dollhouse-silverbird-abuja

Stop Molesting Me with Your Religion

Back in January, I was at Silverbird when I decided to pop into this boutique on the third floor called Dollhouse. The store was practically empty and apart from the cashier, sales attendant, and manager, I was the only customer.

I don’t mind being ignored when I go shopping because I find sales attendants tend to be a little pushy and ruin my shopping experience more often than not, so I was happy that they let me peruse in peace … or so I thought.

Just when I was homing in on a yellow jewel encrusted jacket, the sales attendant sidled up to me and tried to hand me a flier. Thinking it was for a promotion or sale they were doing, I reached for it and rapidly recoiled as the words “I want to invite you to my church..” slipped from her lips.

Why oh why do Nigerians think this is okay? It’s almost as if they think religion is such an untouchable topic that you will not dare refuse and must bow to their wishes. It seems there isn’t anywhere you can go in this country and be safe from religious fanatics bent on thrusting their religion unsolicited into your every experience, and using it as a weapon to assault you.

I gave the sales girl a firm “No thank you, I’m here to shop!” and turned back to the jacket, expecting it to end there.

Instead of going away, she broke into an angry whine.

“Why can’t you take it? I am inviting you to my church! Even if you don’t want to come, you don’t have to reject my church flier”

Seriously? Is this girl for real?

I looked around waiting for the other two ladies to say something, but instead of calling off their inappropriate sales girl, the cashier and the manager joined in.

“Aunty, you can just take the flier nau, she’s inviting you to her church, why can’t you collect it? Or are you a Muslim?”

So the only way to escape from a Christian assault is to claim I’m a Muslim? If I say I’m a traditional worshiper nko? Everyone knows that would only make them intensify their efforts since Nigerian Muslims and Christians shout all day about religious discrimination but ROUTINELY trample on the rights of traditional believers to even exist.

I was so disgusted by the behaviour of the shop employees that I abandoned the jacket and walked out. But not before giving them the rant of their lives about how they were employed to assist customers purchasing clothes, not turn the shop that their employer is spending so much money on (and it’s a king’s ransom in rent they pay at Silverbird; at least a couple hundred dollars per square metre) into an evangelical platform for their church.

Personally, if I had a shop I wouldn’t tolerate such rubbish. If I see so much as a single church, mosque, or non-shop flier in the store, you are OUT! And to harass, argue with, and molest customers with your religion? Unthinkable!

But there you have it. It happens in Nigeria every day.



There are 45 comments

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  1. Ona

    Loool..I’m telling you Sugabelly..it’s ridiculous. That’s how my landlady made making me and my boyfriend attend church regularly her personal mission. She has long since given up of course..lol.. Hope you’re doing good?

    • sugabelly

      OMG!! She made you guys attend church?!?! Does she live there with you guys? That is crazy! I would tell her flat out that it is none of her business. Wow, some people just cannot mind their business.

      I’m good! We need to hang out!!!

      • Ona

        Lool..well she didn’t succeed in physically dragging us to church. I’m much too stubborn for that.

        Glad you’re doing good. As for hanging out, we def should. I’m sure we can work something out between ourselves..

  2. ninefools

    luck for me i dont go the the mall often, but you know the roads and streets are not safe too.. everywhere you walk, someone is just waiting to force a flier into ur hands…

    • sugabelly

      I’ve been accosted just about everywhere you can think of. And heavens forbid if you refuse to take their church flier or gasp! Tell them you don’t go to church.

      They will follow you and harass you to the ends of the earth.

  3. cosmicyoruba

    I was on a plane to Lagos and this lady seated beside me says hi, and I respond in kind. The next thing it is “what church do you go to?” and it just went downhill from there when I told her than I am not Christian. For the entire flight from Lagos to Abuja, she was preaching to me, asking me to come to her church, saying that she hoped I would be “saved” before I got married. Like she seemed like a nice person and tbh her other gist was sweet, but when she brought up her church I just blanked out.

