The Church is Growing. Corruption is Growing
The title “Church is growing, Corruption is growing” evinces a fundamental paradox.
While the Church has registered a remarkable growth in the sub-Saharan Africa over the last century, corruption has also emerged as a disturbing aspect of the public life. The question is whether these are parallel developments or they are linked somehow.
Admittedly, Christian values and moral discourses have become part of the African culture. Yet their rooted-ness in the African psyche – to use the Biblical parlance – is shallow. Tales of corruption within and outside the church institutions abound. Chinua Achebe, the renowned Nigeria writer, once said: “Nigerians are corrupt because the system under which they live today makes corruption easy and profitable.” This observation is largely true of the rest of the sub-Saharan Africa. Transparency International (TI) – polemics over its methods apart – has consistently rated the African countries among the most corrupt on earth.
Still the contention “Church is growing, Corruption is growing” is problematic. It evokes ‘a cause-effect’ relationship between the growth of the church and growth of corruption in Africa. A keen observer, however, will not miss the gap between the gospel injunction to spread the Kingdom of God seen as one of justice and love and the reality of evil embodied in corruption prevalent today in Africa. The fact that Christian institutions and personalities have been a dominant aspect of the post-colonial African landscape, notwithstanding, corruption has remained a corrosive influence and a factor in the underdevelopment matrix.
Growth of the church refers to two things: on the one hand there is an increase in the actual number of people professing to be Christians in Africa. And on the other, there is an increase in the number of ‘churches’ and other institutions labelled "Christian". At least one country, Zambia has been declared a Christian country. And Catholics as well as the mainstream Protestant churches - the Lutherans and the Anglicans - have witnessed growth in numbers. There is also a veritable increase in the number of people belonging to the Pentecostal churches in the continent.