Photo Credits: Wikimedia
Uganda, officially the Republic of Uganda, is a country in East-Central Africa which is predominantly Christian. Churches and their leaders and followers in some parts of Uganda believe that those who seek medical attention demonstrate a lack of faith in God. For example, a 27-year-old Pentecostal pastor in Katakwi, a remote town in a deeply conservative part of eastern Uganda, has been arrested after he tried to stop the medical care of a severely ill 9-year-old girl. He instructed her parents to abandon medical care and rely on prayer. Unfortunately, those instructions were taken seriously by the girl's mother. The girl was taken to the church for prayers by her mother and she also stopped giving her medication. The child's father intervened, together with local residents and security officials, and took the girl to the hospital where she was accepted with serious medical condition.
“I was shocked when I found my daughter lying unconscious on the floor of the church,” said the father, Charles Atoro, as Religion News reports. Speaking of the pastor, Atoro said, “He accused us for failing to believe in God when we demanded that he release my daughter.” The pastor, Richard Asutu of Save Soul International Ministries, has been released on bond and he showed no remorse for his actions, he even used the opportunity to promote his beliefs when he was released. “It’s time that we should believe in the power of God,” he said, as Religion News reports. “How can you take medicines when you are born again? That’s a lack of faith and you can even end up dying. Jesus healed people only through prayers.”
Asutu is not the only church leader in Uganda who chooses faith over medicine and who is trying to convince people to rely on faith when they are ill. The government has already arrested many members of religious groups for refusing to allow their children to participate in an immunization program provided by government. The government has also threatened to close several churches that refused to permit congregants with HIV/AIDS to take medication.
The authorities are trying to prevent religious groups from hurting people indirectly by preventing them to obtain medical treatment. Religious group leaders have great impact on their followers who take their instruction for granted, hurting themselves or their children in process.
On the other hand there are priests who have criticized those religious leaders who are preaching against education and health. “We want to warn all church leaders against false preachings that violate human rights of individuals,” said the Rev. Deogratious Oryangatum, a Catholic priest in Soroti, according to Religion News. “If your radio is damaged you cannot wait for God to perform miracles.”