PROLIFERATION OF CHURCHES IN NIGERIA AND INCREASE IN MORAL DECADENCE IN THE SOCIETY
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Proliferation of Churches describes the multiplicity of Christian denominations. It is a feature most notable in Nigerian Christianity. With the close of the earliest Catholic Missionary work (1450-1750), described by some scholars as a failure, the environment was set for modern missionary activities. By the end of the 19th century only six foreign missionary establishments were fully functional in Nigeria.
Thomas Birch Freeman (24th September 1842), Methodist Missionary; Henry Townsend (December 1842), Church Missionary Society Hope Waddell (April 10, 1846), Church of Scotland Mission (Presbyterian) Thomas J. Bowen (1850), Baptist Missionary Father Lutz (5th December 1885), Holy Ghost Fathers Samuel Bill (1887), Qua Iboe Mission
For about sixty years only six foreign missionary extractions were on record in Nigeria. From the 1960s African initiative in the missionary work became very obvious and aggressive with the Aladura Movement and the Scripture Union as key protagonists. The activities of the Faith Tabernacle (1928), Apostolic Church (1931) and Assemblies of God Church (1932) were very skeletal, compared to the great zeal and missionary aggression of 1970s. Though Bill Roberts had started the activities of the Scripture Union in Nigeria in the 1960s it was after the Civil War that the Evangelical aggression gave rise to proliferation of Churches. Poverty and illiteracy had forced many people to seek divine intervention beyond the formal and nominal approach of the Mainline Churches. The Civil War had left many people homeless and poor. Majority of the people resorted to prolonged prayer and fasting as well as speaking in tongues beyond the conventional written prayers of the missionaries. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, healing and other forms of miracles became pronounced. Gradually, every prayer warrior became Church founder, as thousands of people needed solution to myriads of life puzzles brought about by the hardship of the Civil war. The return of the southerners to northern Nigeria after the Nigeria Civil War in 1970 influenced the spread of churches (Velon, 2008:11). Meanwhile, various religions and ministries encouraged the formation of students’ fellowship groups in universities and these became the breeding ground for leaders. According to Meeking, (2003:90) external influences from Europe and America fed into this pattern, providing theological direction and funds for new strategies. For other parts of Africa, Nigeria precisely, the proliferation wind blew constinuously till the fire convention in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1985, acquiring a different shape and character, from the preceding era. Between 1985 and 1995, proliferation movement blossomed into complex varieties (Alaribe, 2006:78). In the enlarged scale and adoption of modern strategies, European/American influence became more pronounced. Even so, the originators continued to be African imitating foreigners eclectically producing foreign theologies but transforming these for immediate contextual purposes. With the question of national development it became very necessary to define the part that proliferation of Churches has played. It cannot be argued that the honesty and commitment of the early Church founders at the commencement of proliferation of Churches has ebbed very fast. It was a period when sincerity and chastity were celebrated as Christian virtues. With the accompany prosperity preaching it has become very difficult to see the selflessness of Christian missionaries. Interest is mostly on acquisition of wealth and power. It must be noted that development, according to Balogun (2008:175), is the act, process or residual advancement or growth through progressive changes in technological, scientific, political, social, economic and religious advancement leading to the better conditions of living. Changes occur and can be seen or observed in all human endeavours. Where exploitation and economic impoverishment of members by preachers become the order of the day in the formation and proliferation of Churches questions have to be raised regarding the essence of this proliferation of Churches in Nigeria.
The issue of moral decadent in our society is a thing that is needed to be looked into. Many things have gone wrong, since no one sees the reason to be upright in action at all times, in all places and in all circumstances. The continuing degeneration of personal virtue among the world’s societies seems to be emerging as the single-most urgent issue of our time. Until recent years, churches had since deferred from their original roles in morality, though many outside the church continued political pressure to move churches either towards or away from a value oriented. This posse’s questions and ideas about the appropriate approach to learning of morality in the society today. (Oviawe, 2012).
Oviawe, (2012) opined that moral and morale are polite, decent and appropriate way of portraying ourselves in our duties, home and society. It is a socially acceptable manner of life. It can also be referred to as the principle of right and wrong or decorum. Our parents and ancestors practices moral and morale to the core and had h9igh regards of them. They also handed them to us with diligence. At that time they paid particular attention to the manner of sitting, walking, talking, greeting, eating, principle of right and wrong, discipline and commitment in everything they did and the way they did it. They were conscientious about their duties, keeping to the rules and regulations related to them. They saw this as maintaining their own dignity and respect for themselves and others. They made sure that everybody was well brought up.
BERKOWITZ, MARVIN W., and OSER, FRITZ, eds. (1985) opined that in the past our society had a high sense of respect, determination and diligence to work. Today the sense of awe, respect, determination, and diligence to work is gradually fading away. This they say is obvious in the way people do things carelessly. We are all aware of how much our society is bereaved of morality this day. There is no doubt that things are falling apart many people behave as if there is no need for decency and diligence for things that matter. Thee is an increase in moral, social and cultural decadence. Children seem to be losing their innocence. As a result so many young people and even children tend to become slaves to fashions and modern things that destroys them. They parade themselves with arrogance, cultism, vandalism, and great lack of morals. The youths and children are now like sheep without a shepherd. They can no longer concentrate or remain focused.
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Everyone wants to be successful, everyone wants to be healthy, happy and rich, but most people are not willing to pay the price. Occasionally, they may be willing to pay part of the price, but they are not willing to pay the whole price. They always have some excuses or rationalizations to not discipline themselves to do everything that they need to do to achieve their goal.
The problem in our society today is the high moral decadence in the society, as the churches, parents and tutors etc have failed in their role of moral education. Hence this study intends to investigate the proliferation of churches in Nigeria and increase in moral decadence in the society.
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to examine the extent to which moral decadence have eaten deep into our Nigeria society today. And to proffer some solutions on how the problems of moral decadence can be reduced.
- Lack of moral education a cause of moral decadence?
- Lack of parental care a cause of moral decadence?
- Discipline in churches a means of eradicating moral decadence?
- High rate of divorce in Nigeria a cause of moral decadence?
- Truancy in school a cause of moral decadence?
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The research is important because it teaches us the relationship between church and morality. It will serve as a documents that can be referred to in order to clear some doubt about the issue of moral decadence.
It will serve as documents that will enlighten the Christian leaders on the need to embark on teaching of morality in churches.
Finally, the study will also enlighten the public on the causes of moral decadence and how to find a lasting solutions to such a problem.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is designed to investigate into the proliferation of church in Nigeria and increase in moral decadence in the society. The study is restricted to the Nigeria society
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