In January, Paul Kagame, who is the president of Rwanda, closed over 6000 churches and mosques, claiming that churches were playing with the faith of the people and were just being turned into businesses.
With the rise of the prophetic age in Africa, one may ask a question - is this all genuine, or it's purely fake, with the sole intention of manipulating people? Religion, of late, has often blinded people from seeing sense, it is mainly the desperation that leads people to do absurd things as said by their respective religious leaders.
This week, headlines were created after a religious leader in South Africa who goes by the name Prophet Lukau performed a "resurrection" miracle in which he supposedly raised a dead man. The spectacle that occurred in Johannesburg was derided and condemned by many, who viewed it as blatantly fake.
"There are no such things as miracles," the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) told South Africa's national broadcaster. "They are made up to try to get money from the hopelessness of our people."
It was such a farce. It betrayed the devastating effects that come when religion is abused and it brings to the fore the issue of Paul Kagame closing down churches. Should this be the precedent to be followed in order to curb the rise of unscrupulous religious leaders, mostly in the form of "prophets"?
Three companies that offer funeral services stepped up claiming that they had been duped by Prophet Lukau into the "scheme" and it made the church backtrack on its proclamation of the miracle, saying that the man "was already alive" when his body got to the church where the miracle was performed. The church, Alleluia Ministries, said that Lukau had only "completed a miracle that God had already started".
So should some of these scammers masquerading as prophets be banned? Last year we saw Botswana banning Prophet Shepherd Bushiri's church from operating in the country. When banning churches in Kigali, Kagame said, "700 churches in Kigali? Are these boreholes (deep wells) that give people water? I don't think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? This has been a mess!"
The argument in Rwanda was that the religious outfits had become too many, often operating from makeshift houses that posed a danger to people. Critics say the move was aimed at silencing the religious community in Rwanda, basing on Kagame's poor human rights record. Six Pentecostal pastors who protested the church closures were arrested and accused of "illegal meetings with bad intentions."
There is now more formalization for religion in Rwanda, with proposed legislation requiring pastors to have a theology degree before they start their own churches so that they teach correct doctrine, said those familiar with the discussions. The aim is to regulate the Pentecostal churches that often spring up under leaders who claim to have received a call to preach. Not everyone has the money for the degree as some observers noted.
Should this be the yardstick used especially for the "prophets"? It would be fashioned in a way that these prophets have to go through a rigorous set of guidelines just to run a church.
What are your thoughts on this?
Header image credit - BBC