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Nigeria: Churches—business or salvation? [Op-Ed]

Religion is a controversial subject in Nigeria as Muslims and Christians clash, but it seems that isn’t the only religious conflict in the country.

Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Foreign Report as a whole.

Christianity is one of the major religions in Nigeria and according to pew study carried out in 2011, they constitute 51% of the population and are spread across the 36 states of Nigeria. Christianity teaches the value of sharing, generosity, humility, equity, justice, and the early Nigerian church contributed to the building of schools, hospitals and support centres.

In the modern-day Nigerian church, however, this seems not to be the case as the lifestyles of the religious elites seem a far cry from those of the churches’ congregation. Nigeria, with a population of about 200million people, of which more than half are unemployed and live below the poverty level, ranked the 3rd most corrupt country in the world and as a place with a high level of insecurity and unrest.

At the same time, however, many parts of Nigeria are home to the most devout Christians in the world. Some argue that the high crime and corruption rates show a need for yet more churches, but looking at the situation more sternly you would see that churches have veered from teaching the good news to a place where clergy men can easily accumulate wealth from the congregation who are desperately seeking for hope and would do anything to buy hope. Corruption has eaten its way to the church. Being a pastor has almost become a short cut to a better livelihood, fame or an escape from unemployment.

Attend church service in some of these churches, what would strike you the most is the exquisite nature of these church buildings, polished environments, well dressed and attractive looking pastors in well lit alters adorned with gold and shinny ribbons… but look closely at the faces of the people who attend service there ,the sick, hunger stricken, tattered looking, wrinkle filled faces crying out for their next meal or asking God to pay for their hospital bills, they make up the large majority.

Pastors most times use carefully chosen words and some verses in the bible to lure people for tithes and offerings, sometimes their appeal for funds are spiced up with some form of threat. They tell you of hell fire, how you will get burnt by a raging fire if you don’t comply with Gods words, they tell you that God says whatever you give you get a thousand folds, “if you give nothing”, you get nothing, “God loves cheerful givers and if you don’t give God’s blessing won’t be showered down on you and your family”. It begins to seem as if they want the members of their congregation to buy  miracles and protection.

Most heads of congregation even go as far as ask the church members to contribute to their personal businesses, its common knowledge in how members of Redeemed Christian church of God were asked to contribute money via special offerings towards the construction of Redeemers University but Upon the universities completion and commissioning in 2005, most of the people who contributed financially to the completion of the university can’t send their wards there because school fees were placed at a very unaffordable level. Only the children of the rich can have their kids sent there. Whereas, being a church property one would expect that it would offer quality and affordable options for those seeking to be educated.

Pastors now live a life of opulence, get mentioned on the pages of Forbes magazine’s in the same column as wealthy business men and politicians, own private jets and even private hangers. Some have been investigated for money laundering, been accused of being members of cults or a confraternity. The question in the lips of well-meaning Nigerians is, where else would a pastor get 30 million dollars to buy a private jet from? What happened to donating relief material for motherless babies and war torn communities; donating towards finding a cure for diseases, research funding or education scholarships?

With this trend, one is left stunned and amazed at the ways supposed men of God have lost core values like Charity, humility, humanity and sacrifice and have opted for fame, glam and flamboyance. One way to cob this trend is for Government to place a check on the activities of these preachers. If any irregularity is observed in the way they conduct their businesses such irregularities should be exposed and investigated as a way to ensure people are not stripped off their possessions. It was reported in the media how a man lost his life savings to a man of God because he was told that his wealth will be doubled in 24 hours if he gave out all his possessions to God.

Secondly, there has to be a formal enlightenment campaign undertaken by well meaning Nigerians focusing on skill acquisition and self dependence as dependence on pastors and clergy men for success is the root cause of this problem.

The Government of Nigeria lead by President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan should also work towards providing employment and reducing poverty in the country.

Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Ifeanyichukwu Ibeabuchi

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Ifeanyichukwu Benard Ibeabuchi, also known as Redkad is a Nigerian writer, conscious lyricist and a hip-hop artist. A Graduate of the University of Port Harcourt where he studied Electrical Engineering, Redkad's love for conscious music and journalism began when he joined the press club at school.

22 comments on “Nigeria: Churches—business or salvation? [Op-Ed]

  1. That’s some truth piece written there,brother…. We should continue to spread the light in whatever way,in whichever way…. Words on point…. More power to the pen….

  2. I recommend this article, its a must read. We really need to sensitize the masses to be self reliant,believe in God and not so much in the power of these pastors and also to reduce poverty and unemployment in the country. With that the over dependence on miracles will cease. These pastors are becoming overly powerful and excessively flamboyant.

