King implements strict regulations for revival churches

Niël Terblanché

Fillemon Shuumbwa Nangolo, the Omukwaniilwa of the Ondonga Traditional Authority, has taken a decisive stand against the uncontrolled proliferation of unregulated revival churches in his jurisdiction.

This measure is in response to escalating concerns in Namibia, particularly in the northern regions of Oshikoto, Oshana, and Ohangwena, where the rapid growth in the number of these churches is causing social unrest.

Reports of misconduct and exploitation by church leaders have intensified these concerns.

There have been alarming instances of pastors and prophets accused of exploitative practices, including false miracle healings and sexual misconduct.

These incidents have not only attracted police attention but have also raised alarm about the potential disruption to family and community harmony.

Namibian Police commanders have highlighted the urgent need for a legal framework to regulate church establishments due to the current absence of a vetting system.

At present, while churches in Namibia are required to register with the Ministry of Trade, Industrialization, and SME Development, and the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN), there is no specific legislation governing religious activities.

The Oukwanyama Traditional Authority has echoed these concerns, calling for a regulatory body to oversee religious organizations and prevent a potential crisis.

During a recent meeting at the Onambango Palace, Omukwaniilwa Shuumbwa expressed his concerns about the negative impact of some revival churches, citing instances where they have been accused of breaking families apart and baselessly accusing individuals of witchcraft, leading to divisions within the community.

In this regard, the Ondonga Traditional Authority has implemented a law making it challenging for Pentecostal and other revival churches to establish bases within its jurisdiction.

Prospective church leaders now require endorsement letters from the regional governor, local councillors, the Council of Churches of Namibia, and residents of the intended location before their applications will be considered by the traditional authority.

The measures introduced by Omukwaniilwa Shuumbwa aim to bring balance between constitutional freedoms and the need to protect communities from harmful practices.

The new decree is a definite step towards preserving social harmony and safeguarding the spiritual well-being of communities.

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