The Pentecostal god selling scam and opulent lifestyle of pastors
As Susan completed her Master’s degree, her family began looking for a perfect bridegroom. Since her father passed away, Susan’s marital burden became her mother’s sole responsibility. Susan’s mother being unaware of the pros and cons of the modern world, used to consult the advice of a prophet, a ‘Godly man’ who was a servant of God before she took up any final decision. His prediction formed the basis of their life. The ‘servant of God’ saw the vision of senior retired professor from SB College, Changanassery, to be Susan’s would-be.
Believing blindly that God would not have another decision for her daughter; the mother gave the hand of her 22 year old to be wedded to the 65 year old professor. Fulfilling the prophecy, the mother accepted a man, the age of her father, as her son-in-law. Susan’s mother followed the traditional old thoughts which taught that the prophecy of the ‘servant of God’ should be given preference over the mental and physical needs of the bride.
The pastor preached the ‘Word of God’ to the young woman behind closed doors. Reshma, the Binoy pastor’s wife kept knocking the door during the preaching which infuriated him. Reshma had told about this particular incident to her close relatives, who later found her hanging dead. The ‘Fire Wings’ pastor Binoy was charged of murdering his wife by Reshma’s mother and neighbours. But the pastor could not be proved guilty because of the lack of evidences. Like all other murder cases, Reshma’s murder also went into the dark shelves. Though Reshma was found hanging from the window which was only 3 inches long, the police were still searching for strong evidences to prove it was a murder.
Are you suffering from mental distress? Are you a victim of any contagious, deadly disease? If so Brother Sajith Joseph, from Kannur would be praying for you now. Singing takes Sajith brother into a trance, which inspires all the people present at the gathering to sing along. As the Brother says that a strange power would overpower them, they would all wait patiently for a miracle to occur.
There are many examples to such stories, some would be known, some would be unknown to the common public. In such a way another phase of Christian faith is taking pace. They are commonly called as “Pentecostals”.There is a wrong notion politically that the UDF lost their power in Kerala because of the strength the Pentecostals have on the society. Being baptized by the Holy Spirit the Pentecostals are an entirely different sector of Christianity and do not share any similarities with the other traditional denominations. Because of which they fail to recognize a religious head; a Deacon or a Bishop like the others.
It is believed that during the early 20th century, American Missionary, George Berg introduced Pentecostal faith to Kerala. They preach that Pentecostalism is a faith and not an assembly. This lack of a rigid system fails to take the census of believers, the total income, or the activities of the section. On asking if such a gathering is necessary, ‘Faith Centre’ Pastor mockingly replied, “We have seen the success through seceded growth.”
Pentecostalism ceases to be bound to the laws of hierarchy. The Pentecostal churches enjoy utmost freedom when compared to other denominations which are chained by the church laws. New assemblies are bubbling up like wild mushrooms. Even the servants of God, fail to practice the message of empathy and forgiveness in their lives. These days, the Christian beliefs are being dragged into courtrooms, from the unequal distribution of the Church rights to the conflicts between the believers, eventually uprooting the seed of spirituality from the core. Presently, an IPC church at Trivandrum is awaiting the final verdict from the court, IPC church can be claimed as the oldest hierarchical church of Pentecostalism.
The war of words was ignited by a group of believers of the church demanding the change of pastor who had been conducting the sermon for the past 7 years consecutively. Usually a pastor would be granted a tenure of 3 years to serve at a church, but this particular pastor with the help of few members extended his term further which infuriated a minority of the church. The pastor not consenting to change the church, ended up in a big conflict with the believers which had the issue being finally taken to the court for justice. In case the pastor loses his stand in the judgement, the only solution to the outshame would be to form a new assembly. Following the verse from the bible, “For where two or three gather together in My name, there am I with them” they will form new churches. This gives birth to many ‘Godly men’ and new generation churches. Pentecostalism, belief and preach that they do not require a mediator to communicate with God, but then how does these many prophets, and godly men come up? The pastors try to fit himself in between the believers and God as a mediator though they themselves preach that God answers the prayers of anyone who opens up his heart to Him. The reality is that they receive billions of assets with the “sale of God”.
Kerala is being blessed with the preaching of more than 2000 such new generation assemblies. These associations have an asset of more than 50 crore each. The congregations having grown deeper roots and branches have much more asset than the budding ones. Tangu Brother’s ‘Heavenly Feast’ has an asset of more than 6o crore and by being “blessed” by such abundant prosperity the dimensions and chances of businesses transactions increases which cannot be taken for granted.
Which section of the society gets highly magnetized to the new generation Pentecostal faith?
The answer to the question would be provided by other Christian churches. Their first goal is to learn the Bible and have basic knowledge of God and to get a preliminary knowledge about the devil. The primary step of fishing the believers is basically through a hunt for the ones who have suffered enough in their lives, and the pastors delude them with their fake promises of miracles.
Come to me, All you who are weary and burdened, And I will give you rest.
Though it is natural for anyone being born to fall sick and have worries till death, these ‘servants of God’ market faith through this simple tactic. The pastor claims that he has driven out the possessed devil. And as the devil seems to leave the possessed believer, he falls to the ground. The hallelujah chant of all the believers surrounding the person triggers the next prey to “fall” into the Pentecostal faith. The irony is that these servants of God fail to explain the miracles taking place scientifically. If proved the other way round, the crore the government spends on medical colleges and Multi Speciality clinics could be directed to the public treasury.
