By Elezo Libanda
Katima Mulilo, July 21 – The increasing number of new churches in Namibia has become a cause for concern among both the public and decision-makers. Many are calling for the formulation of regulations to govern the registration and operation of churches in the country.
Namibia is facing challenges in regulating churches due to the absence of effective laws to monitor and strengthen the management of religious institutions. The lack of an efficient supervision system with checks and balances has given religious leaders an undue concentration of power, leading to instances of abuse towards their followers, both mentally, financially, and even physically.
The unchecked authority of some church leaders has turned certain churches into private domains, with followers often becoming victims of exploitation. Although religious freedom is upheld in Namibia, the absence of laws that distinguish between genuine religious conduct and manipulative practices complicates the issue.
In recent times, numerous reports have surfaced of church leaders coercing their followers into taking loans from commercial banks to finance their lavish lifestyles. Some followers have even gone as far as selling their homes and vehicles, all in pursuit of promises made by their leaders, such as marriages and wealth. Unfortunately, many fail to realize that if their church leaders possessed the power to make them rich, they themselves would be the first beneficiaries. Instead, these leaders employ manipulation and brainwashing tactics to gain control over their followers’ beliefs.
To protect innocent followers from such abuse, it is essential to establish laws that subject religious entities to certain regulations. While the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and belief, the government must devise a set of rules and regulations to which churches must adhere. Ensuring the protection of citizens from religious exploitation should be a fundamental objective in regulating churches.
The pressing question on everyone’s minds is how to differentiate between genuine churches, driven by sincere spiritual beliefs, and those that primarily serve the personal gain of their leaders. -Namibia Daily News