The government claims the churches threaten the security of the country.
The Cameroonian government has started a massive crackdown on Pentecostal churches in the country as President Paul Biya claims they threaten the security of the country.
The CNN is reporting that Mr Biya has ordered the country’s military to ”permanently shut down all Pentecostal church denominations in the nation’s capital, Yaounde, and the North West Regional capital, Bamenda, which have the largest Christian populations in Cameroon.”
According to the CNN, more than 50 churches have been closed so far with the government aiming to close about a 100.
“We will get rid of all the so-called Christian Pentecostal pastors who misuse the name of Jesus Christ to fake miracles and kill citizens in their churches. They have outstretched their liberty,” Mbu Anthony Lang, a government official in Bamenda, told CNN Wednesday.
Mr. Anthony says of the over 500 Pentecostal churches in country, only 50 are legal.
“I want the government to stop these pastors who use mysterious powers to pull Christians and kill then for more powers. All my children have ran away from the Catholic Church in search for miracles, signs and wonders,” said Mih Theresa whose 9-year-old daughter died last Sunday at the Winners’ Chapel in Bamenda during exorcism to cast out “numerous demons” in control of her life.
The Winners’ Chapel is owned by David Oyedepo and is one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria.
Mveng Thomas told the CNN that his marriage ended abruptly after a Pentecostal pastor told his wife to leave. He said the pastor described him as an “unrepentant devil.”
A regional governor, Adolphe, L’Afrique told the CNN that police had arrested a pastor for abducting 30 children in Bamenda. The pastor claimed he wanted to remove the children from bad society, Mr. L’afrique told the CNN.
Government officials also claim that some pastors tell their congregation not to seek professional medical treatment for diseases.
“How can a pastor say the sick needs no medical doctor? We need sanity in our Christian lives,” Nyang Blaise, a youth leader for Biya’s ruling party, CPDM, told CNN.
“My mother’s condition is worsening after doctors confirmed she had cancer. She is dying silently, and yet we cannot persuade her to see a doctor for proper treatment, against her pastor’s wish,” said Deborah Tanyi, whose mother was told by her pastor not to get medical treatment for her cancer.
Pentecostal churches however said the government’s move is driven by “insecurity about the churches criticism of the government.”
On Wednesday, Pentecostal pastors in Bamenda and Douala marched against the government’s crackdown.
“Authorising only the Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, Muslim, and a few other churches, is a strict violation of the right to religion,” said Boniface Tum, a Bishop of the Christian Church of God in Yaounde.