When people sought my opinion on the tithe, I told them that it is an act of faith. I do not believe that I must give it to a priest or pastor. Definitely, I know where, when and how to touch lives. But those who do not have the capacity to tithe independently can give to the church or priest. What matters is that it is not under compulsion and the tithe must be used judiciously.
I had a two-hour discussion with a friend who happens to be a Catholic priest. I highlighted the desperation and competitions I noticed among priests – especially African priests. Yes, competition and desperation to start a church building, auditorium, school, hospitals, complete, dedicate and commission it. Often, this competition and desperation to start a physical project lead to the abandonment of the spiritual project.
Normally, the objective or mandate of the church is to bring good news to all and set the captives free. Are African priests living up these spiritual and religious challenges? Your guess is as good as mine. In the present Catholic faith, poor worshippers are subjected to incredibly high blood pressure simply because of fear of “launch and donation” in the church. As a worshipper, you are forced to contribute generously. It is of little or no interest to the priests if the poor worshippers cannot afford a meal for the family after the tithe.
Of course, some would tell you the tithe is not compulsory. Don’t even go there. Often, preachings in the church are centered on the donors. In most cases, the priests pray ceaselessly for donations. Worse still, sermons are so soul torturing that you will be depressed if you don’t have money to donate. For the sake of clarity, I am not against church projects. What I am against is the pressure churches and priests put on worshippers towards the competition of them under a specific period of time. This effectively converts sermon to extortion.
This desperation and competition within the church lead to sacrilege. Presently, criminals and rogues take advantage of the desperation of priests to build places of worship – in most cases, with ill-gotten funds. So do politicians, who build churches and mosques from the stolen money. Biblically, we are the temple of God and much concentration should be given to making us “Christ-like” rather than competition to complete physical structure. Imagine the distraction we witness in churches when one millionaire enters the church in the middle of service. More often, the rich donor will be ushered in the front seat because he/ she was the person that built the church or its project.
A church is not a place of “class identification.” It is a place of equity where sinners gathered to worship their maker. So when a church reserves five front seats for politicians and their thugs, and the church ushers welcome them any day they want to worship, there is something seriously wrong somewhere. In most cases, when the churches and priests put the interests of the rich people who paid much tithe centrally, all prayers will be said for the protection of and provision for the rich donors while the poor people will be forgotten.Where do the poor worshippers fit in the church with this fastidious attitude of our priests?
What matters is not how quick a church project is built; rather, it is the spirit and faith of the builders. I believe that a church built under 20 years with faith and a widow’s mite will most likely be a place of miracle and encounter with our Maker; unlike the one built by a crooked politician or deadly drug mafia. The latter is like a brothel.
The desperate priests whose only objective is to encrypt their names as church builders must be cautioned. It is all about spiritualism and trying to make the world a better and peaceful place through religion. Definitely, not through the church building – although, I do not mean to say that church projects are not important. Nor do I discourage them.
In the Western world today, Churches are deserted and church buildings being converted to a bar. We must not denigrate to that level before we act. But we could if we don’t change our attitude towards the tithe.
The recent uproar about the tithe, triggered by Daddy freeze and the subsequent endorsement by many Christians is a referendum on our “men of God” and an indirect vote of no confidence to the church.
We must read people’s feeling, go back, re-strategize and act accordingly.
By J. I. Ekwueme
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Kata Kata Cartoon Magazine.