Don’t destroy churches, arrest culprits – Body of Christ Party

Festus Thomas

Body of Christ Party (BCP) president Festus Thomas says the police, together with traditional authorities must stop demolishing revival churches.

Churches do not commit crimes, but people in the churches do, he says.

Thomas made this call in an interview with The Namibian on Monday, following the demolition of a church in the Omusati region and other areas in the north.

He said his party is also against sentiments made by the king of the Ondonga Traditional Authority (OTA), Fillemon Nangolo Shuumbwa, who said the traditional authority will not allow the unregulated mushrooming of revival churches in areas under its jurisdiction.

The king made these remarks earlier this year during an annual stakeholder engagement meeting at Onambango Palace.

“You cannot destroy someone’s church, because churches do not commit crimes – people who are in the church do. Why can’t the police arrest that person who is accused of wrongdoing, instead of destroying a church?

“Don’t destroy churches, arrest the culprits,” Thomas said.

The party submitted a letter to Oshana governor Elia Irimari on Monday requesting a meeting between pentecostal churches and the Ondonga Traditional Authority, demanding an end to the unlawful demolition of churches and the confiscation of their property.

“These churches are being demolished and their belongings are being confiscated by traditional leaders on the watch of the police,” he said.

Thomas said the Constitution recognises churches, and churches must be recognised by the government.

“What we want to ask in that same meeting is for the government to tell us where our land is. We call the Namibian landless churches to action and demand an end to land discrimination, poverty, inequality and church persecution,” he said.

Thomas also accused the Ondonga Traditional Authority of having declared a war on revival churches.

He said churches are often destroyed, and their property is confiscated, due to unfounded accusations.

“What did the churches do that qualifies the police to help and execute the demolition and confiscation of church property in this country?

“Can the church commit an offence? Is the existence of pentecostal churches illegal in Namibia?” Thomas asked in his letter to Irimari.

The party requested that the government pronounce its position to Ondonga Traditional Authority leaders and the police to end the “ongoing violence” unleashed on revival churches.

Thomas has called on the public to report any suspected criminal church members to the police.

“I do not support any pastor or church member committing crimes. Any pastor raping, robbing and doing anything wrong, I gave my number that people must call me so that person can be arrested and so that the church is not destroyed.

“A church belongs to a group of people,” he said.

Earlier this year, Nangolo said the authority will not tolerate the uncontrolled proliferation of revival churches in areas under the OTA’s jurisdiction.

He said some revival churches are dividing families and openly accusing people of witchcraft without presenting evidence.

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