  3. Sasaholic (Emeka) on said:

    Nice piece! What a wealthy view in the subject matter. it’s really thought provoking pondering over the exorbitant lifestyle of extreme flamboyance that has turn a norm for these men when their members can’t have a balanced meal and even afford the basic needs of their family. This life of flamboyance display has replaced words such as charity and humanity in their dictionaries. In all may God help us.

  4. I admire your concern & your being outspoken; however, a few cases of pastors seemingly ‘flamboyant or fame – seeking’ shouldn’t be the basis for an uninformed article. Apparently, like most Nigerians do, you’ve used a lot of assumptions here; for every flamboyant pastor, you probably don’t recognise there are genuine men of God who change lives daily, who have raised prosperous men. If your intent here is address social ills, it should be based on facts not sentiments or uninformed inspiration; the Church is not a few erring men of God and if you have to pick a topic, you’ll be wise to avoid the Church – make your fame from something else

  5. Luciano(Lucky) on said:

    Now this is what I call a realist article, a message like this shouldn’t just end on this page it should be a regular broadcast on various media. *God is watching*

  6. I admire your concern & your being outspoken; however, a few cases of pastors seemingly ‘flamboyant or fame – seeking’ shouldn’t be the basis for an uninformed article. Apparently, like most Nigerians do, you’ve used a lot of assumptions here; for every flamboyant pastor, you probably don’t recognise there are genuine men of God who change lives daily, who have raised prosperous men. If your intent here is address social ills, it should be based on facts not sentiments or uninformed inspiration; the Church is not a few erring men of God; there are men of God doing a good job but not under big or instantly recognisable names

  7. @LVB its articles like dis that raise peoples consciousness. I knw people are afraid to talk or about the church but this article is not misinformed, it is a growing concern for every Nigerian the way we have absolutely corrupt people and aat the same time millions of church. What the writer emphasises is the need for love amongst christians and I give him a thumbs up

  8. @LBV He even stated a solution to the problem and I totally agree with him. We scream when politicians buy expensive airplanes, now a pastor buys four private jets aand you wnt to laugh about it? Common man be realistic I believe you need to take a second look at that article and face reality rather than be afraid to speak out.

  9. Yeah some pastors actually use the “give” mentality to enrich their selves but tiz also biblical to give… As for poor people, we will alwayz have them… U can give some pipz 1mil and they’ll still b broke… Most churches don’t print out how much they spend on relief and other charity stuffs they do but most churches spend much on charity.. And to b frank, giving is biblical… If wayne can say rubbish on a track on own a private jet, y shudnt a Man of God who speaks the word of God own a private jet?? Y is that making the news? Diz preachers operate tight schedules that a commercial airline can’t operate so a private jet is not a luxury but a necessity

  10. It becomes a luxury when you begin to own 4 planes..I tink you people r missing the point. The fact that he mentioned these things don’t mean there r no good men tht serve God but it is to enlighten people to open there minds cos there are a lot of men out there who r taking advantage of the ignorance of a lot of Nigerians. Tight schedule or not it is extravagant to buy a jet worth millions of dollars talk more of four..that’s my opinion you have yours you knw how much it cost to service those airplanes plus I have never been to a hospital and heard that I shouldn’t pay for treatment so so church has covered d bills. People r dying over 200naira malaria drugs , even if you can’t stop it totally, it would reduce it drastically. the church can never do enough it has to keep doing till time ends so weda or not they signed cheques in the past doesn’t warrant them to say ok its time to stop and spend on ourselves.

  11. @cino Lil Wayne and a man of God, that comparison no just click…Jesus had a lot of schedules too, we didn’t hear he was competing with tax collectors on means of transportation. Whether one or two, owning a jet while the people are suffering especially by a man of God is sincerely a wrong move.

  12. Red this really a great one and I just can’t stop but ponder on those powerful thoughts of yours. It has became a question to raise on how some men of God go about the things they do. It is so unfortunate that we don’t even know what to believe anymore but my advice is that we should study Gods word and do only what he wants us to do. Thumbs up Red.

  13. Nice piece chief… The truth well spoken and said. Am not judging any of them as God said we should not. After all on judgement day, we’ll all find out and ironically their trial is more severe.

