Abusive pastors should know: all will be disclosed
Today we report on a sickening scandal involving a bishop who preys on his female congregants, some of whom have accused him of rape. Others say he got his personal assistant to send him photographs of their private parts. It is, unfortunately, only one example in an emerging picture of a burgeoning industry of unscrupulous pastors and churches that commit crimes under the purported cover of God’s authority. Far from comforting the weak, vulnerable and afflicted, these wolves in sheep’s clothing use their flock as easy victims for their abusive pursuits.
We note other notorious cases in recent times — self-proclaimed prophet Lethebo Rabalago, who sprayed Doom in the faces of his followers and was found guilty this week of assault; Durban televangelist Timothy Omotoso, who is awaiting trial for allegedly trafficking women and girls from his church; Penuel Mnguni, who gained notoriety for feeding snakes to his congregants, and later used cockroaches; self-styled prophet Lesego Daniel, from Pretoria, who instructed members of his congregation to drink petrol.
These pastors are in positions of immense authority over their congregants, being party, they claim, to God’s will. It is to them that people turn when they are in need of spiritual guidance or are at their most vulnerable. For their followers, to rebel against their authority would seem certain to carry the added risk of rebelling against the authority of God. And to speak out against a man of God is to risk being cast out from the fellowship and community that a church can offer.
But speaking out deprives an abuser of one of his most effective weapons — bullying his victims into silence. For this reason, we applaud the courage of the PA who confessed that she assisted Bishop TJ Pitso in his abusive practices. What has been a private hell of isolation for each of the women involved is now revealed as a pattern of abuse for which Pitso will have to account. It may help prevent other women falling victim to him.
For those pastors who believe they are not bound by earthly laws, we urge them to consult the Good Book, which says in Luke: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”