Johannesburg – There is a saying that if you want to be rich quickly in South Africa, start your own church.
Indeed we have seen Bible-thumping people move from rags to riches at the speed of light.
Some foreigners who came here to open their own thriving churches with fancy names have opined that South Africans are fools who do not believe in God, but miracles.
In pursuit of such miracles, South Africans would do anything, including giving insane amounts of money to those pretending to possess godly powers to make miracles or tolerate sexual abuses of the vilest variety.
Some of us still remember how our 67 compatriots died horribly when a hostel belonging to TB Joshua’s Synagogue of all Nations collapsed on them in Lagos on September 16 2014.
It came to light for those of us who were in the dark that literally planeloads of South Africans journey often to Nigeria to be wowed by Joshua.
At the time, some were prompted to ask if South Africans cannot find God in this country, and had to spend so much money looking for Him in faraway places, where some of them end up dying like that.
As this piece is being written, Bishop Bafana Zondo of the Rivers of Living Waters Church is standing trial for alleged rape of women and children.
We have seen him before appearing at Commission for Religious and Linguistic Rights to answer to similar accusations.
He was not alone.
Priests and other seniors of the Universal Church appeared before the same commission where they narrated some cruel deeds, which were perpetrated against them.
These included alienation from their wives and other loved ones.
It seems a lot of churches have ceased being places of spiritual refuge
Universal Church is Brazilian and it has been known to rake in oodles of money from South Africans and cart it out to Brazil.
It is found in many townships and towns and services are held daily. At all the services, worshippers are required to give generously to the “Lord”. Do you think South Africans would be allowed to establish such a church in Brazil and milk its citizens like this?
You will not dare.
The trial of Nigerian Tim Omotoso of the Jesus Dominion International is ongoing in Gqeberha for allegedly raping young women in his church and trafficking some and laundering money.
Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, after their arrest for money- laundering and stealing from their congregants, skipped bail and fled to their native Malawi.
When the law tries to bring these alleged fraudsters to justice, our people are seen singing, protesting and demanding that the alleged perpetrators be left alone.
Not even allegations of rape and human trafficking would move those who are addicted to the notion of miracles.
Christianity has gone bonkers in this country.
How often have we been subjected to footage or stories that are just as ridiculous as they are jaw-dropping?
In the name of prophecy, we have seen people being sprayed with Doom on their faces, and others being ordered to eat grass or snakes.
The powers that be seem to resist calls from important voices to regulate the religious sector.
This might be inevitable in the near future.
It seems a lot of churches have ceased being places of spiritual refuge, but are now dens of abuse, crime, and iniquity.
• Mangena is a respected academic and former president of Azanian People’s Organisation.
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