Sunvoice

Hiding Under The Cloak Of Religion To Commit Sexual Offences Abominable

The recent conviction of a self-proclaimed man of the cloth for rape has shed light on a dark world that exists in our society. A dark world where some religious
06 Oct 2016 11:00
Hiding Under The  Cloak Of Religion To Commit Sexual Offences Abominable
Editorial

The recent conviction of a self-proclaimed man of the cloth for rape has shed light on a dark world that exists in our society.

A dark world where some religious leaders take advantage of the naïve and gullible, all in the name of religion.

Iowane Vakadranu has been found guilty by the High Court in Suva of all four counts of rape. He is not the first religious leader – if he can be classed as one – to be found guilty of a sexual offence.

Vakadranu’s  insistence that he had not done anything wrong and his actions were part of their religious teachings and beliefs, is worrying.

What is even more worrying is that his loyal followers have vowed to continue the religious practices. They say they are prepared to be thrown into jail or even die for the mission of the Back to Eden Church. They believe that the pastor is immortal and one day he will return to rejoin them.

If  Vakadranu is jailed, his replacement will be found. But in a church where men are hard to find, it’s even more troubling to predict what would happen to the children who are nurtured and raised in this commune on a leased land near Veinuqa Village in Tailevu.

The Vakadranu case raises a lot of questions about the proliferation of churches and sects in Fiji.

Back to Eden is a breakaway group from the mainstream Seventh Day Adventist Church.

There must be many breakaway churches  registered in Fiji. We are not saying that all are like Vakadranu’s group. But very little is known about some. We only knew about Back to Eden church when Vakadranu was charged with rape.

This no doubt is a worry for mainstream churches and appropriate authorities.

The pastor has given religion a bad name.

President of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, Reverend Tevita Banivanua hopes the sentencing of Vakadranu will be a warning to other so called pastors to rethink their actions especially towards young women.

General Secretary of the Seventh Day Adventist church of Fiji, Pastor Joe Talemaitoga has said that no one is above the law.

Both Church leaders have raised questions as well if the Back to Eden church is officially registered or not. The members claim it is registered.

Our secular state guarantees religious freedom provided religious beliefs are not imposed on others. Religious activities must fall within the ambits of the law.

We hear from time some of the stories from some of these sects.

Perhaps a more rigorous screening process needs to be employed before a new church is allowed to be registered here. Policing of such ‘churches’ also need to be stepped up.

This is not about religion. This is about protection of the innocent and the vulnerable. It is about the unacceptable behaviour committed under the banner of religion.

No right thinking person will stand by and watch women being raped in the name of religion.

We should not tolerate the use of religion to solicit sexual favours for self gratification from the weak and the vulnerable.

Vakadranu’s sentence to 14 years two months in prison yesterday serves as a reminder to everyone that rape is abominable and not worth it. This sentence was preceded by another sentence on Tuesday at the Nausori Magistrates Court where Vakadranu was sentenced to 12 months in jail for indecently assaulting the mother of one of the victims in the other case.

It is a warning to all those in positions of authority and influence, particularly in religious organisations. They cannot hide behind the cloak of religious beliefs to commit crimes. His term in jail will keep him away from faithful young women driven by blind faith to follow him.

It is a heinous crime that is abhorred by all.

Vakadranu has got his just reward by going behind bars. The concern is the damage he has left behind in his communes, people he had indoctrinated with his teachings.
Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

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