6000 churches; All pastors required to hold degree in Theology

(CNS) – The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has officially closed down 6000 churches saying they were playing with the faith of Rwandan citizens and also put up a new requirement of procuring a theology degree before given license to open up  a church in Rwanda.

While at the National Leadership retreat in Gabiro, Rwanda, in March Kagame expressed his concerns on the rising number of churches in Rwanda and asked if they were boreholes or wells that gave people water and also said they didn’t even tally with the number of factories in the country.

Kagame, who is known for his strict hand, also cited security concerns when closing up these religious institutions.

The Rwanda Governance Board said the move was also meant to tighten rules on registration and functioning of churches in Rwanda and also reduce on the creeping cases of fraud as many religious leaders were reaping off impoverished followers.

Anastase Shyaka, head of Rwanda Governance Board also said installation of a lighting rod would be one of the requirements for new churches after a lighting strike killed 16 worshipers and injured 140 at a Seventh Day Adventist Church in March.

Some Rwandese supported the move saying some religious leaders are motivated by greed and start churches to defraud followers.

Government of Rwanda said it respects freedom of worship but protecting people’s lives was first priority.

Kagame said Rwanda doesn’t need so many houses of worship, claiming that such a high number is only fit for bigger, more developed economies that have the means to sustain them.

Proposed legislation aims to regulate faith-based organisations separately from civil society organizations.

The new legislation would require pastors to have a theology degree before they start their own churches so that they teach correct doctrine, said those familiar with the discussions. The aim is to regulate the Pentecostal churches that often spring up under leaders who claim to have received a call to preach.

Local media in the capital have reported that more than 6 000 churches have been closed so far across the country.

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