    I don’t think proselytizing is unique to Nigeria, I was basically coerced into attending a church service while I was a student in the UK by a friend from the Christian Student’s Union (who could not be my friend without preaching the word to me). Such an invasion of my personal space is a no-no.

    • sugabelly

      Oh my goodness HOW AWFUL!

      I would have reported her to the flight attendant and asked to be bumped to another seat, preferably in a higher class for my pain and suffering.

      Before Loyola I used to have a CRK teacher that would tell us that all the Muslim students are going to hell, and tell us the story of her “good” Muslim student who renounced Islam and converted to Christianity, so now she is sure he is going to heaven.

  4. Adura Ojo

    Haba, Sugabelly!
    Collect the flier na. collect it o. don’t you know that flier is your ticket to everlasting zion? collect it o. na happiness token. I can just picture all of dem saying collect it na aunty, collect the flier na. lol.

  5. Elizabeth Ajiyemi

    Lol when a lady from my church found out that my fiance .. soon to be husband… Wasn’t a Christian annnd an hatist (naija accent) *read atheist, she nearly collapsed!!
    The communication between the two of them is still strained till today- if they even speak to each other at all.
    Plus we have a daughter who looks the spitting image of him…
    She also doesn’t like white men. He’s white.

    Its all quite hilarious really!!

    • yemitula

      @Elizabeth, I must confess, this case is extreme. There are extremists out there. But a young lady armed with a flier is the better way, and instead of crucifying them, we should encourage them. By, ‘encourage’, I don’t necessarily mean, “accept”. I just think it’s better for your church sister to meet your fiance and give him a flier – and show some love (of course that’s what even Jesus would do), rather than just hate the guy cos he’s an atheist!

      • sugabelly

        No, we SHOULD NOT encourage people who go about harassing innocent civilians by forcing their religion down their throats without permission.

        These same Christians will be very upset if Sango worshippers started following them around with flyers saying Jehovah is fake, Jesus is fake, and Amadioha is going to strike all of you down for worshipping a fake sky god.

        See?

        And what right do you have to try and proselytize an atheist? Why can’t you respect their choice to not believe in God just as they are respecting your choice to believe in the God of your religion?

        • yemitula

          There’s a difference between preaching to you in love and preaching with condemnation. BIG Difference. And, course, I’ve sat down and discussed with atheists trying to show me why they believe there is no God, I wouldn’t mind a Sango worshiper preaching to me also. Whether we like it or not, people will put forward their beliefs, whether directly or indirectly. Some don’t come to me directly, but via movies, music and other media, on a daily basis, they tell me God does not exist, I can’t be angry at them for that… I love them infact!

          • sugabelly

            Nobody cares whether you are preaching in love, condemnation or like. You are infringing on someone’s freedom FROM religion without permission.

            Imagine if instead of preaching the word of God you went around saying and handing out flyers saying “I like you and I want to have sex with you”

            Someone would call the police and you would be arrested for Stalking.

            Just because you are stalking and harassing someone in the name of religion doesn’t make it okay.

    • sugabelly

      Exactly, what right do they have to do this in their place of work while they are supposed to be working?

      Isn’t that being dishonest? They are cheating their employer out of money in the name of doing the work of God!

      • Rexie

        Without making any assumptions, I believe it was the harsh response you got to rejecting the flyer that set you off, correct? I believe their actions were amiss, especially as you were a potential customer for a business that benefits their livelihood. Would I have collected the flyer? Probably. But not before I gave a mini-lecture on proper business etiquette. Now that I think about it, depending on what day of the week, or if I had eaten, I might have said no too, lol. Is there anything wrong with you turning down the flyer? Most definitely not.

        I have found that there is a time and place for everything, and while I won’t go as far as denouncing the action of witnessing, I find her technique to be highly ineffective. Most times, people who listen or oblige such requests are those with whom a connection (or common ground) has been established. You were there to shop. All you wanted was your yellow jewel-encrusted jacket (it sucks you didn’t get it!). She had an ulterior motive, which carried with it a 10% (or less) success rate, which was further reduced by her belligerence.

        With that being said, I also find that people more uncomfortable when being approached on a religious matter than say, entertainment.

