HOW CLERICS TURN INTO MEDIA MOUTHPIECE, Fr Oluwafemi Victor Orilua, CSSp

HOW CLERICS TURN INTO MEDIA MOUTHPIECE

We live in a world where rumormongers front as journalists. We are resident in a world where gossip usurp the position of journalism.

In this same world, people with questionable characters warm their ways into the hearts of mostly the unassuming as celebrities or influencers. No one cares if their lifestyle is worthy of emulation.

This quest for popularity, sadly, is seen even among men of God. Oftentimes, it is difficult to distinguish a prophet from a media figure because everyone is eager to hear the opinion of the cleric on every issue. And since the public value the words coming from the pulpit, or ordained men of God, they find themselves talking sometimes when they ought to be silent.

This is quite understandable as Clergymen are also human and they may want to speak to encourage the public, so they wouldn’t be termed as insensitive. In the long run, they may tend to jeopardize the stand of God. At this juncture, it becomes such a herculean task knowing when God is talking or if men are actually speaking for themselves.

A lot of clergy unfortunately, are seduced into joining the bandwagon of those who want to be heard at all times even though their views are personal opinions, they make it sound like such inspiration is coming from God.

Nonetheless, there is no space for priests or pastors in the world of frivolities, because the words they carry are eternal. Things of the world, all forms of materialism and mundane things are temporary but God remains the same yesterday, today and forever. We must not force the word of God into accommodating the elements that are trending or in vogue.

God is the one who created the world by his word, we can only use the same word to recreate where his work has been distorted and not to use it to create another world where there is acceptance of things which hitherto are adjudged to be detrimental to the human race.

We must not flow with the new world order which sees nothing wrong with things that add no value to our human existence.

When we are moved by God to address an issue or God mandates us to step into a situation at hand, it is not out of place to react. But it is unwise when we think we must respond to whatever people are saying at every given time.

Moreover, like the prejudiced pharisees, media men and women often approach or wait on renown figures like priests or pastors to give credence to every debate of the day, so as to hear what they have to say on certain issues. In such situations, we must not allow ourselves boxed into a corner or forced to say something. It should not be seen as mandatory to comment in every discourse. We have right to mental reservation.

At times, God speaks in silence. A vivid illustration was when the woman who was caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, he didn’t give an outright reply.(John 8:1-11) And he would not always respond spontaneously or directly to the questions of the hypocrites who wanted to test and to coerce him with indicting questions in order to trap him. (Matthew 22: 33-46)

Such hypocrites are still present today particularly among the media who would have formed their own opinions and reached a conclusion prior to approaching men and women of God for interviews. And because they have access to public space, they often seek to see how they play along into the general thinking of the populace, so as to recruit them into the clique of popular figures or influencers of negative or positive ideals.

Negative ideals are easily imprinted in the minds of the society who crave the permission of religious figures to sin. Some mischievous members of the populace need them to flow along with current moral decadence so as to propel the society into having the freedom to live the way they desire.

We often hear comments such as,
“After all, Reverend Father X said it.”
” Even Pastor Z did not condemn it.”
And some enjoy such social endorsement because they want the applause or recommendation of the crowd or followers.

Interestingly, there is no known prophet who has ever been a messiah in the street. They were people sent by God for special mission. They never strived to be relevant all the time.

As a religious leader, one may be saying what is true, but not speaking the truth. What is true belongs to the category of facts, the realities before us. The truth is that which judges all on the standard of value. It is not an isolated event or particular situation. It is the all encompassing rationale behind our actions put together.

When people embrace the opinions of a religious figure which unknowingly to them might be a calculated ploy to win public attention and gain popularity, the tendency to crown such persons as role models is high. People might forget that some of those views can as well destroy countless souls.

We should be agents of positive and/or constructive change and not destructive elements who want to hold tightly to the rein of popularity rather than the collective good of the people. God’s servants must not allow themselves to be co-opted into such company of attention seekers ab initio.

When servants of God seek to be popular or to be heard all the time, they are simply assuming the position of media opinion leaders and not as mouthpiece of God.

May the Holy Spirit guide us to the truth. May he teach us when to speak that we may not end up as mere social puppets or human activists.

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