March 24, 2012
Agnes Namaganda notes helpfully that “A large glowing gold statue of El Cantare, their god…stands directly in front of the corridor that goes right through the centre of the hall.” She also describes several aspects of Happy Science’s beliefs and practices, with an emphasis on angels and “casting out demons and evil spirits too.” As for parishioners at the temple on Rubaga Road, she describes them as “your ordinary Ugandans, your Mama Ivan who lives in a two-roomed-neighbourhoods sort of people, decently dressed in ankle-length outfits and men who are well-kempt but with no overtures of the rich and famous.”
For a succinct Christian perspective on the group, click here.
March 17, 2012
• They separated families, including children, and took them to different camps in a new environment where they would not socialise easily.
• They erected fences around their camps that were opaque enough to prevent those outside from seeing what was happening inside.• Producing children and having sex among followers—even between spouses—were strictly forbidden.
• They relied on deception through selective readings of the Bible. The Bible was usually read out of context.
• Apart from the leaders, other members of the cult were not allowed to talk. They used signs to communicate among themselves and to their cult leaders.
• They had a tight day's schedule that kept the followers extremely busy so that there was virtually no time to discuss, not even in signs.
• They tried to keep within the law and be close, very friendly and generous to the authorities, which helped them to avoid any suspicions from the state.
• They usually travelled at night so they could not easily be noticed even by neighbours.
• They did not own their own transport/vehicles. They usually hired vehicles to travel, they were therefore not easy to identify.
• They used to command all followers to sell all their property and bring all the proceeds to the cult leaders, sometimes burning it under the pretext that the Virgin Mary was annoyed with the owners.
• They created a property-less and helpless society of followers who became totally dependent on the cult and had nothing to fall back on.
Other news reports marking the anniversary:
• “Kanungu massacre: 12 years on, memories still fresh” (New Vision)
• “No arrests yet since Kanungu massacre” (New Vision)
March 14, 2012
A CALL FOR A NATIONAL DAY OF REFLECTION
ON THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE
On March 17, 2000 the world was stunned to learn that Uganda was the scene of an unspeakable tragedy: hundreds of men, women, and children cruelly trapped within a church in Kanungu and burned alive. In the days that followed, hundreds more bodies were discovered at four locations—evidence of callous crimes by religious pretenders who still remain at large. As the Bible tells us, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Sadly, the danger has not passed. Spiritual charlatans and counterfeiters, masquerading as men and women of God, still stalk the unwary in every district, and from among every social class. They inflict various degrees of harm and exploit those who trust them as guides to happiness and healing.
The Africa Centre for Apologetics Research, an anti-cult NGO registered in Uganda, calls on Christians across Uganda to make Saturday, March 17 a day of reflection. We encourage all who exercise pastoral and teaching roles in the churches to follow the example of the apostles, warning and discipling their flocks so that they can confidently “Test everything. Hold fast to what is good. [and] Abstain from every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21–22). Likewise, we urge parents to diligently teach their children to practice proper biblical discernment in relation to all spiritual claims. And we respectfully request that the authorities press on in their efforts to bring the mass killers of Kanungu to justice.
Rodgers Atwebembeire, ACFAR Coordinator
and Robby Muhumuza, ACFAR Board Chairman
P O Box 72405
Clocktower, Kampala, UGANDA
Office: +256713 000 664
Web site: www.acfar.org
March 7, 2012
The author is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a Research Associate of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford, UK. Adding to the weight of his research is his fluency in Runyankore/Rukiga, which enabled him to personally interview many key individuals in and around Kanungu.
Vokes also maintains an extensive multi-media web site of cult-related findings.
(Note: The edition of Vokes’s book produced by Fountain Publishers of Uganda is far less expensive than that generally available in North America.)