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Cameroon’s Pentecostal churches under fire

Deutsche Welle | There are calls for the Cameroon government to shut down some of the country’s Pentecostal churches. This is based on reports of a pastor who stole from his congregation and another who allegedly impregnated seven women.

Cameroon’s Protestant, Baptist and Catholic churches are calling on the government to shut down some of the country’s Pentecostal churches after reports of unethical and criminal behavior by several pastors. It is alleged that one Pentecostal pastor impregnated seven women in his congregation. Another pastor, now wanted by Interpol, is believed to have fled Cameroon after embezzling more than $500,000 (€407,300) from his followers.

Concerns over the Pentecostal church and its methods are not new in Cameroon. Back in August 2013, President Paul Biya ordered over 100 churches to be closed on the grounds of criminal practices organized by Pentecostal pastors. It was alleged that pastors were taking advantage of poor and desperate people. Despite a government crackdown, and the fact that no new churches have been approved by Cameroonian authorities since then, unauthorized churches have continued to spring up.

Fastest growing branch of Christianity

According to the Pulitzer Center’s research on Pentecostalism, it is the fastest-growing religion in the world and one quarter of the world’s two billion Christians now belong to this Christian denomination. And nowhere is it growing faster than in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Pentecostal Christians emphasize a direct personal experience of God and believe that the Holy Spirit acts here and now to bring inspiration, health and wealth to believers,” the Pulitzer Center reports. For many in sub-Saharan Africa who may be struggling with poverty, HIV, or unemployment, the church’s promises prove difficult to resist.

Anthropologist and professor Asonzeh Ukan has written extensively about the Pentecostal church in neighboring Nigeria, where it is known as the Redeemed Church. He described the lure of this kind of preaching: “The primary function of Redeemed is an industry that markets hope… In every society, there are people that need to be encouraged to stay alive for the next day. Redeemed does that.”

Victims of the church

At the Catholic cathedral in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, the congregation is welcoming back Dufe Clarisse, who is returning to Catholicism after a year as a member of Yaounde’s Pentecostal church, God’s Mercy. She was introduced to Pentecostalism by a friend, who said that the Nigerian pastor at God’s Mercy had prayed for her, which had resulted in her getting a job.

But Clarisse’s experience as a Pentecostalist was far from positive and she is now four months pregnant by the pastor. “The pastor kept on insisting that the only way I would have a breakthrough in my life was to be with him. He said God had told him that when we sleep [together] for nine days in three weeks, I will have a husband, wealth and then travel to Europe. He asked me not to tell anyone until the prophecy came to pass. Since I was in need, I trusted him. He even said that God had revealed to him that I was to be his wife and that we were to set up a ministry in Frankfurt, Germany.”

Clarisse decided to break her silence and told other church members that she was pregnant. Three married women, and two girls, who were sisters, said they had had the same experience.

“It was only after the incident that we discovered he was telling every lady the same story. But most of his victims were married women in search of babies. He said that they would only have their breakthrough in his bed as revealed by God to him. I am sure that that man had some magical powers. No one knows where he is now,” Clarisse said.

Other countries are taking action

Last month in Rwanda, the government closed over 700 churches, mostly Pentecostal, on the grounds that they were unhygienic, unsafe and disturbing the public peace. Many pastors had taken to preaching through megaphones. But Phil Clark, from SOAS, University of London, believes that there were other reasons behind the closures as well.

“Pentecostalism is growing exponentially there,” Clark told DW. “The church closures are much more politically influenced than the government says. It signals to the churches that they are under observation, just like other social organizations in Rwanda. I take that as a clear warning.”

With three other Christian denominations in Cameroon now issuing a similar warning, it remains to be seen whether the government of President Biya will launch a new crackdown on Pentecostalism in the country.

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21 comments

  1. Government may decree church closure but the ultimate power belongs to the consumer. If consumers have very poor taste, they will settle for poor products, including phoney priests who are merely crooks in cassocks.

