Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction – Blaise Pascal

Most of us would express horror at the sight of a middle-aged man slapping a young woman around the face in public. Yet if the perpetrator is called a “man of god”, or it takes place in a church, a different morality appears to operate.

The recent reaction to the video of “Papa” Bishop David Oyedepo slapping a young woman in church has raised the question of whether some Christians are able to discern right from wrong when blinded by faith.

What’s disturbing in the video, besides the nature of the assault, is the cheering of the congregation and the lack of reaction of those men standing behind. Their moral response mechanism seems to have been numbed.

Bizarrely, some Christians use the very book they claim gives us morality to prevent us making moral judgements, particularly on religious leaders, by using the out-of-context “judge not” and “touch not God’s anointed”.
Below are some  reactions from the internet in which Christians wriggle out of condemning this act (spelling and grammar untouched):

“spiritual things cannot be naturally discerned”

“A man of God under the unction of the holy ghost slaped.”

“Who re u to judge or condem a servant of.let’s leave everything to God.else,be ready to face d wrath of God.”

“Papa slap more witches as you are been led by the holy spirit,”

“slapping is not a crime when ministering”

“thats the African way to discipline children”

These followers see a plot to overthrow Oyedepo and allow the devil to be victorious. They claim the allegations are just jealousy against his material wealth (which says more about their corrupt and “worldly” value system!). Others have claimed Oyedepo wasn’t slapping the girl but the evil spirit inside her.  And then there’s the convenient moral fuzzy statement that God’s morality is not our morality, meaning what seems to be wrong is really right!

We have seen similar problems regarding Christians who worship with TB Joshua. All the allegations of sexual abuse and so on, do not seem to concern them. Rather than support an investigation to clear the name of their beloved, they claim all the allegations are lies of the devil.

There are, of course, courageous Christians who have expressed outrage at atrocities committed by churches and church leaders. But is there a particular problem with the Christianity as expressed in Africa, possibly as a result of the missionary’s introduction of Christianity as one of unquestioning obedience?

What this shows is that being a Christian does not automatically provide one with a sense of morality, compassion or empathy. At this point I will be told that those people are not understanding / interpreting the bible correctly. But the ambiguity of the bible is precisely the problem. Most of us come to the bible with our own culturally determined morality and base our life around humanist ethics and values. But there still persist pockets of belief which seem immune to reason, which allow the Oyedepo’s not just to assault poor women but  to brag about it after.

Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy – Proverbs 31-9

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