Pastors robbing in Jesus’ name?

PASTOR MOSES SOLOMON MALE is Executive Director or Arising for Christ ministry. An ardent critic of the widespread prosperity gospel where pastors ‘sell’ prayers for numerous needs, Male tells RICHARD M. KAVUMA why he wants a judicial probe into born-again churches.

Many pastors today are taking money to pray for various needs like visas or getting cured of HIV; why is that a problem?

The fact is that our people are faced with enormous spiritual, social, marital, financial, and health difficulties. There are so many people who are terminally ill and have tried the medical sector and failed. All these people are vulnerable and [these pastors] take advantage of them. They deceive them that if they pay so much they will get cured. Other people are so poor and want to go to western capitals in US, Canada, Japan, in search of greener pastures but because there are very high [travel] restrictions, these people can pay anything they have to get visas. And these so-called pastors deceive them.

But pastors say they do not force anyone to pay?

If you promise some one with a problem that the problem will go, that person will give anything. You don’t need to point a gun at someone to force him/her. If you tell some one that if he sows a seed, he will get 100-fold multiplication; that if he gives Shs 500,000 he will get a visa and that person has tried three or four times in vain, don’t you think that person is bound to believe you?

First, that person believes that you know what you are saying. Secondly, these are people who claim to speak from God directly. There is a difference someone speaking on his own authority and when some one says, ‘I speak from God; the spirit is saying, Christ is saying, God is saying…’

Does the Bible prohibit such paid for prayers?

Actually, when Jesus was commissioning his disciples, he told them, ‘you have received free, go and give free’. One can give an offering or a sacrifice but not with a promise that if he gives, something he has been very much vying for will happen.

Do you not believe that God has the capacity to cure HIV or any disease?

For four years I was with Kakande and his wife Loyce of Holy Church of Christ, now the Synagogue. I was their number two. I used to handle HIV-positive status results and would burn them at their instructions. Then they would tell the victims that they are healed.

Many of these people are already dead. What they would do – because they had that claim – these victims would be given into sexual relationships with healthy people. I have a host of them. A friend is Magezi, who was given one of the victims who had brought HIV-positive results to me. The woman died in 1998.

There is Thomas Kamya, who was also given an HIV-positive woman who they claim to have prayed for and healed. The woman died in 1997, Thomas died in 2003. There is my colleague Obonyo, who was given an HIV-positive woman. The woman died six months later; Obonyo got herpeszosta; they claimed it was witchcraft, they didn’t permit him to take medicine and finally when he quit he was so weak. He died in 2003.

And there is Balabyekkubo who claimed to have powers to heal HIV. One of the people he claimed to have healed was Pastor Joseph Luutu, who eventually married in 2001, with five years’ fake HIV status results which he used to convince the woman to marry him. He took that woman to a backyard clinic in Namungoona for HIV testing and the results turned out negative.

But how come people test HIV-positive, they are prayed for, and then they test negative?

These pastors who claim to heal HIV connive with some medical personnel to falsify HIV status results to be seen negative. Yes. [That used to happen] And the doctor is there. I saw it with my eyes. And of course there is Joseph Luutu.

And let me tell you this: I am currently handling a case where a lady was convinced that she would be healed of HIV and she gave her vehicle. She was never healed.

Not only that. People have given their houses, their land, people have emptied their bank accounts. So actually these are criminals who are capitalising on people’s ignorance of the reality. They are robbing them in the name of Jesus.

Some churches do not charge for praying for certain needs but for counselling or ‘sowing a seed’. This sounds okay.

What these people call counselling is actually soothsaying and this is different from counselling. In counselling some one with a problem talks to you and you guide this person on how to deal with the problem thoroughly – if it is Bible-based counselling – based on scripture.

Now, what do these people do?

They say, ‘those of Shs 10,000, then Shs 20,000… you go to Namulanda (Muwanguzi); go to Kawaala (Yiga); go to Lindon at Seguku – many of these pastors tell you to sow a seed first, put in an envelope and ask for what you want. These are thugs who are using the Bible to get what they want.