  2. Protestants, Baptist and catholic churches also fall in the same blame. There is
    the same complaints amongst christains – stealing, adultery, lies telling, distortions
    etc etc. What singles out pentacostals, started out when Zack Fomum, stated this
    movement in the late seventies. The youths especially at the time, saw a new version of
    faith with loud speaker, loud music and dancing. Preaching torched on marriage, jobs
    etc. Many of them, are left frustrated today. To add insult to injuries, many are now
    looking unto personalities as TB Joshua etc in Nigeria.
    When the going gets tough at home, they rush to see them there. Many have even died
    because only prayers, not medical attension, can cure them. Marriages must be between
    brother/sister in christ.Truth is that they are all brainwashed.

    • This brain washing, is only comparable, to the belief held by Boko Haram.
      They clain that the Koran warrants them to kill the infidels. It doesn`t end
      there. When one kills, that individual becomes a martyr and will be with Allah.
      If gov`t should think of doing anything, it should be to stop it. Ban all the
      pentecostals and instill strick measures to also check underground activities.
      The damage caused by these many churches, have done more harm than good.
      Although they have opened schools and hospitals etc, society has been hijacked.

      • Anglophone and Francophone are also part and parcel of brainwash… and of course, just like the churches, Anglophone and Francophone have HIJACKED our society to the extent that many have become ashamed of their own ancestral heritage as they continue chasing shadows.

  3. The presbyterians,Catholics and baptist should all shut up.They are all thesame.I have been asking myself what future for Africans concerning the damages this churches have and are inflicting on the pyshic of Africans.Do Africans really need churches to get themselves out of poverty and this mysery we find ourselves in no,Do Africans need prophets,prriests to get out of mysery and poverty no!Africans need farms,factories,Africans need to produce,manurfacture.to be productive to get themselves out of poverty ok!Not this churches,exploitative money making organisations and conmen call pastors,priests and prophets!

    • There are traditional African cultures and inventions and there are imported models. When the twosome meet and interact, the better one survives and is carried forward. Very often it is the imported model that survives and is adopted by a people.

      But somewhere along, people begin to look back on the old abandoned models and even reabsorb them to blend with the new. A mumbo-jumbo results and in bewilderment, people spread their hands heavenward in distress.

      • O yea, the ancient cunnilinguist in his immoral crusade to derail the youth! Rasclaaat warlock, you know absolutely nothing about the process of intellectual supplanting… and that’s exactly why you can’t retrace your way back home. Pitiful!

        • Rat tuge, from your comments you must be a very tiny man with a huge ego and thus abundant adrenaline. Always whining and throwing tantrums.

        • Hey little coon named New Day, your admiration of I-Man is unquestionable! You feel inferior and insecure by my sheer presence… because you know quite well that you just can’t measure up! So you run your mouth and expose your complex of inferiority, as you wallow in total obscurity.

        • I repeat you must be a very tiny man with the wrong mixture of hormones… whose abundance due to your tiny stature subsequently impacts your behaviour. Your erraticism is only comparable to that of Donald Trump.

  4. Mendo Ze used to hoodwink all the cream of the society and even the Pope, and people also sang asimba, raising their hands to heaven. We all know where he is and what that glory from God he always sang about , brought to the people. A prophet was officially invited in from Nigeria 2 years ago and someone lost her life at the Amadou Ahidjo stadium during his services. Are we calling on the same gov’t that all that prophet in to ban Pentecostal churches? Which is stronger now, the churches or sects? Btw, churches are also sects!

  5. Well the blame is not on the church but on miracles seekers they want to reap from life what they have not invested on.The word of God teaches us to prove all things where is it written in that word that you sleep with a pastor which is not your husband before u get pregnant?????Again Christianity is not to alivert poverty of I want to get out of poverty people should engage in productive thinking and productive Labour that should do things that will bring money.Am a pastor myself we don’t give tithes in church to be prosperous without hard work and diligence in your work then you will be very poor.
    Again Christianity don’t make people rich but productive Labour only.Africans are being carryed away by this notion and the worst thing is the few Christians seat down to study what the believe

