There is an outstanding profile in the New York Times Magazine—be warned its ten pages long—on the incredible explosion in popularity among African-based, anti-gay Pentecostal churches. These evangelicals are gaining a foothold in the United States and Europe, especially in cities with large concentrations of Nigerian immigrants, such as New York City, Chicago, London and Manchester.
One church in particular is the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Pastor Daniel Ajayi-Adeniran, seen above, heads a Bronx congregation.
Africa is the world’s fastest-growing continent and Ajayi-Adeniran belongs to one of its most vigorously expansionary religious movements, a homegrown Pentecostal denomination that is crusading to become a global faith. In the course of just a few decades, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, founded in a Lagos shantytown, has won millions of adherents in Nigeria while building a vast missionary network that stretches into more than 100 nations.
These Africans are making Christianity their own, in ways both subtle and profound. This is evidenced in political debates over subjects like homosexuality, which is scorned throughout the continent, or condom distribution, which—despite the current pope’s opposition—some local Catholic bishops have countenanced as a practical response to AIDS.
American televangelists like T. D. Jakes and Benny Hinn are received like rock stars when they fly into African capitals, where they preach to crowds estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Their African counterparts, meanwhile, are moving in the opposite direction, winning converts in Europe especially. In Kiev, a Nigerian minister leads a predominantly white Pentecostal church that claims a membership of 30,000, including the city’s mayor. Four of the 10 largest megachurches in London are run by Africans. Of all the many new sects, however, none are as organized as the Redeemed Christian Church of God. "I always cite the R.C.C.G. as the best example of a rising church that, probably by the time I die, is going to be a global denomination,"one expert said. "It really is pushing so hard in all possible directions."
The Redeemed Church is in its infancy in the States—"with only around 15,000 active members, most of them Nigerians"—but its goal is to make gradual inroads into among other "members of immigrant groups—other Africans, Caribbeans, Latin Americans, Asians—and then moving on to African-Americans and whites."
Prominent church leaders back Nigeria's cruel attempt to legislate gays out of existence. The Redeemed Church has a zero-tolerance policy on homosexuality in its congregation, and, reportedly encourages members to report the names of fellow members who they believe could be gay. The missionary statement of the Church goes as far as to imply "homosexuality" caused the great Biblical flood. "When God was going to destroy the world in the days of Noah there was so much sin and iniquity. Pleasure, godlessness and homosexuality were the order of the day. In the midst of all these, Noah survived."
Mission from Africa [NYT Magazine]
Some Background ...
State Department Criticizes Jamaica and Nigeria
Nigeria FM: "No Gays or Lesbians" in Nigeria
EU Considers Suspending Aid to Nigeria
Nigerian Legislators Vote to Ban Gay Marriages
EU: Level of Homophobia in Nigeria "Unacceptable"
Nigerian Mob Attacks Gay Activist
Nigerian Lynch Mob Storms Jail
Nigeria Latest 18 Alleged Gays Face Death Penalty
Nigerian Woman Denies "Lesbian Wedding"
Nigerian Lesbian In Hiding After Reported Wedding
Nigeria's Homophobia Threatens Bid for Games
Nigeria One Step Closer to Outlawing Gays
Gay Nigerians Speak Out
Nigeria Prepares to Outlaw Gays