Am I angry, I’m not sure.
For the first time in my adult life I cannot even put in words my present feeling especially as the news of Pastor Adeboye’s latest acquisition of a luxury Private Jet hits me this morning with just N2,000 in my pocket.
Against the backdrop of the recent almost violent rejection by the ‘body of Christ’ of the call for taxes in our churches, we now hear of Pastors launching luxury liners and huge real estate collections you begin to ask yourself some very pertinent questions with answers you are afraid of exploring.
At the last count, Pastors Adeboye, Joshua and Oyedepo, Oritsejafor etc have all acquired the very latest in luxury jets amongst a vast array of holdings making them some of the very wealthiest human beings on earth. Me I am afraid of personally attacking Pastor Joshua for fear that he may not be as forgiving as the other two, but my searchlight and arrow will be directed at Adeboye and Oyedepo because if they get angry with me, I can beg and as fathers they will forgive and pray for me. That other one, no go gree.
I have attended both the Redeemed and Winners and the scale of their vision always stupefies me, humbling and humiliating me at the same time. The vastness of their holdings and immense wealth which they control if not checked can begin to compete with the federal Government in revenues generated. They rely on the fear and near literate disposition of their followers. Yes, near literate because the most educated of us, when it comes to spiritual things we are all illiterate and gullible or how else can you explain this continued perfidy where we assemble every Sunday and listen to the same story retold for over 2,000 years and still give out 10% of our hard-earned income to a few to live like Roman Emperors and yet refuse to be taxed.
These pastors are the new overlords, slave masters with whips garnished with the sweet tongues of Babylon aimed at impoverishing us, putting us under spells of hypnosis and keeping us in a permanent state of imbecile servitude. They bestride the firmament in holier than thou gowns collecting from a deprived and depraved flock, fleecing, throwing prosperity messages that seem to deliver the wealth to them alone and their cronies, while the rest of us, defiled cups in hands, adorned with rags and defiled by leprosy , kneel at their feet, hoping and waiting for the deliverance but alas we are told to wait till heaven while they live in opulence here on earth.
We will definitely wait till heaven and there if we find them will embark on the ultimate protest. Heaven will surely witness its first race riot. A riot occasioned by Nigerians and only Nigerians seeking for a pound of flesh from these masters who made our lives a living hell on earth. Yes, a living hell because we ran to them for succor, for relief from the vicissitudes of this world but yet little did we know that we were just running from one slave master to the other albeit with a promise of a better life herein after while taking the last of our pennies, the last of our hopes and in some cases our wives and depriving us of the last vestiges of dignity and leaving us naked with the utopian hope of a better tomorrow.
Two of these churches have birthed luxury airliners with the tithes of a pitiable gullible crowd. This airliner I hear has two of the state of the art jetliners sequestered for only those who can afford it and reserved for the exclusive use of the GO in many of his travels. Who are the shareholders of this firm? Who are the Directors of the firm, registered in America thereby keeping it out of reach of the millions who have contributed their kobo to this initiative. Where is the corruption war? Why is it not beaming its search light towards this area of continuous and stylish thievery?
The airliner is not just the only one, the huge Real Estate holdings, the University where the brethren cannot afford to take their children to despite the fact that it’s their tithes that built the school. The hotels, the various businesses. This is nothing but organized fleecing under the guise of religion. Now, I am angry and will unsheath my sword. This ‘religious’organizations are nothing but multi national firms who have gotten their seed capital from their members who unlike normal shareholders have been deprived of the benefits of their investments. Where is the democracy in all these? Why are dividends not declared and shared amongst all tithe payers? Why is the GO position held almost in perpetuity?
These church owners are wicked. The Roman Catholic Church is a very rich organization who have impacted on the lives of not just Italians but the rest of the world. It is not controlled by a family or a patriarch but controlled by structures and institutions that have for centuries continued to ensure the perpetuity of its vision. The selection of the Pope who is the titular head is carried out along very set lines of succession, lines that have over the centuries withstood the vagaries of time, encrypting it into the concrete of structure. This has ensured the continuous democratization of dividends that accrue from their various activities. They pay their taxes, run a government in the Vatican and support governments and society wherever they find themselves. I am not a fan of the Catholic Church but in terms of transparency, institutionalized decision taking, clear and transparent succession planning and decision taking procedures they are miles ahead of this family owned businesses we call churches in this country.
I hereby call for the democratization of the Redeemed Christian church and the Winners chapel. Their size, influence and continued growing wealth makes it dangerous to continually be controlled by one individual. You see the way Presidents and political candidates scamper there for support, the influence and power they carry must be broken otherwise we will be faced by a parallel government which will be very dangerous for us as a country and which could make the menace of Boko Haram child’s play. Yes child’s play because they are dealing with the mind, hypnotizing a vast section of the population controlling them and making them allude to their biding irresponsibly. See the role of the Redeemed in the selection of the current Vice President and the mass movement of their members towards his candidacy without even querying his position on issues. See how a sitting President made regular pilgrimages to go bow down unconstitutionally to an unelected self-appointed demagogue all in the name of ‘spiritual father.’
The General Overseer-GO position must have tenor limits. The constitution of this group must be tinkered with. A four-year maximum two term tenor must be infused in their constitution. Proper elections or at best clear GO appointing procedures and decision taking process must be made with every tithe paying church goer having the same opportunity to aspire to the position. A clear system of checks and balances with separation of powers must also be entrenched. Some people will be cursing me now as they read, but do I care. It is for their own good that I am making these suggestions and also for my own good as a Nigerian who will suffer when this monster collapses into chaos and tyranny if effective structures are not put in place to guide and sustain its unprecedented growth.
This is not an attack on the church and no satan sent me. I am a Christian, not very devout but a Christian none the less. What I have done is detach myself from all this Tom foolery and attempted to look dispassionately at the monster that is today’s churches especially the redeemed and Winners in the wake of the tax controversy. Our churches need to open themselves for proper scrutiny otherwise they will continue in this profane exploitation of a gullible and in most cases helpless population seeking solace and succor from task masters who are even worse than the devil himself.
I have stopped payment of tithe until corporate governance and transparency is instituted in our churches, until open elections are conducted for sensitive church positions and until tithe payers are recognized as shareholders and dividends declared and paid annually. Till then, I will be paying my tiny tithe to an orphanage in Palmgrove, Onipanu Lagos where the madam is struggling daily to feed and educate kids with no hope in life. This to me is far better and enriching than funding a financial behemoth masquerading as a religious organization, dodging taxes and yet doing business at the levels that even the biggest of global players cringe with fear.