Monday, 13 December 2010

Naija version of Faith

‘Religion has been described as ‘the opium of the masses’ .....and I do believe that this statement is particularly true of Nigerians and Christianity.
Why? ....Because I believe most Nigerian Christians seem to attend church just to appear sanctimonious or to satisfy societal expectations.

First off, let me just say that I am a Christian so my comments here are not borne out of mischief or dislike. I am just saying it as I see it. I would now like to give you some examples of the types of Christians that have shaped my negative opinion:

1. ‘Trado-Christians’
Some Christians were exposed to African traditional religious practices (i.e. worshipping deities) when they were growing up. Unfortunately, when such people become Christians, they become ‘hybrids’ - attending church but still keeping the superstitious beliefs they grew up with.

For example, a friend of mine – Tracy - was desperate to get pregnant after 6 years of marriage so she confided in her aunt about her worries. This aunt took Tracy to her church where Tracy was told that the ‘forces’ behind her childlessness were her own family.

They then asked Tracy to (a) minimise communication with her parents and (b) always wear specific white garments to bed. However, Tracy was not comfortable with this especially as she comes from a close family of three siblings and parents who have been married for over 30 years.

So, while she thanked her aunt for her help; she ignored the church’s advice. Her words to me were I have served only one God since I was born and I have never visited any juju man. I am not comfortable with wearing white garment to bed because I will become tied to this practise. I cannot ignore my parents also. If my parents are really plotting against me..... my hands are clean - so I know that the God I have always served will fight for me.’ Needless to say her aunt was not happy when she did not return to church.

With prayers and medical care, she is now the mother of two healthy children. I do wonder what would have happened if she had followed the church’s advice. Most likely, my friend would have become psychologically tied to wearing specific white garments to bed and she would probably have turned against her elderly parents. *sigh*

2. ‘Comfort-zone Christians’
Do you really have to be in church four times a week for God to hear you? Do you really have to centre all your activities around church to be a good person? I don’t think so.

I have a young niece who came from Nigeria to study here two years ago. While she is a lovely girl, I do find her exceedingly boring because I don’t think she’s a well rounded person. This is because she uses church as her comfort zone.

Every week, she is in church for four hours on Sunday; attending cell group meeting on Tuesday; volunteering there on Thursday and attending ‘Encounter service’ on Friday night. Again, she takes part in outreach work on some Saturday afternoons.

She is now in her final year of study. Recently, I asked her a few questions about what she had done since she arrived here - 'Had she gone sightseeing in London since she came?’......... No!......'Had she been to a cinema to watch movies with her friends?’......No!......'An art exhibition?’......No!......'A live music concert’.....No!.......’Travelled outside London?’.......No!.........’Explored other interests?.....No!

I feel that she is missing the opportunity to learn new things. I learnt how to sew as a teenager and this has been a useful skill. Similarly, my cousin learned baking and cake decorating as a teenager. She now bakes in her leisure and the additional income is extremely useful.

Being alive and healthy is a great blessing and I do wonder why some people choose to spend all their waking moments in church. Is their faith so weak that they have to constantly nurture it? Is their resolve not to sin so weak that if they mix with people outside church, they will be tempted? *puzzled look*

3. ‘Selective-Hearing Christians’
People’s interpretation of what constitutes a good Christian differs. However, I like keeping things simple and I always remember Jesus’ answer – in Matthew 22:37-40 - to the question Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? His answer was the greatest commandment was 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ While the second is to: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

From what I see around me, Christian love - of God and for one’s neighbour - seems to be absent from most Naija Christains

I have a relative who is a respected elder in his church. However, he is also a fantastic wife-beater and liar. Hypocrisy seems to rule the day as Nigerians troop to church to go through the motions without letting the church live in our hearts.

We are quick to condemn foreigners as lacking faith because they don’t attend church regularly. However, whenever there is a natural disaster somewhere, you always see ordinary Britons, Americans, Australians etc volunteering their services as they seek to make a difference. What can be more Christain-like than that?

4. 'Tactical Christians'
It appears that some Nigerians’ choice of church is based on what they can get from it. Looking for a husband/wife? For connections to boost your business? For credibility as you launch a political career? ...........The reasons are endless and usually selfish:

For example, in England, most of the top performing primary schools are faith schools (Anglican, Jewish, Catholic etc) and I have observed that when it is time to send their kid to school, a lot of Nigerians here - who usually attend Pentecostal churches -suddenly start attending their local Anglican or Catholic church. This is so they can get the Anglican/Catholic priest to sign their child’s application form.

