This is a ‘complicated’ season for popular Lagos Pastor, Rev. Chris Okotie, even as he prepares to honour the first female one-star General in the Nigerian Airforce, Air Commodore Habiba Garba.
She is the winner of Okotie’s Household of God Church’s Karis Award for the year and she will be honoured on Sunday at the Church in Lagos.
Damning widespread criticisms continue to hit a statement credited to the controversial preacher and televangelist, declaring that all “Catholics will go to hell.” Indeed, this seems to be threatening to take the shine of the annual Karis Award.
The event is a brain child of Okotie who established it to honour Nigerians who have excelled in various fields, but who may not have been recognised by the larger society.
The pastor is alleged to have made the remarks while delivering a sermon last Sunday. The controversial statement partly goes thus, “The Catholic church is a counterfeit church set up by Satan. Catholics bow to idols and crucify Jesus every Sunday when they eat bread claiming they are eating Jesus’ body.”
Okotie tried to justify his claims by adding that his statements are “not out of disrespect but out of respect for the word of God.”
Apart from the fact that he has not debunked the claim, a post on his Facebook account on Tuesday afternoon reinforces the argument. It simply read, “Re- Catholicism: Truth is bitter. It lacks saccharine delights.”
The statement has further led to more outrage by his Facebook fans and other aggrieved persons, just as his Facebook page has been besieged by angry Nigerians who have failed to see reasons with him.
Not surprising, most of the comments have been uncomplimentary as the Man of God has been tagged with unprintable names. The ensuing controversy has also pitched Okotie and Catholic faithful against one another on Twitter and Facebook.
A group called Nigerians Catholics on Facebook have issued a statement to this effect. The body claimed that Okotie was simply seeking cheap publicity in its statement.
The administrator of the page wrote, “The unguarded utterances of Chris Okotie to fellow Christians who chose to practise their dogma in their own way shows how irresponsible and ill-mannered he is.
“Antagonising another church with a different principle of worshiping, but with no difference in faith professed, portrays Christ Okotie in bad light and casts negative shadows on his purported ministry in Christendom.
“Chris Okotie should know that if over 1 billion Catholics will go to hell because of the way they worship their God, he too is not exempted.
“I want to state clearly to Chris Okotie that over 1 billion Catholics going to hell will only happen in the figment of his imagination.
“In fact, if I am to use what is written in the Bible concerning marriage and divorce to humanly judge Chris Okotie, then he is already number one candidate of hell.”
On his part, Kingsley Williams wrote, “ l think we all need to pray for Pastor Chris; honestly, before it gets out of hand.”
Ifeoma Goodluck, only offered prayers for the Catholic church, as she also posted, “No weapon formed against Catholic Church shall prosper, In Jesus name. Amen.’’
However, some people came to the defence of the controversial pastor, with one of them being Wilfa Wilfred, who simply said, “Please, insulting Chris and calling him names shows a lack of faith by baby Christians. Just pray to God to forgive him. I am not a catholic but it is only God that knows his true worshipers.”
Just like Wilfred, a certain Peter Edaile also stated on Facebook, “It also lacks sugar and honey delights but contains salt.”
Enough on the controversial statements, anyway.
Mixed reactions have also greeted what many members of the the public termed a decision to hold a beauty pageant in the church this Sunday. But the church has since taken to its official Facebook to explain the concept behind what is perceived to be a beauty pageant.
It explained that the competition tagged Queen Esther pageant competition is geared towards selecting an ambassador for the church.
“The evening usually features the parade and display of beautiful women in costumes inspired by popular female bible characters. The contestant with the most creative costume is then crowned as the Queen Esther and gets a cash prize of one million naira,” the post read.