Zim’s prosperity churches: Opium of the oppressed?

via Zim’s prosperity churches: Opium of the oppressed? – The Zimbabwe Independent January 8, 2016

BEWILDERED by their ever-deepening impoverishment in what was once a thriving economy, Zimbabweans are flocking to churches every Sunday and midweek days, seeking Godly intervention to sustain their lives.

Elias Mambo

The religious takeover in Zimbabwe is best described by Karl Marx, a 19th century German philosopher, economist, communist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist, who in one of his philosophical essays describes religion as the opium of the oppressed.

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people,” wrote Marx.

Thus according to Marx when thousands flock to the churches, they are seeking nothing but a temporary delirium and an escape route from their daily problems.
While there are many Christians going to church to seek salvation and worship God, in Zimbabwe, many others are going to church hoping for a miracle or to be delivered from their poverty afflicted lives.

It is no wonder that churches, which preach prosperity gospel by promising to deliver people from evil spirits hindering their personal advancement, as well as miracles, have become very popular in the country.

Whereas in the past, Sundays would be reserved for leisure, family events and sports, especially football where thousands would fill stadiums to watch their favourite football teams, these days a significant number of Zimbabweans find themselves at churches, especially those centred on prosperity.

Churches are mushrooming everyday with West African-style evangelism booming, complete with charismatic preachers, live bands, and the faithful falling to the floor and speaking in tongues.

Material possession and miracles seem to be the catch word at the churches, a message which augurs well with hard-pressed Zimbabweans.

As numbers swell, churches have lived up to the expectation as charismatic preachers are inventing messages that bring hope and instant results to the majority of the people.

“Come receive your healing. Attend the crusade and learn how to survive in a harsh economic environment,” reads one poster advertising a revival meeting in Harare hosted by Prophet Passion.

Popular evangelist Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family Interdenominational (UFI) Church, one of the largest pentecostal churches in Zimbabwe has struck a code with Zimbabweans with its popular judgement nights which draw tens of thousands of followers in the giant National Sports stadium every year.

With T-shirts, vehicles and posters emblazoned “Your enemy must die: A night when Power meets Power,” judgements nights attract followers from all over Zimbabwe and visitors from neighbouring countries. On judgement night Makandiwa’s followers destroy their enemies which include “poverty, sickness, disease and barrenness.”

Most preachers of the prosperity gospel are flashy in line with the message they deliver.

Preachers have become symbols of prosperity as they show off their riches to the “troubled souls.”

Spirit Embassy leader Uebert Angel recently stirred debate over his flashy lifestyle, which he ostentatiously splashes on social media, including a fleet of cars, a private jet and family holidays.

Known for his flamboyance, Angel hogged the limelight with his miracle money crusades where he claimed to make money miraculously appear in people’s pockets and wallets.

In 2014, Angel arrived for a Crossover night to mark the beginning of the year in a helicopter at the City Sports Centre in Harare to lead his thousands of followers into the New Year. He told them that 2014 would be a year of riches. And they believed him.

He was quoted saying: “When they look at you, let class speak to them. They will see you by the car you shall park, by the house you shall live in. Broke? What do you mean by being broke? When I lay my hands on you, I don’t want miracle money to happen to you; I want miracle millions. You are going to move into another realm.”

Zimbabwe is yet to see the millionaires.

While the majority of people are seeking refuge in the church, the preachers are also making a killing from the “offerings and tithes” which are brought to church.

“Every Sunday close to 40 000 congregates gather and give their offerings and tithes after every sermon,” said one of the UFI members.
“Besides offerings and tithes, the congregates also buy anointed water, T-shirts, wrist bands, stickers even anointed candles which were sold at the New Year’s Eve.”

Another prophet caused a stir last year when he sold anointed pens and condoms to congregates, raising moral values of the church.

Former Finance minister and People’s Democratic Party president Tendai Biti said Zimbabweans have reached a point where they have lost hope in the current leadership. “People have lost hope and they resort to churches. That is what we call fatalism because they expect God to intervene. It is a sign of hopelessness and yes they need a miracle,” he said.

But with the economy expected to further slowdown this year, churches are expected to remain a source of hope for millions of Zimbabweans.


  • comment-avatar

    …..”But with the economy expected to further slowdown this year, churches are expected to remain a source of hope for millions of Zimbabweans”

    A source of easy pickings for the charlatans calling themselves men of God.

    Two guys are charged by a lion.
    One hares it to the nearest tree.
    The other kneels and prays for divine intervention.
    Guess who became the lion’s diner.

  • comment-avatar
    Chanisa 6 years ago

    Yes the global distribution of religiosity correlates well with poverty and despair. It’s temporal evolution in Zimbabwe matches well the tide of misery that has become our national trademark. There are always scavengers to pick at the emaciated. Trying to tell the desparate that they are being fleeced amounts to ripping away the last vestiges of hope that they have.

