Religious institutions should be governed by laws

By Pelagia Bhebhe


With the rise of dubious pastors in the SADC region who compel congregants to do bizarre things such as drinking petrol, eating snakes claiming that it tastes like chocolate and the recent incident of a pastor spraying congregants with doom, a spray used to kill insects or bugs.

This has led to debates on whether to introduce a law which will govern churches to curb the problem created by dubious pastors. Although it is stipulated in the Zimbabwean constitution on chapter 4(a) that citizens have freedom of religion or belief and right to religious practices, hence some pastors are taking advantage of this.

It is against this background that a law that can govern how churches operate should be put in place so that the notorious pastors who compel their congregants to consume inedible substances can be put behind bars.

These unusual practices that occur in churches show the nature of the religious leaders in the 21st century however, in the past there have been religious practices that were enforcing gender inequality, infringing the rights of citizens to access medical help and even children were not allowed to go to school.

The recent practices are bit extreme as they have the ability to affect the health of individual and hence having long term effects.

Given this a law that can prevent the occurrence of such unscrupulous practices is required so as to save the lives of desperate individuals.

However, it is important to consider that the constitution which governs the activities of citizens in any country stipulates that people have the right to religious practices. Having a law which is not inline will present a challenge as the constitution has completely different provisions from the law which will govern religious bodies.Although it is necessary to have such a law It will be difficult to enforce such a law.


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