An American pastor in Rwanda whose radio station was closed after airing a sermon that described women as ‘evil’ has been deported.
Gregg Schoof was removed from the country after holding what Rwandan authorities say was an illegal meeting with journalists.
Rwandan Directorate General for Immigration and Emigration Regis Gatarayiha said the pastor was a “prohibited immigrant” and was “involved in activities that cause public disorder”.
“His [work] permit had expired since 6 July 2019. His extended stay had been accorded to him on his request to prepare to leave but his involvement in activities that cause public disorder were not among the allowed preparations to leave the country.”
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Schoof and his family have been in Rwanda since 2003.
His Amazing Grace radio station, established more than 10 years ago as part of his missionary work in the country, faced backlash last year after broadcasting a sermon by local pastor Nicolas Niyibikora, who allegedly said: “Who can say anything good about women? There is nothing.
“Women we have now in our midst are prostitutes. Women brought sin into the world and when the world goes into extinction, it is because of women.”
Women rights groups and other bodies immediately criticized the broadcast, but Schoof has since maintained that the sermon didn’t preach against women but rather used women as a metaphor for “bad churches.”
After authorities shut down his radio station, Schoof appealed the decision but lost it in May. He has since been criticizing the government over its stance.
“I did not come here to fight the government. I came to preach the gospel. I care nothing about politics. Nor do I care who is president or what party is in power,” he said in a statement on Monday.
“But this government has taken a stand against God with its heathen practices. I hope Christians will do their lawful part in all this and simply do what is right and help fix these problems.”
Schoof’s church was also shut down this February, alongside several others, over safety issues and noisemaking.
Numbering over 700, these churches were forced to suspend operations following a government crackdown on their activities.
The churches, mostly Pentecostal did not meet minimum standards as they were found to have failed with building regulations in terms of legal status and safety.
In terms of legal issues, Rwandan authorities have explained that before establishing a church, one must have a temporary certificate which expires after twelve months.
One must, therefore, make an application for formalising their operations within nine months of opening before the expiry of the temporary certificate.
The news of the shutdown of the churches has since drawn divided opinions among residents in Kigali.
While some believe the move will protect the general public, others feel that the churches involved should have been given ample time to fulfil those requirements or relocate to other areas.
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