The cross

In recent times, there has been a notable exodus from churches, prompting inquiries into its causes.

The sentiment "I left church but not God" gained prominence in the 21st century amid concerns over the commercialization of churches and the proliferation of unethical practices within them.

Revelations of dark secrets involving pastors have shaken the faith of many Christians, leading them to distance themselves from organized religious gatherings.

A BBC News documentary on TB Joshua shed light on how religion has rendered people helpless, preventing them from speaking out against injustices perpetrated by pastors.

Fear of retribution from fellow congregants, who often venerate pastors as holy figures, silences victims and drives them away from the church.

One victim from the documentary recounted, "I was 17 years old when I joined the Synagogue Church of All Nations. Everything revolved around TB Joshua.

He wielded immense power, slept with disciples, and threatened us into silence."

Such revelations have cast doubt on the safety and integrity of religious institutions, leaving many to question where their trust should lie.

Incidents like the Shakahola fasting tragedy, where believers died of starvation in pursuit of a divine encounter, have further tarnished the image of organized religion, likening it to a cult.

In response, people are redefining their relationship with religion, emphasizing a personal connection with God over institutionalized worship.

Many have stopped tithing and offering in churches, opting instead to support the needy directly, wary of pastors misusing funds for personal gain.

Reports of pastors resorting to dark forces to attract followers have driven believers to worship privately, away from potentially corrupt religious spaces.

TB Joshua's documentary also exposed the exploitation of prayer mountains for sinister purposes, deterring believers from participating in fasting and prayer rituals there.

As one believer reflected, "I was once part of a church, and I couldn't see it was a cult. Those within a cult are often blinded by their charismatic leaders."

The unsettling revelations have prompted a reevaluation of faith and religious practices, with many choosing to distance themselves from traditional church structures in favor of a more personal and authentic spiritual journey.