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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Reign of the Nigeria Megachurches

In the country of Nigeria that which we once believed it to be is far from its reality. There are poor people, and plenty of them; however, there has been an enormous increase of money that is flowing through the still poverty-stricken country.  In addition to the money received via it's naturally rich oil surplus, there is also the uber-wealth generated by its U.S. modeled Pentecostal churches.

Some of these churches can hold up to 200,000 people. They employ tens of thousands of people and generate even more revenue with their subsidiary businesses, such as magazines, newspapers, and 24-hour TV stations.  Of the $510 billion GDP, it is difficult to assess just how much money is contributed by church business being that their money is unaccounted.  The majority of the money is received by way of tithes thus allowing them to claim a charity-status.  

It was reported that six church leaders in Nigeria have private jets; and in 2011 Forbes estimated that five of Nigeria's pastors had an income between the amounts of $30 million and $150 million. It is true that Nigeria is on the "come-up" with it's lucrative mobile phone, media, and e-commerce industry; however, it is still a country where 100 million people live on less than $1 a day.  One former banker from Nigeria's United Bank of Africa reported that a church was bringing in over $5 million a week from contributions both at home and abroad.

With the poverty rate as high as it is should not these mega-churches be more giving to it's poorer citizens.  One can easily infer (or rather, hope) that there is a monetary amount given to charity; but does the amount measure moderately on a pendulum against that which is spent luxuriously?  Still, the most important issue is the one which can be seen in the mirror.  Remember, the works of the mega-church only mimic the visual most proudly flaunted by the United States.

By Brian L. Elliott, The Scarlet Journal, with contributions from Reuters and Global Travel Industry News, October. 20, 2014, 1:07PM EDT