The Religious “Conversion” Franchise in Nigeria
Moslem youths have found it very profitable to come to any Church and claim that they are persecuted by their families because they have ‘converted’ to Christianity.
Knowing that they will be given special treatment and will have many churches raising funds to support them and be given comfortable accommodation. As a result many young muslim youths are getting ‘converted’ to Christianity.
Churches are usually more ‘excited’ when a Muslim converts to Christianity than when they get any other convert. These so called converts are pampered and celebrated. Some churches go to the extent of parading these muslim converts to congregations with the aim of showing ‘what the Lord is doing’ and for raising financial support for the converts, especially if they have families.
What use to be kind gestures and show of Christian love has now turned into a large lucrative franchise. Many Muslims are now realising that to claim conversion and persecution generates a life of luxury and care by Christians. Many therefore, especially in Jos, Kaduna, Bauchi and Gombe States, are increasing in this very lucrative business.
There are instances however where risks come with these so called converts. This risk has been experienced especially with the radical fundamental Islamism growing in Nigeria where terrorists scout out churches for attacks and for targeting of individual Christians for assassination as has been reported in Borno with the Boko Haram insurgencies.
Interestingly this franchise is not unique to Christianity. Many Christians, especially in the Southeastern parts of Nigeria, as well as other non-Hausa speaking Christians have ‘converted’ to Islam where they are also celebrated and showcased as the Christian ‘converts’ to Islam. The enjoy the benefits of Pilgrimage to Mecca, additional wives, and belonging to the Umma where if one is not a muslim, he does not get any opportunities in most northern parts of the country or even in the Federal Civil Service.
While it is worth celebrating, churches need to be aware of the growing “conversion’ franchise.