A Tanzanian preacher who rode on his congregants’ backs while delivering a sermon says he performed the act to illustrate what he was preaching about – and not because he shouldn’t step on the ground while preaching as sections of the media reported.
Pastor Berthania Simon, in a three-minute video posted on Amani Furaha blog, says his February, 2016 action sparked outrage on social media with sections of the clergy, government and public linking him to Satanism and wickedness – claims he vehemently denies.
“I respect laws of the country. I believe religious leaders play a key role in assisting the government offer service to its citizenry,” said Pastor Simon.
“This year, it is all about work – guided by the mantra of President John Pombe Magufuli Hapa Kazi Tu. I use that motto to inspire members of my church to work hard in life.
“It hurts me when people want to stir an altercation between the government and I by claiming that I engage in wicked and bizarre practice. A local tabloid even splashed: ‘A strange church emerges in Tanzania’.
“The tabloid used images and symbols that link me to freemasonry. I just laughed off their acrimony. I cannot blame the writers because they thrive on controversy. How do you expect them to fend for their families?” posed the controversial preacher.
“However, it gets worse when they use my case to paint negatively the image of religious leaders in Tanzania.
“I want to make things clear. I believe in God and I can never engage in Satanism. Unfortunately, some men of the cloth garnered Facebook comments from pagans who branded me a fake preacher and a Satanist to popularize their churches,” continued Berthania.
“I am mentally stable, I know what I am doing and I respect human dignity. I pray for my critics every day. I remind them that there’s no shred of Satanism in me.
“I rode on congregants’ backs to illustrate what I was preaching about. And pictures were taken and inaccurate stories were made out of them. They got it all wrong.
“To the ones I hurt I am humbly sorry. Let’s move forward.”
In some of the images, the preacher was seen standing on the backs of three people who were kneeling on all fours as he delivered his sermon.
There was also an image showing the “man of God” taking a piggyback ride on the back of yet another congregant while delivering the sermon to an attentive congregation that comprised children.