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.
is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views,
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
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
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.