Religious manipulation should not be tolerated

In March 2000, Ugandans woke up in shock and disbelief when 778 members of a sect led by Bishop Joseph Kibwetere were found dead in Kanungu District in Western Uganda.

They were members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a breakaway sect of the Catholic Church. It is believed that the mass suicide was triggered by an imminent apocalypse as professed by their leader.

Much earlier, in November 1978, a similar incident had occurred in Jonestown, a religious settlement in Guyana, South America. Over 900 people died in a mass suicide by poisoning at the behest of their leader, Jim Jones.

The above two examples were the pinnacle of religious manipulation of the gullible, and today, similar movements are reported everywhere. Self-appointed prophets lead their subjects to perform the weirdest things in the name of getting a free ticket to heaven.

Here in Rwanda, a renowned religious leader recently sparked a lot of controversy on social media when he declared that he was the best prophet on the whole continent and challenged his audience to prove the contrary. He is regarded as one of the richest evangelists in the country.

Not to be outdone, another “Apostle” was recorded pressing his followers to give money so that they are blessed with a Range Rover just like him! Surprisingly, people were jostling to make their offerings. He is now parading himself visiting aircraft factories in the US shopping for a jet and he is confident his followers will pay for it.

Religion has been taken over by modern-day charlatans who have discovered an easy milking cow among desperate people. Calling them out should not be interpreted as curtailing freedom of worship, but should be seen as an act of protecting the population from manipulation and gold diggers 

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