Multitude of churches needs scrutiny

Editorial, Normal

ENGA police arrested a pastor who tried to rape a 13-year-old girl at his home in Laiagam this week.
The girl was asleep in the pastor’s home as she always had since she was a child because she had been adopted.
She called the pastor “father” and trusted him completely as all children would until that fateful evening.
The crime allegedly happened on Easter Sunday evening after the family returned home from Easter service.
You wonder what manner of pastor this person could be if he had just returned from preaching to the flock about the meaning of Easter: the tragic death of a blameless and sinless person who Christendom believes to be God incarnate for the sins of humans.
Still, sin the conqueror overpowered this pastor and, in a mad craze, tore off his clothes, entered the girl’s sleeping place and tried to rape her.
The pastor’s wife helped free the screaming girl, so police tell us, but was hit in the ribs for her trouble.
Police are holding a certain pastor from a pentecostal church in relation to the alleged crime.
The incident reminds us of the very many times The National has reported other instances of very serious crimes committed by supposed “men of God” in many parts of the country.
We remember clearly the case of several church elders who were present and who clearly participated, or at least condoned, the butchering of persons accused of sorcery at Unggai outside Goroka last year.
Not one raised a voice or a finger in protest and when a medical doctor, who was home for holidays, tried to intervene, the church elders nearly joined the crowd to run him out of the place.
We remember too the incident of a pastor who fathered, not one but, three children with his own daughter at Kiminiga near Mt Hagen.
The secret was finally revealed by a daughter who was too guilt-stricken to even fear the tyranny of her father who was also the father of her children. Worse, he was training all the time as a church pastor while he was threatening and impregnating his own daughter.
He languishes in jail and we hope the keys are thrown away and he is never allowed out of jail.
Many more such reports have graced the pages of our print media and the airwaves of the electronic media.
And while church leaders are not immune to temptation or sin from the time of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time to Jimmy Swaggart and the Catholic church’s paedophile priests today, we do expect that the elevation of church leaders to their positions follows some tried and tested procedure.
Indeed, we would go so far as to suggest that the multitude of groups in this country, calling themselves churches, ought to be investigated and some sort of criterion or standard set as to what constitutes a recognised church in PNG.
Today we seem to get a huge number of groups that claim to be churches by virtue of the fact that they have certain following, they have a common place of worship and they have some kind of a leader.
It is always difficult to argue with God so many of these groups win over hearts and prizes in the name of the Almighty.
The leadership among such group is often a charismatic sort who attains his position merely by being able to attract enough following to start that church.
As often, groups calling themselves churches, call upon a charismatic person from a certain area to “plant” the church in that area. There is no checklist of how a person must attain leadership in such a group.
Many actually distribute cargo to attract a following and many are aggressive, follow no set process or procedure of worship.
A lot of these groups exist for the church collections from the “faithful”.
Established and mainstream churches have leadership training that goes over several years. There are different levels and stages of leadership which a leader must pass through and each level has its own level of training and responsibilities.
It is important that those organisations that call themselves churches are properly registered in PNG as are the mainstream churches.
Preconditions for registration must exist, including such things as leadership training and number of followers.