Has the church become a shortcut to riches?

It has not been in my custom to question the work of men of the cloth however, the recent exposes of some of the shenanigans of several “men of God” has led to this piece.

It is now common to wake up to an outrageous headline about a priest having done something negative worth talking about, ranging from rape, indecent assault, fraud, child maintenance issues and being found in the wrong places such as night spots with female company.

Hardly a week passes without a man of the cloth being hauled before the courts of law to answer to criminal or civil charges and this web seems to be catching up with both popular as well as little known priests and pastors. And the recent expose of steamy messages and pictures between a Chimanimani Catholic priest and a nun does nothing but, add damage to the already dented reputation of the church.

All these unscrupulous occurrences have led to questions of whether being a pastor or getting involved in church business has become a shortcut to riches in these turbulent economic times. In recent years, stories of people who rise from rages to riches in a short period of time after starting churches have become common.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing an economic meltdown for the past decade which has seen the country experience a high level of unemployment that has been estimated as being over 90%. This has reportedly led to some believing that the church has become a source of income.

Many churches have mushroomed in the various suburbs across Zimbabwe with some starting with as few members as five. Some people in both high and low density suburbs have also resorted to putting sheds at their homesteads to act as venues for their churches.

The preaching of the ‘prosperity gospel’ has also become the order of the day. According to some analysts, prosperity gospel is associated with places or countries which are experiencing tough economic times and considering Zimbabwe’s situation, this is not a coincidence as many people are now seeking economic prosperity through spiritual means.

In the face of growing competition for followers, most church leaders in the country are now involved in massive promotional campaigns ranging from flyers, posters, radio adverts, television adverts, books and online campaigns. Some have argued that this was being done in the best interests of spreading the gospel but, other critics have raised questions over some of the promotional campaigns.

Lastly, when it comes to lifestyle, most affluent men of the cloth in Zimbabwe are now well known for their rich tastes for food, cars as well as homes. However, it is worth noting that not only Zimbabwean priests have been making headlines as the whole of last week saw international news being dominated by the story of a televangelist who is asking his congregation for a $65 million donation to buy a private jet.

So really has the church become a shortcut to riches?

Photo credit: www.betweentwocultures.com

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