Azusa Report for a message about a new law in Rwanda that made having a Pentecostal service criminal. This is a classic abuse of power by a government that does not value freedom of religion. Africa has a touchy political landscape in general and human rights are far from a core belief of solid governance.
In question, the government of Rwanda called for a law that would target Pentecostal churches for having ran down buildings and being loud. None less than the President was asking for a law that aimed at closing them down. However, like most laws in Africa, enforcement is where the rubber meets the road.
As of yesterday, we have seen the enforcement of it when the police arrested six pastors of large Pentecostal church including the popular minister, Bishop Rugagi Innocent. Officially, it “conducting illegal meetings with bad intentions aimed at calling for the directives to be defied.”
What is Rwanda is doing?
There are forcing Pentecostal churches to meet new building codes, limit noise during service and for pastors to have theological training among other things.
The problem with enforcing building codes in Africa is it often become political witch hunts like we have seen in Cameroon a few years ago with the Word of Faith churches. Do they enforce all building codes for all businesses the same or do they let one get do one thing and the Pentecostal churches another.
Trying to tell churches how loud their services can be is hard to enforce as well. It is not touchy culturally too. Should the government be allowed to tell people how joyful they can be? They could work with the churches to address the noise produced on Sundays in the communities.
As far as theological training, this is another issue that is not easy to enforce. What makes one theological trained. In the land of bible college started by one man looking for tuition from others; education can be less than academic in many cases.
Paul Kagame is witch hunting
It seems to Azusa Report that the President has a personal issue with Pentecostalism and he is using his power to try and close down as many of them as he can. Is he trying to be the African Saul of Tarsas? Unlikely but there is some underlining issue going on at the top level of the nation.
I don’t think we have as many boreholes. Do we even have as many factories? But 700 churches, which you even had to close? This has been a mess!”
It is reasonable to believe that in Kagame’s mind that a strong Pentecostal witness is a direct threat to his power over the people. If liberty is proclaimed and Jesus is exalted, his rule as a strongman is weakened.
This is at the very least a move about taxation. He has also been known in the past to complain about churches not being taxed and that they are taken too much out of the economy.
At the end of the day, the story of Pentecostalism in Rwanda is getting very interesting.