Barely a year after the drama of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome‘s divorce from his wife Anita, the Pastor, who has been ranked as one of the richest pastors in the world, is currently walking through rough edges in South Africa following his refusal to comply with government orders to make public his financial records. Based on a report in News 24, many important church leaders have not acted in accordance with the demands of the South African Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.
The Commission, led by the chairperson of the Commission for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, is carrying out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of the commercialization of religion and the abuse of people’s beliefs within South Africa, where Christ Embassy has numerous branches. In the words of the super woman “These people take money from people. What are they doing with that money? We want to know. We will not back down”.
Everyone summoned to the hearings is required to present their ordination certificate, the church registration certificate, bank statements and the yearly financial statements dating back to 2012. She insisted that dropping the investigation is not in any way an option, insisting that “Some of these religious leaders will face prison sentences if they do not comply and we have been clear about our course of action”.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva picked out Oyakhilome, saying that he’s persisting that he would battle out the commission in court before releasing his records. But Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said insistently “If he intends on that route, we are ready. He will have to face the same fate as the others who refuse to hand over their financial records,” .
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Despite the fact that the National Religious Leaders Council (NRLC) led by pastor Ray Mcauley, wrote a letter to the CRL saying they were completely caught off guard and disappointed at receiving subpoenas, the head of CRL insists the investigation will still go on. She told News 24, :
“What I can tell you is that we are not backing down, irrespective of what resistance we face.
“We will continue with the course and churches will show us their financial statements.
“We want to see how much they receive from tithes, offerings and donations.
“They must show us how the money is used because they are not supposed to be making a profit,”
She intends to be ready for all the pressure and hostile reactions she will receive and had received from some of the pastors, who feel she is acting more than she should and has no authority over their churches, which are registered as not-for-profit organisations.
Church leaders who are involved are expected to open their books to scrutiny by laying bare their records, including all the finances of their centres of worship.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva mentioned the Nigerian mega church leader T.B. Joshua during the hearing of South African Bishop Stephen Zondo. She stated that the equally controversial Nigerian church head shows a good example of one who uses his finances publicly to help the destitute, something she thought all clergy would at least emulate to lessen the focus on their riches.