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    Simba G. 6 years ago

    The Word of God is divine
    It seems Karl Marx is considered to be a higher authority than Christ. If Marx said ‘religion is the opium of the poor’, what makes his statement true. Who is he? How can an anti-Christ be expected to say anything that the church can follow? How interesting it that some people think politicians’ opinions overrule the Word of God. The things pertaining to the Gospel can only be evaluated using the Word of God, not some secular critics or atheists.
    You say the church should preach salvation – what is salvation? Salvation comes from the word “save”. When Jesus walked on this earth, He saved people from all sorts of problems. There are so many scriptures to support this.
    What makes Jesus unique is not just the message of hope, but He can do miracles – even today! For instance, some people come very sick, after doctors have lost hope and they get healed. This has been confirmed medically that they are healed. Isn’t that what Jesus did and still does today?
    However, we are not discouraged by people who speak of what they no little about because they are also fulfilling scripture. “Let the evil doer still do evil…..and the righteous still do right…” Revelation 22:11
    I do not however, dispute the fact that there are some wolves in sheep’s clothing who are leading people astray. Before we rush into conclusion, we need to refer to the Word of God prayerfully with the fear God. Only an unwise person speaks evil of what they don’t understand. That saying that little knowledge can be dangerous still holds some water.
    For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” 1 Corinth 1:21.

  • comment-avatar

    Proof that in Zimbabwe there are several fools born every minute

  • comment-avatar

    What is being sold by these so-called prophets is nothing but a false gospel. They are exactly what Jesus talked about–wolves in sheep’s clothing. They don’t feed the sheep but feed on them. These prophets mirror Zanu-pf. Getting fat while people suffer. God wants justice, and those who exploit the poor as Zanu and these prophets do will be judged. Read the book of Amos.

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    Ko ngavaende ka vanoita prosperity kuBinga kwavanopihwa tithing yetswanda yezviyo or nhongo yembudzi..Ndokune demand ye prosperity..

    Ndiko kurikudiwa gospel reprosperity ikoko not muTowm munevanhu vatorinemabhindauko avo nechekare..

    Varume vanhu vachafenta pavachanzwa kuti vanga vachinyeperwa nematsotsi ayo vemasvutu anopenya avo!

    • comment-avatar
      Important: Genuinely give your life to Jesus and attend the church you want 6 years ago

      Even Jesus, they said He lied. Jesus the man who went about doing good. He are people teaching about Jesus, and they are called liars- no difference, same practice, hazards of the same job.

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    Ko maprophets aya ngaaende neGospel ravo kunaanaBinga kumaremote areas kwavanopihwa tithing yetswanda yerukweza or nhongo yembudzi. Coz ndiko kune need ye Prosperity Gospel yacho.
    Vanotsvagei muno mutown if not kusnooker vanhu mari dzavo nezita ramwari..
    Mumatown mavanotenderera varume vemasuit anopenya ava vanhu vatorinemabhindauko ekutsvaga mari.. Hence kunaanaBinga ndikukurikudiwa mharidzo dzavo idzi..

    Musi uchazofumuka chitsotsi chevarume vemasuit ava hehehe de! Vanhu vakuru vachafenta shuwa!

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    I am lobbying for the expulsion of black Zimbabweans from Europe.

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    Respect the People 6 years ago

    Ugh chikoro ichi chakanzvenga. Ana Marx vomo bata ava. Pane upenyu nechikoro. Uku kupasser chikoro muchifoira upenyu vehama. Taurai nemapoliticians mutiseyewo isu hedu vagari vemuZimbabwe. Iyo yekutiita mafuza anongobirwa mari takanyarara iyi murikurasika. Hamuwane support yedu nazvo izvi. Kunamata Mwari kwashata chii futi? Sei tichisvoora zvaitwa nevamwe vedu. Check kwanaUSA,nanaUK and South Korea dzacho dzamunoti dzinemari kana dzisina machurch akasimba seaya. Is it kuti ana Prophet Makandiwa vacho vatema? Kunyora murikuzama asi chinyoraika solution kudambudziko renyika. Dzokai kuvanhu vahama- fambai nesu munyaya dzedu, muzonzwisisa kuti sei tichinamata. Ivo anaMarx ava vanotaura zve-alienation pamwe mapage mukadzika nemabook avo, kurasika kwevanoshora vanhu varikuita zvinobatika. Patinoti tinoda sanduko- ini dzimwe nguva ndinona hangu tinenege tisinganatso ziva kuti chii ichocho, and kuti zvinotora chii chacho. Hameno, chimboitai tione kuti munosvika kupi? Kushandisa mashoko avaJ Moyo paTwitter “Handei tione.”