By Pius Okaneme . A poet and political analyst
Religion was not as pervasive when I was growing up in the early 1980’s as it is starting from the 1990’s observing from my youthful perspective. Then, it was either you are a Catholic, Protestant or a pagan. People conducted their business during the week and on Sunday they go to church and worship. Except for the pagans who perform their rituals as per when their occasion warrants. People were not seemed to be engrossed with religious worshipping.
The surge of the Pentecostal movement changed the manner most people worship. Good amount of religious believers joined the wave of conversion to the dramatic appeal of Pentecostal worship. They left their traditional churches to fellowship with the new Christian evangelical churches. The notion of born again became very popular to the extent that Pentecostal followers consider Catholics as non-Christians for not denouncing their practice and adopting theirs. Concentration on miracles became the mark of a strong Christian. In other words, you are not powerful in your believe if you cannot see vision and perform wonders.
Followers of Pentecostal churches are critical of people of other faith who do not conform to their mode of worship. Lifestyle changes like wearing of skimpy dresses, makeups and openly expressing one’s sexuality are shunned. Members are preached to not condone worldly living in any form like the unbelievers. A subtle but significant change was that followers started giving their children names that differentiate them and indicate their chase of piousness and spiritual vibrancy. Names like Favor, Upright, Miracle, Goodness, Divine and so on.
What really changed in my opinion was the economic condition in the country. I am talking about Nigeria specifically because the movement swept across the whole of Africa. Hardship due to bad government prompted a poor economy that traumatized many people. The need to find succor drove them to search by any means. The charismatic persuasion of Pentecostal churches arrested their spirit and provided an instant shelter.
As someone who has lived through these times, I am critically asking myself if anything has changed in human behavior as a consequent of the Pentecostal movement. People are still committing adultery and fornication. Prostitution seems to be on the upswing. Dressing is down to making nudity fashionable. Crime is ravaging the society. People are still left wondering what this world is turning to.
Experience should humble us. We should beg for sweet charity or rather the kindness of nature to carry us through the undesirability of human existence. We should practice to be humane and not judgmental for the force that moves the universe is beyond our control.