Hey folks, I am back. This semester was tough, but the good news is: I am officially a final year student. I am so excited, and so grateful to God for His favors. However, I apologize deeply for grossly neglecting my blog. The funny thing is that I have various posts that are in progress, but I am doing research on them, as a result, they aren’t ready for publication. That being said, I hope you are all doing well. I will do my best to be frequent this summer.
So to the gist of the day. If you are Nigerian and have an active social media presence, you would have probably heard of Nathaniel Bassey’s #Hallelujahchallenge. It is a thirty day hour long online revival challenge by renowned gospel artist Nathaniel Bassey, and I have joined in a couple of times. I find it very soothing, and see it as a chance to take time out of my busy day to praise God. However, it has brought up many thoughts that I have harbored about the way religion works in Nigeria.
Religion has often been used as a tool of conformity, at least in Nigeria. It is introduced to you when you are born(willingly or unwillingly), and it seeps into our way of life. It is only until recently when I became less religious and more spiritual, that I finally felt a personal connection with God.What is the difference you may ask? Your spirituality is recognizing that which connects you to the Creator, and doing what you can to foster that relationship. Religion, in my experience, is rules and regulations that may or may not have anything to do with fostering a deeper relationship with God. Ok, you are officially confused. Let me explain using how religion works in Nigeria.
Most people in Nigeria are religious not necessarily spiritual. We go to church because its what you do on Sundays. We pray because that’s what we were told, stuff like that. Yet, we remain uninvolved and disengaged about what is happening in our society.
-someone who is a usher and ‘mummy’ of the church, will be the same person to tell you to remain in an abusive marriage.This is very dangerous, because this makes churches breeding grounds for rape culture and domestic abuse. I was once in a service where the pastor said that women who were makeup are prostitutes. Prostitutes here being used derogatorily, as people undeserving of respect. When you don’t respect someone, you treat them as second-class and subhuman, which is encouraging of the various forms of violence we see perpetuated against women. What makes this worse is that people swallow hook line and sinker the message they receive from pastors without evaluation. This pastor has knowingly or unknowingly planted a seed of hate in a member’s mind. Because there is such a trust of pastors and members of the church ministry, they often serve as outcry witnesses for rape victims or victims of domestic violence. However, there is a pervasive cover-up belief perpetuated by pastors. Someone tells you, ‘I am being abused in my home.’ The response is often: Divorce is against God, Stay and fight for your marriage or one of those other phrases. This is dangerous because that person starts to think that what you told them is true (because you are their pastor), and they may never say anything about their abuse.
-Churches are the most exclusive places in Nigeria. You can’t be a part of the church if you are this, or that (even though its not said out loud). This one makes me mad because Jesus is the ultimate social justice warrior that I know, yet, churches are the hardest place to foster social change. Jesus fought for the poor and those on the margins of society. Yet, if we look today, our churches don’t work for the marginalized. If we think about the criminals in our society or anyone that we consider outcast, the last place of acceptance is often the church, even though it shouldn’t be the case.
-Churches offer very little to social causes. In my experience, the church like many sectors in Nigeria prefer band-aid fixes to our problems rather than intellectual analysis. eg. the church might decide to sponsor a widow and her children financially. This is all good and fine, but it is a band-aid fix to the solution that widows face in our society. It would be better for the church to work towards making sure that losing your spouse doesn’t put you at the margins of society, by speaking out against harmful cultural practices that strip widows of their property and many at times, their dignity. This is because, people listen to their pastors. They take their words as gospel, and as such, religious leaders need to be more diligent in making sure that they play an active role in ensuring justice for all.
Another thing we need to do is separate church and state. Until we do this, having a functioning nation will be elusive. I read an article that a senator did not feel comfortable passing the gender equality bill because it was against their religion. That is just stupid. Whatever you practice privately should in no way affect the lives of millions of people. Religion is private and should never interfere with the runnings of the government. This is also the reason why people will pray for Nigeria, and actively do nothing to ensure that Nigeria will be better. The same people offering prayers for Nigeria will not vote in elections, vote based who gave them the most money, collect and give bribes, refuse to speak out about the injustices in the nation, be nonchalant in policymaking, etc. Heaven helps those who help themselves. Praying for Nigeria is not bad, but we have to be doing work so that our prayers will come to pass. I haven’t heard of someone who never studied for their exam and passed on prayer. In the words of Jumoke Adenowo, ‘Life does not respond to breakthroughs and miracles, it responds to principles.’ My fellow Nigerians, we need to do better.
Ps.-I would love to hear all your opinions on this in the comment section. Please be respectful