INSIDE NIGERIA: When Being Religious is Being Ridiculous

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Articles, INSIDE NIGERIA
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by Okoye Chukwudi Charles Ezeamalukwuo

All the science of the Saints is included in these two things: To do, and to suffer. And whoever had done these two things best, has made himself most saintly.
—Saint Francis de Sales

The virtue of patience, endurance, tolerance, fortitude and meekness in today’s Religion, especially in Nigeria is gradually evaporating. Religion is now becoming a quick-escape from reality, where supposedly spiritual folks go to in order to advance their physical/material well-being.

A female friend of mine gave a testimony last sunday in one of the pentecostal churches littered all over the country like used sachets of “Pure Water” on a typical Aba park. She asked the faithful to join her in thanking God for given her a job. She had been unemployed for three years since after her NYSC days. Until last two weeks when she finally secured a job with one big firm like that. Securing a job is always a great feat in our present-day Nigeria where there are more jobless or semi jobless youths than the youths who are gainfully employed, and therefore must be celebrated. But what shocked me was the manner in which she got the job. The aptitude test for the job had already been written before she even had an idea that there was a job opening, but for the fact that she knew one of the Ogas at the top in that firm, she was able to miraculously and spiritually surpass the other candidates who actually took the test…this to her is the hand work of God, God signifying the Oga at the Top. This to me is a pure case of Nepotism, Corruption and Fraud, but which never bothered the Man of God or his cheering minions of success-hungry congregation. God don do am be say Baba God don do am, the rest na super story.

The other day I turned on the television, and switched to one religious channels like that. The Man of God there was talking about 2015 election and the impending bloodshed to come. He advised his viewers to come to his ministry for a special therapy, a special prescription of prayers, of divine fortification that will protect them and their properties from destruction in 2015 when others are being slaughtered. When I asked my neighbour who was judiciously noting down the address and contacts of the ministry, why the man won’t pray for us all so that no life will be lost come 2015. The man laughed like a wise man that he wasn’t, while replying like an angel of doom that he is; saying that there must be bloodshed come 2015, that there is no way around it and that personal prayer is the only sure-immunity from the chaos to come in 2015…wonders shall never end.

I have had the unpleasant experiences of staying in a place close to these new-generation/noise-loving churches, I must confess that I was forced into joining them in their services and night-vigils from the un-comfort of my house. Those folks have no respect for man or matter, only God, whom to me appears to be deaf or hard on hearing because of the amount of shouting and screaming that go on there for hours without end. I swear that if the prophet of Baal called on Baal in the manner those folks call on God, Baal would have answered them with a Volcanic eruption…I dey tell you.
To add salt to injury, one anointed sister like that lives in my house. Every wednesday is her own private night vigil. I have never heard the kind of evil-murderous prayers I hear from her in my life. She will start by praising God, dancing to the sounds of her hoarse voice and resounding clapping, then she will move to remind God of how good she has been that week and how God should make haste to crush all her enemies who kept her in her harsh condition. Then she will go into minutest details of how God should torture her opponents, it is like listening to a serial killer draw out her plans. I have contemplated telling her to tune it down a bit, but the fear of being added to her list of opponents is the beginning of wisdom…lord have mercy on us.

Religion is a very delicate matter, which requires a certain naivety, a certain unrealistic and impractical way of reasoning called faith for one to be an ardent practitioner. It is an institution built on the belief that an unseen, untouchable, unfathomable supreme being(s) exist that controls the world that we know and many more that we don’t. Religion by its un-physical nature is prone to misunderstandings, misinterpretation, and misinformation by the physical mortals propagating it. Coupled with this fact, is the growing idea that a truly religious being is one who ought not to suffer want because Jesus has paid for all their debts, hence they should enjoy all the good things this physical world has to offer while still seeking the spiritual one, which to me is of the same logic that a bird at hand is just one bird when compared to the two in the bush.
This is far from true, a truly religious being should be in the world, be subjected to the same physical trials and tribulations, the same sufferings and supplications, the same rules and regulations guarding it, but still not be a part of the world…what will it profit the religious man if he gains the whole world and suffer for loss of his soul.
Religion should not be an escape from reality, rather it should be a peaceful acceptance of the things we can’t change about our reality and the peaceful alterations of the things we can change. It is about love, it is about endurance, it is about tolerance, about bearing with our imperfections and those of others, it is about bearing our sufferings and cross, for if you love me says Christ, You must carry your cross and follow me.
It is funny to see those who profess that God is a being of boundless love in one hand, and in the other hand are seeking so much to avenge an injury, to destroy their perceived enemies, to plunder the earth for themselves alone….but it is written: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, only then will people know that you are my disciples, because the evil ones love only whose who love them and help only those who help them, so how then can you show that you are different.

