POVERTY AND RELIGION
Poverty breeds religiosity and extreme poverty breeds extreme religiosity accompanied by superfluous praying and worshipping, and religious vagrancy. False unfulfilled hopes fueled by unaffordable tithing results in depression after an unfulfilled wait for miracles (riches). The search for a new denomination and new truth starts. A new truth in the sense that poor hopeless people confined to a survivalist existence will jump from one denomination to another or remain in one denomination and consort with several other denominations. As they say it, “Who knows where salvation will come from?” This is what I call religious vagrancy but to the practitioners of the act, they are searching for miracles.
According to a 2010 Gallup poll, religiosity correlates with poverty – http://www.gallup.com/poll/142727/religiosity-highest-world-poorest-nations.aspx. The thinking is that poor people use religion as a pacifier hoping the end of the world is near or that their suffering is God-ordained to be followed by rapture and eternal bliss. Despite any proof for rapture or God administered suffering, the faithful are not convinced that their suffering is man-made. It is just another example of man’s inhumanity to man. While praying, they ask God to forgive their oppressors instead of praying to God to remove their oppressors from positions of authority. Hell may be a good final resting place for these misanthropes.
Meanwhile, only the pastors who are ordinary people one day and anointed pastors the next day are experiencing real miracles. Going from a motorcycle to a jet aircraft in 5 years is a miracle. Miracles are happening in these churches but only the pastors are the recipients. On the other hand, any fortuitous event that yields revenue to a church member is attributed to endless praying by the pastor and his/her prayer warriors. Additional tithes are due to the pastor for making the event occur.
For members of the congregation with unfulfilled prayers, they are consoled by the fact that they are alive, not dead, or disfigured in an accident. But are they really better than the dead? There is what we say in Igbo, “Odi ndu, onwu ka nma.” It means that in some instances, being dead is better than being alive. I find it confusing and paradoxical that Christians who should be clamoring to die and ascend into heavenly bliss are enduring immense suffering on Earth and meanwhile thanking God for a miserly existence. My prayer as a Christian will be, “O’ God take me, take me home, so this painful existence can end.” I want to be with you right now.
The fear of death is even more intense in the clergy especially those of the new-fangled churches. They consume mega doses of vitamins and supplements and have the best doctors on standby. Who would blame them? They are already enjoying heaven on earth and are in no hurry to join God in heaven. Their deceit may soon end as there are efforts to formulate pills that will cure religious fanaticism! On the other hand, they discourage members of their congregation from seeking medical treatment for easily treatable diseases. Some encourage members of their congregation to forgo automobile maintenance and leave braking to the Holy Spirit! In Igbo, “Enwerom braki, enwelum Holy Ghost.” It translates, ” I do not have brakes, but the Holy Spirit will stop this automobile for me! The automobile maintenance money will go towards tithing for the benefit of the pastors.
As long as there is poverty, there would be anointed religious charlatans masquerading as pastors and willing to suck life out of the already downtrodden, dispossessed, and poverty-ravaged masses in the name of God and religion. Efforts to point out the folly of the poor folks to them is resisted by the religious brain.