Resurrecting the dead, profiting from the pulpit - time to revamp regulation around churches

"Prophet" Lukau of Alleluia International Church claims to have resurrected a man from the dead. It is a load of nonsense. One gets the feeling that there is a race amongst some modern-day prophets to outdo each other on the dandiest miracle.

Prior to this incident, some followers were sprayed with Doom, others were made to eat rats, snakes and at one point one of the charlatans claimed to have gone to heaven and met Jesus. I saw a clip of another one claiming to be talking to God on a cellphone. The idiot should have put God on the public address system. I mean he was pacing about addressing God as “Papa God”.

In Botswana, we have had our own share of extraordinary claims.  In Maun, three men were accused of rape after one preacher led an unsuspecting girl to a veldt and told her that the only way to heal her of her womb problem was for him to ejaculate in her and destroy tokoloshi eggs troubling her. Two other accomplices, we are told, joined in raping the poor girl.  Some people have been made to take money illegally from their workplaces for miraculous multiplication only for the so-called prophets to disappear into thin air. Thugs. The whole lot of them.

Botswana has been liberal about the freedom to worship and should continue to be.  As a nation, we have the joy of worshipping at one’s church of choice. The Mosques and Hindu temples of Block 6, Block 8 and the Phase 2, one opposite Baobab school are testament to this freedom.  So are the many open grounds that serve as areas of worship. 

The events of this past week, though happening in South Africa, give us an opportunity for serious reflection as a nation. How do we ensure that culture and faith are not abused? How do we revamp our existing laws to protect vulnerable people from harmful and exploitative practices? You can’t stop worship and culture. That would not only be plain arrogant but irrational and unconstitutional.

It is one thing to criticise and ridicule these people seeking the attention of these churches.  It’s another to find workable solutions of ensuring that the very vulnerable are protected in exercising their constitutional right to worship.  Also don’t get me wrong, not all churches are bad and not all prophets are fake.  The intention here, is to foster a debate that our regulations ought to keep pace with time. Somehow, our people must be protected.

We need to enact a complaints commission with investigative powers dealing with the day to day protection of people from acts of deception akin to the resurrection hogwash that has been trending on social media. 

There must be punishment for such deception and it must be severe. We have a mushrooming of various regulatory bodies on telecommunications, energy, medicine, Non-Banking Finance, etc. in Botswana. I am not being cynical. South Africa has a Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. The commission does not only protect cultural and religious liberties, but probes harmful religious practices in that country. We need our own here.

And please, just like the Law Society and other regulatory bodies, it must not be led by atheists, agnostics and faithless people who make the better fraction of vile religious critics and have their own satanic agendas to serve.  Let it collect a small levy from churches and cultural entities in order that that it is able to economically conduct is mandate without relying on government subventions.

By so doing, we will not be curtailing freedoms but keeping charlatans out of genuine cultural practices and worship. By genuine here, I mean deception free practices of the same In the present form, The Register of Societies is simply a tired government department.  How often does one ever hear from them?  What reports or studies do they produce?  They must be empowered.  Times have changed.

An investigative study needs to be undertaken on the commercialisation of religion. There must be processes and procedures in place to mitigate against church monies being misused, stolen or churches being used as vehicles for money laundering.

A few years back, a fake prophet’s spotters saw my elder sister arrive at a church with my car. It had a Ngakaagae and Company branding on its doors. This foreign prophet called her to the pulpit and told her that she was a lawyer and God was going to promote her in her legal vocation.  I mean, this thug told my sister she was going to be the legal advisor for presidents.

My sister is lawfully in the money exchange business and her training is in marketing. I will get into trouble for this one, but once upon a time my wife dragged me jumping, kicking and screaming to some idiot. He looked at me in my Bermuda shorts and told me I was given to assaulting her. I told him he was lying. I had never laid a hand on my wife. The idiot then backtracked and said he meant assaulting, “with words”. 

We need a church led complaints commission with full investigative powers which can make appropriate recommendations to the minister on these issues. The nation is at risk. Too many wolves in sheep skins.

Editor's Comment
Botswana needs proper rehabilitation centres

Our sister publication The Monitor earlier this week carried a story on serious human rights abuses being meted on people who have gone for rehabilitation at a boot camp in Kgatleng. Allegations cite verbal and physical abuses, children being stripped of their dignity and shaved in front of others. While the abuse came to light after a suicide incident of a 23-year-old, Botswana Institute for Reintegration and Rehabilitation of Offenders’...

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