[OPINION] “Jail Is Too Good For Nigerian Pastors”

By ABIMBOLA ADELAKUN

Recently, the Daily Mail, UK, had a feature on Bishop David Oyedepo. He was accused (alongside his son who ‘manages’ the UK branch) of fleecing worshipers by making “spurious claims” and “cynical exploitation of the gullible”.

The undercover journalist who visited the British church and the British MP who condemned him acted ignorant of the antithesis of faith and logicality when they expressed surprise about how people were urged to give more money in return for blessings that were neither guaranteed nor cognisant of the realities on ground.

The feature also talked about how much of the money creamed off these worshippers are being repatriated to Nigeria (which, in a perverse sense, is a positive development!)

The same Daily Mail, weeks before, ran a feature on another Nigerian pastor in the same UK, Alex Omokodu, (who claims on his website to have raised the dead twice) and another Pastor Mbenga of the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly who scam worshippers by selling olive oil and black currant drink at double the market rate as “miracle cures”, capable of curing terminal diseases.

Like Oyedepo, Omokodu lives large, far removed from the mess he makes of peoples’ lives.

My visceral reaction at those articles was to defend my countrymen against a searchlight that might have been beamed with a racist undertone. I mean, Daily Mail suddenly woke up and realised religion is exploitative? Wow!

Isn’t that what religion has been all about for many centuries? How can we say that what Oyedepo and Mbenga are accused of peddling different from the Pope’s selling of Indulgences in the 16th Century? Religion plays on fear to rip-off poor and miserable people in the name of God. And the irony is, the more people are deceived, the more devoted they become. So, what’s new? From appropriating people’s money to shoplifting condoms to forcing youths to have sex, what have church leaders not done?

If people have refused to read History books that teach us that religion came to us riding on the back of exploitation and politics, why, with the celebrated cases of Jim Bakker, Eddie Long and Benny Hinn among others, do people still throng churches and sponsor their pastors’ excesses out of their poverty? Why has the case of financial scandals involving the creators of TBN Channel -some of which are so disgusting- not caused a mass boycott of these hawkers of falsehood? Why does it spur people to defensiveness instead?

Why did somebody like Jesu Oyingbo have followership in the first place and why didn’t people walk out on Pastor Chris Oyakhilome when he charged gate fees before one could attend service? Seriously, who should take the blame? The person who sells snake oil or the one who finds a psychic relief (however temporary) from buying?

Related Article: Send Pastors To Jail? Why Not?

Take the case of Pastor Enoch Adeboye: On his church website, Adeboye claims God told him He had no choice but to keep Covenant Partners alive for 10 years because they were giving to Him within that period. This takes ideas of bizarre and outlandish to another height entirely.

One, a god is meant to earn his keep but Adeboye’s is one whose services people have to pay for, never mind that billions who are not his covenant partners are not only alive, but live considerably better lives elsewhere. Two, can Adeboye, personally, account for every single one of his covenant partners and that in those last 10 years, not a single one died? Can he? We are used to Nigerian judges and politicians saying that their hands are tied, but God? That sounds like something from the mind of a freakish Nollywood screen-writer.

Since the news broke that Pastor Ayo Oritsejeafor has joined the league of Private Jet-Owning Pastors, there has been, thankfully, a sense of outrage at the excesses of Nigerian pastors.

For the record, let me state that Pastor Oritsejeafor is not a good poster boy for Christianity (never mind the various caps he wears, anyone can be anything in Nigeria’s Pentecostalism). I make this point – debatable, of course- not just because of his Bling Bling jewellery like 50 Cents or even his bond with the present occupant of Aso Rock Villa; there is something about him –and I came to this conclusion after watching him raise an offering on Cable TV- that doesn’t seem to me would wait for God to supply all his ‘greeds’ according to his riches and glory.

His private jet was presented while he was sandwiched, like Jesus between two thieves, in the presence of a President who bizarrely declared he couldn’t see how corruption and road accidents are interlinked and, a governor whose public morals fall below average. Rev. Fr. Matthew Kukah could not have put it better: Oritsejeafor’s moral authority is undermined by these dalliances.

