16 - 08
More than 100 Pentecostal churches have been ordered closed by Cameroon President Paul Biya.
The president is using the military to enforce this directive within Yaounde (the capital city), and Bamenda (located in the northwest). These are the two areas with the greatest Christian populations within Cameroon.
His decision is based on alleged criminal activities being perpetuated in these churches, activities that are considered a security threat to the country.
A government official in Bamenda denounced these “churches” as places where people “fake miracles and kill citizens.”
A Sunday service in Winners’ Chapel turned tragic when a 9- year old girl died during a prayer session that was meant to cast demons from her.
Others have had their marriages collapse due to the recommendations of a pastor.
Government officials have also alleged that some of the targeted pastors advise their congregation against seeking proper treatments, expecting them to rely instead on faith.
It has also been reported that police had uncovered an abduction ring conducted by a pastor who had so far abducted 30 children.
On Wednesday, pastors conducted protest marches against the decision in Bamenda and Douala. The pastors claim that the president is fidgety about the freedoms that are embodied by these churches.
Paul Biya is one of Africa’s longest serving presidents, having been in power for more than 30 years, joining the ranks of autocratic African leaders such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
There are about 500 Pentecostal institutions, but only about 50 are duly registered. The government’s crackdown has so far shut down about 50 churches, and leaders in targeted areas are resorting to converting their homes into churches while the crackdown continues.
By Matengo Chwanya
Edited by: Nancy Nguyen