New Democrat (Monrovia)

23 November 2012

Liberia: The Religious Jungle - the Collapse of Church Values in Liberia

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The heart of every culture is its attitude to the big questions of human life and existence. That's why a sensible people leave culture in the hands of the churches, the artists and the writers. I keep scratching my head a bit and think much responsibility is on the shoulders of our church leaders to help guide and contribute to transformation, possibility and hope to our society. It is crucial and indeed critical and now time for prophetic and creative leadership.

For many years, the Church was a pillar of the Liberian society. Its leaders were respected public figures. It was - and remains - the biggest denomination in a country that has been largely shaped by centuries of Christian tradition. But today, the church is literally dying, core values are disappearing and to their lowest point.

Back in the 1970s, the churches were high-water mark and bet their future on becoming more open, more inclusive, more egalitarian and more progressive spiritually. They figured that was the way to reach out to a new generation of worshippers. It was not a colossal flop as it is today.

But when you look around, our church leaders seem remarkably unperturbed about spiritual things- boorish sermons

of money, money and money-too crass, rampant materialistic and business-oriented. They lack a vision that calls the members to a higher spiritual purpose. Their leadership strength is managerial and scandals (either financial or sex), not inspirational. There is no emphasis on weekly bible studies, regular prayer meetings-Church crusades and revivals, and even the Sunday school classes or youth for Christ that strengthen the moral ground of young people are no more.

The church has generally forsaken the faith and principles that defined their existence as a Christian church and so are in decline. A large part of it all has been the abandonment of their- own flock by the Church's 'leaders'. No sense of purpose and passion. The glue that held them together is gone. People need a church that tells them about salvation, how to live morally and within their families, how to find marriage partners, and how to resolve their disputes and disagreements with each other. Because when there are no clear rules for personal relationships like these, then there is a lot of confusion and disagreement among the people. And such relationships don't work well.

So most of our sisters tapped into the superstition of con men and women including foreigners especially Nigerians and Ghanaians calling themselves praying daddies and mothers are taking advantage of an opportunity to spread ignorance. Those who fail in their goals suddenly hear the voice of a god or spirit, and turn to hawking miracles and wonders.

In fact, they are more popular than God and cannot say wrong.

These kinds of strange doctrines, religions and beliefs encourage laziness and blind, unquestioning acceptance of the status quo. These prayer daddies and mothers that I referred to as mystic and juju worshippers and, genuinely fear are pushing our society towards the edge of the precipice. They exaggerated and fake stories put together to maintain their steady income from their clients.

Everywhere now in Liberia, there are churches popping up, yet the people who propagate religious abracadabra are, those who are also encouraging corruption, participating in crimes, telling lies, perpetrating fraud and practicing other vices. Liberia is a secular state by statute, but its leaders use church's money to promote this religious absurdity, while our society is hopelessly deficient. Shouting "God" becomes the easiest way to get to the top, so as to loot church treasury. Clerics became rich overnight. Ignorance pervades the land, and critics are condemned as satanic agents. The people's overall belief in God and Jesus Christ hasn't declined. What's declined is people's participation in true Christian doctrines. With so little spiritual nourishment to offer, it's no wonder the Christian churches and values have collapsed. Unless the Christian Church goes full throttle and tosses the old religious dogma and routines it will disappear. Once you question the core, irrefutable beliefs, of course thinking people will stop pretending they want to listen to esoteric and anachronistic religious scripture. In a sense, it should be a humanist church, based on core values of human beings.

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