This may seem like a confusing title, maybe even a bit absurd. But, if you really think about it, then you'd know that most people are religious not Christians. I chose to use Christians because I am a Christian and I can only say what I know. So, why not continue reading and if you disagree, then you can air your views under comments.
As usual, when I have some free time, what I do is get into an argument with my brothers. A few weeks ago, I got into one of such arguments. This time it was about the scandals that rocked and have surrounded the religious settings (especially in Nigeria) of recent. First, it was Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and the arms deal, then it was Pastor Chris Oyakhilome getting a divorce. Then we remembered a few more that have happened in the past (no need dwelling on those). This discussion took us on a journey to survey the manner in which churches are been run in Nigeria these days.
Nigeria, like many African nations (despite her claim to be the economic giant of Africa) has had it's own share of troubles and her citizens have faced untold hardships. As a result, many people turn to God for help, (the only positive outcome). Unfortunately, some of the religious leaders also take advantage of this situation the brain wash and exploit their followers. Among a lot of attributes, many Nigerians are lazy, ignorant and worse of all want to "arrive". We want to sit on our asses all day doing nothing but making lorry-load of cash, hence the dawn of 419ers and ritualist. Nowadays, it seems the latest niche is politics, owning a church or even a blog (that so called "since +Linda Ikeji made it, why can't we", right? - Wrong).
The trend that seem to have taken the religious sector by storm now is the act of "sowing seeds". Literally what they are telling you is give something to God in order to receive your blessing. My question is this: "What did you give to God last night, so he can keep you alive today?". I'm not saying that giving to God is wrong, NO! It's just why would you neglect your neighbour who has been begging you for a cup of rice to feed her children, only to go and donate thousands of naira to the church so the "man of God" would notice you? A lot of people are in church today for unbelievable reasons. I had a friend who would donate her entire feeding money for the month to a fellow student pastor as seed and then start begging for food. She did it in the name of God would provide my every needs.
Because of our lazy and ignorant attitude towards life in Nigeria, you find church goers who do not want to work, but expect to hit it big. They expect to get to the top through one connection or another and then stay there doing absolutely nothing and saying God has done it for me. Many "Christians" do not bother to read their bible. They depend on what ever the pastor says. And so I find myself in a situation with a woman in labour who requires a caesarian section and she tells me "my pastor says I will deliver like a Hebrew woman". Who is a Hebrew woman? Have you or your pastor witnessed the birthing of a Hebrew woman? What does God say about delivery? Sometimes, it truly is laughable what people have in their heads.
Today, in Nigeria, we have pastors who are now celebrities, moving around in private jets and expensive cars. If you say a word, they tell you "my God is not a poor God". They have schools, up to tertiary level of education built by the sweat of their members through donations and seeds and at the end of the day, the children of such members can't afford to go to such schools. You pastor who has no scruples with collecting millions of naira from politicians as gifts or whatever, have you bothered to ask where it is coming from? Is it the taxpayers money of your members who don't have the basic amenities in their homes? A clerk gives you 1 million naira as tithe, did you ask how he came about it?
My younger brother is one of those people who attends any church he comes across, just to understand its doctrines and beliefs. Sometimes I wonder if he hasn't been to a mosque or some other temples. He narrated this story to us. He was in a church one day and they were calling for offerings and seeds. According to him, he was just getting up to go give when the pastor said, "If you do not give to God, his angels would stop building at your site". Instantly, he sat back down. He pictured angels wearing shorts and carrying cement and blocks to a site for him and then they turned back because he didn't give this once? He just laughed and made up his mind never to visit that church again. For many Nigerians, that pronouncement by the pastor is enough to empty their pockets without much thought for tomorrow. They say the bible says "why worry about what you'd wear or eat, doesn't your heavenly Father feed the birds of the air or cloth the lilies of the valley?". They are absolutely right, but this same bible says, "faith without works is dead".
Another friend of mine sent a broadcast of how a celebrity actor who had problems in his marriage called up a celebrity pastor for advice. They fix a date to meet and discuss they matter, and two days before the meeting, the pastor divorced his own wife. What do you think the celebrity did? He ran back to his wife with apologies. The argument ended on the note that, lack of development, insecurity, a country where nothing works is the cause of churches springing up everyday. On my street alone, (no, from the balcony of my house), I can count up to 7 churches. You do not want to know what happens on Sundays or Friday night vigils. Finally, my advice to you whether in Nigeria or not is to build your own relationship with the God you serve, because idolizing your pastor doesn't guarantee your safe passage to heaven.