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Religious trickery lines the pockets of false prophets

Dispatch
The unexplained mushrooming of false prophets and dodgy pastors within the Christian domain is crippling the moral greatness of that sacred religion, writes Elvis Masoga.

The world's most populous and institutionally powerful 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 modelled on the virtues of eternal love, truth, honesty, compassion, selflessness, philanthropy, respect, dignity, and equality.

Religion is succumbing to the devious influence of false prophets and ultra-greedy pastors. The ancient moral tenets and ethical prescripts of Christainity are no longer visible in the current body polity of Christianity. Instead, the scourge of commercialisation and self-enrichment has assumed prominence and supremacy in the Christian church.

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In Limpopo a 24-year-old self-styled prophet is spraying, in the name of Jesus Christ, insect-killing Doom in the eyes of congregants.

The marauding false prophets and greedy pastors who pretentiously call themselves “the servants of God” are actually a grave danger to the spiritual discourse of Christianity. These fake prophets and tsotsi pastors are abusing and exploiting the sanctified name of Jesus Christ in order to extract financial benefits 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. Some amoral and immoral persons have corrupted the soul of Christianity by turning it into a money-making enterprise.

Commercialisation of religion, particularly Christianity, has become the fundamental driving force behind the formation of these churches 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 mushrooming and proliferation of churches. Many of them are neither legally registered nor spiritually genuine. Some of them are owned by husbands and wives, or boyfriends and girlfriends. Self-enrichment, self-gratification, extortionism and a “get-rich-quick” ambition are the prime motives behind the existence of such churches. False prophetic claims are usually made and propagated with the sole aim of boosting attendance.

Unknown persons from foreign countries are imported and coached to fake sicknesses or disabilities. All those who are allegedly "cured" are usually not known in nearby communities. When unsuspecting congregants began seeing their prophet instructing a wheelchair-confined person to rise and walk, they suddenly and gullibly started believing in the healing powers of that prophet.

Upon witnessing that "miracle" church members will contribute more money to the church. That is exactly what these false prophets are interested in - accumulation of capital. Upon the conclusion of the church service, a “brown envelope” would exchange hands.

To date there have been multiple incidents of religious trickery. In Gauteng there have been reports of dubious prophets who make their congregants eat live snakes and rats. Some unscrupulous pastors are known to command church members to drink petrol, paraffin, and bleach.

In Limpopo a 24-year-old self-styled prophet is spraying, in the name of Jesus Christ, insect-killing Doom in the eyes of congregants.

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 percent 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 constitute a flagrant contravention of citizens’ right to freedom of religion.

This 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 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.

Under these prevailing conditions, we are correctly obliged to urge government to regulate and audit the financial transactions of churches. The country’s auditor-general must begin to craft a “Church Auditing Blueprint” that shall serve as an empirical guideline for the financial auditing of churches.

Last year, Pope Francis decreed 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 in stemming the tide of false prophecies in the Catholic churches.

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.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent

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