Robbery with a smile and a bible

The mayor of Nairobi has been drumming up support lately for the legalization of prostitution. One comment from one of the readers reacting to the same on an online newspaper was “It’s about time! It should have been legal like yesterday. It’s an overlooked good source of the needed revenues. I’m sure the religious freaks will come out in drones screaming how unethical it is but my question to them would be, are they willing to share the loot they collect from their congregates within the city? If not, shut it up!”
Religious freaks? Share the loot? You know that a nation has gone to the dogs when a citizen compares the business of prostitution, to the ‘business’ of the church.
Think about it though, aren’t most of our Churches today just about making money? If you are not really sure whether you are a congregant of a bona fide church that seeks to lead stray souls to the Lord, or whether you are helping someone build and expand their business empire, ask yourself the following questions;

  1.  Is every sentence coming out of the preacher’s mouth laced with glorification of materialism? “You will get that car! You will build that house! You will have plenty!” The preacher yells… (Not forgetting….) “…. in the name of Jesus!” Don’t you just love hearing that?
  2.  Does it seem to be a bizarre coincidence that every sermon picked from the bible talks about prosperity? That there are hardly any ‘downers’ or reprehension for evil behavior? Could it be that your preacher is more interested in winning your favor than teaching you right from wrong?
  3. Do you get the distinct feeling that when your lady preacher or the preacher’s wife is preaching she is doing more catwalks at the pulpit than is necessary? Do you see how she twirls around in her dress, tosses her hair, as if she is selling a dream to you? Do you perhaps, wonder how to become just like her?
  4.  Are you made to believe that to be a good Christian, you have to support your preacher and his family’s financial needs? Do they seem to have unreasonably expensive lifestyles unbefitting a ‘servant’ of the people; a palatial house, four wheel drive vehicles etc….do their demands seem unending?
  5. Are you made to feel like an ‘outcast’ if you cannot part with monetary contributions when called upon to do so, and in other instances, when you cannot give anything close to the defined one thousand shillings minimum?
  6. Have you been made to believe that any services (e.g. Weddings and Funerals) presided over by the preacher should be paid for? They won’t call it ‘payment’ of course, but will use euphemisms like “gratitude”
  7. Do you get the general impression that the money you give to ‘plant a seed’, is directly proportional to your chances at having St.Peter call your name from the book of eternity?
  8.  Does your preacher seem to care more about your financial contribution than your spiritual growth? You will know this if he asks you to send money electronically via M-pesa while showing no concern that you did not go to church, to get spiritual nourishment – and make that contribution personally!
  9. Does your church visit the loneliest, the most sinful, the sickest and the most in need of encouragement or do they judge them and consider them outcasts? Do they clothe the naked? Do they meet their congregation where they are and not according to their tastes and preferences?
  10. Does your preacher live like a king? Does he know the meaning of humility? Is he aware that there is a huge gap between the rich man and God’s kingdom and that his wealth stands between the two?

If your church is guilty of the above, then you might as well claim shares because you are helping to build a flourishing business empire. You are dealing with people who have realized that you can steal far more with a smile and a bible in your hands, than with a gun.
The preachers are however not entirely to blame because there are members of the congregation who are so materialistic that they believe that by ‘planting a seed’ as they like to call it, they will get more wealth in three-folds. Pyramid scheme anyone? When dealing with such members, the preacher is simply exploiting their vanity. If you are too impressionable that you are easily charmed, too trusting, too greedy, and too gullible you will fall into their trap. You need to do some soul searching – Are you going to church to find God or to find wealth?
Opportunists strike in many forms. You will come across posters advertising other ‘services’ ‘Mganga wa jadi kutoka Sumbawanga (Or Arusha, Or Tanga, Or Moshi – wherever the crème de la crème of waganga come from) kiboko ya wachawi, majini, mapenzi, boma, mwili…” … a solution to all your worldly problems.
When you visit the waganga, you will be told that it is your fault, or your mother’s or your neighbor who doesn’t like you very much. Your attention will be drawn to a quarrel you had some time back and she will conclude that your problems must have started right after the argument, or the fight. It will be deduced that a spell was cast upon you and she needs ‘something’ (ahem!) to unlock the spell. Come with shopping they will say. Your underwear, your neighbor’s lock of hair (or other paraphernalia) plus the money of course. Maybe they will be enticed to even make the culprit to eat grass like an herbivore.
There is no difference between that preacher who is out to extort money from you and that ‘mganga’. It’s the same script of making all your problems vanish, with a different cast. Are we entirely dumb? Are we that naïve, or is it that we are too lazy to look for the right answers in the right place and expect other human beings to fix our problems?
Clearly, we are a desperate people and when nothing else works, we are left only with our faith. Unfortunately, we are looking for God in all the wrong places, the wrong way and  among thieves the wrong people.

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