I recall an old friend who always took pleasure in telling me that her Pentecostal church was a ‘living church’ and that Anglicans and Catholics were attending 'dead churches'. She also made disparaging comments about the Pope and said Catholics were confused because they ‘worshipped’ Mary. You can then understand my surprise when she told me that she was attending her local Catholic church because she was desperate to get her son into Catholic school. She also asked me if I could be her son’s god-mother because she also wanted to baptise him (baptism is often a requirement for admission to a Catholic school)!

I was only too happy to refuse her request and remind her that in Catholic schools, the children recite Our Father and Hail Mary’ every morning – and this could confuse her child. Harsh I know, but I hate hypocrisy. Needless to say, she is now my ex-friend. *smile*

5. 'Christain Groupies'
I cannot count the number of times someone has asked me  which church I attend and then lauched into a speech about how wonderful their pastor is. I almost feel like they are paid to recruit new members and their persistence can be a little annoying.

While I do believe that some pastors are gifted, I also believe that they are human beings and a large number of them are con-artists who brainwash vulnerable people. Annoyingly, quite a lot of them focus on preaching about wealth and prosperity - ignoring the key message of Christainity – LOVE!

I was disgusted when a family member told me that their pastor had celebrated his birthday recently and ‘the church’ had given him a luxury car as a present. In this London? What about the needy in the church – the unemployed, the widows, those searching for funds to process their immigration papers?

Why can't these Pentecostal churches open their own schools OR build hostels for members who have fallen on hard times OR give out scholarships to members who need help with tuition fees? It beggars belief!

I know I might sound harsh and I am definitely NOT a saint; but I have to say it again - Most Naija Christains are not practising Christainity – what do you think?


  1. You couldn't have captured this reality better.
    There's so much hypocrisy that the essence of true worship (showing love) is lost.

    In Nigeria, the singles who are ready to mingle attend Daystar, the ones in search of biz contacts file up at Archbishop Vinning and House on the rock, those who are raising kids register with RCCG and Winners and then in old age, they all return to Anglican, Methodist, Baptist so they can celebrate elaborate 70th Birthday. KMT

  2. Naijamum, I totally agree with your views and the addition by P.E.T. Projects. Thanks for this post.

    I think that a major recipe lacking in the lives of most 'Naija' Christians is the basic understanding of the dialogue in Matthew 22:37-40. If one truly loves God and truly sees her/his neighbours/fellow human beings as God's creatures, it would be a lot easier to do away with "selfishness" and "hypocrisy".

    In addition, I have also observed that in many (if not most, Nigerian) families, 'selfishness/greed' seems to be transferred to the children by parents who do not lead by examples - in conduct, discussions/gossip about neighbours, etc... So, upbringing plays a big role!

    Then, all our religious leaders/pastor need to speak the truth and have the responsibility to warn their 'followers' against 'straying from the very foundation of Christianity - LOVE for God and Humanity. But, sadly, that looks far-fetched with the look of things right now... This same wave of materialism is what is carried over into the Society: Business, Politics... As these vices are not curtailed in time, the 'giants' soon fall yakata (I'm sure a few names come to mind)...
    PS: I grew up in the Anglican church and I'm also fascinated by the philanthropy displayed in the Catholic church and by Catholic Christians.

  3. I like this. u r so on point. I like ur blog too, btw. I bet ur niece attends christ embassy. I personally i'm not a big church goer mostly because i haven't found one that i feel at home in. Most churches i've been to have their own agenda, even the white church i went to, i like the short service but i didn't like that the pastor was always talking about other pastors and other churches.

    I still think a lot of Nigerian Christians whether they grew up going to a native doctor or not, are very superstitious in their christian belief. It's always like they look at God as a native doctor or something that you can use to swear for someone or threaten someone with. Anyway, i'm starting to ramble, so i'll stop.

  4. I agree with you for the most part! Nigerians have added their traditional and cultural beliefs to Christianity and it's a shame! I grew up in a white garment church and it was a hot mess...they never thought me how to seek God and cultivate a relationship with him....instead people were sleeping around with one another, the pastors were not equipped to lead their own homes talkless of a church, and everyone was fighting for titles/positons...But I thank God because in the past 5 years I've been attending a church that has done the total opposite and it's been a wonderful experience!

