African Religious Charlatanism and (In)Sanity

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Recently, the government of Zambia has reacted furiously to the growing number of spurious religious merchants in their country, who often portray themselves as prophets and missionaries and allegedly exploit and extort money from poor gullible Zambians, who are desperately in need of spiritual attention.

Speaking about the serious religious cankerworm in Zambia, the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili, emphasized that even though Zambia is a Christian nation, it has its laws, which must be abided by everyone ““ including all prophets and other men and women of God.

“My ministry wants to see sanity in the body of Christ. Some prophets just want to come and extort money and go back, which my ministry will not allow. It is taking people for granted, especially those desperate for spiritual attention.“   Warned minister Sumaili, who is a reverend by training.

Last week, the government of Zambia demonstrated its willingness to tackle the menace from the greedy churches by denying an entry to Zambia for Prophet Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean national and the founder of Spirit Embassy, a Pentecostal ministry in Zimbabwe, on Thursday, citing the exorbitant fee the prophet charged for his alleged religious programme. The minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Rev Sumaili lamented that it was wrong and incredibly extravagant for the prophet to charge K2,000 ( 200 euro) for a “Millionaire Academy“ meeting.

Definitely, any right thinking person must applaud and support the Honourable Minister Sumaili for this courageous step aimed at bringing some degree of sanity in rather overbearing religious society. Clearly, many dishonest and fastidious individuals have shamefully turned religion into a lucrative business. The present Africa is such that often every Tom, Dick, and Harry go into religious industry, mainly to feed on the gullibility of poor individuals, who are promised outrageous and impossible rewards as far as they part away with their hard-earned cents. These men and women of God, who claim to have supernatural power, or six sense promise their simple minded followers abundant wealth, good health, and success. In return, the so-called prophets and ministers demand that the followers donate their money to the church. Assuming that these religious charlatans were indeed the representatives of God, hasn`t it occurred to those religious puppets that God or Jesus never asked a cent from those they helped? According to the bible, Jesus performed many miracles without asking a cent. He went to Jerusalem as a king on a borrowed donkey. He never had a house of his own. Yet, our present church leaders, the so-called prophets and ministers, who are supposed to be God`s representatives on earth would rather have their own private jets, live in a mansion, drive chains of incredibly expenses cars. They make sure that the financial aspects of their churches are closely and fastidiously controlled by themselves or close family relatives. On the other hand, the followers of these men and women of God, remain perpetually poor. How best can one define insanity?

Religion in Africa has been turned into a shrewd profitable business, which requires just a correspondence course and a little bit of charm and oratory prowess. Personal aggrandizement and promotion have become part of the African religious reality, which favours bombastic titles like “prophet“ and “bishop“ at the expense of ordinary low religious titles. Austerity has been suddenly thrown in the garbage of history in favour of extravagance and flamboyance. Combined with false and seductive promises, many African religious leaders basically act on the sentiments and fears of their subjects. One wonders why these short-sighted religious followers still do not question why they remain perpetually poor while their prophets and church ministers become increasingly rich. Could it be that Africans have gradually lost their common senses? The obvious reality between the social condition of the church leaders and their subjects is crystal clear. Why do these deceived Africans fall prey to the manipulative power of their religious leaders?

Obviously, African governments can do more to correct the deceitful tendencies without necessarily inflicting on individual`s religious freedom. To start with, since religion has been greatly commercialised, logically speaking, the government should force taxes on incomes from religious activities. How can the government justify the fact that poor citizens, who cannot afford three meals a day are forced to pay taxes from their petty commercial trades, while the incomes of millionaire church leaders are not taxed, leaving the so-called men and women of God to live flamboyantly? Perhaps, if other African governments would emulate the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili of Zambia, the activities of the business minded religious leaders will be controlled; that would perhaps remind the ferocious religious leaders that the exploitation of poor citizens must not be part of their goal.

Regardless, if the religious followers refuse to allow their intelligence to be abused by their religious leaders, little will they give the leaders the opportunity to exploit them. After all, the degree of relevance a god enjoys depends on the level of importance and respect the subject have for it. Once the subjects withdraw their support, the god dies a natural death. That says a lot about the relationship between fastidious religious leaders who feed on their gullible and devoted subjects.