Pastor Chris, Plagiarism and the Pride of Life

Happy Friday, MOM Squad! Under normal circumstances, we’d be chatting about frivolous topics in recognition of Frivolous Friday; but there’s a disturbance in the Force that has to be addressed. I do hate it when folks won’t let the Force remain in balance. Someone is always throwing a monkey wrench into the Force!

I deliberately waited a few days before talking about Reverend Chris Oyakhilome’s (popularly referred to as Pastor Chris) arrival in Accra this weekend – or more specifically, the social media buzz heralding his arrival. I waited because for me, the issues of concern extend far beyond a man, a jet, a presidential delegation to greet said man at the airport, or even the plagiarized images that were used to conjure excitement about his arrival. My issues with watching this Pastor Chris Circus roll into town are centered on my worry for the body of Christ…or specifically, the Black/African branch of that body.

Last week, after I took on the role of the Poka Plagiarism Police, several people sent me a mashup announcing the reverend’s arrival that had been floating around on Twitter and Facebook, ostensibly with the hope/expectation that I would go berserk with indignation as I had before. But I am not indignant about the way the church that is hosting Pastor Chris (or specifically, the folks running their social media campaign) has used other people’s intellectual property for their own selfish purposes. Nor am I indignant about the manner in which the government of the land has diverted resources to accommodate one man and his team and held the rest of the city hostage. Far from it. Instead am grieved….and grieved down to the depths of my soul.

When political party stalwarts stole Poka’s work, I considered it a slap in the face of every artist who would eventually suffer the same fate. After all, should this party come to power, they would expect that all illustrators, musicians, etc. pay taxes on whatever profits they made from the sale of their work in order to support the agenda of the state. Yet on the back-end, they had the audacity to use that same intellectual property without the artist’s consent or knowledge, effectively robbing the artist(s) and then potentially taxing him/her on goods they had stolen once they came to power. This is robbery of the highest order…twice in broad daylight. It was important to speak up, so I did. Yet at the end of the day, we instinctively know that Ghanaian politicians and their cronies are uninventive autobots who pander to pedestrian sensibilities and recycle old ideas, enriching themselves in the process. Intuitively, we know we can’t expect much out of that batch. But when you’re a believer – a true believer – in the power and presence of God and all His mysteries, this sort of theft and behavior only produces consternation in those who call themselves faithful…unless you’re a religious zombie. And right now, West Africa is ripe for the Religious Cult Zombie Apocalypse.

There is a wave of anti-intellectualism that has swept through the Black and African church that is crippled us mentally. On a cerebral level, we are damaged that it WOULD take the power of God, dressed as Aristotle perhaps, to heal us of this plague. It is widely known that the average human uses less than or about 10% of their brain. That’s a lot of wasted potential. And if that doesn’t bother you, scientist have just recently discovered that the human brain has far more potential and power (about 10 times more!) than we previously thought, and can store information roughly equivalent with the entire internet. Yet somehow, when a “Man of God” becomes the topic of discussion, many cannot engage our brains at all.

So this becomes my question: If you call yourself a Child of God – daughter or son of the most High King – what in His holy name are you doing plagiarizing someone else’s work? Could you not tap into that same spirit that spoke the heavens and the earth into existence to create a phenomenal work for your church’s crusade? Did you spend any time in prayer, seeking revelation or inspiration for that cause…or did do exactly what your superiors kick against Sunday after Sunday? Did you imitate the world, instead of imitating Christ? Your actions and fruit say “yes”. Their silence on the matter says they approve of your inferior mentality. As the old adage goes: You know a tree by its fruit.

I don’t know anything about Chris Oyakhilome and the Chris-tians that follow him after apart from what I’ve seen in the news. I know he allegedly subjected his wife to physical abuse over a period of years. I know he has bleached skin and curly, processed hair. I know his marketing team knows their stuff. There are white people all over his website; which I have to add, looks like a virtual shopping mall for all things religious and not necessarily holy. In that regard, it’s really impressive. It appeals to the materialistic nature of desperate men. But did I get a sense of honoring God and pointing web visitors to either Him, His Son or the Holy Spirit? Not so much. But that was just my user experience on Pastor Chris’ e-real estate. Yours may be different.

