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COLUMNIST, The Roundtable

The Church & Politics: An introspection

Posted: Apr 15, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

ROUNDTABLE

Tiko Emmanuel Okoye

The message preached last Sunday at the Lagos-based National Headquarters of the Foursquare Church by an associate pastor, Dr. Okey Onuzo, gave me the conceptual framework for this essay. The man of God had faulted the Church for failing to effectively set lofty thresholds for the candidates during the run-up to the 2015 presidential election. He asserted that this error of omission left the Church with a huge moral burden, as parochial factors such as ethnicity, religion and region of origin needlessly determined voters’ behaviour – with the majority Muslim North voting one way and the majorly Christian South going the other way.

I have caught myself wondering several times if Church leaders who freely used their pulpits to amplify the unsubstantiated gossips and falsehoods trending in pepper-soup joints and the social media are aware of the biblical injunction in Psalms 1:1-3: “Blessed (Happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly (following their advice, their plans and purposes), nor stands (submissive and inactive) in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down (to relax and rest) where the scornful (and the mockers) gather” (Amplified Bible).

I am fully persuaded that Church leaders should have read the riot act to the purveyors of hate campaign instead of acting as if they were enjoying all the uncharitable gossips. The bearing of a Christian name by an individual does not automatically confer the toga of godliness on him or her. If you support the plans or actions, be it passively or otherwise, of those who are Christians only in nomenclature, without any proofs of a Christ-centred life, you are simply “walking and living in the counsel of the ungodly,” no matter how honest your intentions are!

But the greatest failing of the Church during the period under review was pathetically exposed by the fact it was the Muslim candidate (an unbeliever) that made an anti-graft war the centre-piece of his quest for power rather than the Christian candidate who was busy debating the legalisms that distinguish stealing from corruption; yet the Church glossed over the glaring paradox and embedded irony. What then is the role of the Church if not to facilitate the jettisoning of the detestable ‘old order’ for the incorruptible ‘new’?

Just consider the states where the worst electoral malpractices and occurred and you would be amazed to discover that they are majorly Christian states! It has indeed become highly embarrassing that whenever politicians and/or public servants and/or private sector chieftains are mentioned in any corruption or fraud case, a good majority of them are Christians, with some being pastors or holding leadership positions in their various denominations.

Due to the fact that the Church is trying to outdo unbelievers in the worship of mammon, most people acknowledged rumors that made the round about church leaders collecting a bribe of N7billion to support one of the contesting candidates with an understanding wink of the eye! It was the same reason why most church leaders with name recognition were busy ‘prophesying’ the victory of a candidate who ended up losing by a wide margin. Just imagine the opprobrium they have subjected the God-Head and the Church to with their prior claims of “if this prophecy doesn’t come to pass then know I’m not called by God”!

“Let’s not seek our disease out of ourselves; it is in us, and planted in our bowels,” cautioned Roman philosopher and playwright Lucius Seneca, “and the fact that we do not perceive ourselves to be sick, renders us more hard to be cured.” My prayer is that this won’t be the case with the Church and she should actually hold herself to much higher standards rather expend energy trying to prove a similar shortcoming in the other religious organisation.

Once upon a memorable time, kings, rulers of nations and commanders-in-chief of national armies sought out prophets of God for counsel and divine interventions. Whenever the Church chooses again to walk in dominion, it won’t matter what the creed of the nation’s president is, because he or she would have to constantly approach the prophets of the Living God for guidance and direction and then the prophecy of Zechariah 8:23 would begin to be fulfilled right before our very own eyes.