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Sincerely, Did You Know The Dictionary Definition Of These Five Words?

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  1. Heresy: “A belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine or holding an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted.” To become a heretic, your opinion doesn’t have to be wrong, a lie or bad; no one cares about that. It only has to be at odds with or disagreeable with prevailing religious doctrine. Yet many people, very many, were convicted and killed under laws against heresy. Not because they were wrong, but because they held alternative opinions. Till date, many religious fanatics still call people heretics for holding alternative religious opinions.
  2. Shrine: “A place regarded as holy because of its association with a divinity or a sacred person or relic, marked by a building or other construction.” There is nothing in the definition of a shrine that connotes or suggests evil. Following from the dictionary definition, both churches and mosques can be referred to as shrines because they are buildings connected to a divinity and a sacred person. But the moment you mention ‘shrine’ the first thing that pops up in the mind of most people is a place associated with evil.
  3. Cult: “A system of religious veneration and devotion directed towards a particular figure or object.” How and when people decided to demonize this word without drawing boundaries, is still a mystery to me. Worse, still, any group associated with evil is now referred to as a “cult”, whether they have any system of devotion or not. Just come together and be doing evil and you are called a cult, without reverting to the definition of the word.
  4. Pagan: “A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main or recognized religions.” Nothing in this definition suggests that a pagan is a devil or an unbeliever. You are a pagan only because your religious belief is a minority, not because it is wrong or ungodly. It also means that in Muslim dominated countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran etc, Christians are pagans. But for most people, pagans are those who do not believe in God.
  5. Heathen: “A person who does not belong to a widely held religion, especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.” The definition did not say a ‘heathen’ is an ungodly person, neither did it say the person is godly. It simply says, once you do not belong to any of the Abraham religions like the Traditionalists, Hindus and Buddhists, you are a heathen. Not because you don’t know God, but because your own knowledge of God is different.
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You may or may not have given meaningful attention to understanding the definition and meaning of these words, but you have been a victim of the general and somewhat deliberate misinterpretation and demonization of these words in preference for others, just to cast a certain section of the society in dark shades.

But now that you know, if you didn’t, please use them in context when next you are having a quality conversation and I think you will sound more grounded. Not just because you want to be accommodating, but because you now know the meaning and definition of those words.

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Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.

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