Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Microbial Proliferation of Churches in Nigeria

Is it just me, or are churches in Nigeria, especially in the South, increasing rapidly in number? It seems that as the country descends deeper and deeper into the abyss, churches are popping up every minute, like mushrooms on a dead log of wood. The glut wouldn't be an issue if churches helped curb corruption rather than an avenue to fleece congregants whilst imbibing them with a false sense of hope.

What's bothersome is that the large number of churches hasn't led to a reduction in poverty, apathy, corruption, avarice or selfishness. With churches multiplying every day, shouldn't there be an improvement in the consciences, attitudes and temperaments of Nigerians? It's sad that the only time you might catch a typical Nigerian being somewhat civil and respectful is when they are in church, after that they're back to being their aggressive, insolent and selfish selves.

One phenomenon that gets my goat is the proliferation of churches in residential areas. A perfect example would the estate where I reside: At the last count, there were five churches, but for all I know there may be more. There's one opposite my house, another directly behind it and two at the two estate exits. The fifth one has yet to open for business, but they have bought and walled the field in the middle of the estate (the only greenery in the midst of all the concrete ugliness), and I assure you in a matter of months it will be fully functional with all the noise and drama that define most churches today.

What exasperates me about churches in residential areas is the noise they generate in the evenings, when all you really want is to relax in the quiet comfort of your home. For the benefit of those unaware of the noise I speak of, it encompasses the clapping, the drumming, the horrible singing and the shouting. I tell you, the entire service is a cavalcade of pandemonium.

The ubiquity of churches would be understandable if they preached differing messages or stood on different creeds. But the problem is they don't. Most churches are all about the prosperity gospel. The problem with this kind of preaching is that it diminishes the fundamental message of the Bible which is to love God and our neighbors, and makes people think the only way God shows His grace is by making them monetarily wealthy.

More often than not the congregation is asked to offer money to the 'Lord' in the hope that He'll repay them in kind a million-fold. Are we really bribing God to bless us with wealth?? Has the 'corrupt mentality' found its way into churches and crept up on us? Does anyone ever question what happens to all that offertory money, and why so called Men-of-God get richer and richer by the hour?

Isn't it ironic that in places, like Europe, where church attendance is dwindling, people are far more civil, respectful and solicitous towards one another than in countries where churches multiply at the rate of bacteria? Corruption and crime in these countries are also low vis-a-vis church-crazed countries. Why is that?

Indeed, we need to understand that attending church every day and screaming at the top of our lungs are meaningless if we don't have any respect for the next fellow. As the priest at today's Sunday Mass said, "Our Christianity convicts us if we allow poverty and corruption to thrive in our society..." I couldn't agree more.