Rev. Gregg Schoof’s shift from preaching mission to defamation

In a story published in New York Times this week, Rev. Gregg Schoof, an American missionary criticized the Rwandan government for allowing access to abortion, birth control, teaching evolution, strong control over the media, and crackdown on religious institutions among others.  

As a responsible, concerned and patriotic Rwandan, for purposes of clarity for the sake of my country’s dignity/image, our amenable leadership, countrymen and women who read your publication, I am forced to comment on that abhorrent statement.

Schoof’s accusations expose him as having a deficiency in accountability aspect, violation of laws, defamation, and scapegoat hence questioning his integrity and his evangelical mission respectively.

The whole statement is mired in lies, factually flawed, animated by personal emotion and it lacks coherence.

The Rwandan State is an independent, sovereign, democratic, social and secular Republic according to Rwanda’s constitution of 2003 amended in 2015.

Furthermore, as previously put by President Paul Kagame, three choices: Accountability, staying together and thinking big has been guiding the journey of Rwanda’s social-economic transformation since the rebirth of the nation from ashes of Genocide against the Tutsi. 

One of the building blocks towards that endeavor is the promotion of good governance principles rule of law inclusive. 

Everything that is happening in Rwanda in different spheres politically, economically and socially has a specific law governing its organization and functioning that helps in regulation and accountability matters.

Schoof said, “I did not come here to fight the government. I came to preach the Gospel”.

Of course, it is inescapable truth that an unarmed individual like him can’t fight any government on the planet but rather every individual has the obligation to respect the laws and regulations governing the state.  

As noted by Theodore Roosevelt, “No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey the law”. He (Schoof) said that the government conducted a crackdown on religious institutions but he didn’t inform the readers of the statement the reasons for an inspection.

Substandard infrastructures were claiming the lives of people due to abrupt accidents resulting from ram-shackled churches that were collapsing on believers.

Connected to that, some churches were operating illegally without registration certificates, others with expired certificates while others were found using fraudulent documents.

Poor hygiene was observed whereby some churches had no toilets others had very few which isn’t correlating with the number of people they accommodate.

All mentioned issues have a lot to do in threatening the security of citizens and public order in general.

Advising churches to upgrade buildings and comply with the law was in line with protecting the lives and security of citizens which is the primary duty of any responsible government on the earth.

Schoof, the church wasn’t fulfilling the required standards and he would have invested a lot of energy in complying rather than investing in confronting regulating institutions.

It is important to highlight that churches which upgraded and complied continued to operate freely.

He talked about access to abortion but the law clearly defines the circumstances under which abortion could be done. Therefore he would have thoroughly read the law before making blemish statement on that.

He went on to criticize birth control and forgot that family planning is a world concern due to the demographic dividend a person like him would have been informed about.

Rwanda has institutionalized a forum known as the “Rwanda Leadership Fellowship forum” which comprises top leadership including H.E the President of the Republic of Rwanda and religious leaders to play for the nation and discuss how leaders can integrity Godly values in their leadership.

It is very flabbergasting to hear Schoof’s spoiling statement that the government has taken a stand against God. God has been sleeping in Rwanda for the last decades and has been on our side in a social-economic transformation journey given our bitter history of genocide against the Tutsis.

Schoof’s radio station in 2018 hosted a pastor who was heard repeatedly denigrating women by calling them evil. Rwandans have made the choice of staying together.

There is no room for those who would wish to sow divisionism or underestimate certain groups of people yet the wounds of genocide resulting from divisive politics.

Deterring such behavior is control over media in Schoof understanding, forgetting that his rights where rights of Rwandans begin.

In conclusion, I want to remind Schoof that Rwanda is inclusive and open to all people from different continents. However no one is above the law and all of his points are driven by self-motivation, personal desire and full of exaggeration.

The statement is not coherent to define actual issues with the support of statistics such as the number of imprisoned pastors as a result of resisting church closure as mentioned.

I implore him to fast look at Rwanda’s success stories her citizen-centered governance before undermining the country for his personal reasons.

The writer works at Rwanda Governance Board but this opinion was written in his personal capacity.

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