Last week was quite interesting on Nigeria's social media space. It started with a video of Pastor Adeboye telling his followers not to marry a woman that can neither cook nor pray for one straight hour. The question that has been on my mind is: does that mean God is deaf? What parent makes their child beg (for one hour) for something they know the child needs? The truth is that prayers, besides making the believer to feel good about themselves, are an absolute waste of time. They do not grow the economy or an amputated limb. Youth unemployment is at an all time high despite our regular night vigils, prayers and supplications - it is evident that a God who is interested in human welfare does not exist. If He did, malaria and cancers will not kill millions of children whilst He preoccupies Himself with consensual sex between homosexual couples.
In our country, pastors are marriage counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists and financial advisers all at once even though they are not appropriately trained for these roles. They tell women to go back to their violent husbands because, according to them, divorce is a sin against God. Many a woman has lost her life because of this advice. People like Adeboye are so influential anything they say is taken as the literal truth. Sadly, his comments portray a man who is out of touch with the realities of modern family life. More and more women are now in employment and some of them are the main providers for their families. Marriage is now regarded as a partnership rather than as a master-servant relationship. Some of the most celebrated chefs in western cultures are men - what is wrong with teaching our boys and young men to cook for themselves? Adeboye has similarly instructed his female followers not to marry men without jobs. But what happens when a man loses his job - should his wife divorce him?
I feel sorry for the people who think God speaks through this man or through any man at all.
If you want incontrovertible evidence that religion cannot reform the world, then consider the degree of theft and corruption in Nigeria. These problems have become endemic even though practically every Nigerian is a practising Muslim or Christian.
Nigerian pastors have acquired a taste for private jets - ostensibly to reach the parts of the world that need the gospel of Jesus, except that they avoid such places as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq. Charity begins at home - it is senseless to run off to put out the fire in your neighbour's house when your own house is up in flames.
Nigerians and their country are in dire need of salvation from endemic corruption. It is evident that religion cannot tranform our nation because as our religious devotions have increased, so have our corrupt ways.
Pastor Adeboye and his other pastopreneur friends need to sell off their jets, repent of their lies, stop robbing their church members through emotional blackmail, and give back what they have stolen. Their message has failed.
Adeboye's gaffes were followed by the news that the Nigerian government is going to subsidise pilgrimage to Mecca by granting Muslims concessionary exchange rate.
That is almost N8 billion for an exercise that does not benefit our economy. Many businesses are failing, parents are struggling to send their children to school, our hospitals are poorly resourced but that is how our government chooses to spend N8 billion. And believers wonder why we cannot stop talking about religion. There would be no use to criticise religion if it is removed from public space and kept as a private matter. It is wrong for the government to use tax payer's money to subsidise religious rituals.
The week ended with the RCCG convention where Adeboye makes his usual wild claims but says nothing of consequence about our nation. Our Vice President and a professor of law, Yemi Osibanjo, who also happens to be a pastor in the Redeemed Church watched on as Adeboye went to town with his preposterous claims. For a man who claims to have resurrected dead people, cured all kinds of diseases and driven a car without feel, you would think Adeboye would have told Vice President Osibanjo by now where to locate the abducted Chibok girls, right? But no, another RCCG convention has ended and not a word about their whereabout. When Adeboye claims that his car drives without fuel or that he has resurrected dead people and there's a medical doctor, engineer, architect, research fellow, PhD holder or a professor in the congregation who believes this fantasy then I feel grief and have great concern for the education system that has nurtured such people.
Religion has caused more harm than it has done good to African societies. Without a doubt, Adeboye and his fellow pastopreneurs have been responsible for the corruption in the way a generation of Nigerians think. But judging by the reactions to his sermon on social media, I think it is safe to say that the scales are starting to fall off the eyes of believers. I believe that pastor Adeboye will think twice now before re-telling his favourite story of how his car drives without fuel. I am thankful for the Internet and how it has placed knowledge at the fingertips (literally) of ordinary people. I pay tribute to fellow secularists for their unrelenting effort to liberate the minds of our people from the shackles of religion. Despite my grief, I feel hopeful about the future.
Ijabla is a medical doctor. He writes from the UK and can be contacted at: [email protected]