“NSLord The preacher declares a preacher as he warms the congregation for Bishop David Abioe’s third service at the 15,000-seater Livingface Church near Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. “If you drop your offerings today, your financial prisoners of war will turn around forever,” she promises. Some Bible verses explain how to pay by check or online. It is not said what the Lord thinks of your correspondent’s reluctant gift.
When the lime green basket-wielding guide receives the offering, the choir crooner says, “I have recovered and been rewarded.” Shining in a pinstripes suit and gold tie, Abioe explains how God repays prayers in cash. “People will give you this week,” he declares. The congregation jumps up and cheers. “They are already looking for your phone number, as I’m talking about,” he exclaims. He says this is all due to the “purchasing power” of Jesus’ blood.
Avioe is a minister of the Pentecostal Empire known as the Winners Chapel. It is led by Bishop David Oedepo, who practices the prosperity he preaches. He spins a zipper on a private jet. He once dismissed reports that it was worth $ 150 million as “insult” and “too small.” His business model combines the power of the pulpit with the ingenuity of corporate marketing. His books include “Understanding Economic Prosperity” and “Satan Get Lost!”.
In Nigeria and elsewhere, like many charismatic ministers, he gives the church a tithe, a tenth of their income, that faith brings material rewards. By doing so, I preach that their dedication should be expressed. Some millionaire ministers have hinted that their wealth is evidence of their piety. A pile of cash sent from a branch of their church to the chain may also help.
Eveniser Obadare, a professor of sociology at the University of Kansas, said: Christian forgiveness seems to be lacking for those who fail to offer. In July, a minister of the Winners Chapel branch said he was fired for failing to raise enough cash. The winner chapel says he didn’t attract a larger herd.
Some saints have business interests on earth. Rev. Enoch Adeboy’s Church has hundreds of holiday chalets in construction companies, window factories, and religious camps in the Redemption City. Pastor Chris Oyakhilme operates satellite channels in the United States and the United Kingdom and operates an online shop that accepts payments in 120 currencies. The Bishop of Oedepo’s Church has a 10,500-acre campus called Canaanland, which houses bottled water factories, banks, gas stations, and bishop’s palace-like homes.
Some Nigerian churches own universities. These are popular with parents, partly because many of Nigeria’s public universities are mediocre. The University of Covenant in the Cabanant has strict rules: mobile phones are banned. There is also an impressive sports stadium, a high-tech auditorium and taekwondo classes. Alongside the photo of Bishop Oedepo, posters showing off their academic rankings hang on the wall. According to the university, 98% of graduates find employment or find employment within two years of graduation.
But for many church members, it’s not affordable. The young staff who guided the correspondents around the campus were anxious to study there, but his family, who attended church since 2003 and paid a tithe, could pay a fee. I could not do it. It was cheaper to send him to a university in Ghana. The university says it offers value for money and that the Bishop’s Foundation of Oedepo offers scholarships to students at Covenant University and other universities. Still, in Covenant, which has at least 6,000 undergraduate students, the Foundation currently offers only about 30 scholarships.
Another Winners Chapel Church worker laughs when asked if his salary is sufficient to send his children to church school. Parent Matthew, who attends another megachurch 100,000-seater Glory Dome in Abuja, says the church school is too expensive for children. “My dad went to missionary school for free,” he says. “Why don’t we do the same?” According to Obadare, the reality is that these are “money-making companies.”
Covenant says it will reinvest its earnings in the university. But “the university is owned by the church,” adds Vice President Abiodun Adebayo. Does the church expect some return on that investment? “You grow up to be big enough to support the church,” Adebayo says casually.
The ambiguous line between Megachurch and its businesses is important for tax reasons. The church is not taxed. Theoretically, their business is. However, it is not easy to understand where the church ends and where its business begins.
Critics do not chop their words into small pieces. The logic of the Church of Prosperity is similar to the logic of the Ponzi scheme, says Obadare, but with the added benefit that when people do not get rich, pastors can promise their wealth to come to their next life. Criticisms of these beliefs may be expected to come from intellectual institutions such as universities, but he added that they are often incorporated into the Church’s worldview. Francis Faraco, a professor of religious studies at the University of Lagos, says the results in Nigeria, where more than 80 million people live on less than $ 1.90 a day, are “members are getting poorer” in the church. .. “And the pastors are getting richer and richer.” ■■
This article was published in the printed Middle East and Africa section under the heading “Sum of Preachers”.
Nigerian megachurch practices the prosperity they preach
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