        • yemitula

          Your last paragraph says it all. It gets me thinking, is it because we are not really sure about our religions or what? It’s like we are always guarding our “truths” so much we are scared even getting a glimpse of someone else’s might knock us off our perch. I’m a Christian but I like to hear, read and watch about as many religions as possible. My experience, it has kind of helped me to reinforce instead of weakening my beliefs. Maybe it would have a different effect on others sha… people are made in different ways

  6. Tolu

    I completely agree. They look at me like I’m the devil when I refuse to take the fliers. We have used religion to cover so many sins in this country we now longer see the plain truth in front of us. When people say we are very moral and ethical people I just laugh, because truth be told of Jesus came to Nigeria today, many of us would not recognize him. If God Himself came down from heaven, we would see He doesn’t resemble the God we know and have created for ourselves.

  7. yemitula

    Hi Sugarbelly. I respect your opinion on this, but I just have to disagree.

    From your writeup, you seen to consider it a normal thing for the salesgirl to have brought you a flier for a “promotion or sale” but it offends you that she brought you a church flier. It seems you have a selective irritation for anything God or religion then. I agree that people shouldn’t take it too far with their preaching and proselyting, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with someone introducing something he/she believes can be beneficial to you. The person has the right to make the advance, you have the right to say NO. That’s why there are other humans on earth, people will keeping having stuff they do or believe in and it’s normal human behaviour to want to share it with someone else. We get advances for stuff everyday, we see, hear and read adverts everyday and we don’t feel offended, but once it’s religion – we go ballistic! Why?

    Maybe christians should stop preaching, at least some other folks don’t distribute fliers, they simply detonate a bomb or try to take over the government so that they can control everything from the websites you can visit down to the very clothes you wear on your skin. This kind of writeup showcases the kind of human behaviour that probably made some religious leaders believe force is the only way. By the way, I totally disagree with the use of force/violence to advance religion.

    Next time you get a church flier, maybe you could just close your eyes and imagine it’s a boy trying to give you a promo flier and say NO politely. They have the right to distribute flier the same way you have the right to own and publicize this blog!

    Yes, I’m a Nigerian Christian who believe the Ifa guy has the right to worship Ifa, the muslim has the right to his religion and the atheist has the right to NOT believe in God – Even the Gay/Lesbian peeps have the right to be homosexual, yet it won’t stop me from preaching to them, I have the right to do so and they have the right to say NO.

    Please, try not to criminalize religion… we can’t afford to go back to the days when millions of christians were slaughtered for harmless preaching!

    And Yes, I still think you need Jesus if you are not yet born-again. 🙂

    • sugabelly

      You are making A LOT of assumptions about my beliefs based on this post.

      And I DID say no politely, and what did I get in return? An attack from a trio of rabid Christians, incensed that I should dare to turn down their holy flier.

      Christians DO NOT have the right to distribute church fliers inside a CLOTHING SHOP. If it was a Church, no problem, if it is on the street, no problem, but you cannot come inside a place that already has a clearly designated use, and start perverting its use to spread your religion.

      Is it because they did this inside a shop?

      What if they had come into a movie theatre while the movie was going on and started distributing their fliers, aren’t they disturbing people trying to watch a movie?

      And you are very mistaken to think that preaching is “harmless”.

      “Harmless” preaching is the reason millions and millions of humans have died for thousands of years because people cannot respect the right of other people who DO NOT WANT TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR RELIGION and ARE NOT INTERESTED.

      Even when those people say “No thank you, I am not interested” before you know it turns into a “by force” matter.

      And the most hypocritical thing is that if you do to them even a fraction of what all you so called religious people do to others, they start crying “religious persecution! End times! Persecuting God’s chosen people!”

      Everyone has the right to live their lives free of harassment, religious or otherwise.

      From a Catholic. (Meaning I am more Christian than you, since we were the ones who FOUNDED THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH)

      • yemitula

        lol…. I’m glad you are more christian than me.

