According to a report in the Michigan Chronicle, well over $420 billion had been donated to Black churches as of 2013. This is a figure which averages out at least $12 bilion a year.
What do the Black churches do with all this money?
This is a good question especially when you consider how poor the public health system is in countries like Nigeria. Jesus Christ is said to have healed the sick with his miraculous powers but today's Pastors, especially in Black communities, should realize they are not Jesus. It is not uncommon in a place like Nigeria for a sick person to turn first to his or her Pastor before going to a medical doctor.
The Catholic church seems to be an exception in this regard. As a church, it uses some of its monies towards health care facilities. According to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers it manages 26% of the world's health care facilities. This is 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, and 5,500 hospitals, with 65% of them located in developing countries.
Prayer doesn't cure Ebola
In the wake of the Ebola crisis in Lagos, the then governor, Raji Fashola, had cautimed Lagosians that prayer could not cure Ebola. If Lagosians had not listened to Fashola and shunned risky behaviour as advised it could perhaps have led to a humanitarian disaster bearing in mind the dense population of Lagos.
If prayer cannot cure Ebola what else can prayer cure?
The miracle of prayer is a miracle somewhat accidental but the miracle of modern medicine is the miracle of the multitude. Take Joseph Lister for instance, a surgeon with the aseptic techniques that he developed he is said to have saved more lives than all the wars of the 19th century had sacrificed.
Since Jesus loved healing the sick, Black churches should devote their resources to health care and heath research. There are a lot of ailments affecting Black people globally but are not receiving enough attention from medical researchers in the western world. If Black churches can support Black scientists to find cures for these ailments, maybe some of these Black scientists would end up winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
No Black scientist has won the Nobel Prize
In more than 100 years of awarding the Nobel Prize, no Black man or Woman has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine but we have only had some hopefuls. Some of the hopefuls from Nigeria have included Professor Oludolapo Akinkugbe, referred to as the "Father of Afrikan Hypertension" and recipient of the highest prize for hypertension research.
Another example is Professor Benjamin Osuntokun, now late, who was then referred to as the worlds greatest Black Neuroscientist. There is a whole list of Black scientists, especially in the medical field, who could do with the funding to help with research that could benefit the black community at large.
In the words of Dr.Winston Morgan, a Toxicologist and clinical Biochemist at the University of East London, "Black Scientists in the United States are less likely to receive funding for health research." Contrast this with the fact that conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease find a higher incidence amongst Blacks or those of Afrikan heritage.
It would appear that Blacks would rather donate to churches than to cancer charities. In the United Kingdom there are reported 600 charities devoted to cancer. There are about 100 different kinds of cancer. Cancer is not one disease. There is currently something of a cancer Epidemic in Nigeria.
Can the Black churches help?
Cover image credit: National Church of Nigeria Abuja.