KADUNA RELIGIOUS BILL: A THREAT TO FREEDOM OF WORSHIP & EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM
So much has been said about the Kaduna religious bill, and yet, the brouhaha lingers on. Many social media analyst have spoken in support of the bill while others are diametrically opposed to it. However, if anyone thinks this bill does not seek to infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens to freedom of worship, then such persons should take a clear look at the bill vis-à-vis our constitution, and consult constitutional lawyers, where possible.
But how can one regulate the time for which every Church must conduct its fellowship, programmes or prayers? In the same vein, if one feels that the bill will not affect evangelism, then he/she does not probably know the nitty gritty of evangelism. In the Gospel according to Saint John (chapter 1) where Andrew found Peter and told him about the Messiah was a form of Evangelism called personal evangelism in theological parlance. Same approach was used by the woman that brought the whole city of Samaria to Christ at Jacob’s well (John 4). Philip used same approach, but in the form of crusade evangelism when he evangelised Samaria and cast out evil spirits and made many converts (Acts 8).
Now where do all these fit in in the El-Rufai religious bill? Again, there is an evangelistic approach known as carriage evangelism where the gospel could be preached while on transit. That was the approach Philip used to evangelise the Ethiopian Eunuch in accordance to the leading of the holy Spirit (Acts 8). Church history has it that that singular act of Philip’s evangelising the Eunuch was the gospel gateway to Africa.
Now, what happens if these were during El-Rufai’s religious censorship era and his committee refuse to issue license or permission to undertake such evangelistic outreaches? Over here in southern Kaduna, we were deprived from doing a church planting crusade in 2013 in a District where the District head is a Muslim, we were referred to go see the district head and l went to his house but he had gone to farm. One of his daughters took me and both of us boarded okadas (commercial motorcycles) and went to him at the farm, He then referred us to the paramount traditional ruler for permission. And we were not able to finish all these beurocratic processes at the expected time. So, that crusade was aborted. And this was even at a time when religious censorship law was not in place.
I am fully persuaded that there is no serious pastor, evangelist , gospel preacher or any serious minded believer who knows the intricacies of evangelism as contained in the Great Commission that would lend support to this controversial bill. We shall be making serious mistakes if we think the implementation of the bill, if passed to law, shall be as soft and easy as the government is going about it now. Its a BIG lie!
I have always maintained that we have adequate provisions in the country’s constitution to tackle any form of religious extremism. So why creating new laws that would lead to religious acrimony, intolerance and breed violence? Besides, if anyone says he is making a law for Christians or Muslims in the state, and these people say they are against such law, why will a governor or state assembly be so bent on forcing it down their throat in a democracy?
If the assembly members are truly representatives of their constituents, then this controversial bill can never be allowed to sail through the legislative process. Now, let’s look at it: CAN, JNI, ECWA, SUNNI, DARIKA, LIVING FAITH, SHIITE, BAPTIST etc are all non-profit organisations of equal status registered with the corporate affairs commission of Nigeria. And membership of CAN/JNI are voluntary. Any religious group can choose not to belong.
So, under what law is the state government seeking to subject all religious bodies in the state under the control of CAN/JNI? To be fair to all religious groups and the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria, it would be proper for His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State to rescind his decision to force that bill down the lives of the people in the state which, if it works, could easily be adopted by many state in the north which could be dangerous to the fragile peace we have enjoyed for a while.
Pastor Michael Maikarfi
Vice Chairman, PFN – Sanga Chapter