"All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions." - George Bernard Shaw

"Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them, just as bank-notes pass so long as nobody refuses them." - William James

The media has been awash with news of pastor (or is it Bishop) Oritsejafor's 'gift' of a private jet from his 'beloved' church members. There have been criticisms from those who felt things weren't right. Other people have come out to say there is nothing wrong about it. I have however taken my time to ponder on this issue, and my ponderings have finally given words to my thoughts. It was Steve Barry who said, "The problem with writing about religion is that you run the risk of offending sincerely religious people, and then they come after you with machetes." I'm used to criticisms and I love being controversial - in fact, I thrive on criticism, and that is why I'm prepared to pour out my mind on this issue of criminals that have hijacked our places of worship. For those who care to read with an open mind good for you. And for those who have closed their minds, good luck to you.

Pastor (or Bishop…whatever) Oritsejafor isn't the first pastor to own a private jet. No, someone beat him to that. The man called Bishop Oyedepo (remember him, yeah...the one who used slap to cast out demons...yes, ehem) beat him to that. The mixed reactions however, are a clear indication of the fact that Nigerians are still undecided about what is right and what is not. I have always made my stand clear on religious leaders that get rich on account of the tithe paid by church members, and then have the audacity to declare it as a personal asset. These people, I've found, always twist the Bible to suit their decisions and actions. I don't know whether it's not in the Bible that tithe belongs to God, why then are these people declaring as personal assets money that belongs to God? Did God appoint them as His minister for finance?

Yes, judge not, that ye be not judged. That is a saying that has been seriously misunderstood. Touch not my anointed...that is a quotation that has been misinterpreted to continually submerge people in slavery. The same preachers who echo the 'judge not' gospel are the same people who hammer every Sunday that "be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" and that if I do, I am going straight to hell (as if they are the mobilization officers for heaven). The same pastors hold presidential prayers at ASO rock, and collect millions of taxpayers’ money as 'transport fare' back home. Tell me, if those
robbers at ASO rock are not unbelievers, then who is? The same pastors that condemn me for 'loving the things of the world' and not 'setting my affections on things above' are the same ones who gallivant about in exotic cars and jets. We have all broken the 'judge not' rule, so I might as well cast my own judgment too.

When they said Pastor Oritsejafor's church members gave him a jet as a gift. I believe them. Seriously, I do. But I refuse to believe that he had no foreknowledge of that gift. Will 40 million just disappear from church account and no one will ask where it 'flew' to? Or is it that
a private jet has become like a bicycle that you can just buy at any corner? I refuse to believe he had no hand in it. And when they tell us that church members bought it for him, I doubt if a man who is yet to eat breakfast at 4pm all because he has no money will agree to that kind of wastefulness. Why the need for private jet? Is it that he has become so holy that he must not travel with mere mortals again? Nigerians, shine your eyes.

I have always said it, and I will continue to say it till I breathe my last, that these pastors need to be challenged. It is a pity that all you need to be a pastor that draws crowds today is to have a past so dirty that it will take the blood of Jesus to wash it 3 or 4 times before it can be clean. They use tithes of church members to build universities and then raise the tuition so high that the children of those who paid the tithes have to forfeit university and opt for just anything. They use tithes to buy jets and fly around the world while those who paid the tithes continue to die off and lose children to hunger-related diseases.

Nigerians must throw off the garments of gullibility that they have on them. Enough of having a pastor interpret the Bible to you, you have brains too, interpret the Bible yourself. Enough of sending a pastor to God to help him pray for you, if God is your father, approaches him as a son would approach his father. Enough is enough! We must reclaim our pulpits from the criminals who have hijacked them. Robert Nesta Marley has said it all, "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery..."

Follow on Twitter: @hullerj

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