Nigerian Christianity and Support for Donald Trump

Poju Oyemade, a popular Nigerian preacher, took to Twitter on the morning of 9 November to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory; he framed it as a triumph for Christian faith. Anyone close to Nigerian Christian conversations would be familiar with the thoughts Oyemade expressed. Here’s his brief Twitter essay:

The current president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Supo Ayokunle, is a Baptist minister, a demonination created by the efforts of American missionaries of the Southern Baptist Convention. While the relationship between the older demoninations in Nigerian Christianity and American republican evangelical identity might be old and waning, the Nigerian Pentecostal movement is more eager to embrace its American roots. American ministers like Mike Murdoch are routinely invited to churches in Nigeria and given a place of honour.

Quick adoption of dogma, coupled with a lack of engagement with the core of American identity beyond that which is presented in the media—America the beautiful—means whatever these American evangelicals say, the Nigerian Christian is eager to adopt. Oyemade was, for instance, right in saying American evangelicals were united in their support for Trump. What he doesn’t account for is that the support was mainly from over 80 percent of White Evangelicals, the demographic that has the luxury of overlooking Trump’s racist remarks while supporting him. If they were more attuned to the workings of American racism, like non-white evangelicals are, perhaps this support wouldn’t be as forthcoming.

The other reason for the support is the shared cultural values of American evangelicals and Nigerian Christians: criminalisation of abortion, restriction of LGBTQ rights, increasing Islamophobia, etc. The Nigerian Christian has more in common with the alt-right that it does with the Reagan-styled conservatism of traditional republicans. Even the Pope can’t convince many here that the way of Trump isn’t the way of the faith. They already count Pope Francis’s kindness and eagerness to embrace all as a mark of a lack of faith.

There’s a belief among many Nigerian Christians that America has lost its way due to the increased liberalism of the Obama years. There’s also a feeling that it’s up to disciples of the American faith, like Nigeria, to restore her to America the beautiful, God’s own country. Of course to imagine America as a country that has been historically beautiful is to be ignorant of, or to deny its racist past and present, and its murderous imperialistic missions around the world.

God bless America, hails the Nigerian Christian, and it seems Trump’s win is a confirmation of this blessing—a rescuing of the beloved country before it becomes Babylon. But Trump’s campaign was based on the projection of a sexist, racist, bigoted self that is at odds with everything the Christ of the Bible taught. If Donald Trump insists on regressing to his base self as the American president, then the Nigerian pastor might just have celebrated the rise of Babylon.

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