Written by: John Semakula
Article source: religionunplugged.com
The Church in Uganda is outraged by a prominent pastor’s remarks against traditional marriage after leaving his wife for a younger woman who attends his church.
Pr. Aloysius Bugingo of the House of Prayer Ministries International stirred controversy on Jan. 9 during his lunch hour service when he told his congregation that the Christian marital vow of “till death do us part” is not biblical, but a mere creation of the Catholic Church.
Bugingo filed to divorce his wife Teddy Naluswa last year after choosing a young woman, Susan Makula, from within his flock. He said the biblical marriage vow is satanic, from hell, and leading to numerous murders among Christian couples.
“The marriage vow ties couples together till death and when one gets tired of the other, the option is killing them in order to move on,” Bugingo said. “People do not just kill others. It is those vows.
In Uganda, the ruling government supports Pentecostal churches because their leaders tend to have great influence on voters and favor President Museveni. The pastors are known for claims of miraculous healing powers like helping barren women conceive children. Many of the church leaders have little education and start churches as profitable businesses.
Bugingo said he has read the Bible a number of times and has not come across anything like “till death do us part” anywhere. “When Abraham was marrying Sarah, did he make those vows? The vows are from hell,” he said.
During the service, Bugingo asked any member in the congregation to come out and show him the verse that says only death separates married couples but no one stood up.
Prominent pastors in Uganda wield a lot of power. Many in the congregations do not challenge the pastors out of fear of losing income or status from their jobs in the church.
In a statement on the website of the Church of Uganda, Rev. Onesimus Asiimwe the chaplain of St. Francis Chapel Makerere University, said that Bugingo was attempting to rewrite the plain teaching of the scripture about marriage:
“What is marriage?” asks the book, To Be a Christian. “Marriage,” it answers, “is the exclusive, lifelong, covenantal union of love between one man and one woman, and a reflection of the faithful love that unites God and his people. Marriage is therefore holy and should “be held in honor among all.” (Hebrew 13:4, see also Genesis 2:18-24; Matthew 19:4; Ephesians 5:21-33)
Bugingo was married to his wife Naluswa for 29 years and the couple had three children before he decided to leave her last year on grounds that the love he had had for her had been swept away and that they could not continue staying together. He also refused to provide financial assistance for their children.
Bugingo also said that he had not had sex with his wife for years because she bleeds endlessly.
In the affidavit he swore for the divorce, Bugingo also said, his marriage to Naluswa had been characterized by mistreatment and embarrassment in the presence of his friends, church members and their children.
“Teddy exhibited cruelty, selfishness and an ungrateful attitude towards me despite my loving and kind deeds, general disposition and words towards her,” he said. The case is ongoing in the court of law in Entebbe, Wakiso District, Uganda.
However, Naluswa has insisted that she loves her husband and does not support the idea of divorce. Naluswa was a senior pastor at Bugingo’s church, but following their fallout, she was ejected from the church and forced to start her own smaller church, which she launched in January 2020.
Naluswa told the court that Bugingo is trying to wreck their marriage with a view of replacing her with another woman.
Although not well educated, Bugingo is one of the wealthiest pastors in Uganda with a chain of businesses in the media industry. He is the proprietor of Salt Media that runs Salt TV and a number of radio stations across Uganda.
Bugingo has thousands of followers that pay millions of shillings in offertory which he parades on camera to prove the degree of influence he enjoys in Uganda.
Most of the people who go to Pr. Bugingo’s Church are those poor and desperate for miracles like finding quick jobs, marriage partners, wealth and children.
To many Ugandans, Bugingo’s remarks have not come as a surprise although they have stirred a serious debate and drawn much criticism from Christians.
Following the comments, a cross section of Ugandans has asked government to intervene and streamline the “Born Again” or evangelical faith churches lest they mislead the public.
Many pastors in Uganda are semi-illiterate and unable to read and interpret the Bible, explaining why the government of President Yoweri Museveni in 2018 came up with a proposed policy requiring anyone who wanted to start a church to have formal training.
The pastors have strongly rejected the proposal, challenging it in the courts. They suspect that the government would abuse the policy and infringe upon religious freedoms.
Bugingo is one of the pastors who support the ruling National Resistance Movement government.
Other clergy have, however, issued stinging statements against the pastor’s remarks.
Bishop Johnson Twinomujuni of West Ankole Diocese said he could not believe that those comments were from someone who claims to be a pastor.
“Nonetheless, I am surprised that he is making such statements after divorcing his wife on grounds of a sickness,” the bishop said.
He also rebuked Bugingo for claiming that he read the Bible so many times that he is unable to count.
“Even if it was true that he has read it countless times, it would be prudent for him to know that it is one thing to read even several times, but another to understand,” Bishop Twinomujuni said.
“Also, it is so disheartening that Bugingo is taking advantage of the innocence of those that attend him, some of whom have been blinded or brainwashed by his heretical eloquence that finds solace in a theological vacuum that he himself has created and made the victims of.”
Twinomujuni then listed verses in the Bible that speak against divorce: Rom.7:2-3; Mal. 2:13-16; Heb. 13:14; Mat. 5:32; 19:4-9; and 1 Cor. 7:2-40.
Bugingo is not new to controversy. In April 2017, the pastor ordered his congregation to set ablaze particular translations of the Bible he alleged were heavily edited and deceptive. The holy books, which were burned on Easter Monday, included Good News and King James translations of the Bible.
Date published: 15/02/2020
Feature image: Pastor Aloysius Bugingo
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