Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis
Chapter 4. The Paradox of Religion
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THE PARADOX OF RELIGION
Disillusioned with their political institutions, some Nigerians have turned to religion, believing it is the panacea for both individual and collective problems. The demand for spiritual healing is unprecedented, and many preachers are now claiming miraculous powers. Both deliverance ministries and prayer houses are springing up across the nation. Unlike the Western concept of the separation of the sacred and the profane, religion is woven into the fabric of Nigerian society. Public events often begin and end with prayers. The government sponsors pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem. In the nation’s capital, there is a national mosque for Muslims and an ecumenical center for Christians. These imposing buildings are reminders to citizens and foreigners alike that Nigeria is a religious country.1
Despite this popular religiosity, organized religion has been of little help in resolving the Nigerian crisis. In fact, it has sometimes tended to make matters worse. Just as politics has failed to create an honorable society, so has religion failed to inspire a moral culture in Nigeria. One reason for this dismal failure is organized religion’s paradoxical nature. On the one hand, the religious institutions in the country are critics and victims of greed. On the other hand, they are citadels of corruption. The reality of poverty, misery, and corruption in the life of the vast majority of Nigerians is doubtless the most radical ← 53 | 54 → challenge to the proclamation of the Christian gospel as well as...
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