    Thumbs up Red

  14. I really get appalled when I see people trying to shy away from the truth….. Reedemers’ university built with poor people also contributing heavily yet at the completion these humble members can’t afford to send their wards to the school cos of the exorbitant costs….. It’s just not effing logical,to me,that a pastor should own a private jet when most of your followers are hungry.By the way tithe isn’t meant for the pastor,it’s meant for the folks that don’t have,for social responsibilities&the upkeep of the church of course….. But owning a jet is just the height of it,it depicts immorality seeping through religion…… Pastors not able to speak against corrupt government not because of fear but because of financial favour that could be meted out to them….. Arrogance&Pride have taken over humility&selflessness.Not saying a pastor can’t be wealthy , buh truth is money corrupts….. By the way most prophets had humble ends.Now is a stark contrast,most “Men of God” are rich,I’m sorry,I mean filthy rich….. They mostly preach prosperity.They rarely speak on issues like corruption.If they do speak they say something like “If petrol is #200 God count me amongst the ones able to afford”. Selfish prayers,what about the ones unable to afford it?! Why can’t Adeboye tell Jonathan that his government is failing the people?! Why can’t he question the level of corruption in government?! Or doesn’t the church have any sort of social responsibilty?! Does the bible preach against speaking for our rights?!……. The ignorance is really killing our people.The resilience we have is more of stupidity.It’s all wrong our reasonings and doings. The fear to question a man not different from us because he tagged himself “Man of God”……. I’ve got a usual saying that goes “This country will only get better when logic&reasoning oversees religious indoctrination”…..

  15. Nicely written , its a fine piece most importantly he has a solution attached to the piece. We should be able to question our clergymen they too need counselling sometimes. I like this piece

  16. My opinion; The earlier Nigerians realize the fraud being put to their faces everyday by these so called “Pastors” the better for them. A man and his family members would trek down to church with no hope for food, yet he would pay the normal offering, church building offering, school building seed-for a school he won’t be able to afford its tuition afterwards…..and the pastor continues to acquire properties he’s leaving here on earth…. I wonder if our pastors still remember those bible passages that talk about “Vanity upon Vanity” and “It will be hard for rich men to make heaven”…… Contrarily, they would always remember those portions that say “Givers never lack” “God loves a cheerful giver” etc… Nigerians should wake up….. Most of them even have different political affiliations; instead of telling our rulers the truth or curse them, they would rather anoint them so as to get one favour or the other…

  17. These are actual names of Churches in Nigeria.

    · Jesus Of God Mission (Imo State)

    · God’s Mennonite Church

    · Guided Missiles Church

    · Jesus In The Now Global Ministry

    · Healing Has Begun Ministry

    · God’s Own Ministry

    · The True Assemblies of God Church

    · Jehova Sharp Sharp (Festac)

    · Huricane Miracle Ministry

    · Healing Tsunami Ministry

    · Satan in Trouble Ministry

    · Fire for Fire Ministry

    · Fist Of Fury (NTA Road, Port Harcourt)

    · Run For Your Life Ministry

    · The Yoke Must Broke Ministry (The “Broke” in this name is NOT a mistake).

    · Jesus Heal Ministry

    · Face to Face Ministry

    · Angels on Fire Chapel of Peace

    · Liquid Fire Ministries (Suleja, Niger State)

    · By Fire By Fire Ministry

    · Holyfire Overflow Ministries

    · David Killed Goliath Ministry (Kaduna)

    · House of Jehova’s Padawans (TransAmadi, PH)

    · Jesus In His Mightiness Global Ministry

    · OPM – Other People’s Money (PH)

    · God in Action Ministries

    · Moving Mountain Gospel Church

    · My Brother Is A Christian Church Of God

    · Fellowship of the Wings – Ajah (Langbasa)

    · Power Foundation Ministries, Aba.
    =The pastor’s maiden crusade was titled: “Your Money is Looking For You”

    · Holy Ghost On Fire Ministry (Abuja)

    · High Tension Ministry

    · Jesus Never Bleep Up Ministry (Benin)

    · Devil Go Hear Am Jesus Ministry

    · Accredited Church of God

    · Chukwudi & Son Evangelical Ministry, Aba

    · Power Pass Power Church Of The Mountain Ministry Incorporated

    · Ministry Of The Unclad Wire – Bayelsa State

    · Laborator Church of God

    · Go And Tell Ahab That Elijah Is Here Ministries – Benin

    · God Is Real Ministry. Motto: “Jesus no get muscle but he get power”

    · Fire Burn Ministries

    · Jesus The Landlord, We The Relaxing Pew Ministry – Portharcourt

    · Happy Go Lucky Church of God Almighty In Jesus Name Amen – Abeokuta

    · Old Time Religion Ministry

    · Strong Hand of God Ministry

    · Best Spot In The Land of God Church – Apapa.

    · Trigger Happy Ministry. Motto- Always firing the Devil.

    · Kasabubu Chruch of God – Ibadan

    · Jesus Knows His Children Ministry – Benin

    · Seven Thunders of Jesus

    · Perfect Christianity Ministry

    · Elshaddai Shall Not Die Ministries

  18. Ignorance Kills on said: