8 Nigerian Women Talk About Why They Left The Church

September 7, 2021

Younger generations are leaving the church for many reasons. In this article, eight Nigerian women talk about why they stopped going to church. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

woman in church

Tessy, 26

I stopped going to church in April 2021 because the hypocrisy was too much. I heard some things about abuse in my former church. I asked a few people about it and they confirmed that the church was involved in the issue. One day, I was out for drinks with my friends and someone shared a story about abuse in a different church.

I had to come to terms with the fact that the church is not only an enabler but a perpetrator of sexual abuse and the sins they preach against. The worst part for me is that no one is accountable for these crimes. All they do is sweep things under the rug. If it was a regular church member who is caught or even rumoured to be sinning, there’s wouldn’t be any room for forgiveness. The member will be shamed and possibly ousted from the church but somehow they find a way to forgive abuse by church leaders. 

Tobi, 21

My mom is a pastor in the church and in our church, we don’t wear trousers or add extensions to our hair but as a kid, my mom dressed me up in trousers and made my hair with extensions so it became a part of me. One day, when I had grown into a teenager, my mum asked us to stop using hair extensions and wearing trousers because the ministers were complaining. I didn’t listen to her at first until she got suspended because of my hair so I had to stop. 

What was crazy to me was that one of the senior pastors of the church was in my Facebook inbox telling me he likes me. I was 18 and he was married. I reported it to my mom when I was 19 and she took it up. However, they buried the issue and I found out that it was a trend in the church. Some pastors had even impregnated women and assisted in aborting the pregnancies. This is a church that does not condone trousers and suspended my mum twice because I wore trousers. 

I stopped going to church shortly after that. I am a spiritual person and I believe in God but with the church, I don’t know what to believe. 

M, 23

People say that when they go to church, they feel at home, at peace and I can’t relate. I don’t feel anything good when I am in church. I hate the idea of christian supremacy and how people judge you in church. 

I grew up in a Christian home and I always felt like an outsider at christian gatherings.  I’ve never believed what preachers say and I don’t really believe in religion. Eventually, I lost the zeal to keep up with the facade so I stopped going to church in 2015.

IB, 25

Growing up, church was a big part of my life. My mum was in many societies in her church. She used to take us tonight vigil often. I hated waking up early in the morning to go to church but I had no other choice. 

With my mum out of the picture at the university, Sundays became my relaxing days. I would tell myself that I would go for evening mass but throughout my four years in school, I never went. I would go to church when I went home for holidays but after I graduated and moved out, I stopped going altogether.

I used to blame it on being tired but I realised that it was more than that. There was this crossover service I went for and the Catheist said if you would like to have a good new year, come and give something to Jesus. In my mind, I thought, “So if I don’t have money, no good year for me? na wa.” It was a huge turn off for me. When my sister wanted to get married, the church was just billing her up and down. She had to pay choristers, pay to get her banns of marriage read in the church, pay the alter servants among others. It was insane to me. 

Also, there was no point in leaving The Catholic Church to join another church because all of them have their problems. In some churches, they prioritize their wealthy members more than the poor ones. In other churches, fashion is the priority.  hate the stress of getting ready for church, depriving myself of sleeping for night vigil, denying myself of food because I want to fast. To me, there are healthy ways to worship God. I would rather go on my knees and pray in my house. 

Right now, I have a personal relationship with God. A lot of people argue that this is not right but it’s what I want for myself. I don’t cast and bind with fire but I know God hears my prayers. God is everywhere, if he can be in the building, he can be in my house too. 

Elle, 23 

I have always felt disconnected from God and the church since I was a child. I always wished I was doing something else instead of being in church. I never found comfort in the presence of God. 

When I was in JS 2, my parents decided to stop going to church because they had to work on weekends. That was the best thing to happen to me. I haven’t gone back to church since then. 

Reedah, 21

I believe in God but I don’t believe in religion. I am a radical feminist and there are a lot of things I don’t think are necessary in the bible. I also hate how hypocritical religious people are. They pick the parts of the religion they want and judge people who decide against it all. I haven’t been to church this semester. It’s funny because I used to be an extremist Christian. Since that changed, my life has become peaceful. I will continue to treat everyone with love and respect but I am done with church.

Jumoke, 25

I went to a nonreligious secondary school so I wasn’t a church person until university. In 300 level, I got tired of people around me complaining I didn’t go to church plus I met this pastor that supposedly saw a vision of my life. He said I was dating a married man but the man was actually sexually harassing me. The pastor said that the man’s wife had cursed me and that was how I became religious. I felt guilty and fell into religion.

In law school, I was super religious but as I grew older, I realised I was queer and the math stopped mathing. In 2017, I met a pastor that made me try to pray the gay away. She said she used to be a lesbian but God saved her and she is now married. it didn’t stick. By 2018, I met more queer people and I started to think of things differently. Now, I have no reason to believe in religion.

Ray, 20

I may believe in God but I don’t believe in religion. I don’t think random people can write books that reflect the heart of God. I’m not even sure if God exists but I have chosen to leave it at that. I felt ridiculous going to church and I just stopped. Maybe one day, I’ll go back but only because I miss praise and worship. The drummers are so good.

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Mariam Sule

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