- Recent studies indicate that 84% of South Africans follow some form of Christianity
- Churches and religious leaders are seen as more trustworthy than members of government or people in the private sector in South Africa
- Pastors prone to fraud often display or exaggerate their wealth to lure followers into thinking that poverty can be overcome by supernatural means
According to a leading expert on religion, there are a number of factors that make South Africans susceptible to abuse by religious leaders.
Briefly.co.za has reported many controversial stories on the likes of Prophets Bushiri and Mboro.
However, the resurrection saga involving Pastor Alph Lukau sparked an international reaction.
Professor Dion Forster at Stellenbosch University has provided some insight as to why Mzansi has become a breeding ground for the so-called fake pastors.
The Citizen reported that a household survey recently indicated that 84% of the country’s population regard themselves as Christian, with 74% saying that religion plays an important part of their lives.
Religious leaders and churches also enjoy greater levels of public trust compared to the private sector or government.
In addition to this, religious groups often provide greater basic care for certain impoverished communities compared to state offerings.
The combination of an elevated sense of trust and poverty leads to a situation win which people try to solve their financial woes by supernatural means.
Countries such as Nigeria and Brazil show similar findings due to the above-mentioned factors.
So how does one distinguish between a legitimate religious leader and a fraud?
Professor Forster explains that one common trait is an over-the-top display of wealth.
Another common denominator is the occurrence of miracle healing and prophesying.
The message is clear – the pastor has divine ability and wealth can be generated through loyalty to the church.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has been set up by government to identify corrupt leaders and churches.
However, South African citizens play a key role in reporting dubious behaviour.
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