Background of the Study
There is an incontrovertible connection between politics and religion in churches. While the actual role that politics plays in religion has remained debatable, the nexus between the two concepts has been established for long (Falana, 2010). Religion does not make people good or bad. On the contrary, it is being used as an instrument of oppression and deceit in Nigeria. It appears that Nigerians have resigned themselves to fate and this is possibly further compounded by poverty, illiteracy, and lack of political education on the part of majority. This position is further aggravated by the general perception that politics is a dirty game and that only people who can deceive, manipulate, and greedily accumulate wealth are meant to participate (Egbewole and Etudaiye, 2011). The number of religious people in Nigeria run into million, yet the level of insecurity, destruction of lives and properties and crimes committed in God’s name is overwhelming. The need for political stability in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. A major variable in the Nigerian policy is the influence of politics in church which some consider as inseparable, while some support the notion of the separation of religion from politics, so that the former will not imbibe the corruption inherent in the latter.
Generally speaking, there is a common fallacy that politics have a role to play in the church. This leads observers sometimes to speak of the politicization of religion and aver that it is against the original intent of the founder of religion, or God himself (Van der Veer, 1996). All over the country, religion plays an important role in the daily lives of her citizens; the way we interact with one other, our choice of dressing, food, and politics are mostly affected by religion. In other words, the influence of politics in the church cannot be overemphasized.
A former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, (2009) said that the activities of church leaders are contributing to the rampart cases of politics across the country. Speaking on the convention of Victory Life Bible Church International in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Obasanjo said fighting politics in the church should not be a one-off affair because it would bounce back with vengeance.
There is no doubt that all our institutions have been tarnished by the brush of politics,” He also said If the Church, as an institution, does not take bribe or get involved in other corrupt practice, the behaviour of some of our men of God leaves much to be desired. They not only celebrate but venerate those whose sources of wealth are questionable. They accept gifts (offering) from just anybody without asking questions. This gives the impression that anything is acceptable in the house of God. But if Jesus can chase out those buying and selling from the temple with the declaration that, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves,’ then it is time to stand up against corruption.
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