  5. Ha! where & how can i start explaining mine now ehn? are so damn right & on point! second, @P.E.T comment. like what you did to your friend!..fourth... i had vented my anger on this topic in one of my older post which i can't remember now!...*grinning*....& just as Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assemblies [i attend RCCG] said, THE CHURCH HAS BECOME A THEATER WHERE PEOPLE COME TO LISTEN TO ONE MAN-CELEBRITY SPEAK & LISTEN TO GOOD MUSIC! THAT FROM MONDAY TO SUNDAY IS ONE PROGRAMME OR THE OTHER! SO WHEN DO THE PEOPLE HAVE THE TIME TO PRACTICE WHAT IS BEING TAUGHT!& WITHOUT THE BUILDING, CAN THE CHURCH STAND?

    I hate it when people fuss around MOG! i no send o!....i don't attend any meetings or programmes or even join the women dept sef! The politics inside church fit make pesin backslide!

    Someone said the church is an organisation now o. People fighting for self glory! An incident happened in my church that caused division! For more than a month now, i have not being to church because i just don't have the zeal any longer & am looking out for a nearer branch of RCCG!

    The present church is like when salt losses it's becomes useless....hence it would be thrown away.....the church had failed woefully!

    I grew up in celestial church abi 'woli' sef!....then we rebelled....mum took us to Anglican.....we rebelled.....then took us to Church of GOD mission....took us out & began attending the love chapel church as a family...we rebelled....they insisted & won until katakata kuku scatter the whole members....then i went to communion church parents back to brother...back to church of GOD mission.....i wedded at Anglican.....then started worshiping in Redeem up til date!...alas! what have i gathered in all my waka waka abi, una go dey ask chei?....very simple....CHURCH IS NOW A SOCIAL OUTING FOR THE GATHERING OF PEOPLE TO SHOW OFF THEIR CLOTHES, JEWELRIES, & MAKE BUSINESS CONNECTION!...Q.E.D!

  6. Lol @ P.E.T on point.

    You are damn right 9jamum!

    The church is now a social outing!

    A theater to watch one-man celebrity & listen to good music!

    It's an organization where taxes are not paid!

    It's like a salt that has lost it's flavor!

    Poverty has made Nigerians to be vulnerable, hence easily brainwashed!

    I had vented my anger towards the church in one of my older posts which i can't remember the date....i will check it & let you know so that you would understand my point on Christianity!

    Me likey! :)

  7. Went to check.; THE WAY I SEE IT...October 10th, 2010....tnx.

  8. @PET:
    Re: LOL @ how you have allocated the different people to their respective churches...i.e. 'the singles who are ready to mingle attend Daystar...'
    You have captured the reality of it all my sistah! Thank you bo

    Agree that 'If one truly loves God and truly sees her/his neighbours/fellow human beings as God's creatures, it would be a lot easier to do away with "selfishness" and "hypocrisy"'
    Again, you are right that parents seem to be transferring their bad habits to their kids. All to often, greed rules! Thank you

    @ Madame Sting said...
    Thanks for stopping by and taking time to leave a comment. Much appreciated.
    As for my niece, no - she is not a member of Christ embassy. It's another similar one here. As you said, their agenda plenty! Regarding superstition, I agree we all have some but the churches can be very manipulative. abi?

    Praise God that you are now attending a church that nurtures your soul. You are lucky that you were intelligent enough to seek this. Many dont and then become trapped! Thanks for your comment

    Na wa!
    I am going to check out the post you mentioned now now. Thank you.
    Regarding the daily church meetings, the thing tire me oh! I always wonder when such parents have time to talk to their kids, look at their schoolwork or just relax with family?
    I laugh tire when I read una waka for church matter. Kai, no be small ting. LOL
    Anyway, my own na say no be go church na im be the main ting. The main ting na to respect each other and truly, truly develop relationship with your God. finito

  9. You have so articulately written what people are afraid to admit. I agree with you on all these things, especially about "comfort zone christians." I used to fall under that category I observed how such a lifestyle almost ruined the life of someone I knew.

    Church doesn't make the people, people make the church. How else would you describe the paradox in Nigeria --one of the most religious yet corrupt countries in the world. Gone are the days when the mission of the church was to help the less privileged. When the church is not a moneymaking venture by a pastor, it is about crowd drawing. For the most part, I think Church is now a place where people gather to socialize and forget about their real lives for a few hours.

  10. So, am first comment show? went blank when i posted because the URL said it was too i kuku summarized all the grammar i don blow for the first one becox i vex!...glad it eventually showed....heheeheee....ok...tnx 4 taking out time to read my own ranting on Christendom.

  11. @Prism:
    Thank God you have evolved from the 'comfort-zone' worship lifestyle.
    Totally agree re: 'How else would you describe the paradox in Nigeria --one of the most religious yet corrupt countries in the world.'
    I believe poverty and illiteracy has a lot to do with this cycle *sigh* thanks for stopping by

    No problem.
    I liked your article - especially as I come dey imagine the rice dey boii *yum*

  12. My dad once said when you look at Nigerians and their approach to the Christianity, you're bound to stop going to church and living the christian life..
    So many people have stopped going to church cause of that,
    I so agree with you on this post of yours..
    You're so right on point...

