Just when we thought the battle to convince Apostolics (VaPositori) to embrace modern medicine and have their children vaccinated against killer diseases, another group of highly sophisticated and eloquent spokesmen of Pentecostal churches emerges to take the country back to the dark ages.
The Apostolics, who make up about the biggest congregations in Zimbabwe, have long resisted the use of modern medicine to treat their ill. Their children have as a consequence died in droves from easily preventable childhood diseases.
In recent times, however, more and more of them are changing their ways and taking their children to hospital. They have also embraced modern communication gadgets such as mobile phones and have made the great leap into the world of television and radio meaning they have better access to education.
Recently Minister of Health and Childcare David Parirenyatwa made two profound pronouncements which have courted the ire of the “miracle” churches. He said it was high time condoms were placed in Bibles and also that the so-called prophets should stop misleading people into dumping medicines by telling them they can be treated by the “anointing oils” being peddled around.
Parirenyatwa obviously didn’t say these statements out of the blue. Reports have indicated that a worrying number of people have thrown their anti-retroviral drugs down the toilet at the instigation of the “prophets”.
Lots more have been convinced that they can be healed of diseases such as cancer through prayer.
But hospitals are witnessing an upsurge of patients who have relapsed into serious illness because they blindly took this advice. Unfortunately when they resume the treatment they find the viruses have mutated and become resistant to the drugs.
Also reports abound of the abuse of women in churches. Most of the very popular churches and their pastors have been accused of adultery and rape. The Gumbura case has become the reference for such happenings.
It is true that not all people who go to these churches seek the Word of God. A lot hide their nefarious activities in the churches.
All Parirenyatwa did was stress the point that adulterers are plenty in the church and they should not spread illnesses such as HIV and Aids.
Any reasonable person would see sense in this, but the vocal clique that abuses women in the church has responded by irrationally attacking the minister and labelling him an agent of the devil. It has also accused him of denying the very existence of God.
What has become apparent is that these Pentecostal churches have become big business.
They publicly advertise their merchandise such as the so-called anointing oil to the gullible public and reap lots of money out of tithing. It is this business that Parirenyatwa attacked. Obviously these churches cannot take such attacks lying down.
As Minister of Health, Parirenyatwa should refuse to be intimidated by these evil people masquerading as men of God and should continue to tell the people to stick to prescribed medical regimen, otherwise he would be complicit in their deaths.