I know this is going to be a controversial topic because we Africans love our religion and we are fiercely protective of our religious leaders (almost like idol worship) but I feel it has to be discussed. I am also quite reluctant to talk about this because I’m aware that religion can be a form of escapism from the harsh reality of life in Nigeria/Africa and I am not one to knock down something that makes people feel better and/or makes their lives easier. However, if the thing that makes you feel better is harming other people, then knock it down I shall. In the search for miracles and/or deliverance, far too many people have been taken advantage of, made to do some very dangerous things and abused: Two perfect examples are that pastor in SA that made his congregation eat grass and drink petrol and Reverend King of Christian Praying Assembly in Lagos who set some members of his congregation on fire (Can you believe some of his followers still support him?).
I made a post about that pastor in Ghana (I know his name but I don’t want to say it, I will address him as “He who shall not be named” [my harry potter fangirl side is showing-insert nerd emoji]) that beat that couple for getting pregnant and attempting an abortion. Upon further research, (actually, Keeping Real with Adeola did most of the work, I just watched her video) it was discovered that the pastor actually has a very shady past life. He has cheated on his wife with the wife of an assistant pastor in his church (sounds like something out of super story right?), kicked the belly of a woman during deliverance and last but not least, (I’m not sure you guys are ready for this) he has massaged the penis of a church member in front of the entire congregation. Yes, you read that right: this man jerked off a fully exposed penis in front of the entire church (Isn’t that pornography????-insert confused face emoji). The pastor doesn’t shy away from penis touching at all: there are other videos of him grabbing men’s penises (no nudity this time) during church blessings.
Although the actions of He who shall not be named are very disturbing, there are actually not the most disturbing things that the pastor a church has done. There have been several news reports about child abuse in churches: Children are abused all in the name of “casting out demons”. The children are starved for days and severely beaten. The most recent story I heard was of a pastor in Ogun State, Nigeria that chained his 9-year-old son for weeks in the church for stealing food. He claimed the boy was possessed because he stole food. He never considered the fact that maybe, just maybe the boy was just really hungry: In case it isn’t clear, hungry people seek food, no demon is involved. Now, before anyone starts telling me stealing is wrong, I know it is wrong but rather than chaining up a little child for stealing food, he could have spoken to the boy and explained to him why stealing is wrong. Even if a parent wanted to be a strict disciplinarian, you can punish the boy by asking him to kneel down/ pick pin/any strict punishment or even flog him (I am against flogging BTW) but chaining him up for weeks is very excessive and sadistic (I mean, on some Joffrey Baratheon sadist type s**t). The whole thing is just really sad and absolutely disheartening.
Don’t even get me started on pastors that advice tell women to stay in abusive marriages and pray for their husbands to change because “Divorce is a sin”. There was a story from Kenya of a man who cut off his wife’s arms because she couldn’t have children: turns out it was the man that couldn’t produce enough little soldiers (he was impotent; in case you didn’t get the slang). This man had been abusing his wife years but the church kept telling her to stay in her marriage and pray for the man to change. Why would anyone think it is ok to tell a woman to stay in a situation that could escalate to limb cutting? WHY?? Another popular thing that women are told to discourage them from leaving abusive and toxic marriages is “Broken homes are not good for children”. It angers me that people are more concerned about the family structure than they are about the safety of women: the man may end killing the woman like in several cases but the most important thing is that they live in the same house like a “proper” family (rolling my eyes). Also, it is a well-known fact (apparently not well-known in Nigerian/African Churches)that seeing a parent beat/degrade the other, is more traumatic than having to grow up in two households.
The actions of the pastors although very disturbing and in some instances, criminal are actually not the most off-putting part to me. The most repulsive part is when the cult members church members decide to defend the actions of their cult leader pastor. I can’t really understand how people can defend and justify such actions. Also, Nigerians get extremely protective and aggressive when anyone attempts to critique their church leader or pastor. We take the bible passage “Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm” too very seriously. It is very interesting that people wilfully forget the part of the bible that warns against false prophets in the book of Revelations.
Hey, I get a person can get defensive when someone criticises something/someone that they love: Heck, I get defensive when people say Marco Polo is not a good TV show (they are entitled to their very wrong opinions of course) but I am able to think objectively about the show and admit it isn’t perfect even though I love it very much and most importantly, Marco Polo is not abusing/taking advantage of people. I think it is normal for a person’s first reaction to criticism of themselves or something/someone that they love to be defensiveness but after the initial reaction, be objective and really think about what was said. Contrary to what social media would have you believe, not everyone who says something critical about you is a “hater”. Don’t get me wrong, haters/ bad belle people do most definitely exist (trust me, I’ve had quite a few myself. If you’re reading this, you know who you are) but there is such a thing as constructive criticism.
As a Nation, we have got to stop defending bad behaviour and protecting criminals. The members of the church where that little boy was chained were aware of the situation but they did nothing about it because they believed a man of God can do no wrong: their actions or lack thereof, contributed to the torture of the boy and I believe they should be held accountable for not reporting the pastor (aiding and betting perhaps. FYI, I am not a lawyer). I urge people to report abuse to the appropriate authorities regardless of who the perpetrator is: please let us stop letting abuse slide because by doing nothing, we are supporting the abusers.