As at early April, the government in Rwanda has closed some six thousand churches, according to a news report, “as it seeks to assert more control over a vibrant religious community…” Although it cites concerns for safety of the worshippers in make-shift physical structures, there is no doubt that government’s grouse with the churches goes much deeper. In March, President Paul Kagame was quoted lamenting what he considered the outrageous number of churches in the nation’s capital alone: "700 churches in Kigali? he reportedly fumed. "Are these boreholes that give people water? I don't think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? This has been a mess!"
And what is government’s solution: a Church leadership that fits the mould in Mr Kagame’s mind! This is evident in the new legislation being crafted to formalize the current waves of church closure. According to insiders, the new law “would require pastors to have a theology degree before they start their own churches so that they teach correct doctrine.”
Government now deciding what is “correct doctrine?” And in any case who pays for the degree?
The abc news report directly hits the nail on the head as it correctly discerns the ultimate intent of the new law. “The aim is to regulate the Pentecostal churches that often spring up under leaders who claim to have received a call to preach.” It further reports that “Six Pentecostal pastors who protested the church closures were arrested and accused of ‘illegal meetings with bad intentions’, and since then other critics have refused to discuss the issue with the media.”
While CA! is obviously concerned about the tremendous level of abuse in the Church, we recognize all these as “legitimate” attack by the gates of hell! And the solution cannot come from the government. While faithful members of the Body of Christ both in Rwanda and around the world must intercede in prayers and endeavour to set up model assemblies in that country to expose and discredit the charlatans, government should seek to educate the citizens more to make them less vulnerable to the swindlers operating under cover of Christianity. The proliferation of spiritual expressions anywhere is only an indication that people have serious needs they are desperate to resolve.
And by the way, how does the government hope to regulate the swindlers in other religions?