  6. Rain onto others

    Don,t say you will not blame the church because the preaching in most of the Protestant churches today is about miracles. If you are poor, you can still be rich miraculously, if you are sick, you can still be heal miraculously etc.. All these miracles they are talking about are not for free. You must sow a “seed” The pastors give them fake promises. Some of them don,t even read the bible and even if the read the pastor goal is to make his money therefore he preaches what he want and not what is the bible. I personally hold those pastors responsible for their false preaching which are based only on miracles

  7. Right on point rain on others.I blame most of this churches and thier so called pastors,prophets or appostles!They have completely helped to put most Africans in total confusion,This money making organisations.Africans are an easy pick now for most of them because of the too much frustration and mysery in the continents.I am a presbyterian and what i see makes me very very dissapointed in many of this churches.You see the head of the churches building very heavy mansions and driving in very expensive vehicles while some of thier workers go for months even years without salaries and you want to tell me what?Where is the love of your neihbour that is the first and most important commandments in the bible.It is all about the money and any African at this century who refuses to be wise have himself to blame.”The more you give the more you get”all criminals and conmen!

    • You are a presbyterian… and you are an Anglophone… and you declare these things with unmatched pride! So where do you belong? Well, this bespeaks the current state of uprooting across Africa.

  8. Pentecostal churches are not different from the Protestant, Baptist and Catholic churches.
    All are crime syndicates managed by con men. The churches have always been marred deeply by moral scandals and deception. The so-called Men of god They claim to operate in the Spirit and flow in the Spirit and even fornicate in the spirit.
    Fornication is the hallmark of all the churches.

    Biya should simply sign a decree closing down all the churches in his ISLAND OF EVIL.

  9. Pentecostal churches are a means to con money from the poor, vulnerable, uneducated in societies where governments has failed to listen to its citizens, where society has broken down, lost faith in their government policies such as Cameroon, so called prophets have joined these churches as a job, Christianity in these churches is zero, it’s all about money! money!many are bitter bitches with dysfunctional families, real God/Jesus were not wealthy preachers, yet these prophets live like kings & queens, they abuse, make fake promise miracles to their weak vulnerable audiences,’manna doesn’t fall from heaven’ ‘God help all those who help themselves’,these churches are run by greedy, unholy, uncaring dictators, conniving preachers targeting vulnerable poor people in the name of God.

  10. it is impossible to build even,a nation without the ambition to become a champion nation with people who firmly believe in fictions like god.let’s not talk of building a champion nation,a task that demands huge sacrefise, intellectually,and must important reselient national will.the determination to overcome all obstacles,and become capable of orienting the behaviour of other nations with its national personality.this kind of huge task is beyound the intelligence of people who believe that a snake actually spoke to andeng nwi(adam and eve)in METTA language.to invest time explaining to an african whoes education was fashioned by catholic schools grounded in the lies of wereh ngang(jesus)is like asking for eh nang tari in a french restaurant.but what is the solution?

  11. after observing the level of spiritual alienation of nearly all african degree holders who go as far as breaking records of ignorance,openly declearing on tv and radio stations that they are proud muslims,and christians.i conclude that it is necessary to accept,having committed the tragic mistake of allowing them to be brainwashed in catholic and presbeterian schools under the banner of education.we must accept that everything is lost with this generation,and concentrate on educating young ones with anti christian,and anti muslim information.this will help avoid their minds from being brought under control in christian,and islamic schools.once an african child reach fifteen years in the current system of education where wereh ngang (jesus)is repeated everyday.it is too late.

  12. we must codify the spiritual tradition inherited( paying respect to ancestors)from our ancestors,and make it the spiritual and philosophical foundation of our society.to be internalized by all children from the moment they start speaking.this will give them a personality in the oder of nature,in line with our spiritual vesion of human existence.even more important is the fact our spirituality base on paying respect to the ancestors is more compatible with sciences.no child should be allowed to register in school with a non african name.it should either be changed or the one paying respect to our ancestors written on the school register while the official documents are under correction.the years of early formation are very important part of personality formation.

  13. They should shut ALL those Pentecostal churches. Those pastors are big scum who abuse from the poor.