MOST religious leaders are more likely to publicly disagree but privately concur with the contextual gist of this unorthodox treatise. False prophets, fake pastors and some dodgy bishops have turned Christianity into a rapaciously corrupt and unholy commercial empire.
As the world’s most powerful and revered religion, Christianity is fast losing its historic moral credence and spiritual cogency. The unexplained mushrooming of false prophets and dodgy pastors within the Christian domain is crippling the moral greatness of that sacred religion.
For centuries, Christianity has always been modeled on the virtues of eternal love, truth, honesty, compassion, selflessness, philanthropy, respect, dignity, equality. The timeless moral and ethical virtues of Christianity are speedily fading away from the body polity of Christianity. Instead, the scourge of self-enriching commercialization has assumed prominence in the Christian church.
The marauding false prophets and greedy pastors who pretentiously call themselves &the servants of God& are actually a grave danger to Christianity. These dodgy prophets and tsotsi pastors are exploiting the sanctified name of Jesus Christ in order to extort money from unsuspecting congregants. These ‘holy’ charlatans and soulless scoundrels are a powerful antithesis of everything Jesus Christ stood for and represented.
Jesus had bequeathed to the world an extraordinarily powerful religious doctrine which is today known as Christianity. Today, nearly two-thirds of the world population subscribes to Christianity as their preferred mode of religion. Unfortunately and regrettably, some amoral and immoral persons have corrupted the soul of Christianity by turning it into a money-making enterprise.
Commercialization of religion, particularly Christianity, has become the fundamental driving force behind the formation of churches these nowadays. Illicit capital accumulation and self-enrichment have, suddenly and most evidently, become synonymous with Christian priesthood and religious leadership.
In the last 20 years or so, our country has been witnessing the puzzling mushrooming and proliferation of churches. Many of these churches are neither legally registered nor spiritually genuine. Some of these unregistered and spiritually bankrupt churches are owned by husbands and wives, or boyfriends and girlfriends.
Self-enrichment, self-gratification, extortion and a “get-rich-quick” ambition are the prime motives behind the existence of such churches. False prophetic claims are usually made and propagated by dodgy prophets/pastors in order to boost the attendance capacity at their respective churches. A common practice among these false prophets is to import unknown persons from foreign countries and consequently coach them to fake sicknesses or disabilities while in church.
All persons who are allegedly ‘cured’ of their chronic illnesses or disabilities while in church are usually not known in nearby communities. When unsuspecting congregants begin seeing the prophet instructing a wheelchair-confined person to rise and walk, they suddenly start believing in the healing powers of that prophet.
Upon witnessing that ‘miracle’, church members will contribute more money to the church/prophet during the time of “offerings”. That is exactly what these false prophets are interested in – accumulation of capital under false pretenses. The truth is that such wheelchair-bound person is secretly employed by the false prophet to fake disability whilst in church.
To date there have been multiple incidents of religious trickery and deceitful shenanigans that have been witnessed and reported in our country. In Gauteng there have reports of dubious prophets who make their congregants eat snakes and rodents. Some like-minded dodgy pastors are known to command church members to drink petrol and paraffin.
A one infamous prophet based in Gauteng is notoriously known for being accompanied by heavilyarmed bodyguards wherever he goes. In Limpopo a 24-year old juvenile prophet has been spraying, in Jesus’ name, an insect-killing Doom in the eyes of congregants. In Kwazulu-Natal there have reported incidents of pastors who are sell, at exorbitant prices, ‘anointed bottled water’ to gullible congregants.
These gullible congregants are misled, by their con-pastors, into believing that the anointed water would bring everlasting financial prosperity in their lives. In 2013 a Kenyan pastor once commanded his female congregants during a church service to remove their panties so that God can enter easily in their hearts. All these devious, mischievous and despicable pseudo-prophetic stunts are choreographed and dramatized in the name of Jesus Christ.
We must congratulate and salute the Commission for Protection of the Rights of Religious, Cultural and Linguistic Communities for commissioning a holistic inquiry into the mysterious activities of churches. With absolute regularity, church leaders must explain and unfailingly account for the monies donated by congregants during church services.
There are some churches that are compelling their members to persistently contribute 10% of their respective monthly salaries. On top of that, those church members are also obliged to donate unspecified money during daily church services. These religious malpractices, which are vastly prevalent in many charismatic churches, constitute a flagrant contravention of citizens’ right to freedom of religion.
Church leaders do not have any human, moral or constitutional power to compel/command their congregants to contribute monies to the church. The money collected in church is usually wasted and squandered by dodgy church leaders on imported designer clothes, Ivorian jewelries, flashy cars and exquisite whisky. This irregular and wasteful expenditure of “God’s money” is aggravated by lack of accountability frameworks in most churches.
In an ecumenical treatise titled &Gospel Principles&, the following critically pertinent and complex questions are interrogated: “How does our paying of tithes and offerings in church show gratitude to our Heavenly Father (God)? In what ways is tithing a principle of faith more than a principle of money? In what ways and how does the church leaders use tithing funds and other offerings?”
These questions are critically important because they actually hit at the heart of the malaise that is afflicting and corrupting the soul of Christianity today. But the authors of that ecumenical treatise (Gospel Principles) committed a morally reprehensible mistake when they further opined that: “Those who pay their tithes and offerings in church shall be greatly blessed and are also helping to build the Kingdom of God on earth.”
I’m a Christian at heart but totally reject, with explosive contempt, the persisting commercialization of the Christian faith. Under these prevailing unholy conditions, we are obliged to urge Government to regularly regulate and audit the financial transactions of churches. The country’s AuditorGeneral must craft a “Church Auditing Blueprint” that shall serve as a guideline for the financial auditing of churches.
In 2015, Pope Francis decreed that any Catholic church priest who claims to possess healing powers must first appear before a panel of medical experts to prove his/her healing powers. The Pope’s bold proclamation has greatly assisted greatly in stemming the tide of false prophecies in the Catholic churches.
Inspired by that, I humbly urge all honest church leaders in our country to emulate Pope Francis’ phenomenal display of genuine leadership. Any prophet who claims to have healing powers must be subjected to a rigorous medical examination to ascertain the veracity of such claims. These unholy thieving prophets and fake pastors are, in moral terms, are much worse than common thieves.
Elvis Masoga is an independent political analyst