by Chris Okafor
For a religion that preaches love, peace, understanding and tolerance. For a group that is actually trying to attain or revamp their salvation, the amount of bile and ill-mannered attacks that has befallen any critic of The Hallelujah challenge is nothing short of hypocritical.
It’s an open secret that when it comes to religion, Nigerians take no prisoners when they attack. Well, religious people have a penchant for helping God fight his battles. And that’s why extremism has thrived. The need to help an omnipotent and omnipresent. The irony.
Joy Isi Bewaji spewed fire on her page on The Hallelujah challenge and going past the anger in her message, a neutral reader would see the pain behind the words. The plain truth behind the lines. The Hallelujah Challenge is now a trend. And like all trends in Nigeria, people are always going to have dissenting views. The Hallelujah Challenge army must understand this and also they must understand that they have to practice what they preach. Or don’t they have views about other trends?
Most arguments I have seen against her piece always dealt with the fact that Christians or presently, Hallelujah challengers owe Nigeria nothing and their worship do not affect anyone or anybody. But that is not what the religion preaches. The holy book tells us to ask and it will be given unto us. Surely, the challengers would have had to pray for the country- it would cost them nothing, they suffer it’s inadequacies too. Joy is telling them that constant asking has led us nowhere.
Since we imported our now dominant Religion, our brothers and sisters who have been asking, using other challenges such as crusade, fellowships and revivals haven’t really had theirs answered except God is a God of partiality because less religious countries which their citizens hardly partake in any religious challenge have consistently had it better. CC: our colonial masters and the French. Is it not wise then to do less religious challenges? Or Are we doing the challenge wrong? Or maybe The Hallelujah challenge will finally surprise us and change things?
Religion only succeeds extensively in the poorest areas of the world. People who need, people needing hope, people wanting to find a higher meaning to all the rambles this world pushes to them. But basically, it’s encouraged by need. The UK missionaries brought Christianity to Nigeria, but today we are deeply more religious than them as their Orthodox churches have accepted a whole lot of changes including gay priests and female clergy; something our own self-adapted version cannot fathom, but soon just like not wearing of scarfs by women and allowing of females to wear trousers, that too will happen. Culture always ends up being shared.
If the Hallelujah Challenge army hasn’t been praying for the country, they should and they owe it to us to do so. Poor healthcare, substandard basic education, ravaging poverty is destroying the country. There are millions of Christians like them who live in IDP’s, don’t have Internet-accessible phones or can’t have access to clean water. They owe it a duty to pray to God for all these.
The Truth is this, The Hallelujah Challenge will come and go and Hallelujah challengers will go back and continue the rat race in the country and we would essentially never hold or participate actively in challenges that will actually better the course of our collective lives. The challengers will continue to be homophobic, ethnocentric and inimically corrupt. They will continue to engage in their own form of hypocrisy- praying for personal (mostly economic) needs in a bid to manoeuvre the shoddy realities the country breeds. If the God you claim to serve is only interested in bettering your own individual success, what then is the proof of your prayers? Non-religious people can have it good as well. I challenge The Hallelujah Challenge army to pray this country to greatness. To pray away our collective problems. And again, If they have to be told to do this, what then is the love the religion professes. It has constantly eluded the world though. No surprises there.
If the religious people adhered to 30% of what they read in their holy books, If only 30% of religious adherents have been truly revived, our society won’t be as decadent, vile and regressive as it is today. And no, the rest of us who are criticising don’t have the answers to the problems facing the country, but we know what has been tried and what has failed. Religion has been extensively used and consistently it has always failed. We should change tactics. That’s what Joy was saying.
It’s strange that the number of religious houses multiplies daily but our society decays at almost the same rate. The Hallelujah challenge is an online addition to the shocking narrative. Only religious houses and challenges are growing. Not religious quality in the people.
Religion continues to be a divisive, political and lazy tool in our present Nigerian reality and the Hallelujah Challenge, one of its current propellers. We will continue to criticise.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija
Chris Okafor is a storyteller, content developer and Chinua Achebe Aficionado. When he’s not reading, writing or pontificating, he listens to Fela and watches Instagram skits- a lot more than his data would normally allow.