Uganda: Under Suspicion

Following cultic deaths of 900, independent Christian groups in Uganda come under a cloud of mistrust and fear.
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More than 500 members of the Church of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments died when they were locked in a church and set on fire March 17 in Kanungu, Uganda, in what some are calling the world's worst cult massacre. Independent charismatic church leaders say another tragedy is now occurring as legitimate Christian groups in Uganda are falsely accused of cultic activity. Local police estimate at least 930 were killed in four cult branches in the mountainous villages of southwestern Uganda, ten miles east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to the more than 500 killed in the Kanungu inferno, nearly 400 more bodies were discovered in five mass graves.Led by self-proclaimed prophetess Credonia Mwerinde, 48, and her recruited co-leader, Joseph Kibwetere, 68, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments killings have claimed more lives than Jim Jones's Peoples Temple massacre in 1978. Examiners say bodies in the mass graves had been stabbed, strangled, poisoned, and beaten. Nearly 200 victims were children.Lydia Bagambe, 48, lost four grown children in the cult slayings. Bagambe, an Anglican, refused to join the cult, even after family members accused her of deserting her children, who had joined the group with their father. "I am really hurting," Bagambe told Christianity Today.

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Security forces in the Kanungu region and across Uganda are monitoring groups with suspected associations or similarities to the cult. "I think—despite the fact there's freedom of worship—there is a level where government should intervene in groups like this where people end up dying," says police official Asuman Mugenyi.Government reaction to the killings has been mixed. While pledging to help capture ...

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