By Richard Akinola
I wonder why we are playing the ostrich regarding religion and politics. I think the Catholic Church, for several decades, has played active part in politics at different levels. I guess that’s one of the reasons some Catholic priests are more vocal in terms of governance in this country, either military or civilian government.
In the 90s, then at the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), we had projects on Religion and politics and this was even under the military government. We followed this up with publications on CHURCH AND SOCIETY and ISLAM AND SOCIETY. We deliberately used the word SOCIETY instead of politics so that it won’t raise red flags but basically, what the publications focused on were on political engagements by the church and mosque. I was the editor of CHURCH AND SOCIETY quarterly magazine. So, religious bodies have always been involved in preparing its members to be involved in politics, both as members of political parties and as voters.
As a matter of fact, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria(PFN), always had a political department then termed “social security organization”. Rev. Moses Iloh(of blessed memory) led this department for several years. About 16 years ago, l was nominated to take over from Rev. Iloh but at the last minute, l was dropped because they felt l was too “hot headed” due to my human rights work. And since then, most Pentecostal churches have been deliberate in sensitizing their members on political engagement.
About four years ago, in my church, Daystar, l was a resource person in one of our programmes in sensitizing members on political engagement. As a matter of fact, pastor Sam has been deliberate on this. So, therefore, church’s involvement in political sensitization is not new and I’m not aware of any church that directs its members to go vote for a particular political party because people belong to various tendencies.
Even when Chris Okotie was contesting for presidency some years ago, I’m sure not all members of his church voted for him.