Until I met an old friend who was trying rather too-hard-to-speak like one international pastor I watch on television, I wasn’t aware that religious overzealousness could, in this day and age, reach such contemptible limits.
The fine young man had taken on a funny foreign accent, making it difficult for one to follow a conversation due to the strange and inaudible manner in which he pronounced and dragged some words. Although I lost almost half of our short discussion—as I kept stumbling on the strange accent—I gathered enough to conclude that he had not been near the said pastor physically nor had he been to any Western African nation where he could have easily been baptised with such an intonation.
Not long before this meeting, I attended a church service where, to my surprise and confusion, nearly all the young men in the church choir or praise team had a haircut similar to the church pastor’s. One could not help noticing how the haircut, which I must admit enhanced the pastor’s looks, messed up the looks of a number of the band boys.
My spiritual attention that Sunday was further diverted by a good number of slim men in the congregation whose sense of dress had taken on a touch of the pastor’s robe-like jacket. While such a jacket fitted the man of God perfectly, one would easily conclude that very few of the slim characters had bothered to consult mirrors before stepping out of their homes, looking like convalescents.
Then there are those who have taken unnecessary trouble to copy religious leaders’ dancing moves or mannerisms, and there is nothing one can do or say to shake it off them no matter how awkward their imitative dance-move may be.
While I am aware that people have the freedom to run their lives in a manner they see fit, I still can’t, for the life of me, grasp why some church members, especially in Pentecostal denominations, take pride in forfeiting their uniqueness as they try to mimic the prophet, apostle, bishop or pastor in almost everything.
Although traditionally, church leaders are accepted as spiritual and administrative church heads, the overzealousness of holding them too high in esteem and awarding them the know-it-all status takes away the beauty of individuality that is crucial for not only the development of a church, but also its members.
Religion that swallows followers’ minds to the extent of suppressing individualism threatens the true meaning of spirituality and embraces a monotony that could threaten diversity in church. For the imitated leader this could be misconstrued as loyalty or a sign of influence on the worshipers, when he or she is, in fact, fanning identity crises that encourage the worship of fellow human beings and kill innovation among the flock.