I had to watch a video clip of Apostle Johnson Suleman to make a good sense of the purported ‘controversial’ bill in Kaduna State. I have heard a few commentaries by Governor Mallam Nasir El Rufai on the bill and Apostle Suleman’s interpretation of its implications to his understanding of Christianity and Church. Churches do need trained pastors for services in their Churches. Imams need to be trained for services in their Mosques. Churches and Mosques need constructively informed leaders in our non-theocratic communities.
If Nigeria is non-theocratic State, then all religious leaders/preachers should understand the need for the State to intervene and address societal issues from getting out of control, like health consequences of noise pollutions that damage psychological well-being of Nigerians (no quality rest after a day’s job or restful weekends because of these pollutions), inhumane/inconsiderate aggressive evangelism (all-night noisy vigils. There is no problem with holding respectful and peaceful vigils/prayers), hate-preaching, public disorder, insecurity, lawlessness from fanatical religious actions, etc. Good Christian preachers and their members, no doubt, do help in addressing many societal problems; same are good Muslim preachers and their adherents. The Church and the State or the Mosque and the State ought to be separate in every sane ‘secular State’. Neither Islamic religion nor Christianity is a State Religion in Nigeria.
True Christianity implies living in fellowship with Christ’s (Jesus Christ) Good-news. Death, burial dates, and prophetic braggadocio are not the reality of Christ. These are features of Christianity of intimidation practised, propagated, and exported by some Nigerians. These features and attitudes confirm one reason why El Rufai may be doing the right thing.
We need to adapt a different but critically constructive approach to any form of crisis or misunderstanding on policies. We need to thoughtfully and peacefully read the bill and allow opportunities for mutually respectful dialogue (soul to soul culture, not eyeball to eyeball. I term it a culture of onto-political belongingness). We should stop religion-based divisive propaganda, religious gangster-ism, dictatorial preaching of any kind, and prophetic hooliganism. It is time to cross the threshold to a saner society, from one of senselessness, and intimidation.
Intimidation and Christ’s Christianity are never two sides of the same coin. Christ and His form of Christianity, of course powerful, are not intimidating, condescending, humiliating, or arrogant. I am rationally convinced that Christ’s Christianity is startled at the different forms of its practice in Nigeria. There are so many forms of Christianity (preached), with many contradictions. For instance, who are the people re-directing Nigeria’s petroleum products to other African countries? Who are the Nigerians hoarding fuel to make so much profit from the terrifying pains of other Nigerians? Who are the people undermining government’s efforts to provide power or electricity?
Who are the people rigging elections so as to make way for corrupt individuals to occupy leadership positions? I am not suggesting that these crimes are perpetuated by self-acclaimed Christians alone, but these crimes are simple indicators, they determine or help us question the quality of our religious practices/religious preaching by untrained preachers (trained does not necessarily mean ‘tamed’). Christ’s Christianity, practiced as hopefully demanded by Christ Himself, will do a better job for Nigeria’s positive transformation. “El Rufai” is any–good and informed person—Christian or Muslim initiating a thoughtful bill to keep us sane in a very challenging but emerging new Nigerian society, and in accord with Christ’s Christianity of genuine self-transformation.
Bye the way, where is the bill? Have you read it? Let us cross the threshold and start the dialogue in a mutually respectful manner, soul to soul, not eyeball to eyeball!
By Stanley Anozie, firstname.lastname@example.org