Thursday, December 12, 2013

Religious Charlatans

There is something truly crazy, perverse, and dangerous about people handicapped by religious beliefs. They seem to make up their own rules as the fancy takes them and of course, it is all down to instructions given to them by God. I think of parents who under religious instruction instead of getting medical help allow their children to die while they pray. Prayers proving to be ineffectual this is tantamount to murder.
Pastors at some Pentecostal churches in Kenya are conducting prayer services to “cure” patients infected with HIV, confiscating their anti-retroviral drugs and charging a fee for their healing prayers.
.“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”
INERELA an international interfaith network reports that 10 people a month on average undergo pastors’ “miracle cures” in Nairobi. They have documented 2,000 such cases throughout Kenya.
Victims say that desperation and fear of being stigmatized and rejected by family make the pastors’ offers of cure by prayer seem appealing. It also seems easier than sticking to a lifelong drug regimen.
“We were very desperate after realizing we had been infected as young women,” said Margaret Lavonga, who almost died after attending a healing prayer service several years ago.
She and other subjects were taken to a clinic for a “test” that declared them HIV-free, after their drugs were burned and they paid a $36 fee. Lavonga crusaded with the pastors throughout Nairobi’s slums, talking up the miracle prayer cure.
“I was upbeat, but after two weeks I started falling sick,” Lavonga said. “When I was tested, the virus was still in me and had multiplied since I was not taking the drugs.”
The Kenyan Daily Post reported on an incident this August in which a pastor paraded an emaciated HIV-positive boy on Kiss TV, a Kenyan television channel, asking for viewer donations of 310 Kenyan shillings, or $3.58, before he would pray for the boy. Kenyans were outraged, accusing the pastor and TV channel of “exploitation” and the “filthiest injustice of human dignity” in their online comments.
Sheer greed seems to be at the bottom of so many charlatan pastors’ directives from the almighty and they get away with it to the tune of billions proving Barnum’s quip about a sucker born every minute. Unfortunately, as the ministers line their pockets, build their mansions, fly their executive jets,  so many of the suckers forking out what little they've got are people in genuine pain who need genuine help, not being fed and believing in a load of codswallop about heaven and hell. I was always under the impression that these beliefs went out centuries ago but obviously not. Neither has the primitive belief in witches, I have just watched a gut-churning video of half a dozen Kenyan men and women accused of witchcraft being beaten, kicked, stomped on and forced into a ditch where they ware covered with brush and burnt alive. When they tried to crawl out they were kicked back in. I have never witnessed anything so brutal and there was quite a crowd standing by watching. Are we really living in the twenty-first century?
And the murderous bastards doing the killing call themselves Christians.
Mention of the word heaven and I am going to go off at a tangent with something that’s always intrigued me. ‘Heaven’ is a proper noun, it is a place, a place has to be situated somewhere, so where exactly is heaven? According to scripture Jesus came out of the tomb (surprising after three days his body hadn’t started to decompose but that’s all part of the magic I suppose) mooches about for forty days and then ascends bodily into heaven. Later mater would follow his example. Now it was not a spirit but a flesh and blood body that, defying the law of gravity ‘ascended’ into heaven, but where in the great blue yonder up there did it actually go to? Apart from gravity it had to suffer extreme cold and lack of oxygen. Since those far off days man has been exploring that selfsame blue yonder in close-up as it were and there has been no sign of heaven. It could still be discovered somewhere in the universe I suppose but somehow I doubt it.
For the religious greed can also lead to greater things. It could lay a whole country at your doorstep. The Reverend Doctor William Tolbert, a Baptist minister from Charleston ended up president of Liberia. Exchange the word president for dictator and the Reverend and the whole Tolbert family had nine years in which to have their way and bury their snouts in the trough before being executed by firing squad. At the urging of both Christian and Muslims a court in India has reinstated the law against homosexuality making it a criminal offence with possible sentence of ten years.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

Michael Bussee has a tale to tell.