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Gov't Using Pentecostalism, Gambling To Address Youth Challenges –Researchers

Researchers have criticized president Museveni government for hiding under Pentecostalism, gambling and leisure as a quick way to escape its responsibility of providing for the population and largely to the youth.
Christians worshiping at Kiteredde Pentecostal Church in Mityana –File Photo

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Researchers have criticized president, Yoweri Museveni’s government for hiding under the Pentecostal movement; gambling and leisure as a quick way escape from its responsibility of providing for the population especially youths.  

They observe that the rate at which, the Pentecostal movement has been gaining grip across Uganda’s population, especially among youth is extraordinary.   

  Dr. Barbara Bompani, a Senior Lecturer at University of Edinburgh describes Uganda as a new religiously infected moral economy, with new religiously framed public action, public morality and the moralisation of public debate.

In her latest research titled: “Religious economies: Pentecostal-charismatic churches and the framing of a new moral order in neoliberal Uganda,” Bompani observes that Pentecostal churches have flourished and been protected by the state under President Museveni’s government.

  “They have been free to worship, so they do not criticize the government at all. In fact, they praise it!” she notes.  Dr. Bompani says President Museveni has integrated religion into public affairs, making particular religious groups an ally to the government and mediators between state and society.  

  “It is equally true that Pentecostal Charismatic churches gained from the alliance with Museveni not only in terms of protection, safety and opportunities to express themselves in the public space, but also in terms of power and money-making possibilities that allowed churches to become centers of economic accumulation and navigating political networks for gaining more public visibility and getting access to several centers of power,” Dr. Bompani notes.        

Prof. John Jean Barya, a law don at Makerere University, says the state has been running away from its responsibility forcing the church to provide understand where ordinarily government should.

 

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He observes that the state has been promoting Pentecostalism  leisure and sports as well as gambling as immediate solutions to youth challenges.    

“The plight of the youth and the rise of the answers that we have to the problems not only of society but mainly of youth has been three. We have Pentecostalism as an answer, we have leisure, sports and music and gambling,” Prof. Barya argues.  

Adding that; “These three things are being promoted by the state as an alternative to state failure to provide rights and social services and therefore what is sold to the people is ideology or propaganda.”  

According to Barya, the ideology of the Pentecostal churches is that they are solutions to all societal problems.  “All the problems in the world are solved by a pastor. And the state is very happy to promote that as an answer. I hope we can do research, how many Pentecostal churches we have in Uganda and how many people adhere to them. I am sure it’s more 50 per cent of the population,” Prof. Barya.    

Prof. Barya contends that art; leisure, sports and music are an additional answer, first as a form of employment but also as a way of dealing with social problems.  

"Because every day you are watching Manchester United, Arsenal and sometimes you fight over them. Ebivulu (concerts) all the time. All of dubious quality but they are a good escape route for the youth,” he observed.     

He argues that gambling is the biggest job for youth in Uganda. “From Kampala to the smallest village. These have been used by the state making itself not responsible for the rights and interests of the people but also mainly for the youth,” he said.