Religion as an instrument of oppression: a thematic analysis of ‘Allah is not obliged,’ ‘the poor christ of bomba’ and ‘arrow of God

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Kasaro, Gladys
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The University of Zambia
Religion is an institution that helps people to find deep meaning of life, identity and feel sense of belonging. Its quests, yearnings, needs are perfectly respectable and they are found rooted in human nature. Religious beliefs have helped human beings to make sense of life’s mysteries, moreover, these religious beliefs pervade the values of society. The study, using the qualitative approach, aims to explore how the religious theme in the selected fiction serve as devices through which the social reality that the aut hor writes about is identified an d analysed, and provide deep insight of understanding life. It explores how the characters are shown to be tied to religion psychologically, how the authors represent religion as a human agency that necessitates domination and discusses in depth the impact of religion on the oppressed and the oppressors. The findings indicate that characters in fictional societies thus in Allah is not Obliged, The Poor Christ of Bomba and Arrow of God hold the idea of religion in higher esteem. For them, religion provides security, protection and prosperity. However, it has been portrayed as a danger to society on account that it maintains the status quo and justifies the existing of the oppressive soci ety. Characters are oppressed by exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence. The oppressed are made to bear with harsh conditions of life which include poverty and suffering. They are made to accept their circumstances for two reasons, the first one being that of fate and the second one i s that of life after death . Religion affects the characters in many ways such as enslaving them by the same values intended to give meaning to their lives. Everybody embracing such val ues does no t escape the idea of being burdened with religious meaning. Both the oppressor and oppressed have no room to use their mind s and this deters personal progression. By reconciling with oppression, the characters cannot change their circumstances and this has hindered them from deep realisation of the depth of existence. They (oppressed and oppressors) are cut off completely from the reality thereby perpetuating the continuity of the illusion world. The finding s from the three texts indicate that religion is used ideologically to comfort characters but in the actual sense it masks the social realities, and deters them from self realisation. The religious teachings alter the minds of characters; they internalise the oppressive religious teachings and become enslaved. Those in privileged positions are play-actors; they use religion to maintain their social standing. The authors unveiled the masks of hypocrisy: they showed how religion creates platforms for deceit, intolerance and violent exploitation. Religion affects a person socially, economically and psychologically. The authors highlight that when used as a tool, religion plays a bigger role in oppressing others in society.