        I understand your sentiments, I’m just saying, please don’t single out christians for Christ’s sake! Everybody disturbs us with stuff everyday. At silverbird cinemas, like 5 mins of my time is wasted showing me unnecessary commercials before the movie starts (I just imagine if it’s a church commercial… hell would be let loose I’m sure). So it’s nothing extraordinary. I think we just get too sentimental about it cos it’s religious. We are too sentimental about religion, that’s why preaching seems like disturbance. Everyday, you go out (or sit in front of your TV, or on the internet) for one thing, and you get other things thrown in your face. The irony is that it’s our of of all these “disturbances” that we usually get what we need (that we probably were not looking for).

        I agree with you, there are extremes… some people are extremists wrt the way they go about getting their stuff in our faces (religious and otherwise) and we live with it everyday. As long as it isn’t violent, I believe we can tolerate it. Else we ourselves would be taking away someone else’s right, just because we want to enforce our own.

        • sugabelly

          I didn’t single out Christians. The people who did this to me were Christians, so I can’t help talking about them in this post.

          And I don’t think you have the right to preach to someone against their will.

          • yemitula

            OK SugarBelly… of course we can agree to disagree. I like your blog anyway – I like people who say what’s on their mind, whether people like it or not – I like to see what other people who think otherwise are thinking, kind of continually helps me to put my opinions to the acid test. 🙂 Nice job

  8. HoneyDame

    I dont know… I just dont know.. A person says “no” to an offer…..u take it upon yourself to harass her into taking it….For Pete’s sake, her primary assignment in that place at that time was to serve customers…..as far as the store’s products are concerned. She should have let you finish making your purchase or something. It really annoys me when stuff like this happen to be honest. My co-workers know when and when not to introduce religion into our discussions, but what do I know?!

  9. Jeremiah Iyamabo

    @Sugabelly: as always, your post is very precise!

    Trying very desperately to share the serenity of an evening with a friend, I suffered a very similar experience. A very nice young man approached and tried to poach us into his congregation. We told him we were just at that joint to share a drink and spend time! Then he tried to leave us with a flier! My very polite friend tried to make an economic argument as to why it would be a waste of his very limited resources (beautifully printed fliers) if he did so – since I had already assured the Preacher man that we were not going to take one look at it. Yet, the Preacher man chose to leave the fliers behind. And that is exactly what happened – we didn’t touch them! As the same God-given evening breeze worked its magic on our bodies and senses, it did not fail to ferry with it, the said fliers and splatter them so recklessly along the roadside. A waste of resources! A divine intervention!

    Even though the matter and argument by Yemitula seems to have been laid to rest, I cannot help but mention how wrong and inappropriate it is to believe that people (of any religion) have the right to advance their religious messages to others – either by means of preaching or distributing fliers, etc. And to draw a comparison with what salesmen do and what advert placements try to achieve is an abuse of intellect since religion and commerce are two worlds apart. Unless of course, we want to delve into the argument that in Nigeria (I cannot speak for other parts of the world) Protestantism is really all about commerce. Others have said this! They are not my words! But can one really afford to totally dismiss the position? Yet that is only a close kin of the present concern – not the concern itself!

    So let’s be real and careful! If we take a critical look at this behavioural dimension, are we not heading towards another hegemony – one of how we MUST conduct ourselves – should we be approached by a bearer of any religious message? And this is where the comparison with advertisements and salesmen disintegrates. While we have every right to shun/block advertisements, treat the salesman and his offering with disdain; while State laws protect us from advertisers putting their messages in our faces, does the new protestant-hegemonic not command us to “at least” conceive/accept the message/offering in the first instance? – as if to say, “after all we are right, you are wrong”. Is that not the language of forceful encroachment, intolerance and fanatism?

    To reverse the order, I am convinced we must first accept that as a nation, we have become religious fanatics! We are fanatics to the extent that we do not even realise that our very actions and behaviours describe the etymology of the word. It is the reason the blogger and her audience have had to suffer/endure practically identical yet diverse experiences. And this fanatism cuts across – at least – the two main religions of Christianity and Islam. Secondly, we must accept that within each religion, fanatical tendencies shrouded in religion, are constructed by dominant in-groups. These tendencies prey on other members and forces them to conform to maladjusted standards that deviate from the essence of the religion itself. The alternative is to label flouting members such indignities as: “rebels”, “outlaws” and “hell-destined sinners”.

