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Women should not fall victim to religious crooks

Friday September 27 2019
WAGPIC

A young woman praying with her hands together. Photo/FILE

By FAITH ONEYA

Women are said to have a stronger intuition than men. Where this intuition disappears to in matters religion is a mystery for the gods. You may have noticed that, since time immemorial, women have been the main target of abuse by some wolves in sheep’s clothing who masquerade as shepherds of their souls.

EXPLOITATION

It’s no coincidence that men don’t commonly feature as victims of religious cons. A 2016 Pew Research Centre report titled ‘The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World’ indicated that women, particularly Christians, are generally more religious than men. The report further said that in Kenya, women are 14 times more likely to attend religious services weekly than men. This means they remain more vulnerable to exploitation by religious leaders than men.

People like Pastor James Ng’ang’a of Neno Evangelism Centre rely on women to fill their pews and propagate their “miracles”. His latest scandal saw him penalised Sh1 million by the Communications Authority of Kenya for broadcasting indecent content during a watershed period. The story behind the penalty is that a female congregant’s breasts were exposed during a church service aired live on the pastor’s Sasa TV channel.

Truth be told, Ng’ang’a is not entirely to blame. He probably should not have been given a licence in the first place. Pick your metaphor to describe him, but one sure thing is that he has demonstrated time and again exactly who he is, so even in this instance, he was just pulling a Pastor Ng’ang’a.

VIOLATION

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That said, there’s no place down here on earth or in heaven above where exposing one’s breasts in church is okay. Unless the context was different — like breastfeeding. Since women come with pre-installed intuition, one is tempted to conclude that there’s something about religion that snuffs it out. Because this particular congregant’s God-given instincts should have alerted her to the perversion of the situation.

If the breast exposure scene is not evidence enough, then you perhaps have watched yet another video showing Pastor Ng’ang’a slapping a young man and later shoving and chasing around a woman in his congregation. This bizarre video attracted the attention of US artiste Snoop Dogg, who shared it on his Instagram account and captioned it: “When you are late with the offering but the Reverend needs his money.” Again, the woman’s intuition should have helped her judge the unseemly situation for what it was — a violation of her body.

To be fair, Neno Evangelism is not the only hotbed of scandals. It’s just that they make it too easy by fuelling doubt about their intentions every time the pastor opens his mouth. Stories abound about women who not only give their money to clergymen but also their bodies in the name of religion. We’ve heard stories about mothers and grandmothers in the village who splurge money (sent to them by their hardworking children and grandchildren) on “supporting church ministry.”

JUDGMENT

This is not to begrudge women of their constitutionally protected right of religion but an appeal to them to harness their intuition in exercising their judgment, even as they exercise this right. A woman’s intuition is a freely given primal defence tool that could save a lot of them the heartache and headache of dealing with dubious clergymen.

Women are not entirely at fault for not trusting their instincts, as they spend years being criticised about being too emotional or too sensitive, yet this was probably their intuition at play.

But, given the abandon with which cultic religious practices are spreading in Kenya, it’s about time women started trusting their instincts and pushing back against religious leaders who are keener on exploiting them than in nourishing their souls.

The writer is the editor, ‘Living Magazine’; [email protected]

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