Around the world, there are places where Christians are still being persecuted. In Nigeria thankfully, a better part of the country has gone beyond that.
I’m not referring to individuals being persecuted by their immediate or extended family. Instead, I’m writing about persecution as an instrument of the state, or community.
Some people meanwhile are always looking for anywhere a Christian or church is going through a bad time, so they can call it persecution.
All of this while, I have been indifferent to such accusations. Recently though, I began to do a double-take.
Historically, people will tag themselves as being persecuted when they have done nothing wrong. The maltreatment is unjustified.
It is not a punishment for wrongdoing. Instead, it is just a product of unadulterated hatred.
Reviewing accusations of persecution in modern times though, especially in Nigeria. Lagos in particular is almost laughable.
If this was what the early apostles experienced, I don’t think they would have bothered saying they were persecuted. They would have just kept laughing, singing, and worshipping God instead.
Repeatedly, any government regulation that seems to want to take a better look at the church, you immediately hear complaints of oppression.
I am still not a fan of taxing the church. Knowing Nigerian politicians, they most likely would never do that. Where will they go to kneel down during the next campaign circle as a photo-op?
If they get into a rift with the church, then other than buying roasted corn, yam, or plantain by the roadside, how else are they supposed to show “humility” if not by prostrating to a pastor?
Where else can they speak to over fifty thousand people outside of a campaign rally?
The need for an oversight on the activities of religious organizations will always be a touchy issue for Nigerians. But when clips of a Muslim cleric claiming Bin Laden was a great Muslim, and the “infidels” should be “cleansed out“, we get surprised.
Maybe a religion monitoring board will have spotted him.
As for the pastor that ends up setting a member on fire, or the one that separates a family before adding the wife to his harem of concubines, he would also have gone under their microscope.
Maybe there would have been a clause that if a clergy has a hundred complaints against them, they’d have to step aside while the government investigates them.
On a second note, amidst all the conversation on closing or opening worship centers during this pandemic, I wish no one had claimed to be persecuted.
Knowing how big, yet overcrowded most churches and mosques tend to be, are you sure you want your worship center to be traced back and tagged as ground zero for the breakout of the epidemic in your state?
It already happened elsewhere, do you think those ones aren’t holy enough? Or that God is punishing them? Or they aren’t worshipping God the right way?
In both Christianity and Islam, God can be worshipped from anywhere. Thanks to technology, we already fellowship with people from all over the world. Why is this situation different?
The government trying to protect you from yourself and others is not the same as you being persecuted.
Just as you want to hold the government accountable, God will also hold them accountable. So as a governor or president, I hope you get why I’ll want you worshipping from your homes amidst a pandemic.
By the way, if we had enough hospitals with holding and treating facilities as we have worship centers, then maybe the rules won’t be necessary.
On that same note, it is not the duty of any organization other than the government to build infrastructures. It isn’t bad when they chose to do it, but it is not their job either.
Finally, there is a category of churches and mosques that need urgent intervention from the government. If they decide to call this being persecuted, honestly, I might be forced to tell them to shut up.
They totally deserve it.
These are the noisemakers. Worship centers that direct loudspeakers at their neighbors. Sunday mornings become a torture session.
They’ll then decide to make every Friday a night vigil. Or worse, hold a seventy-day vigil at a stretch. With speakers blaring all night and kids going to school with inadequate sleep.
Some of these churches have a capacity for two hundred people, but a membership of thirty. In their estimation, propping a speaker outside is a means of evangelism.
Someone would hear you and decide to drop in.
Except that your sermons are threatening, not welcoming. Your choirs are horrendous, not alluring. Worst of all, your members have a reputation for being callous, extremist, and unwelcoming.
How do you expect people to join such a commune?
If the immediate thousand people around you all claim something is wrong with you, then it is best you take a second look at yourself.
You might not be getting persecuted, you are just suffering the consequences of your inconsiderate actions.
Seriously, take a look at your church. How invested are you in your community? Do you affect traffic negatively on service days? How do you mitigate that?
Are your loudspeakers a cause of headaches for nonmembers? How often do your ushers and security team fight with passerbys?
Maybe with a little introspection and accountability on your part, the “persecution” can be reduced.
And if you must have a loudspeaker outside, please, with all that is holy, can your choice be more melodious? Can they sing on key? Will they come for rehearsals and perfect their craft?
If we must sit through your music, the least you can do is make it pleasant. And while at it, tell your pastor to always say a prayer for the community too.
If we are forced to have to put down claims that you are being persecuted every week, you might end up like the boy who cried wolf.