  13. @2cute:
    Your dad is a wise man!
    I'm sure God is looking down at us and laughing at the way we make a mess out of worshipping Him *smile*
    Thanks for stopping by.

  14. you are so on point..Christianity in naija is a sham, oh, there are a few who know what they are doing, but for the most part, people are confused and just following whoever for whatever.

    when they start seeing these 'pastors' for what they are (money-grabbers, and agents of evil0lots of people will still be left astray.the evil they have perpetuated in this country is amazing.

  15. @Betrayed.
    You have used the right word - sham. Thank you sis
    Agree re: 'the evil they have perpetuated in this country is amazing'
    These so called pastors thrive on fear and poverty and until we become a society of real opportunity (not opportunity via connections alone); the situation will not change.
    Thanks for stopping by

  16. I love this post by the way - bitter, but the truth. Although i will say, you will find this phenomenon world-wide, and not only in Nigeria. P.S. I love that you emphasized what Jesus said the greatest commandments are!

  17. Having read all the comments lol @ NItty Gritty... And read the article with the some key understandings. I have to agree with the article.. NO ARGUMENT. But I must say it is not only Nigeirans that enagage in these all chrisitan issues, other countries and culture do it too.

    But I hate the fact that there is poverty in the church and nothing is done about it. When God clearly said that we should give to house for food to be found in his house, for the poor, the widowed and less privileged to find help. Book of Deuteronomy CH 22 onward. Jesus also proceeded to say that he is the beggar, the widower, the fatherless etc.

    Besides my point, YES THE CHURCH Has failed and the body of Christ is not doing their part. Why: the heart of man is desperately wicked. Not to go into the preaching mode and point fingers or attack. My prayer is Me ohhh I will do my part and I will do it with all sincerity and integrity so help me God. For those that are doing their part God will give them grace to be the light of the world and salt of this earth.

    For us that are yet to start acknowledging this raw issues, God will give grace to start practicing a new dimension of preaching and attitude. I pray God convictions will actually pour into our hearts.

    Like my Pastor actively says: SOME OF US ARE REDEEMED NOT ALL OF US ARE RENEWED. Meaning (my own understanding) many of us have proclaimed JESUS as our personal saviour but not all of us are renewing our minds to act on the word of God and put our faith into practice everyday.

    All I can say is, I am glad I have a relationship with God and he teaches me through the help of the Holy Spirit alot about life. I have gathered that a person that says they know God has to be deep so as to pin point certain issues (like u have highlighted)... Psalm 92 vs 5.

    So my prayer God help us to know you and keep knowing u and doing the part of what U have called us to do with love and sincerity.

    I want to add more but, (I cant cos i fell down the stairs whilst I went to get my bible upstairs to come dwn to the lounge and meet with my lappy for more preaching/insights. )It was scary too but I thank God am ok, still bruised up, mum insists is cos I dont sleep and i should put water bottle on me).

    It is well.

  18. @DOHK
    OMG re: stairs.
    Hope you are okay. I do hope your bruises are not too bad
    I really liked your pastor's statement. I guess that sums it up nicely.
    Like you said, all we can pray is that 'God help us to know you and keep knowing u and doing the part of what U have called us to do with love and sincerity'
    Really wise words.
    Humph. Thank you sooo much

  19. I love this. There's a lot I could say, but it was too long. I completely agree with everything you said. I think it's almost impossible to find a church that is everything God desires, so the best we can do is live God's love.

    But seriously, that thing about giving elaborate gifts to pastors is really disturbing. There was even a pastor that came to a church I go to, and said he expected it. He was even willing to curse someone he 'performed a miracle' for if they didn't give him something expensive (like a car, land, house etc) in return! We should spend our time and money uplifting those around us, not making the pastor feel like a big man. If he truly is called of God, he should realize he has been called to serve, not to leech off ignorant people. No wonder people are beginning to question the point of it all.

    God help us all.

  20. AMEN! Sadly to say though, it's a worldwide epidemic. It's not only in Nigeria. It's all over. I would say though that due to circumstances, it's more prevalent in Nigeria (especially in the area of being superstitious) Only we are just telling ourselves lies, most Christians are not practicing Christianity.... I enjoyed reading this.

  21. Well written! My thoughts exactly!
    Just stumbled upon your blog! I love it!!


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