Push for Laws that will Protect Christians, Faith Leaders in Nigeria Told

Logo of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)/ Credit: CAN

Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) have decried the ongoing unprovoked attacks against Christians in the West African country and challenged other Christian leaders in the country to push for laws that protect those they shepherd.

The Catholic Bishops criticized the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for promoting a Bill that seeks to regulate Christianity in Nigeria, noting that the Bill, if made a law, will exacerbate the suffering of Christians in Africa’s most populous country.

In their statement dated Tuesday, June 27, CBCN members challenge CAN members who are in support of the Bill that seeks to establish a National Council for Christian Education to revisit their mandate, which is primarily “to watch the person of the welfare, in its totality, of the Church and the Christian Faith in Nigeria”, based on information available on CAN’s website.

The association further acknowledges “the struggle for the survival of the Church and Christianity in Nigeria” and declares its mandate to protect its members against persecution.

In the June 27 statement, Catholic Bishops in Nigeria caution CAN against the temptation to become a state “parastatal” by seeking to establish a board similar to that of Muslims so as to attract government funding.


“It is imperative to revisit and properly examine CAN's original purpose as opposed to what is expressed in the Bill presented at the National Assembly,” CBCN members say in the statement in which they expressly opposed the Bill that seeks to establish a National Council for Christian Education.

“CAN should explore the possibility of going for a Bill that addresses our concerns as Christians,” the Catholic Bishops say, and add, “Where there is genuine collaboration in Nigeria between the State and the Church, government funding can be available to such Council without it being a government “parastatal”. 

The idea of pursuing a Bill to regulate religious studies in secular schools came up during the Education summit organized in 2019 by the Association of Christian Schools in Nigeria (ACSN), a body of mostly Pentecostal private school owners and some protestant denominations.

It is faith leaders at CAN who pursued the idea by asking lawmakers to sponsor the Bill, which, according to Catholic Bishops, has been modified along the way.

CBCN members note that the Bill, as it was originally presented, was “neither intended to regulate theological concerns nor to have anything to do with theological institutions.”

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The council’s mandate will be to develop, approve and regulate syllabuses at all levels of Christian education in Nigeria, including Seminaries and in other Christian Theological institutions.

Catholic Bishops in Nigeria have “strongly” expressed their reservations about the Bill, terming it “unnecessary and impracticable” and that it may not serve Nigeria’s diverse doctrinal differences.

According to the Catholic Church leaders, issues of urgent concern in Nigeria include the situation in the North where there have been unprovoked attacks on Christians. 

“For over forty years, well before Boko Haram's destructions, thousands of our churches have been destroyed across northern Nigeria. No one has been charged, nor has compensation been paid,” they say, and add, “Christians face serious challenges and obstacles in gaining access to land to build their places of worship in northern Nigeria.”

In Nigeria, Christian children are hardly given admission to schools because they bear Christian names, the Catholic Bishops further lament, adding that the learners are further denied high- profile courses like Medicine, Architecture, Engineering, among others when they go to higher learning institutions.


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.