Cardinal John Onaiyekan blames pastors and imams for

He shared this while delivering his paper titled religious harmony and nation building at the first international conference by the inter-religious council of the University of Ilorin, The Nation reports.

According to Onaiyekan, who is also the Archbishop of Abuja, the emergence of  "overnight religious leaders" who preach wrongly has resulted in the ongoing religious disharmony in the country.

In his words, "We have a major problem these days in our country where it seems everyone can become a "religious leader" overnight, without any credentials. There are too many ignorant 'pastors' and 'imams' preaching errors and leading many people astray.

"Perhaps this is the price we have to pay for the freedom of religion that we enjoy. But surely a line should be drawn somewhere, especially when national order and harmony is at stake."

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How to stop religious crisis

The Cardinal goes on to offer a solution. In order to have religious harmony in Nigeria, he recommends training religious leaders to preach sermons that promote tolerance among people of different religions.

He said, "For a long time, humanity lived in closed religious communities, with not much to do with others, who perhaps have their own faith, generally considered as erroneous and false. But now that globalization has packed us into a global village, we are faced with the fact of plurality of religions, all of us calling on the same One God.

"There is need for a radical theological updating of our ideas of God and our faith, in such a way that we can accommodate others, just as God Himself has accommodated all of us. This does not have to lead to doctrinal compromise or watering down of our convictions. It simply means we recognize that God is far greater than our ideas of him and consequently than our religions, no matter how sublime we think they are."

Cardinal Onaiyekan was supported by the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and JAMB registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, who advised Nigerians to accept interfaith relationships.