Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Government Warning to Pastors

The president of Uganda has the right idea. From the Ugandan Sunday Vision:

Museveni warns pastors

By Cyprian Musoke and Elizabeth Namazzi

CRAFTY pastors who use deceit and trickery to extort money from their followers should be arrested, President Yoweri Museveni has said.

Addressing the press at State House, Nakasero on Friday, Museveni said he has been hearing stories of sodomy, extortion and trickery afflicting the Pentecostal churches.

"Obviously if someone is stealing the community's money he should be arrested. There is no compromise over that. We shall arrest them," he said.

He said he is reluctant to get involved in pointing out which religion is good and which one is not, as long as they don't violate the law.

"We have got enough work building bridges, to know which religion is doing what. If they steal people's money we shall just lock them up," a tough-talking President Museveni stressed.

"Like these stories I have been hearing of sodomy in churches, extorting money, and using electric gadgets; all those are criminal things. That is impersonation. Somebody can be locked up for that. All we need is evidence," he said.

The media has lately been awash with stories of pastors in the sprouting affluent Pentecostal churches preaching the "gospel of prosperity".

Some of the pastors ask for huge sums of money from their flock in exchange for blessings.

Over the last three weeks Sunday Vision serialised a story by an undercover reporter who joined a church in Kampala for three months.

There, she saw how the pastors manipulated desperate followers to part with their money and property.

The pastors convince followers to make big monetary and non-monetary offerings for God to solve their social problems. However, several Christians are finding themselves in deeper problems, surrendering their properties to the Church and borrowing money from banks to sow in order to reap blessings.

In another development, there are reports that some pastors are being guarded by soldiers and security operatives.

Pastor Simeon Kayiwa of Namirembe Christian Fellowship confirmed that he is being guarded by a UPDF soldier.

"I have a guard who is a soldier of the UPDF. He is here officially and gets his movement orders from Bombo Barracks," he said on Friday.

Kayiwa revealed that army has been guarding him since 2003, when he had problems with an American businesswoman who purported that he used witchcraft in his church.

"Out of jealousy some people wanted to harm me. That is why I got this guard who has arrested thieves and also caught a total of 25 people with guns. I don't know what they wanted to do to me. But they were handed over to the Police," Kayiwa explained.

Asked for a comment, army spokesman Maj. Felix Kulayigye said he was not aware of any pastor being guarded by the military.

"No civilian is entitled to have military escorts unless prescribed by the law," he stated. Referring to Kayiwa he added: "Tell that pastor that it is illegal to have a UPDF guard."

Sunday Vision could not confirm reports that Pastor William Mwanguzi of Holy Fire Ministries, Namulanda on Entebbe Road also had a UPDF guard, as he could not be reached.

But a recent photograph in Bukedde, a Luganda daily, showed Muwanguzi in the company of a man in army uniform.

However, it could not be established whether he was a follower or an escort. Museveni said it was wrong for the army to guard civilians.

He disclosed that he had instructed the Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, to form a protection unit so that anybody who wants security doesn't have to use army men.

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