Uganda Church Collapse Blamed on Rival Pastor

The death of 26 people in Uganda as the result of a wall collapsing in a church has led to recriminations:

Word was rife that the tragedy was masterminded by a powerful evil spell cast upon the church by a pastor of a nearby rival church.

…Residents said there was rivalry between the Pastor of the ill-fated church, Godfrey Luwagga and another pastor.

A survivor, who declined to reveal his identity, said a pastor of a nearby church had called one of the worshippers and threatened him before the incident.

Perhaps surprisingly, local witchdoctors do not appear to have been put in the frame. The Daily Monitor reported last year:

Concerned that too many people are going into witchcraft, Born Again churches in Kawempe have drawn the battle lines. And the witchdoctors say they will be only too happy to pay the Christians back in kind…The brain behind this fight is Godfrey Luwagga, 37, Pastor of City of the Lord Church in Kalerwe, a stone’s throw away from the scene of battle.

The conflict between the church and the witchdoctors began almost immediately, because Luwagga shared fences with three witchdoctors…After a short while, one confronted him complaining that he was ruining his business with his prayer and preaching…Eventually he moved his business elsewhere.

The witchdoctor on another side of the church died a mysterious death, while the third suffered a broken marriage and quickly moved shop, sensing that there was something not quite right about being too close to the church.

However, the witchdoctors’ stated plan was to hold rival evangelistic-style gatherings, rather than to unleash occult forces. (We saw another account of a witchdoctor coming to a sorry end after challenging a Ugandan evangelist just a couple of weeks ago)

A rival, mundane, explanation blames Luwagga himself and local government cronyism for the tragedy:

THE church was an illegal structure without an approved architectural plan, reports revealed yesterday.

City authorities said the owner of the structure, Pastor Godfrey Luwagga, defied orders to stop construction, claiming that he had been cleared by State House.

The authorities said the pastor was a close associate of Kawempe deputy RDC Kigozi Kaweesa and that attempts to enforce building regulations were met with threats that anyone who demolished the church would face the wrath of State House.

A fire officer adds:

The structure was weak and it collapsed due to heavy rain and poor construction materials…This is the third church that has collapsed since 1997 under similar circumstances…”

(Hat tip: Christianity Today Weblog)