Being religious is being different in a mental-way, it’s not about the physical, it’s not about the material…it is about the attitude, the way you see the world and the people in it. I have argued about the roles of our mega-pastors with some religious folks…those pastors who have entered the jet-age. I had argued and I’m still saying that those pastors have been given the privilege to speak up against the political/economic woes of the nation. And some have said that a religious man has no business in politics. This I totally disagree with…You can not have a jet, two or more jets worth N3 billion each, with a congregation of about 500,000 people, a university, a president who kneels before you for prayers and live in today’s Nigeria and still be divorced from politics…it is absolutely not possible. Are there no poor among the congregation, are there no unemployed graduates, disenfranchised people, folks living in extreme poverty around…even if those men do not wish to speak against the rich, they can always speak for the poor. I have said it before and I will state it publicly here…If there is ever a heaven, our present day mega-pastors, mega-bishops, mega-imans who refused to speak up vociferously against the evil of our elites, who continue to dine with those men who kept us in this condition will never enter it until the day that Nigeria becomes truly a great Nation for all its citizens.

In conclusion, I do not write as a religious person, actually I am far from it…I do not write as a righteous person, I am not…I only believe that what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong regardless of whatever you so believe. And that there is something seriously wrong with the way we go about our religion today. Religion acts as a means to unite us, to make us more loving, more compassionate, more human. It should make us to seek, say and speak the truth always no matter what, even if we have to die for it, for at the end of the day, if we are to die today, we will enter heaven today (He smiles). If our religion is not one that makes us to DO, to speak, to act sincerely and lovingly, and to bear whatever backlash, whatever SUFFERING that may arise from our honest/loving action, then we are not being RELIGIOUS at all…we are just being plain RIDICULOUS.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Lyriversity.

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  1. LegendaryCJN says:

    Hahahahhahahaha….Humanistic thoughts like this should be taught in schools, from Nursery to Tertiary institutions.

    Nice thinking bro.

  2. Adaka Timothy says:

    It is all about enlightenment which will make us have a Holistic view about life. Most of ‘us’ (including me) that walk d street are ignorant and as such fall prey (onye Amaro ihe ana eme, ewere ya me ihe ana eme). U actually poured your heart. Kudos

  3. Sheyzznote says:

    Lol! What an article…. (Sigh)

  4. Chimezie says:

    It is implicitly assimilated. Religion or the mere hypocrisy of masqurading as a religious person is ludicrous, absurd.

    When one puts certain things into even, so to speak, a generic perspective, one finds out that religion as it is practiced in this country is incomprehensibe–certainly divorced from Christian ethos.

    This fatuous fallacy can be exemplified in the common trend in the Nigerian religious amphitheatre, where many pastors own private jets and, in their congregation, you still find a person who finds it hard to feed himself.

    What do call this?

  5. andong obia says:

    Gwt article…had fun reading.

  6. I must confess here that I read this article in disbelieve. Disbelieve, not in the context of doubting the obvious (call it facts), as detailed by Mr. Okoye, but disbelieve in the sense that Mr. Okoye had for once adjusted his utterly annoying near-atheism (or softly tagging it, near-paganism) posture about religion and the supreme being (GOD).
    Up until now, I had doubted even a 1% probability that he hasn’t been “coaxed and coarsed” into manning his village diety (unto chief priest tinz…lols!)

