July 3, 2012

A Warning on Chris Oyakhilome

Last week, J. Lee Grady of Charisma magazine posted “False Prophets, Foreign Charlatans and Global Deception,” a harsh warning about Nigerian televangelist Chris Oyakhilome of Christ Embassy International.

Grady writes that Oyakhilome is now a controversial figure in Romania, where some Christian leaders “have sounded an alarm. One of them, Ioan Peia, released a public warning in 2011 listing various false doctrines promoted by Oyakhilome.” Read a translation here.

Grady’s article is all the more significant because in the past his magazine has unashamedly promoted the “ministries” of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, and other false teachers.

June 18, 2012

The Bizarre Teachings of Ryuho Okawa

As the much-heralded Namboole Stadium event of “Happy Science” founder Ryuho Okawa approaches, the curious would do well to closely examine his teachings. 

Okawa is an occultist—a spirit medium. On one level, the story is simple and grim: In 1986, Okawa took the advice of supposed spirits of the dead, who persuaded him that he was the most powerful being in the universe. The result is Kofuku-no-Kakagu, or “Happy Science.” These supposed spirits of the dead—for it seems that virtually all of them claim to have lived before—still control Okawa and his cult. 

The Bible harshly condemns the practice of necromancy in Leviticus 19:31, 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:10–11; 1 Samuel 28:3, 9; 2 Kings 21:6, 23:24; 1 Chronicles 10:13; 2 Chronicles 33:6; Isaiah 8:19, 19:3. 

The teachings of “Master” Okawa are many-layered. The deeper one goes, the stranger they become.

Among other things, the man who claims to be God is constantly consulting with spirits to produce such outlandish articles as this one. Note Okawa’s prophecy: “North Korea will collapse in the year 2012. Like the Berlin Wall, Panmunjom will be taken down.”

In fact, Okawa’s site The Liberty web GLOBAL has bizarre messages from the “guardian spirits” of a number of political leaders and other famous people.

Want to know what the Republican presidential candidates are really thinking? Just ask their guardian spirits:

And did you know that Barack Obama was the last king of the Aztecs?

This may play well in Japan, but it will probably look absurd to the Ugandan public. 

A final note: Regarding Okawa’s spirit messages and earlier predictions, one scholar writes that “study of [Okawa’s] prophetic utterances in Nosutoradamus senritsu no keiji [The terrifying revelations of Nostradamus] and elsewhere reveals very little original interpretation of Nostradamus. Examination of his alleged communications with higher spirits suggests plagiarism on a grand scale, with the spirit of Nostradamus managing even to repeat a mistranslation from a popular Japanese rendering of the Centuries. It is little wonder, then, that Okawa is anxious to keep his prophecies from the eyes of the rest of the world….” (Trevor Astley, “The Transformation of a Recent Japanese New Religion: Okawa Ryuho and Kofuku no Kagaku,” in Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 22/3–4 [1985], p. 377)

June 9, 2012

June 9th: Unanswered Questions on an Important Anniversary

On this date in 1978, the Mormon Church stunned the world by announcing that God would finally permit “worthy” African men to be ordained to its priesthood. This “revelation” by Mormon prophet Spencer W. Kimball defused decades of anger and controversy, and opened new doorways of privilege to members whose access to church leadership and secret temple rituals had always been denied. 