  10. SUMPTUOUS

    Great read. The comment section was equally as insightful. We all get religiously harassed, most of us just take the easy route. Collect flier, smile politely and nod our heads and usually the fliers don’t get home with us but everyone is happy that way. I think.

  11. King of Bongo

    It appears that swelling the size of their congregation is what most ‘Christians’ (read churchgoers) are really about. Almost every other day I get someone handing me a flier, but I can’t seem to recall when someone actually sat me down for some good ole message of salvation. That’s one of the ways you know who a child of God is; a true Christian will invite you to Christ, not to church. It appears that many ‘Christians’ hardly do that anymore. Of course, there’s the exception of special church programmes.

  12. Ginger

    Where do i start? poor customer service/etiquette, badgering the customer, not respecting individual space/wishes, religious zealotry., smh.

    A different pov, maybe this salesgiirl is confusing a rejection of the flier as a rejection of self thus the belligerence. What do i know though, I’m no psychologist.

    And it still doesnt make it right.

  13. Sir Farouk

    I absolutely agree, if I wasnt typing from my tablet i would write an epistle about how pushy and annoying Nigerianscan be about religion. Imagine if you said you were an atheist or agnostic, nne they wont let you rest. I was in 9 month residential training program and my neighbor thought it appropriate to wake up at 3am to be singing and shoutingall inthe name of worshipping God. After a while I retaliated by getting a speaker and watching my porn on a loud volume. He invited me to church time without number and it would confuse him how well I knew the Bible. Oh well.

    • sugabelly

      OMG I had a roommate like this, only she was Muslim. She used to stay up ALL NIGHT playing quran recitations at the loudest volume. And any time I told her to turn the volume down, she started shouting religious discrimination. I was so glad when she moved out.

  14. perosoye

    I quite understand how you feel. I tell them that I wont collect the flier and the better tell me what is in it as it will turn into garbage for me. \then they tell me to collect and that I will throw it when they are gone to which i rebuke saying it is a waste of their money and that they should give it to someone that will appreciate it. Then after winning that battle and it comes to the end along with another battle which is; ‘will you come?’ ‘no’ and they start all over again. I tell them it is theirs to do the inviting and mine to come or not and my decision is that I am not coming. Some people are of the opinion that I should tell them I will come or think about it but I can’t do such. I tell them point blank and if i am not in the mood (which is most of the time) I match them rant for rant and come out the victor. What rubbish, I don’t go about disturbing people so no one should disturb me. I am a christian with my own church so why do you have to invite me to yours? And they promise that I will enjoy it, did I tell them that I am not enjoying already? Hia!

  15. Felix Okoli

    I have an idea. You should replay this scene in a short video with you as the lead actress with other actors and you can upload it to YouTube. I’m sure the video will get a lot of hits. You could title it something like “Harassed by Church people”. It’s the common thing most Nigerians can identify with – Being given fliers to attend church services. It’s the normal thing in Southern Nigeria where there is a lot of Christian evangelism.

  16. udy

    At least you were in a shop, my own experience was on my way back from church, my neighbour sees me and says ‘hi, welcome. What church do you add and I reply ‘Anglican’ and then he goes ‘ next sunday I will invite you to my church ‘coza’. Like My own church is trash and he’s is only where the holy spirit is.

  17. Tee

    She invited you to church you made it such a big deal…now you are harassing all Nigerians with your “rape” story, that isn’t a big deal right. Why should we listen? Maybe if you had gone to her church you would have learnt something called “forgiveness”. You were in love in Mustapha, you threw yourself cheaply at him and his brothers, he didn’t reciprocate the love (he released all the emails you sent him). You looking for revenge through Nigerians..that is a very bad thing to do. Accept Christ and learn to forgive and move on.


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