    I have nothing to add to his “religious and righteous sermon”, other than to concur with him….truly, to be saintly (Nigerians call it righteous or a sinless believer), we must have TO DO and TO SUFFER, accordingly to the charismatic doctor of the church, St. Francis De Sales. No excuses nor corner-cutting.
    But one I like about God is that he answers prayers at his own time and frequency (add magnitude as well), not as we Nigerians want it, else, Nigerians 4 don kill dmselves nah!!!

  7. Anene Francis says:

    An interesting article. I enjoyed it (asides the little jeering undertone in some part sha). Good work.
    * Replacing ‘religious’ with ‘Christian’ therein would make the article better fall in line. The charactristics you gave for a true religious may not be so for some other religions.
    * I agree with you on the unfortunate deviation from the original perception of religion, its purpose and ways of practicing it, especially christianity.
    * Away from the article a little, from individual’s point of view, someone genuinely practicing his religion ‘may seem’ ridiculous in some way because his ways does not conform to ours. So care shall be taken so that sentiments do not becloud our judgement. e.g It is becoming a normal assumption that anyone striving at holiness is just being a “holier than thou” pretender. We should note the not everyone is contented with mediocrity which is made the norm.
    * With different religions and even different manners of practicing the same religion, it calls for consideration of others (emphasis on worshippers’ disturbance and noise pollution), even as we gently try to bring others to the knowledge and acceptance of what we call truth.
    Keep up the good work mr Solar.

  8. nosiri says:

    Hmmmm… It seems the author of this article is catholic, because all he did was to attack the ‘pentecostal way’ of worship and propagate the orthodox doctrine of ‘suffering worship’. While that ‘pentecostal way of worship’ may have it’s own flaws as rightly stated by the author, He chose to focus on its demerits. He attacked Oyedepo for not caring about the poor and unemployed while he chose to turn a blind eye on people like T.B Joshua who are well known philanthropists. My point is that attacking the pentecostal way of worship doesnt provide the solution to unemployment or the other issues that are plaguing our country Nigeria right now. Funny enough Religion is ‘escape from reality’.. but if that false reality gives me hope and faith to strive on and progress despite my struggles, i will definitely keeping escaping from reality till i overcome the obstacles and attain my visions.
    Naturally, i expect some vitriol from people who are myopic and who cannot take a critique, but i have shared my view and i hope you all can understand

    • Ezeamalukwuo says:

      Good response…I like this and I am afraid that I will disappoint you because there isn’t nor will there ever be a vitriol from me or any other myopic person/s here…In Lyriversity, we are open to any and everything…atheist, theist, nationalistic, tribalist, good, evil, moral or immoral provided the writeup is well written with reasonal proof or ideas to back it up, and this also applies to the comments and feedback.

      With that said, I must confess that you had me there…I am a catholic or a fallen catholic as some would say. I did attack Pentecostal church’s mode of worship..yes, but I am also a great fan of deeper life and their quiet way too. I hate noise and I hate it more when someone near me is propagating noise knowing full well that there are people around who have their own issues/problems to deal and still do not care…thinking that “Worshipping God” is a pass to disturb the whole neighbourhood. I diss oyedepo, adeboye, orisaejoffor et al but not because I am a catholic…if you have been following my writeup here, you would see that I diss Catholism the most…I diss whatever I think is wrong irrespective of my own inclination…
      I do not write to change your faith or so but to call to mind the Riduculous-ness of today’s prosperity sermon…the new testament is no prosperity writeup, it is about love…and what is Love if not endurance, tolerance, patience, meekness and kindness, sacrifice…compare this with Fire, Fire, Fire burn my enemies, God give me riches, If others are dying, I will not die…must others die for your faith to be vindicated…Being religious should make you humble for you who is nothing; a common dust, marely clay was called by a God so Divine…you should not go about condemning others, feeling proud and pompous…No you shouldn’t. And also getting a job, a promotion or any good thing through ways illegit is a sin before God and Before man…I will love to rest my case here, my good man.

  9. nosiri says:

    sorry bro, i never meant the vitriol comment for you. I meant other people.. why not open a page on fb and post these comments with a link to this website. This is my first time here.

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