THE recent ruthless killing of nine-year-old Cheryl Avihe Ujaha and attempts to abduct children witnessed in recent weeks may be linked to religious cults and superstitious myths to attract wealth or dispel bad luck.
Notably, the murder of Ujaha and attempted kidnapping of children comes just after a secretive Katutura church owned by a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) pastor, held hostage 16 of its congregants in Katutura, subjecting them to doctrinal activities where they eat a mixture of sand, water and oil. The pastor is also alleged to have been fondling female members when praying for them.
In essence, Namibia, like many African countries, has seen a proliferation of new churches and false prophets in the past few years with a huge following from mostly less-privileged members of the society, who are seeking divine intervention to overcome their economic misery.
It is government’s moral obligation to close down some of the churches to assert more control over a vibrant religious community whose makeshift operations have sometimes threatened the lives of followers.
Namibia is a largely Christian country, with more than 90 percent of the population believing in the faith and free to worship whenever they want, but there is a need to protect our citizens against false prophets who are destroying our country and causing mayhem.
There is a need for legislation to regulate faith-based organisation to compel pastors to have a theology degree before they start their own churches so that they teach correct doctrine. The legislation should help to regulate Pentecostal churches that often spring up under leaders who claim to have received a call to preach.
While there are indeed many genuine churches and men of the cloth in Namibia, there is a need for government to implement measures to protect innocent citizens from cults that are fast emerging in the country.
Perhaps the time has come for Namibia to emulate the drastic steps that our neighbours Botswana or Rwanda have taken in an effort to protect their citizens against being exploited by fake pastors who are driven by nothing but greed.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame recently closed down 6 000 churches in the country, saying they were playing with the faith of Rwandan citizens and also put up a new requirement that pastors must first procure a theology degree before being given a license to open up a church in the country.
This move was mainly aimed at reducing the creeping cases of fraud as many religious leaders were reaping off impoverished and desperate followers in Rwanda.
Botswana recently shut down a popular church that promised people “miracle money”, claimed to cure people of HIV and bring people back from the dead. It was the promises of money appearing from nowhere, as if by magic, which incensed the Botswana authorities as the practice was deemed to be illegal.
Namibia could derive some lessons from the measures that these two countries’ governments have adopted to protect citizens from being exploited.
Without being xenophobic, government (Ministry of Home Affairs) needs to properly vet some of these pastors flocking into the country from other countries. Some of them have no track record as pastors or of leading churches in their countries but they come to Namibia to set up churches mainly for financial gain.
Namibian citizens should also take it upon themselves to check the backgrounds of their “pastors” before joining some of these churches which end up imprisoning them and impoverishing them further.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015