This weekend, it was a time of bashing for churches, both orthodox and Pentecostal, over the commercialisation of funerals, which ordinarily should be a time of sorrow and the offering of condolences to the bereaved.
Writing on her Facebook wall, Maero Ozako, a Lagos-based writer and newspaper columnist, expressed shock over the new practice by some orthodox churches to charge as much as half a million naira before they agree to bury a dead member.
“I have asked…Oh, it is true that when you lose any parent or relative who were members of the orthodox churches, you are called to a meeting where you are given a levy, as low as 500k…No pay, no burial. We really should be ashamed,” she wrote yesterday.
Elsewhere on some of the Yahoo! communities, members were expressing outrage over the commercialisation of funerals by the Pentecostal churches. The issue became topical due to what happened during the funeral of Nigeria’s late number two man, Rear Admiral Mike Akhigbe (retd.).
Vin Modebelu, writing from email@example.com, brought the issue before members of firstname.lastname@example.org, writing:
“Bishop collect monies from mourners..!!!!
“It pains me to point out that some of these churches have gone to far on money affairs.
the Funeral of Gen Ahigbe….still going on..but a few minutes ago…on NTA TV..live.
People got up …
“Headed to the front to drop HUGE monies in the front.
“The sad part..is that they were busy navigating around the CASKET making left to bend down and drop off their heavy loads .
“Crowding out the Casket….for people to see them.
“The BIG boys of Nigeria are all there ..seeing all these things.
“I think these bishops and church elders must be corrected on this hunt for monies when ever the see the opportunity
“They gave communion around the casket.
“Funeral Service should be Funeral service…nothing more..nothing less.
“It is about the dead person in front of them.
“Not a Fund raising services.
“I do not think that I am the only person who saw this dismay.
“This is more than a state funeral and the Bishop saw the window to collect monies from mourners ..!!!!
“This is very sad.
“They say that they need the monies to expand.
“They buy jets to do it.
“they build houses and buy great ones in places were the poor are contributing to their riches.
“We should stop contributing that much.”
Responding to the post, Ezeana Igirigi Achusim, wrote from email@example.com, saying: “But who are the guys unloading the cash? Their conscience could be bothering them. And they really believe that the good Lord will forgive them all their sins if they unloaded part of their loot the first chance they get to be in any church under any circumstances. In other words, they were performing sacrifices and the church cannot stop them.
“Under some domestic religious practices I know of, the priest will not accept a sacrifice unless the sucker explained why. And the first demand by the priest would be how to make full restitution to the victim. But the imported religion? They grab the loot and bless the looter and forget the victims. And the looter goes out to loot some more so he can give more to the bishop so all can be forgiven so he can loot some more. It is a mind game.”
On his part, Abraham Madu (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote: “I mourn for what we as a race have become. I mourn the slow manner we love money than giving respect to the dead in our society. But then I stop mourning because death is equalizer, their days will come. What goes up, must come down.”