Saturday, August 17, 2013

Is The Cameroon President Right to have Ordered Pentecostal churches closed?

On August 14, 2013, CNN published an article stating that Cameroon lifetime president, Paul Biya had ordered 100 Christian churches in key cities to be closed down, citing criminal practices organized by Pentecostal pastors. It has surprised me to see that the big Pentecostal churches did not come out to denounce the decision of the president. Initially, I thought that he was right, but when I was writing an answer for another question, the Lord told me that he was wrong. Actually, this act will precipitate his fall. The question falls into three angles: Cameroon constitution, international human rights and isagogics. It is a violation of basic human rights and an ungodly act.
How do the practices of the pastors create criminal behavior? Do pastors now have their own criminal code? Shouldn’t they be tried just like every other criminal if they committed a crime? Cameroonians should fear Biya and not the Pentecostal churches. Under him the currency has been devalued at least twice. The parastatals collapsed like a row of dominoes to about 5 despite inheriting 219 upon his ascension. Cameroon is the 5th oil producer of Sub-Sahara Africa producing about 100,000 barrels a day in 1999  and the producer of the best cocoa and Arabic coffee. The economic collapse caused brain drain. The Gross Domestic Product Tax revenue-(GDP) has instead dropped drastically from 25.5 % to 12.5 % due to corruption. As of December 31, 2010, Cameroon owes $3, 344,000000 . The standard of living has fallen lower than even the 60s, and the death rate has skyrocketed due to diseases. 4 out of 10 people live below the poverty line (Transparency international 2007). Under Biya, retirees have not been able to claim their benefits. Consumer debt has skyrocketed.
The government of Biya that ran on the platform of “Rigor and Moralization” has survived on rogue immorlisation under another Machiavellic platform called Operation Sparrow Hawk through which Biya eliminated dissention within and without his own party and amended the constitution to suit his whims and caprices of an eternal monarch in Cameroon. During student protests of 2008, university students were shot with live bullets; some execution style. More than 200 people lost their lives. Unemployment is more than 14% in Cameroon. It was Biya who killed Bibi Ngota and imprisoned Lapiro De Mbanga, Mboa Massock and not the Pentecostal churches.This is Cameroon's report card under Biya.

The move is more about suppressing free speech than security motivated because he realized that the pastors are brazenly speaking out against government and in return is becoming very uncomfortable. Mr. Mbu Anthony Lang, a government official in Bamenda, told CNN that the pastors, “have outstretched their liberty.” This is at variance with the Cameroon Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion and worship.
Those who complain that their relatives have run away from the traditional churches into the Pentecostal churches have themselves to blame for living an empty and dead gospel. How is that the problem of the churches? It even shows that the said individuals do not understand the scripture. They should not be siding with the government; they should side with the Christians.
The fact that one’s marriage went kaput because of some ill advice from a pastor, or just because a pastor has convinced his myrmidons not to seek medical treatment does not necessitate a closure of any church nor should the Pentecostals be held liable. Why did they not close down the Catholic Church after the child abuse by numerous priests and bishops?I guess, every school where a teacher or principal has committed a crime should be closed down. Because some doctors have molested their patients, the government should shut  down the hospitals. What about closing down the law chambers since many lawyers have swindled from their clients? That is a noble idea!
Boniface Tum, a bishop of the Christian Church of God in Yaounde, said that Biya, who has been president since 1982, is becoming insecure about the freedom of speech within these churches. It is clear that it is not for the security of the people; it is a repression of free speech.
The Pentecostals are a religious minorities who are being denied the right to assemble with other community members of their group to profess and practice their own religion. It is the responsibility of the Biya government to protect the existence of the different religions in other to promote individual identities. Thus, these current legislatures and all the measures undertaken by the government to close down churches, violate the religious rights of the Pentecostal Christians. The nonmembers just have to respect the rights of those practicing the religion in order to grant full equality to every other worshiper of whatever religion.
Seeing that the government of Ahidjo and Biya has failed to ensure the religious and moral education of the children in conformity with their own convictions, the Pentecostal become the substitute reformers. The Pentecostal Christians have the right to organize their family life according to their belief. Those who disagree with them, should not attend, but the government has no right to close down their churches and hunt down their members.
Paul Biya in closing down the Pentecostal churches creates a copyright on Christianity; a practice that Jesus himself had denied his disciples. (Lk 9:50; Mk 9:37-40; Mk 9:38-41; Luke 11:23). Those who were preaching on the other side were not their enemies, rather the exorcists. Although those who were on the other side were operating differently from the disciples, but at least they believed in Christ, were casting out demons in the name of Jesus and liberating the people; a cause for which Christ came. Thus, they were fighting the same good fight of faith. Looking at those verses, the Pentecostals, Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians and Lutherans should not muzzle their mouths because sooner or later Rev. Martin Niemoeller’s words will come true:

They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. And then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.

If Biya himself was a Bible reading Christian, he would have taken the sage counsel of Gamaliel:
Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (Acts 5: 38-39).
It is preposterous for Biya to pretend that he is practicing the word of God because although the Bible requires false prophets to be killed (Ex 22:20: I kings 18:40), these are not all false prophets. If they are con artists, they should be charged for con artistry but if they are merely the wrong prophet or heretic, there is no such prescription as banning the church. Listen to this:
States shall prohibit by law any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence” (ICCPR, Art. 20).” Isn’t this the total opposite of the Biya’s regime?
It is a total violation of Articles 2 and 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Biya’s act defies the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Thus, I call upon U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the UN Commission for Human Rights to take into consideration the rights of the Pentecostal Christians. His act is borderline persecution, so I appeal to Pentecostal Christians everywhere to resist even with their lives. Whether you are a Pentecostal Christian or not; it is a violation of their religious rights, and in the 21st Century, such an abuse should not go unpunished.

Until then, Biya cannot kick against the pricks.

St Arrey of Ntenako.  

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). "It is not how well you know a person; it is how well you treat them that they will live longer and happier with you." Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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