Maputo — Three Mozambican pastors of the Brazilian pentecostal sect, the World Church of the Power of God (IMPD) claim that they have been expelled for failing to collect enough money for the church.
The IMPD is a breakaway from the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD). Both churches are notorious for the practice of tithing - demanding that their followers give 10 per cent of their income to the church.
The three pastors were placed in Boane district, about 30 kilometres west of Maputo, and found they could not collect the money the church demanded of them from their congregation. Interviewed by the independent television station STV, the pastors showed the documents they were supposed to deliver to the church management, listing the money they had received, with separate columns for the Mozambican currency, meticais, for US dollars and for South African rands.
One of the pastors, Celso Arlindo, said the main problems they had with the church were late payment of their wages, and complaints that they were not squeezing enough money out of their followers.
"They say we are wasting money, while we don't manage to meet the targets they set for us", he added. Another of the pastors claimed he had been set an impossibly high target of 200,000 dollars.
Arlindo said that when he fell ill, he asked the church or support, but the IMPD bishop refused to pay for his treatment on the grounds that "I was costing the church, because, instead of bringing in money, I was spending it".
STV caught on camera the three pastors in a bitter argument with the deputy chairperson of the IMPD in Mozambique, Amiel Frio. The latter claimed that the three were expelled because they practiced witchcraft, and stole money from members of the congregation. "I cannot keep an individual of bad character in the church", he said.
But the pastors retorted that in reality "the church is functioning as if it were a business, and the pastors are given financial targets to meet".
The pastors and Frio exchanged insults on the staircase leading to the Maputo flat where the expelled pastors are now living, and even threatened each other with physical assault.