Religion And Politics Meet, As Presidential Candidates Visit Churches, Clerics For Support
RELIGION has always been part and parcel of politics and politicking even in democracies across the world, as candidates usually interact and seek the support of clerics and their congregation in their quest for political offices and positions.
Nigeria, not being different, it is not unusual to see presidential candidates hopping from one church to the other, seeking support from God and from the congregation even when there are no developmental projects to convince the electorates.
The recent frequent visit of the candidates, especially President Goodluck Jonathan of People Democratic Party (PDP), to churches has caused more brouhaha in the Christian folks, and by extension in Nigeria as a whole.
Jonathan’s visit to Living Faith Ministries (Winners Chapel) on January 25 raised some dust, especially over the speech by its General Overseer, Bishop David Oyedepo, and his critics, as members was said to have been divided over his request for prayer for the President.
Some members rose up as directed, while others reluctantly did and a few refused to stand up for prayer, claiming that Jonathan’s visit was political.
Twelve days later, Jonathan also visited the Redemption Camp of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) along Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as well as the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement in Lagos.
He worshipped with the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement in Ijesha area of Lagos at the opening of its two-day crusade a few hours after worshipping at the RCCG.
Though the President in his brief speech at the Lord-Chosen Church claimed that his visit was for prayers and not to seek support, as assumed, the congregation remained indifferent, with some believing that he came for God’s support and their votes.
Ironically, Jonathan, while addressing the worshippers in Lagos, warned those contesting for political offices against using churches as a political campaign tool or platform, asserting that such act was inappropriate.
He was, however, quick to add that he was not going to say much, lest he would be accused of coming to church to campaign.
On his own, APC presidential candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) and his running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, had a meeting with Catholic Bishops in Abuja on Tuesday, February 10.
Somehow, Buhari also pointed that politicians were seeking of support of God and men.
Since then, at different fora, there have been allegations that some religious leaders have compromised by welcoming politicians into their churches for campaigns.
Some also argued that pastors were not helping matters, as some of them now acting like prophets and leaders in the Bible, who spoke the truth to temporal leaders.
Many Nigerians want all religious leaders to take their stand and preach undiluted truth to the country’s leaders at all levels.
The recent trend of campaigns has generated many responses on social media platforms, including facebook.
Issues, like why religious leaders fail to preach the truth to those politicians coming for endorsement, who end up brainwashing their innocent congregations?
While some clergymen believe democracy has witnessed huge development, others Nigerians and even clergymen detest the sudden romance between the church and politics.
For instance, one Ufuoma Bernard, who commented on this subject matter on his facebook wall, said: “You can shake hands with the biggest pastor and attend his services and end up in prison if those hands of yours aren’t clean.”
Another respondent and a member of one of the churches, who preferred anonymity, said he would never follow any religious leader religiously or dogmatically to vote for any politicians, irrespective of their positions in the country.
“I will only vote for men of good virtues, who can deliver this nation from the hand of corruption and poverty.
“I also advised all Christians to avoid being blindfolded by any religions leaders. Nigerians should vote for their conscience,” he added.
Speaking with Pastor Olayinka Folarin on this matter, he said: “The presidential candidates’ visit to churches for campaign is not the issue, but the way spiritual leaders go about endorsing them tactically is what is questionable.
“Politicians are just trying to get people involved into politics. They have succeeded in bringing the military into politics and now their target is the church.
“The idea of going to church is like trying to drag some respected men of God in murky water of politics.
“Though they claimed that this is not a good period for those of them contesting for election to talk so much in church, but why are they going to churches around and for what benefit is that to Nigerians? Is it really prayer that politicians are looking for or the endorsement.
“Clergymen should distance themselves from them. They are gradually dividing the church congregation, considering what played out in some of the churches recently.”
He advised the clergy to first consider the church before arranging any meeting with politicians, so that the church would not lose its purpose.
Pastor Victor Adeola, an Ibadan-based missionary, also decried the development, saying the church is a house of prayer and not a campaign ground.
Adeola said he is totally not in support of the new alliance between church leaders and politicians, noting that it is totally out of church’s vision and clergymen need to remember this.
“The place of church in politics is to preach the truth to those in positions of authority and not to start hobnobbing with them,” he insisted.
Adeola emphasised that church should stand for the truth and not give room for compromise, adding: “I expect church leaders to stand on the will of God and tell politicians to uphold the country’s constitution.
“Conscience is an open wound and it can only be healed with the truth. Clergymen should remember that the place of church is to pray for the country and its leaders and nothing more.”
Pastor Kola Adejumo, however, cleared the air regarding the purported endorsement, saying clergymen have not done anything wrong by praying for any politician in the same way they did for other contestants in the country.
“The pastor must obey that part of the scripture that says, ‘pray for those who are in position of authority.’ They have even said it openly that they have not endorsed any political office seekers.
“Anyway, no matter what anybody says, the will of God will override all. Beyond human reasoning, whosoever God want will emerge as the winner. God sees more than what we can see.”
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