Religious leaders should not mislead their flock

Friday November 16 2018

Tororo Archbishop E

Tororo Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo 

By Editorial

The proliferation of religious groups in the country is raising concern, prompting some faith leaders to voice caution. In particular, Tororo Archbishop Emmanuel Obbo has urged Christian men and women to guide believers against new religious groups that do not offer clear guidance to their followers (see Daily Monitor of November 12).
According to the archbishop, religious leaders should, and rightly so, respect themselves if they are to take their followers in the right direction.
For instance, it is common, especially in the Pentecostal churches, for unscrupulous leaders (pastor, prophet, apostle, evangelist or priests – whatever they choose to call themselves) to discourage their followers from seeking medical care from health facilities and instead misadvising them to resort to prayers in order to get healed. This is unacceptable. Others hoodwink their followers to pay huge sums of money in exchange for prayers and blessings. They deceive the unsuspecting believers that the amount of money they pay to church as offertory, tithe and thanksgiving will determine the ease with which they can secure a passport, a visa (to the US, UK, etc.), a big job, a posh car, a rich husband or rich wife - the list is endless. This is akin to distortion. Prayers should be more about spiritual enrichment, not worldly riches.
Some religious leaders have been blamed for encouraging laziness among their followers by keeping them in church for far too long instead of letting them to go and work. Isn’t it the scriptures that talk about man eating from own sweat?
The futility of the so-called spiritual and moral reshaping of Ugandans by these churches do not tantamount to much. Otherwise, with the increasing number of religious groups and churches, what explains the rampant heinous crimes in the country like murders, human trafficking, ritual killings, kidnaps, land grabbing, etc?
Besides, isn’t it odd that as some religious leaders continue to accumulate massive wealth, many of their followers remain the poorest of the poor?
Religious leaders should be exemplary and above suspicion. This is because many of their followers often take their word as gospel truth. It would, therefore, be a disservice for a religious leader to misguide their flock.
True, Uganda is a religiously diverse nation with Christianity being the most widely professed religion. According to the 2014 census, more than 84 per cent of the population is Christian. The Constitution, the laws and policies protect religious freedom in the country.
However, no one should exploit this freedom to confuse Ugandans.