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Namibia Rejects Satanic Panic over Universal Church

A bit of sense from Namibia:

NAMIBIA is not considering any actions against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) in Namibia because it does not have any reason to do so, a Government official said.

…The comment follows a recent decision by the Zambian government to ban the Universal Church in that country to pave the way for investigations into allegations against it, which resulted in widespread riots in the capital Luanda over the weekend.

I covered this at the time; the allegation was that the church was a front for Satanists. However:

[Said Home Affairs spokesperson Kauku Hengari] “We are a government doing our business guided by our Constitution, which strongly emphasises the freedom of our people towards their choice of religion. Hence, anyone is free to choose the church of his or her own choice.”

This is a welcome development, and a sign of improvement in the country post-Sam Nujoma. Nujoma, who stepped down earlier this year after fifteen years as President, had openly scoffed at such constitutional guarantees. The Namibian reported in 2004:

In 2001, Nujoma labelled Christianity a “foreign philosophy” prompting the CCN [Council of Churches in Namibia] leadership to call a meeting with him.

Meeting a group of farmers in the North, Nujoma had said that the Constitution recognised freedom of worship “but I don’t care because it (Christianity) is artificial, it’s a foreign philosophy.”

Nujoma instead suggested that Namibians go back to their ancestral worship of the cattle god, known as “Kalunga ya Nangombe”.

Last year the President accused some churches of aiding the spread of HIV-AIDS by operating throughout the night.

Namibian politicians have also been willing to indulge in a bit of Satanic panic-mongering, associating Satanism with homosexuality. Gay Today noted in 1998:

On November 6, [Jerry] Ekandjo, Namibia’s Home Affairs Minister, had announced a scheme to put in place the necessary legal machinery to “curb the spread of homosexuality in society”.

Ekandjo had appealed for heavy penalties and even for the castration of homosexuals in the country as they were “involved in Satanist practices” and “are lower than pigs and dogs”.

Nujoma stepped down in March, and was succeeded by his ally Hifikepunye Pohamba, a Christian who has stressed freedom of religion in some of his statements. However, homophobia is still rampant, and in September politician Theopolina Mushelenga accused homosexuals of betraying the fight for Namibian freedom, spreading HIV, and insulting African culture.

There is also still some concern that followers of the evil one may be lurking somewhere. A few days ago it was reported that (emphasis added):

In October, the NC [National Council] accepted a motion by Vice Chairperson Margreth Mensah-Williams that its standing committee on Gender, Youth and Information investigate the plight of sex workers, street children and other vulnerable people.In addition, the committee had to investigate the extent to which Satanism is practised…

Committee Chairperson Sebastiaan Karupu reported yesterday that, because of the wide scope of their task, as well as resource constraints, the first phase of the study focused only on sex workers.

(Tipped from Christianity Today Weblog)