Churches are getting bigger and the poor are getting poorer. Everywhere you in go in Nigeria today, south of the Rivers’ Benue and Niger, there are more churches along our streets than homes, every little nook and cranny houses a place of worship.
In what is rapidly becoming an epidemic everybody you meet has suddenly become a ’pastor’, a ‘bishop’ or a ‘prophet’. Everybody cradles a Bible, reeling off Biblical quotes, praying out aloud, able to prophesize, produce miracles on demand and heal every ailment known to Man – all in the name of God.
Gone are the days when one was chosen to minister before the Lord and had to endure years and years of formal Bible training in a college, seminary or university. Gone are the days when Men of the Cloth were selfless, godly and revered.
Nowadays it’s all about money; the selling of God! And the selling is done by smooth talking silver tongued salesmen or life-coaches masquerading as Men of God.
When the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ, never had a donkey or house to his name its surprising to see our pastors riding around in expensive vehicles, hopping around in private jets and living in massive mansions.
And the source of their fabulous wealth? Tithes contributed by their congregation!
Irregardless of what many may have read in the Bible, a tithe is supposed to be a voluntary contribution and not a forced levy. One is reminded of the parable of the poor widow and the rich man making offerings in the temple. Who gave the most ? The poor Widow and her few coins or the rich man who gave what he could spare? The idea of an offering, tithe or thanksgiving is to give what you can afford. It should never be demanded or be mandatory.
But our so-called pastors make this a forced levy – they can’t wait to collect their ten per cent ‘commission’ or tithes from our incomes on a monthly basis – and this can be payable in cash, by debit or credit cards, cheques – but definitely no I.O.Us or they will send fire and brimstone from Heaven to visit that individual!
In doing so they are robbing the most vulnerable people of our society – the poor who can barely afford three square meals a day – in the name of God!
But our pastors’ money-making ventures don’t just end in collecting tithes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! They have ‘ghost-written’ religious books and pamphlets to sell, they charge for ‘special’ prayers, anointing oil and ‘Holy water’. Bigger churches have ventured in to real estate, broadcasting and even run schools, universities and hospitals – all providing a never ending cash flow for the charismatic pastors.
It’s said its easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Surrounded by all this wealth and luxury do they actually meditate, prepare sermons or pray ? How many would remain pastors or prophets if the Federal government was to pass a law forbidding them from dipping their fingers into churches’ coffers at will ? Money contributed by the congregation should be used for the upkeep of the church and not to fund the ostentatious lifestyle of a pastor.
And all the ‘miracle’ healing and predictions – what is true and what is faked in an effort to win over more paying converts?
With no rules and regulations governing them a pastor with no formal training, conviction or calling will get up to all sorts; from ordering female congregants to take their clothes off, to telling them to eat grass or plundering their bank accounts! Many of them have ended up being embroiled in scandals and lawsuits!
Some pastors have even gone a step further by making our local babalawos and witches redundant ; praying for armed robbers and politicians, producing ‘miracle’ babies and money-making spells and doing countless un-godly things all in the name of money – definitely not in the name of God!
When Jesus Christ was alive he chased the traders, money changers and money-makers out of the temple; in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fifteen Anno Domini we’re quite happy for them to minister to us.