It also cleared the way for the Mormon missionaries to seek converts across Africa. On April 13th of this year the New York Times featured an article on the church’s increasing missionary work in Uganda, noting that fully a third of its members here have been converted in just the past year.
But the church’s announcement in 1978 left something completely unchanged by its leaders—men with the same authority as the prophets and apostles in the Bible, who direct “the only true and living Church upon the face of the whole earth.”
For more than a century, Mormon prophets and apostles openly taught that Africans are black because of a divine curse—the dreaded “mark of Cain.” This is not obscure folklore or opinion, but doctrine stated plainly by some of the church’s highest spiritual officers in formal conferences and respected publications.
What have revered Mormon leaders taught about the African race? Space only allows for four examples among many.
In 1859, Mormon prophet Brigham Young identified Africans as the descendents of Cain (Genesis 4), declaring: “Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark on him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants,’ and they will be until that curse is removed….”(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 290)
Mormon prophet Joseph Fielding Smith clarified this view in 1931, stating: “Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel.” He added: “This doctrine did not originate with President Brigham Young but was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith....we all know it is due to his teachings that the Negro today is barred from the Priesthood.” (The Way to Perfection, pp. 101–102, 110–111)
Mormon apostle Mark E. Petersen asked in 1954, “Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God?” His answer: “The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence. At least in the cases of the Lamanites [i.e., Native Americans] and the negroes we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that He placed a dark skin upon them as a curse—as a punishment and as a sign to all others.” (“Race Problems—as They Affect the Church,” an address given at Brigham Young University)
Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie further explained in 1966 that “Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 114)
In recent years the Mormon Church has converted famous athletes and entertainers of African descent. In 2009 it elevated a Kenyan to the upper levels of its authority structure.
But on this date we are reminded that the Mormon Church has never renounced or changed its oft-stated doctrine that Africans are black because God Himself has cursed them. The Mormon Church should either publicly embrace its leaders’ racist teachings, or openly renounce them. 
Hoping that we will not notice is not enough.

April 23, 2012

Mormon Missionaries Advance Across Uganda

On April 13, the New York Times published a lengthy article entitled “At Age 19, from Utah to Uganda.” It describes the personal background and proselytizing efforts of a Mormon missionary named Jared Dangerfield and several of his colleagues from the United States and Zimbabwe.

Among the article’s claims:

• “Currently, there are only about 5,000 Mormons in Uganda, less than 1 percent of the population. What is noteworthy, however, is that a third of those were converted last year.
• “The number of missionaries stationed in Uganda has also grown, to 120 from 70 two years ago.”
• “The missionaries say they can net a dozen new contacts from the street in a couple of hours, and visit five homes in a day. They estimate each is responsible for around 40 baptisms by the time service is up.”
• “The [worldwide Mormon] church gained nearly 400,000 members in 2010, about 70 percent of them converted by college-age missionaries like Elder Dangerfield…”

And how do the missionaries promote their strange and controversial faith among the largely Christianized Ugandans?

One example, if true, is troubling: “We are not here to move you to another church…We just want to share,” asserts Elder Dangerfield as he pursues one prospect. This is blatantly deceptive, as Mormonism claims that all other churches are apostate, and the missionaries’ intention is to convert followers of any denomination.

Will Ugandan Christians rise to meet the challenge of the growing Mormon missionary thrust?

March 24, 2012


On March 18th, Uganda’s Monitor newspaper published a reporter’s account of her visit to the Kampala temple of Happy Science, a Japanese new religious movement also known as Kofuku-no-Kagaku.

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

“Kibwetere is Uganda’s most wanted man”

The New Vision newspaper of Kampala has published an article commemorating the 12th anniversary of the massacre of hundreds by the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. Its unnamed reporter reviews many of the known facts about the cult and includes a helpful list of factors that enabled its leaders to ensnare and control their followers, including:

• 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




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
Email: info@acfar.org
Web site: www.acfar.org

March 7, 2012

The Definitive Work on the Kanungu Tragedy?

As the March 17th anniversary of the Kanungu cult massacre approaches, readers seeking an authoritative analysis of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God should consult Ghosts of Kanungu: Fertility, Secrecy, and Exchange in the Great Lakes of East Africa by Richard Vokes.

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.)

March 6, 2012

ACFAR on Facebook

Another way to keep up with ACFAR and news about cultic movements and related issues in East Africa is to follow us on Facebook. Sign up today!

January 23, 2012

Russian newspaper profiles the Legio Maria cult of Kenya

On January 18th, the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta (Независимая газета) published an unusual first-hand report on the indigenous Legio Maria cult and its “black messiah,” Simeo Melkio Ondetto.

You can read the article (in rough translation) here.

(HT: Dmitry Rozet of the Center for Apologetics Research.)

January 7, 2012

Wisdom for the New Year

For all aspiring defenders of the Gospel: Beware of these “Ten Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist!” They include…

Speaking before listening
Trying to win every point
Seeking popularity
Neglecting spiritual disciplines
Lacking love

Are you willing to carefully, humbly examine your heart in order to faithfully represent Christ?