28 August 2017

Malawi: Pastors Ask for Registration of Churches

Photo: The New Times
A volunteer tests for HIV (file photo).

In the wake of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, Pastors Fraternal in Ntchisi Thursday asked the district council to consider registering churches to bring sanity in their operations, claiming other emerging churches were fueling death of people living with the virus.

"We would want churches to get registered at the council, especially the newly established one including fellowships. They tell people living with the virus to stop taking drugs, a situation that is resulting in many of them losing their lives very fast. Most of them bring problems instead of preaching hope," said James Namaya, United Methodist Church pastor.

He said this during a meeting which Ladder for Development, a local non-governmental organisation in Ntchisi, organised for pastors to help them understand the importance of reaching out to different isolated groups in the religious circles in their fight against the pandemic.

Namaya said if council register churches, it will be easy to make follow ups and take to task those bringing confusion in communities.

"We have had a scenario where a church went to our district hospital and told patients to wake up from their sick beds and follow the pastor for baptism. Patients woke up and followed in anticipation for cure, with their drips hanging," he said, adding that this can stop if such churches are followed and questioned.

The pastor noted that such churches are a disgrace to other churches as they taint the image of all churches in the district. He called for action to control this misleading practice.

In her comment, Ntchisi District Commissioner Malango Bottoman said as much as churches had all the freedoms of worship, there was a need for them to take responsibility of their actions.

"With all these messages of HIV and AIDS, we don't expect a church to tell its followers living with the virus to stop taking drugs. Churches have a role to play in their member's well being," she said.

However, the commissioner said the council has no mandate to register churches or any religious groupings.

"The only thing we can do is to involve our District Aids Coordinating Committee to follow up any allegations on infringement to the rights for people living with the virus.

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