Pentecostal Pastors Are Confiscating AIDS Patients' Life Savings & Anti-Retrovirals To Offer Prayers For Cure Instead
Africa's image of being unwilling to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic scourge afflicting millions of its citizens worsens today with news of a new, deplorable practice at the hands of Pentecostal pastors. Pastors are now confiscating the HIV+ and AIDS sufferers to give up their anti-retrovirals (along with their life's savings) in exchange for healing through prayer. Pray the AIDS away, if you will.
At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.
The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.
“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”
Not all in Africa's religious community are on board with the new practice.
“We (clergy) must demonstrate leadership in this area,” said Jane Ng’ang’a, who coordinates the Kenya chapter of INERELA+, an interfaith network of religious leaders living with HIV. “We should be in the forefront, encouraging adherence to the medicines, as we offer psychological and mental support to those infected and affected.”
But INERELA+'s plea isn't being heard fast enough. As victims of the pastoral scam experience worsening symptoms or death, reports of at least 10 patients a month (in Nairobi alone) falling victim to the practice are on the rise.