Religion is a funny thing. Despite the fact that there are millions of people around the world who simply consider themselves “Christians”, there is little uniformity of belief or unity in the body of Christ. There is little consistency in terms of what is expected from a Christian. I know that my pastor would be horrified if he discovered that his social media team had stolen someone else’s work to promote his event and then ignored pleas to take it down and/or credit the work. (And before any of you ask or cast aspersions: Yes, I did ask Poka for his feedback and he informed me that this is precisely what happened: the guys at the Accra church have ignored his requests… I say motivated by an ungodly spirit of privilege and pride.) My pastor has always preached that the body of Christ must be an example to the world, that we must be more innovative, more hardworking, more loving, out-serving, seeking to “imitate Christ as dear children.” In short, we must strive for excellence.

I do not see this in the average Ghanaian who professes to love Jesus, many of who have abandoned their work posts, contractual obligations unfulfilled and diminished productivity because they are “expecting something from God tonight”. What about what God is expecting from YOU? Indeed, there are more “sinners” who are better Christians than the average Ghanaian Christian. ‘Christian’ means ‘like Christ’. Does a quick scan through scripture show a Jesus who stole other people’s intellectual property, or enriched himself through offerings and tithes? Was He a taker? No. Jesus was a multiplier. He was a provider. He was a good steward. He was an intelligent man who spoke in parables and reasoned in the temple. The average Christian and their pastors are incapable of reasoning – because of that spirit of anti-intellectualism that’s sweeping through the church! It’s all superstition and voodoo, quite frankly.

For example, what’s the first thing Kobina Church-Goer says if you criticize his Man of God?

“Touch not my anointed ooo, and do my prophets no harm!!”

In other words, the Man of God is never to be called to account for his sins; and if you dare, God will get you for pointing out Kobina Church-Goer’s idol’s faults. And make no mistake, men like Duncan Williams and Chris Oyakhilome are idols for people all over this region of the world.

Matthew 23
Matthew 23

There are so many things that are awry with the way Christianity is practiced in West Africa that it’s hard to see how we’re going to straighten the crooked paths without demolishing the whole thoroughfare. Pastor Chris’ arrival in Accra and the fiascoes that are bound to ensue are just a symptom of a larger issue.

It was announced this week that the municipal government has actually authorized that several of the busiest roads in the city be shut down in order to accommodate traffic to the Pastor Chris-tian event. Why? Because they have bought into the cult of personality and are pandering to the people’s superstition: A superstition that says that if we “honor the Man of God”, we will get jobs and running water and healing from cancer. It’s no accident that the government has made these accommodations for this “miracle worker”. In doing so, they can further absolve themselves from their responsibilities and mandate as the leaders of that corner of the world. After all, if GOD couldn’t heal your child of malaria, what can we (with our development budget allocated for sewer management and hospital equipment – ooops, now squandered on trips to Dubai and V8s – my bad!) do?

Selah.

We are headed for dark days if we continue on this path. We’ve seen this in history before, where British men of the cloth used their God-given authority to rape newlywed brides on the night of their honeymoon in order to “bless” the marriage; where the Vatican enriched itself from the sale of Black flesh and the amassing of African gold; where Protestant preachers in the American colonies burned women at the stake for being too mouthy. If Accra can shut down the city so one man can do a crusade, leaving the residents vulnerable to any number of calamities due to impassible roads, the government can authorize just about anything for the sake of these Men of God. What happens tonight to the child who gets knocked by a car and can’t get to the hospital in time because the fastest routes have been blocked? What is his mother’s consolation? Why was there no consideration for the citizenry– or intelligent thought – applied to this visit? Could Pastor Chris not have held his event outside of Accra? Could the organizers not have partnered with other churches in the area to have shuttles take attendees from designated parking lots to and from the event? What would Jesus’ PA do?!

Speaking of Jesus and roads: Did Jesus stop traffic on Palm Sunday? Absolutely. But the following week, He was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. What is Pastor Chris’ sacrifice when all this is said and done? If there is none, then the jets, the escorts, the road blockages are just vanity.

I hope that people will take the time to evaluate their relationship with these silk suit wearing master manipulators and ask themselves the hard questions. But they probably won’t. They will justify these self-serving acts and declare that God approves of them because these men are His “chosen and anointed”; And also because one day, they also hope to recipients of the low-hanging fruit…and they certainly don’t want the rest of us criticizing or making them feel bad about it when they do.

Over to you.