NIGERIAN CHURCH AND THE HYPOCRISY OF THE MEDIA

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Human beings have defined and find meanings to existence in diverse ways, some derives uttermost satisfaction in providing humanitarian supports to the world or in the worship of their creator, some finds joy in serving humanity, fighting for the cause of the oppressed. Out of all these avenues of finding meaning and fulfillment, religion plays an important role.

‘’Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organization that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called ‘an order of existence’ ‘’

In an attempt to propagate religion and claim dominion over people and region, people have wrought havocs against mankind. Christianity is not an exception to this, we have seen men using religion to perpetuate the building of individual empires, some exploiting the resources of the state for personal gain. History has a good number of men using religion for personal aggrandizement. Killing of innocent souls is often associated with religion propagation, they often dignify it as the ‘holy war’.

In the first instance, Christianity without doubt has its sheer of blame in the way and approach men have presented the message of Christ. The account of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites in the Book of Joshua, the Christian Crusades (11th to 13th centuries) and Wars of Religion (16th and 17th centuries) are sometimes classified as examples of religious wars. According to historian Edward Peters, before the 11th century Christians had not developed a concept of "Holy War". During the 9th and 10th centuries, multiple invasions occurred which lead some regions to make their own armies to defend themselves and this slowly lead to the emergence of the Crusades, the concept of "holy war", and terminology such as "enemies of God" in the 11th century.  

In the book, Church History in Plain Language, Bruce L. Shelley stated this, ‘For seven centuries Christians have tried to forget the crusades, but neither Jew nor Muslim will allow them to do so. In our liberated generation, it is easy to dismiss the whole bloody affairs as insane religious bigotry, forgetting the context in which they occurred’. It is of high importance to state here that Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade to regain the Holy land. In modern times, Christianity at world stage has suffered various attacks at varying magnitude. Sexual scandal among priests, financial infidelity, abuse of sacred office and outright deception of people in the name of Christ, these have been some out of many criticisms of the church.

Secondly, In Nigeria, the church has been tirelessly and systematically suffered attacks from the media and the general populace. High tuition fees of academic institutions established by churches, ‘milking’ of members rather than feeding of members, lack of sustainable social supports for members, investment in Billion worth physical structures without viable church outreaches to the less privilege, orphans, or of recent Internally Displaced People (IDP) in the society. It has been argued and articulated that the church was at the verge of collapse if concrete measure is not taken to go back to the substance of Christ message. ‘imagine unbelievers prophesying the collapse of Christ church’. But wait a minute! Who told you they are all actually Christ church?

Surprisingly! Christianity, most especially in Nigeria has been of tremendous help in social and educational emancipation. While the media has chosen not to emphasis the recurrent acts of religious irredentism against Christian dominated communities like in Chibok, Borno State, direct attacks on churches in the North-East. A practical example is the explosion that struck St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town in Niger state close to the capital, Abuja, killing at least 35 and wounding 52.

It is easy to forget the abuse the Nigerian church has suffered in the hands of religion irredentists, while many fails to report it, the scare in the hearts of men and women affected by these acts of religious extremists still bleeds like fresh wound. In a lecture delivered at Brown University by Wole Soyinka, He titled the speech, ‘Hatched from the egg of impunity a fowl called BokoHaram’. In that well celebrated presentation, Kongi pointed out numerous activities of insurgency, perceived root causes, and solutions.  He analyzed both historical, cultural and religious ties to the problem. He did not fail to identify the roles clerics played (both passively and actively) in the instability of the peace in the country, most especially how it affects innocents Christians. He quoted one well-respected Islamic cleric, Sheik Abubakar Gunmi bloating out such radical statements like, ‘Christianity is nothing’, “a Christian president for Nigeria? over my dead body’. The media has never seen the need to report on what the church has suffered but rather choose to dwell on delusion, why?

What Nigerian comedians also believe as the quick path to career limelight is comedy either about the church, or pastors, I dare these pseudo gifted comedians to try it with Islam or Islamic clerics. Why do you guys see the church or pastors as the elements of misconceived comic adventures?

Also, rather than engaging in a thorough investigative journalism about corruption and bad governance in Nigeria, maybe in Africa at large, because Nigeria is the heart of Africa economically and politically, I believe if Nigeria gets it right in good governance, Africa would be on the rising trajectory. Instead!   The media has chosen to ride on cheap populism of continuous attacks on the church. The media has failed to investigate the wroth in its own system, where reporters would be lobbying for ‘brown envelope’ after interviews of corrupt politicians. Where is the professionalism of service when reporters are romancing those they should investigate or interview for corruption?

It is petty to quickly forget the impact of Christian missionaries in the development of indigenous journalism in Nigeria. Journalism which began in Nigeria from the 1850s, Okpalike and Nwadialor (2015) quoted Olukoju (1997), ‘it was the C.M.S. that published in 1859 Nigerian’s first newspaper, the Iwe Irohin, a fort nightly publication. An English language supplement was added in 1860’. It was also argued further, ‘the Christian missionaries thus pioneered newspaper publishing in Nigeria, an industry that played a decisive role in the country’s later history’. Dear Nigerian journalist, please appreciate how the church shaped your world.

What of the roles church played, and still playing through the investment in educational infrastructures in Nigeria? Christian missionaries helped in the Development of Nigerian Indigenous Languages, championed unequal investment in literacy of Nigerian people. Education from primary to tertiary level, there has been a tremendous participation of the church in the enlightening of human minds. You could argue, ‘are you talking about those schools with high tuition?’ Yeah! I am actually referring to them, you would appreciate the value of the investment they have made in Nigerian educational system if only you understand how meager is government presently spending on education in Nigeria. UNESCO stipulated 26% of the annual budget of developing countries to go into education, my dear country Nigeria has never gone up to 10%. What a pity!

July 4,2014, publication of Vanguard newspaper made a report on the implication of limited admission spaces on Nigeria education. They gave some embarrassing statistics of the existing capacity (in term of students’ intake) of Nigerian universities;In 2010/2011, Nigeria had 112 universities with carrying capacity of 450,000 and 1,493,611 applicants. Thus, the admitting capacity was 30.13 per cent of the total number of applicants. This means that at best, only 30.13 per cent of the total number of applicants were accommodated during that academic session’. Imagine the non-participation of the church through the investment in Nigeria education? There are times when emotion tends to becloud rationality and facts, we tend to only focus on the ‘high tuition’ of these schools without realizing the solution they have brought to our society, we tend to deny reality of high capital investments on teachers, building structures, and research, but chooses to focus on narrow path of outright criticism of the church.

Mr. comedian, I guessed you want to force yourself into limelight? It is cheap to specialize in ‘doing’ amusement with the church or pastors. History is not on your side if you follow that path of abusing the church in the name of comedy, the maximum ovation you would likely enjoy is a decade success. The lazy journalist should desist from shallow attack on the church, but engage on research based journalism. Silence of the church on the periodic attacks by the media through unfounded reports doesn’t signify weakness but strength. Church has suffered much more deadly persecutions than in the recent times. The church survived them all! My argument is not for the media to keep silent if there is any misconduct within the church, I do rather argue for a more balanced and objective journalism about the church.

Topnotch!

AYODELE FALEYE,PMP

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Ayo Faleye

A writer

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