Religion has been defined as the belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with the worship of them Religion is seen in any society as an institution that should teach morals, ethics, religious laws and most of all correct the ills of such society.
There are thousands of religions in the world with different countries having beliefs in the various gods they serve. Amongst the worlds most common religions are Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism. Christianity and Islam enjoy a large follower ship amongst these religions.
Nigeria is one of the most religious countries in the world. We have millions of Christians, Muslims, Tradionalists and a few people who practice some uncommon religions. Christianity and Islam have a wide follower ship also in Nigeria. Though both religions claim to serve the same God believed to be the Almighty God, they always have disputes as to which religion is genuine and supreme.
Going by the words of the holy books used by Christians and Muslims, the Church and Mosque are institutions that should preach and promote peace, unity, ethics and morals in the society. They are to render help to the less privilege in the society through tithes, offerings, and contributions given by the congregation. The holy books teach us that God created the rich so as to assist the poor.
One could argue that the religious institutions in Nigeria have failed a great deal in carrying out their supposed duties and responsibilities. I am sorry to say that the churches are especially guilty of this indictment as many of them only seem to preach financial breakthrough. Most church leaders tell their followers what they want to hear and not want the holy book teaches. They take undue advantage of the situation of the country by coming up with all sorts of funny religious crusades. Pastors preach against lust for material gains, yet they own the best things money can buy, ride in bullet proof cars and go about with body guards. Who wants to kill a Man of God? And if anyone wants to, why should a Man of God be scared of death? After all God has the final say, and even if he dies, he did doing God’s will/work and his place is secured in heaven.
Churches now spring up everyday as they are seen as avenues for making quick money. They could be compared to companies having branches scattered across the globe and they do this all in the name of spreading the gospel, yet there is so much disunity amongst Christians. Churches should be a place where anyone who is a follower of Christ or who would like to follow Christ should be free to access if truly we serve the same God. But today what we see are churches for the elites and churches for the hoi polloi. Some churches even have large gates and are closed during weekdays only to be open on Saturdays and Sundays. Some Churches hire expensive halls and sometimes club houses so as to conduct services.
Though I am not sure if it is religiously right for churches to run businesses. But I find it infuriating to see churches owning private schools or estates where people have to pay through their nose to access. Churches could run schools for free but the argument for a quality education will always come up and this will always give them the opportunity to back up their reasons for charging exorbitant fees. As a result of this, it is better for churches not to venture into the business of owning a school at all.
We should bear in mind that the money used in building the schools is generated from the funds raised amongst the congregation either through tithes, offerings or personal contributions. The congregation here comprises the rich, average and the poor. Why then should the schools be so expensive that only a few portions (wealthy) of the congregation would be able to afford. Though they sometimes claim to give scholarships, how many members benefit from it? The church which should be reducing the gap between the rich and poor has turned out to be widening the chasm. How do you as a Man of God explain and justify that we are all children of God and equal in his eyes when I as a member of your church cannot afford the school owned by the church because the fees are outrageous?
If you have two friends of the same age who attend the same church, one is from a wealthy home, while the other is from a poor home. The guy from a wealthy home is able to attend the tertiary school owned by the church because his parents can afford the huge fees. The poor guy on the other hand attends either the state or federal tertiary school due to his situation. The rich guy enjoys a strike free academic duration and spends the normal fours years for a four year course, while the poor guy suffers strike due to government inconsistency and spends six years for a four year course. While the poor guy is spending extra two years in school, the rich guy has served and got a job. By the time the poor guy is through with school and service, age is already against him as most employers want young graduates for Graduate Trainee Positions.
Now when these friends meet in church on a Sunday and the pastor says that they are both equal in God’s eyes and are his children, shouldn’t we expect the poor guy to doubt his Pastor? The Pastor can always convince him by preaching that people have different destinies and that the poor guy should wait for his time, but the simple question for the Pastor is: has his church done any justice to the poor guy by owning a private school? My honest answer is NO.
The Church would have done justice if she had used the funds raised amongst the congregation to assist the government schools (State and federal) in providing facilities that will enhance quality education for all. This way, the church would have given the friends equal opportunities and leave their destinies in their hands and for God.
If a wealthy individual decides to own a private school and charges an outrageous fee, that is his wish. Though people might frown at it, he/she hasn’t done any injustice to anyone. But when Churches or Mosques own schools that people have to pay through their nose to afford, that is a great deal of injustice to the very many church members who cannot afford the fee. After all, these schools were built with the money made from the congregation of the rich, average and poor Christians or Muslims.
Though some Nigerian Christians might see this as a diatribe against their Pastors and Churches, I won’t be surprised, as I know that many of us have always been pretenders. We put sentiments in almost everything we do and intentionally shy way from the truth so as to please people we so much respect. We clamour for justice when government officials embezzle the country’s funds but we are so scared to point out the wrong activities of some of our so called ‘Men of God’. We are scared because we claim we don’t want to sin against God.
Whatever is wrong is wrong and the holy books teach that we put people in the right part when they are derailing from the will of God.
If Government fails, the religious institutions shouldn’t fail as well. They should come to the rescue instead. God has given us everything we need in abundance. Our Churches and Mosques should teach people good morals, teach people to show love to one another by developing the habit of giving. If truly we follow the words of the holy books, there shouldn’t be so much injustice and corruption in Nigeria.
The tithes, offerings and contributions paid in religious institutions every week is enough to put smiles on faces of Nigerians, if only we would practice the words of the holy books.