Jesus but looking at him, I didn’t think he was healed. We later realized this and two of us shipped him out of that community so that our ministry activities could continue because we knew people would question the message if they saw the man we healed roaming the streets. That raised questions that I just couldn’t push aside. Why wasn’t he healed? Why wouldn’t god heal him and convert unbelievers? Are miracles real? If miracles aren’t real, isn’t the bible just an ordinary book? Can the book be trusted?

I followed this questions and when I got my answers, I realized I no longer believed the Bible and its message.

Jacobsen:  In the surrounding culture, how much did religion determine the style of social and political life? How does it do so today if at all?

Komolafe: Religion influenced impacted almost every aspect of our lives, from proscriptions against alcohol to relationships between people of different religions, to dictating how women should dress and how homes should be run, even sexual relations between unmarried people. It also played a major role on law-making with lawmakers refusing to pass laws on issues where their religious books had opposing views. Today, the influence remains but no longer has a stronghold because people are asking questions and are coming to the realization that times are changing and that some of those practices should become obsolete.

Jacobsen: What makes for the better arguments for a reason and against faith to you? 

Komolafe: Faith, by its very definition, means believing without evidence and because of this, anything, no matter how ludicrous it is, can be believed. Faith in ideas such as demons, demonic oppression, and witches is why a sick person will be dropped at a church instead of the hospital. Faith is why we label any occurrence we do not understand as supernatural and why an innocent child can be labeled a witch and left to starve. Faith in a religious book is a reason for discrimination against people who don’t share our beliefs. Faith is why people will adamantly go against facts because it negates the dictates of their religion. Faith is harmful.

The truth, however, is that we do not apply faith to everything. We conduct investigations before moving to new locations. We check if the place is not constantly robbed if there’s constant power supply. We immunize our kids too and not rely on supernatural protection. Why not something that impacts our lives as much as religion?

Jacobsen: What are some common stories that you hear – over and over again – from those who have lost their faith? In short, what are their reasons for becoming irreligious in your locale?

Komolafe: For those that came out of my kind of setting, the absence of evidence to support the miraculous claims of the bible was a push for them. For others, it was the ridiculous stories of the bible and the disparities with our reality.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Moninuola.

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