Free Video Downloader

Rwanda: Calls Grow for Communities to Be Cautious About Religious Cults

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.

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”.

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.