By UCHE CHRIS
The ongoing campaign of slander and falsehood by some Pentecostal pastors against the lockdown of churches and worship centres is unwarranted, vexatious, and self-serving. It is so typical that all over the world it is only here in Nigeria that such banal absurdity is being peddled by some of the most respected church leaders with massive congregations and followers. It says something about the human being and life generally, namely that success is not a function of brilliance, intelligence or wisdom; but simply smartness in worldly affairs.
It shows how personal ambition and materialism has so permeated the church and is driving some leaders far away from the reality of the gospel of Christ which they have been called to propagate and defend through doctrinal purity and a clear conscience. Spearheaded by Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel, Pastor Chris Oyakilome of Christ Embassy, Apostle Samson Suleiman of Omega Power, and David Ibiyomie of Salvation ministries etc, they have waged a propaganda war both against the government and the existence of the COVID-19 virus.
Their actions on the pandemic and consequent lockdown are embarrassing, dishonest and disgraceful to Christianity; for the simple reason that they are not only putting their selfish interest above the lives of the entire country but also jeopardizing efforts of the government to tackle the pandemic by demonizing it and undermining the basis of its work. How could anybody in his right mind promote such outrageously insensitive and speculative falsehood?
Do the right to religious worship and even the purpose of the church precludes and override public safety and well-being? In what way has the shutdown of churches affected the preaching of the gospel? Is mass gathering the only avenue for the propagation of Christ?
Our constitution guarantees the equal right of religion; so what special right have Pentecostals to worship that is not applicable and available to other faiths such as Moslems, and Christian denominations like Catholics? Are they speaking for the Christian body in the country or their capacity? Because ultimately this will count against the church in future so the Christian leadership must save the church by condemning such rascality. Those who live in a glass house should not throw stones.
What then, are their arguments? First, they say there is no COVID-19 and all the noise and activities are orchestrated by the government to steal money donated by individuals and even its resources. Their evidence for this is that the virus manifests similar symptoms as common malaria, and therefore should not warrant such extreme measures of lockdown. This is simply an idiotic and pedestrian logic. Only a fool can say or believe that; most people in the Church are not too far from fools because they have been so brain-washed to abandon the use of their heads to another person. For instance, high blood pressure shows similar symptoms as typhoid fever, which is an acute headache, but are they the same?
The entire world cannot be wrong and so gullible to be easily fooled to accept what does not exist. What the pastors are saying is that the world is wrong and they are right despite the evidence of over half a million deaths. This is ludicrously unbelievable. Secondly, these pastors say that even if it exists, it would not kill a bible-believing Christian; this too is a lie and truly funny.
Question is: How many of the Bible-believing members of their churches die every year of preventable disease which all their faith and prayer could not save? Are they saying all those who died did not believe in the bible? I know of a pastor who has died of the virus. We can only believe them if they prove that there are no deaths from any sickness in the churches.
Thirdly, they say the church is being targeted and persecuted to hinder the gospel. This is also a big lie and unjustifiable. There is nowhere in the world such banality is being made; it can only be in Nigeria because we are the most religious people in the world and yet the most unrighteous and morally bankrupt.
At present, the largest Christian worship centre in the world, the St. Peter Basilica, is on shutdown, and no Catholic has raised a voice against it. Also, the largest Islamic worship centre in the holy city of Mecca is on lockdown and the Lesser hajj involving the entire Muslim world suspended. Even the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, has suspended all open ground Eid prayer. Yet this means nothing to our champions of the faith in Nigeria. It is all silly and sad.
Our constitution ensures equal rights of worship; why are the Muslims not complaining since they as affected as we Christians are? Muslims are not as desperate for money as pastors; unlike the Pentecostal church, Muslims believe in their faith and obey its teachings, which were borrowed from the bible. Pentecostal pastors only see the church as their meal ticket and a source of amassing wealth; the teachings are secondary.
What has the lockdown denied the church except for their weekly revenue inflows? The people they want to come to church at the risk of their lives are meanwhile losing their jobs and other means of livelihood; yet every week they sent out SMS messages with bank account numbers urging them to pay their tithes and offerings.
It is sickening; this is the worst time to be a Christian. Is this the Christianity Jesus and the apostles gave to the world or are we now practising an alternative, fashioned in the evil mind of corrupt men? What they are doing is a mind game to force the hands of government – psychological warfare.
But it will be a tragedy of unmitigated proportion for Governor Sanwo-Olu and President Buhari to buckled under this pressure and accede to such self-motivated agenda. What the federal government has already done with the states that tried to politicize the issue by overruling the lifting of a ban on worship centres is commendable.
Worship centres must never open before schools because schools are more important and play a greater role in society. Church service has options and it is also voluntary, which is not the same with schools.