Your critics say that you do not have a church and therefore are not qualified to criticise them.

The Bible is very clear. I am the temple of the lord, just like you are the temple of the lord. The Church does not mean a building or an institution.

It means people. I am the nucleus church; then with my family, we are a family church; with colleagues we become the local church; together with other Christians we become the national church and universally we are the universal church. Let those who challenge me that I have no church show me which building Jesus built and left behind as the church; which institution Jesus started and left it behind as a church.

What these people have done is to make would-be Jesus’ disciples into church attendants. And what do they do in there? They rob them, exploit them, manipulate them, control them. People today fear pastors more than they fear God.

For over a year now you have been involved in a campaign to clean up the church: what have you achieved?

Years ago people did not believe that men and women of God could be involved in dirt. We have managed to bring out sodomy and Pastor Kitaka is now facing a case of sodomy with young boys.

The Police are dragging the case. They are investigating and they are not investigating. We have exposed thuggery at the pulpits; we have exposed visa thieves – I remember Pastor Kakooza of Kasubi was eventually sued by Susan Namugenyi.

He was claiming to pray for visas and this lady took her money meant for school fees for a visa. When she couldn’t get it, he told her that ‘if you become my wife, you will get it’. We have been able to expose the false-prophesy givers. People now know that there is a problem in religious institutions.

Many pastors you criticise appear or claim to be supporters of President Museveni: has this been a problem?

When we launched the campaign, the first people we pointed at claimed that we were attacking them because they had supported President Museveni. But our campaign has nothing to do with politics because these criminals commit their atrocities on FDC supporters, Movement supporters, DP supporters, CP supporters and those who have no parties.

What some of them do today – they have many radio programmes – immediately one starts a programme, he says ‘I send my greetings to His Excellency President Y.K. Museveni’. Muwanguzi says that, Lindon says that, Lule says that…

You have written to the Ethics Minister on how to clean up the churches: briefly, what are you proposing?

I have demanded that let there be a judicial inquiry. We are calling for a neutral platform, similar to the Uganda Human Rights Commission, where people abused in spiritual entities – no matter what religion – can put their claims so that they can be addressed.

It is unfortunate Police cannot verify spirits and some of the things that happen are beyond the human eye. Secondly, when these people are conning people, they don’t sign anywhere and [have no physical evidence].

We have proposed a policy which is very drastic but it is difficult to understand it unless you have had an opportunity to see the victims like I have and had experience like mine. Personally I was in a cult and Kakande and his wife paid a policeman to finish off my life when I was leaving them after witnessing all those evils in there – marriages broken, witchcraft performed, people robbed, people selling off their property…

They paid a policeman to…?

To kill me. And the policeman came and introduced himself to me. He started off by intimidating me in 1992; then he told me the truth – ‘Leave Kakande and his wife Loyce. Keep quiet.’ I have shared this with even officials of State House, even the Regional Police Commander Kampala. And in 1993 when I exposed them, they went on to cause my arrest. I spent a night in Wandegeya Police cells. Many people fear to come out because they fear reprisals.

You want a policy to regulate churches: how do you reconcile that with freedom of worship?

Freedom of worship presumes that people know their rights and that the leaders will exercise a duty of care over their followers. But where you have leaders who exploit them and build posh houses, buy hummers and live very lavish lifestyles!

They even rob the HIV-sick? How do you rob someone you know has come to you fervently seeking consolation and support?

They rob people who are desperate. If government does not address the despair of our people, it will have abdicated the duty of care and protection of the people.

Your last word?

There is a lot of indifference in our people. Many think they cannot fall victims. People used to talk about Kibwetere and they did not know. It was too late to realise that Kibwetere was a danger in our country. We have Kibweteres masquerading as women and men of God today.

I am saying, time has come to stop the indifference. Let us join hands together, resources and fight this evil.

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