Pentecostal churches in Africa do a lot of harm. The president of Cameroon is attempting to do something about that.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has ordered the closure of nearly 100 Christian churches in key cities, citing criminal practices organized by Pentecostal pastors that threaten the security of the West African nation.
But Pentecostal pastors said the move is evidence of Biya’s insecurity about the churches’ criticism of the government.
Biya is using the military to permanently shut down all Pentecostal church denominations in the nation’s capital, Yaounde, and the North West Regional capital, Bamenda, which have the largest Christian populations in Cameroon.
To an American, steeped in the culture of freedom of [including from] religion, that seems like a very risky move, and even ethically dubious. But then again it’s Pentecostal churches that stir up witch panics against children and other vulnerable people…
More than 50 churches have now been closed, with the government targeting nearly 100 in eight other regions.
“We will get rid of all the so-called Christian Pentecostal pastors who misuse the name of Jesus Christ to fake miracles and kill citizens in their churches. They have outstretched their liberty,” Mbu Anthony Lang, a government official in Bamenda, told CNN Wednesday.
Nearly 500 Pentecostal churches operate in Cameroon, but fewer than 50 are legal, he added.
On Sunday, a 9-year-old Christian girl collapsed and died during a prayer session in Winners’ Chapel, a Pentecostal church in Bamenda. The girl’s mother, Mih Theresa, told CNN Wednesday that the pastor intended to cast out the numerous demons that were in control of her daughter’s life.
“I want the government to stop these pastors who use mysterious powers to pull Christians and kill then for more powers. All my children have ran away from the Catholic Church in search for miracles, signs and wonders,” she told CNN while holding back tears.
Argh, what to do. “Religious freedom” shields horrors like that, so what is the best thing to do? I frankly don’t know.