Americans by and large think of competition as beneficial.. Whether in business, athletics or professional circles, for example, the concept of having to outwork the guy down the street is ingrained in our psyche.
When it comes to churches this is the case, for better or worse. Few Christians anymore can claim to have belonged to the same congregation their entire adult lives. We understand from a young age it’s socially appropriate to look for the best deal, even if that model is an awkward mix with religion.
The competition for church attendance is at a fever pitch in Nigeria. The oil-rich and ethnically fragmented West African nation has seen a surge in evangelical Christianity in recent years. On the surface this might seem like a positive development providing hope to areas where poverty is the norm.
According to the Associated Press, this competition has come with a frighteningly high cost. Children are being physically and emotionally tortured by pastors claiming to exorcise demons for name-recognition and a quick buck.
Consider this excerpt:
“Twelve-year-old Rachel dreamed of being a banker but instead was chained up by her pastor, starved and beaten with sticks repeatedly; her uncle paid him $60 for the exorcism.”
The story linked to above has plenty of other examples cited.
To say this goes against every fiber of how we are taught from a young age how the church values children – not to mention legalities and basic human dignity – is a vast understatement.
Hopefully, shedding light on these horrific practices will spark a movement to end this behavior and hold the adults responsible accountable for their criminal acts.