The issue is, religion, exploitation and subsequent scandals will not go away. Not in this generation. Not even in this world. As long as there is that primitive instinct in man to seek the supernatural, to seek God and the fear of death is constantly shaken before our eyes, people will continue to subject themselves to exploitative pastors to use as they like.

But the good thing Oritsejeafor has done for us is that he created a conversation; Oyedepo, Omokodu and other sellers of 21st Century Indulgences keep exposing the underbelly of these merchant-pastors; but whether this will translate into a rationality that will cause Nigerians to slow down on the ill-logic of tolerating these pastors’ shenanigans remains to be seen.

It takes more than throwing pastors in jail for their followers to be set free from the mind-prison they are ensconced in. Religion and political power are intertwined in many ways that make this impossible to begin with at all. History shows that, for instance, with an Industrial Revolution, the process creates a ripple effect that bleaches people of primitiveness to transcend religious superstitions while forging a better society that is not predicated on dogmatic concepts of theodicy which religion propagates. When that day comes in Nigeria, and even Africa, these pastors will wilfully choose jail as rescue from irrelevance the times would banish them.

But here’s the problem: These pastors know that with Nigeria’s developmental progress comes their end. And they are actively complicit in the dysfunctionality of Nigeria to extend their own longevity.

Source: Punch Newspapers

8 Comments

  • My main issue with Nigerians is that we fight other’s wars for them. Greedy Pastor, Conglomerate men, Money-making inspirational speakers, whatever it is we call these people these days is inconsequential..but who are “we” fighting for/at? The “misrepresented God”, the congregation, the perceived excesses of these men? If their congregation (in millions) don’t complain, I wonder how important “your Opinion” is?
    An article by a congregation member of a “Jet Pastor’s Ministry” would be worth reading.

    • @Johson u got it wrong bcos if u say we should not comment merely bcos victims of those bussines men called pastors are not complaining then we should leave rapist alone jst bcos victim is nt complaining

  • Dis is d more reason why bkharam shuld be objectiv nd not fight dis batle of faith alone as millions of d yuts in d east will join in d strugle to erase western culture nd religion as sm yuts already in enugu state ar already destroyin expensiv churches on grounds of usin gods name to xploit d public with d hope of haven. Hw long will dis falsehood continue even wen science hav surpased wotever miracle they preach about

  • Fighting men of GOD is like fighting God. The is a grave consequence for this especially on the judgement day. It is not in our shoe to judge them. Each of them will give account to God! Let focus on the politicians that are sitting on the public funds for their selfish interest. Pastor are head of their organisation and are steward to God. They will surely give their account to God. Fighting may look good and sound smart. But sincerely, you are doing yourself great harm. Much love

  • Whenever I read about people criticising our men of God and their flocks I begin to wonder what is their problem. When these men of God started their ministries, they were probably trekking moving from house to house winning souls nobody knew them, today they successful to the point of flying jets and tongues are wagging. Some said they exploit their poor members to buy these jets, and I begin to wonder if the members are poor. Poor people don’t have that kind of money.
    People who such for their pastors are those who have been raised from zero to abundance as a result of their association with their pastor. Some people call them gullible, foolish and all sorts of name, but I’m yet to see a foolish millionairea. So if these congregants are not complaining why is it that some people are crying more than the bereaved. To me they are only jealous. Please stay out of trouble by not involving yourself in issues you don’t have a deep spiritual understanding.

  • If someone is so stupid as to give money to a pastor,then good luck to the pastor.
    Me i pray to my fowl to lay eggs and grow fat.
    I dont need a con-man to pray for me.
    Serve them right,if you give pastor your money,dont be suprised when he asks for more.
    EYIN MUMU,Na only jesus?What about his donkey?
    Start praying to his donkey too.Oh sorry was it a mule?
    Bunch of childlike suersticious fools.
    OYA BEGIN YABB

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