Daughters weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
Women sitting glued to the television to watch serials which have nil rational logic behind the story thread points how brittle the rating of a woman’s mind tends to be, this is another strategy of the Pentecostal congregation. They know to drill out business venture and bribe from the weakness of feminine sector using common quarrels between the couple or the children’s future stress as a common bait to grab their faithful preys.
Though Prabha hasn’t seen Tangu Brother in reality, she believes that he is capable of performing miracles through his prayers. When asked how she knew about it she replied saying she had witnessed the lives of her colleagues. Though growing up in the fullness of the Orthodox faith, Prabha does not believe in the existence ‘intercessor and saints’. She had deep faith in the prayers delivered by Tangu Brother. Prabha did not participate in the Heavenly Feast gathering for prosperity or to be healed of any illness but for spiritual, inner peace.
You will go to the ends of the earth I will make you happy.
It was a mission by the Lord to the disciples to travel all over the world with the Gospel which was a highly risky commission, but these days “blessing” has become a common word among the Pentecostal believers and they take it for granted; “ the ends of the earth” has been misinterpreted to being America. Blessing has now been narrowed down to being prosperous, first class status in the society and a green card to the US. If not the US the trump card of being “blessed” should at least be any of the GCC countries.
Wealth is the top most priority for being “blessed”
Wealth and social status have become the deciding factors for the latest phase of the Pentecostal faith. The poor and the needy are also highly wanted by them but only as bait for getting allowances and benefits from the US and of course to pen down the number of members in figures. They will fervently pray for the foodless and the unsheltered but will be hesitant to pick a penny from their own wallet! They will help the poor, being a invisible mediator between the receiver and the giver, in return for highly potential advertisements and witness reports! They have different tactics to approach people belonging to well off families.
A senior Pentecostal Pastor tempted the believers into the faith saying, “Our congregation has no low class people but is comprised of bureaucrats and prominent dignitaries of the society who hold high official positions. Since we have VIPs in our assembly we have air conditioned our prayer halls. Apart from the traditional praying system, gold ornaments can be worn and coloured clothes can be worn for the Church gathering. We have liberalized fasting prayers.”
Sermons and activities
When talking about Pentecostal sermons, the first picture that rushes to the mind is of loud music, too much of chanting, claps, with sudden use of gibberish language, odd background music and little bit of jumping, swaying and falling. The pastors do not poke their heads into the problems of the society; they do not empathize with the prosecutions of the common people, they do not talk about corruption but they only teach about the bible and say that it is the only wish of God. Most pastors/brothers have only basic preliminary education.
It is a common rumour that a pastor’s talent lies in stage management. With the increase in the number of believers the pastor adds flowery titles like, ‘doctor’, ‘theologian’ to their names. In Central Kerala, there has also been the birth of a self proclaimed Bishop. Pastors find pleasure in bestowing their ignorance to others who approach them. They belief that the white of the tricolour flag indicates them, the symbol of power, Ashoka Chakra, gives them authority to lectures on spirituality.
Few months back in Thiruvalla, Kerala, the pastors did not bury the body of a young dead man for days, believing the words of the ‘prophet’ who prophesized that the boy would come back to life from dead. The neighbours intervened in the issue and forced the family to bury the dead. The pastor’s attire is worth noting and attention grabbing. Hailing from a state scorching with a temperature of 42 degrees, the pastors proclaim the ‘Word of God’ wearing at times either three piece suit or even full sleeved shirt with tie tied round the neck.
Shrewd as a snake and innocent as a dove
They sell faith through their oratory skills though they lack basic educational qualifications. Though new congregations pop up, they make sure it stays under their power and decisions. As a step forward to it, church registration is signed under the pastor’s or any of his family member’s names. Being selfish enough, they make sure no one grows to surpass them. Another phase of their service is volunteer working. The pastors come forward in helping out the orphans, needy and the sick. They make sure to serve in poor homes, child rescue centres and hospitals. They also assure to present the plight of such people to the rich hailing from other nations, in order to facilitate the flow of funds, but the wanted ones only get a meager portion of the large sum of money. The mediators prosper in wealth as they do not have any pains of accounts and audits as other denominations of Christianity. In the name of charity they heap up large sum of tax-free money.
These servants of God are management minded like all prosperous business men. They have an increase of 15% to 20% income every year. But not all Pentecostal pastors can be given with the same tag. 40 years ago while working in a Gulf company Johnny had God’s call. Without a second thought he returned back home and started a Pentecostal church with just 8 families at Adoor, Kerala. Starting the gathering at a small scale in his house, he bought the nearby rubber estate as the number of believers increased and constructed a church. He sent his son, Tom to China to get his MBBS degree, remodeled his old house though he claims to be doing service to the needy. Being a doctor, Tom took over the authority of the church run by his father. Dr.Tom in turn became a successful pastor in the Middle East and the US while Johnny writes books on bible preaching.
Money, affluence, America!
The fake people who trade faith in the name of Pentecost, mocks the real believers. Faking faith in the name of selfishness, these people should remember and pay tribute to Sadhu Kochoonju Upadeshi. In terms of wealth during his lifetime and after his death, he was a poor man. For him it was no subtlety to be anywhere in the Christian faith. The designation ‘Upadeshi’ suits him rather than the title ‘Pastor’.