The business and men of God – Part 2

bible-&-koran
Continued from yesterday

Then how come so many of our religious leaders have their own planes? The Pope flies Alitalia; the Archbishop of Canterbury, flies BA, as the Queen, who is the head of the established Church of England does. What is it in the Nigerian that pressurises him to these measures? When I asked these questions someone rebuffed me by asking, why not? I could not answer him objectively: I just said that it did not feel right for a pastor to own planes, it smacks of a love for filthy lucre. All hell broke loose: I was called Lucifer for merely raising a question. Did I not know that God’s work was not to be impeded by mere inconveniences like flying on scheduled airlines; the work being done was so serious and the money of the Church so transparently collected, how dared I question its disbursement?

I said that I thought Lucifer was a woman, a fallen angel, etc. I received even greater abuse; my soul was due for eternal damnation. On the question of Lucifer being a woman, I was impaled as a misogynist. When I said that in fact the traditional deity of the Ijaws was actually a woman, Akaso, so I could not possibly be a misogynist. My audience was aghast that I was now even an idol worshipper – Akaso is never represented by any physical object, probably Africa’s first and only belief in a formless monotheistic deity, ( not unlike the Jewish – Yahweh – the Word). Under this heavy barrage, I had to confess to my audience that all may not be lost for my soul. I have four pastors in my household, my wife and three sons. Would that be enough? No!! The matter was a personal one – no substitutes.

A conversation between a Muslim religious leader, an Imam, a Jewish religious leader, a Rabbi, a Christian Reverend and a Nigerian Evangelist leader – on what they do with contributions from the congregations went like this:
Reverend: “After collecting the Sunday offerings, I draw a line on the floor and throw all the money up in the air. Any money which falls north of the line belongs to God, anyone which falls south belongs to me.”

The Mullah: “I draw a circle (he did not say how big the circle was) I throw the money collected after the Friday prayers up. Any money which falls inside the circle belongs to God, anyone which falls outside the circle belongs to me”.

The Rabbi: “I throw the money collected after the Sabbath service up towards the sky. Any money which God wants he takes while the money is in the air. Any money which falls down belongs to me.”

The Nigerian Pentecostal Evangelist: “I throw the money up. Any money up in the air may be blown away by my plane. Anyone which falls on the ground is taken by me. But because God has sent me on a special mission to save Nigerians and because he knows how difficult that task is, all the three of you, Reverend, Imam, Rabbi who have one day a week for worship – Sunday, Friday, Saturday respectively – on the other hand, I have 24 hours a day call, 365 days a year; so I have a programme everyday; repeated periods of fasting, demon demolition weeks, Spiritual Revolution days, continuous retreats, first fruit days, washing with the blood of Jesus days, Holy Ghost fire days, witchcraft cleansing days, poverty not your portion and, illness not your portion days, miracle days; youth days, all resulting in establishment of schools, universities, worldwide congregations, television stations and appearances – at all these events I collect money on behalf of God to build churches and buy planes. I am God’s accountant, treasurer and beneficiary on Earth. God is not a Poor God. There are a lot more I cannot tell you because the devil is busier in Nigeria than anywhere else. Every day he brings in many problems; and I have to meet the devil problem for the problem, bumper for bumper. But I am ready for him.”

I had started this piece acknowledging the greatness of several religions over time in history. The magnificence of that legacy in knowledge – science, medicine, mathematics, astrology, etc. I merely noted that there was a commonality in acquiring massive wealth by all these religions. It would seem that in Nigeria that tradition holds. I hope the new Churches would painstakingly be recording our history, progress, civilisation for future generations to read before Armageddon.

A very wealthy Nigerian couple went to Israel for pilgrimage. Unfortunately, the husband fell ill and died.

The Israelis started making burial arrangements but stopped. They asked the wife whether they should continue and have the husband buried in Israel. The lady said, “No. I will take him home and bury him there. The last time you buried a man here, he woke up after three days”.

• Concluded

• Dr. (Ambassador) Cole is an Officer of the Federal Republic (OFR).



1 Comment
  • With due respect Sir i think your essay fails in certain critical respects. The first part dwelt on th historic contributions of religions especially Christianity and the wealth acquired in this process. It is however necessary to note that religions usually begin in poverty. This is true of Christianity, Buddhism,etc. Wealth is a byproduct as a result of disciplined lifestyle and ethical rigorism of the membership and leadership. The Quakers are good example of this. So were the Shakers and early Methodists and even the Monks.this is the natural progression of religion and it is more common among Protestants than others as demonstrated by Calvinism and as carefully explored by Max Weber.
    What should worry us in Nigeria is therefore not the wealth in the churches but the lack of moral and the absence of ethical rigorism and a disciplined lifestyle among both members and leaders alike. The early Quakers and Calvinists contributed to knowledge, expanded the frontiers of industrial and social development and they were far morally superior to their immediate society and disciplined. So their wealth is understandable as a reward for commitment to principles and God.. Today everyone knows that there is very little difference between church goers non- church men in Nigeria morally. So what is the source of the wealth then? This is the aspect that needs a scholarly interrogation. We should stop asking why pastors have planes rather we should ask why Nigerian churches should have any wealth at all without a moral platform on which any wealth should be built.This is what i expect your essay to address in part 2 which it fails to address.
    Niherians should be worried. I raised this issue in a scholarly paper published by University of Ibadan, Department of Religious Studies ( The Physician as Killer, The Medicine as Poison: Modern Pentecostal Teachings and Practices as Sources of Insecurity- Moses Idowu/academia.edu)
    This is the thing that scholar should now try to unravel. Let us stop flogging the issues of pastor buy private jets or why churches are making money. This is not new for church to have money or prosper. But why has this prosperity not impacted on the larger society. The Quaker prosperity advance British society, Lutheranism advanced Germany, so why is our own different?

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