Rwanda is taking hands-on measures to raise awareness, build a legal framework and monitor religious activities in order to avoid religious cults. The move is a collaboration between Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and faith-based organisations, who also call on communities to be more cautious. Dr Usta Kayitesi, RGB’s Chief Executive Officer, told The New Times that the government put in place a law determining the organisation and functioning of faith-based organisations. “The law prevents faith-based organisation leaders or other preachers from jeopardising the unity of Rwandans, peace, and security, public order and health, good morals, good conduct, freedom, and the fundamental rights of others. “Anyone who does not comply with the law is held accountable by the responsible organs,” she said. ALSO READ: Rwanda looks to weed out impostors from churches As a way to raise awareness among faith-based organisations, RGB initiated educational campaigns to empower individuals with the knowledge and critical-thinking skills necessary to identify and avoid potential cults. “Communities are sensitised to not be manipulated by imposters by avoiding working or collaborating with anyone who preaches what could potentially lead them into risky or illegal activities, such as dangerous cults.” Kayitesi added that religious leaders are requested by the law to possess a Bachelor’s degree in theology studies with a valid certificate issued by a recognised institution. “They must work in secure and known worship places which do not put their followers’ lives in danger,” she emphasised. This follows the case of Kenyan cult leader, Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who was arrested on April 14 after police first raided the forest where the church he operated, Good News International Church, was based, rescuing 15 people who had been starving themselves. The death toll has climbed to 133, and hundreds of people are still reported missing. Authorities continue to search for human remains in shallow graves scattered throughout the forest where Mackenzie’s followers were living. Nthenge is accused of inciting followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus”. ALSO READ: Kenya begins crackdown on rogue preachers Bishop Fidele Masengo, a Foursquare International Church pastor, said, “Rwandans know each other, which means no one can falsely influence others for long without being identified.” He further urged Rwandans to stay away from false beliefs, warning ministries, umbrella and religious organisations to do the same and protect their good image. ALSO READ: Religious extremism must have no place in society Similarly, Rev. Nathan Amooti Rusengo, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kigali, referring to Mackenzie’s saga, believes that some people may exploit others to exert dominance and manipulate situations to their advantage. This can be driven by a need to feel superior, gain influence or satisfy their ego. The Anglican Church has a “Book of Common Prayer” which includes 39 articles. It is largely a compilation of extracts from Holy Scripture arranged for public worship and private communion with God, he said. “The book provides guidance, shaping, and principles which every Anglican member worldwide is obliged to follow, hence minimising unethical and immoral cases within and outside of our communities,” Rusengo said. “Anything demanding human sacrifice in order to bring good fortune is just a scam. This is where exploitation often preys on vulnerable individuals who are in desperate situations or seeking spiritual support,” he added. Rwanda’s approach to preventing religious cults stands as a testament to the country's commitment to safeguarding its citizens while preserving religious freedoms.