Prosperity gospel is a highly controversial religious belief among some Protestant Christians who believe that financial blessing and physical well-being are the will of God for them and that they must make generous donations to religious causes in order to tap in to this wealth.
As a result, it is not uncommon to see some ushers distributing envelopes among the congregation in Churches. The audience members, along with the satellite viewers watching from home, are dutifully reminded that they can also pay via POS terminal or bank transfer. Of course there is nothing wrong with giving back to the religious communities that provide so many Nigerians with a strong sense of belonging, a network of like-minded individuals and hope that is often difficult to find elsewhere.
As a matter of fact, the scripture states that generous giving is an acknowledgement that everything we have is a gift from God, and is to be used in his service. However, the scripture also says that Christians are expected to give cheerfully, not as an obligation and that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. So, it is only natural to wonder where some Nigerian churches’ obsessions with financial offerings have come from.
Deftly using the semantics of the Bible, some pastors find creative ways to ask their followers for money without directly asking. The most powerful example of this is the prevalence of the “seed sowing” practice in several churches. Followers in popular churches are often told that the more they sow, the more blessings that will come their way. How then could any God-fearing Nigerian say no to what the Lord demands?
Prosperity gospel in Nigeria is no more than a vile perversion of Christianity so that rich elites may gain wealth at the expense of their faithful parishioners. Furthermore, it exploits the desperation of people who often feel otherwise helpless to improve their socioeconomic standing. Pastors are using their power and influence to prey on the unwavering faith of their loyal followers and continue to do so unchallenged because most Nigerians are taught to unquestioningly follow their superiors. Therefore, we are somehow expected to believe that their flashy lifestyle and expensive taste in clothes and cars has nothing to do with the fact that they propagate prosperity gospel. But we must question it. We need to see past the “we die here” sense of respect and past the eloquent words of some of those who call themselves men and women of God.
Funmilayo Adetokunbo A-A, a political and International Affairs Analyst, writes from Somerset, England, United Kingdom