Last weekend’s Sunday Times edition reported that religious leaders do not agree with the religious bill that requires one to have a bachelors degree if they are to start a church.
Many people I have talked to suggest that this requirement would be an impediment to people’s freedom of worship. Even The New Times’ columnist Mr. Rama Isibo in his Wednesday piece suggested so.
But this nervousness is uncalled for; the legislation is okay and enforcing it can be easy Mr. Isibo. The multiplication of churches needs to be regulated especially in Rwanda where the church’s image is tainted.
First of all, controls are necessary to ensure that not all failures are attracted to start churches because this exposes gullible Christians to dubious characters, who masquerading as men of God, fleece them.
Church leaders should have the skills to survive outside church but this cannot be possible unless they have professional training from universities or other institutions of higher learning.
So, to avoid situations where the men of God cling to power like it is the case with some political leaders, the education requirement should be a prerequisite so that people do not regard church work as the beginning and the end.
In fact, people heading churches can be of more help to their followers if they have attained higher education. It is well known that school exposes one to different real life situations which are important for one to guide others to live successful lives.
While nobody is infallible, an ignorant person is more prone to committing mistakes. Away from faith, one who is educated will be able to think about initiating different projects to bail Christians out of poverty.
The power to exorcise demons and make loud cries to God is not all followers want. They also need social amenities. The critical role of education today cannot be disputed and nations are encouraged to invest more in education. Therefore, in no way should we ignore this in our religious settings.
Church leaders are considered teachers with authority over others. But to be in position to lead others in a town or village church, they need to be educated. And above all, which kind of inspiration will children draw from them if they are ignorant?
Semi-illiterate church leaders will easily sway people to shallow analysis and interpretation of the Bible. Believe me; it takes adequate knowledge to properly interpret the gospel.
This is not to say that I hold in contempt any of the hundreds of christian leaders across the country under whose leadership millions of Christians have received assurance of admission into everlasting life.
I highly respect and admire them especially those who reflect true Christian lives. But I contend that the level of pervasion appears to be higher among those who are ignorant.
We live in a modern society where certain teaching is irrelevant in the modern era. For example, you cannot argue that it is still relevant to tell Christians that they should remain poor in order to enter the kingdom of God.
It is also not relevant to continue advising people to produce as many children as they so wish, because God instructed mankind to produce and fill the earth.
I also disagree with people who argue that Jesus Christ didn’t have formal education but was a great teacher upon whom the current church is built. While this is true, it’s important to note that Jesus was unique.
If one strongly believes in a semi-illiterate pastor starting a church, when there are those who are educated, it’s to a great disadvantage.
Yes, it’s not that God listens to the educated clergy person more, but just in the interest of development the church need learned clergy because it’s a collection of people with different needs which go beyond spiritual healing.
The church can only be kept together and run efficiently if its run by knowledgeable people just like an economy is. I wonder whether an educated church leader would dissuade his or her followers from participating in national census claiming the Bible prohibits them, as it was the case during the recent census for national ID photography.
I strongly believe that the church should reflect faith and development and church leaders should be in position to help followers achieve their aspirations.
I also believe that ignorant Muslim clerics are the ones bent on sustained efforts to sow hatred among Christians and Muslims by exploiting small differences to promote divisions.