Churches in Liberia Describe Ebola as Divine Punishment for Acts of Homosexuality and Government Corruption!
Liberia was recently declared free from the Ebola epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), which resulted in a public holiday and mass celebration on the streets by the citizens. Click here if you missed it!
But, the main social nerve center of the country’s community – the church – has seen flagging numbers of congregants compared to its pre-epidemic days, New York Times reports, as the Church tries to repair something more fundamental: its spirit.
“Some of you are thinking that this church will die,” the church secretary, Joseph Vayombo, recently shouted in the small Pentecostal church here, no longer able to contain his frustration at all the empty seats around him. “There are people here who want this church to die.”
The Christian churches in Liberia, particularly the Pentecostal, have been the alternative healing centers in the country besides the hospitals where some church members had opted for faith hearings. It was the contact between other members of the church and the pastors administering hearings to the Ebola stricken victims that reportedly infected scores within the community. Like many people there, church leaders often denied that Ebola, a disease new to West Africa, was real. At an emergency meeting last July, the Liberia Council of Churches, the country’s main group for Christians, described Ebola as divine punishment for acts of homosexuality and government corruption, as reported by New York Times.
Many of the sick were bought to church services to be healed. Instead, the pastors who administered the hearings and those that came into close contract with them were falling ill and eventually died too. Many of the congregants later blamed the churches for aiding in the spread of the virus. Last year, after congregants at the United God Is Our Light Church laid their hands on a visitor with Ebola during a healing prayer, eight members died within weeks.
According to the inter-religious council of Liberia, the number of church officials that have died from the outbreak is high. Citing the capital alone, Monrovia, 40 pastors have died from the disease after administering healing to the Ebola victims.
“People were angry with the church leadership for taking in sick people in the church — it’s a place of prayer, not a hospital,” said Mr. Moseray, 42, the assistant pastor, explaining that some members had yet to return. “We’re still around them, talking with them to come back.”
Most were hewed to the new rules, except Pentecostal churches, which were the most fervent deniers of Ebola, said Mr. York, the council’s secretary general. Bishop Amos Sesay, the founder of Word of Faith Ministries, a Pentecostal church with 45 branches in Liberia, said seven of his pastors had died of Ebola despite instructions that they cease dangerous practices.
“Some of them believed that they have the Holy Ghost and they can’t be affected by Ebola,” Bishop Sesay said.
Photo credit: nytimes