KINSHASA – A rape accusation against a hugely popular revivalist preacher, gospel singer and televangelist has shone a light on the highly lucrative world of evangelical churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pastor Moise Mbiye’s congregation in the capital Kinshasa has staunchly stood by his side during the allegation’s increasingly strange fallout, which has included rumors of a sex tape and a lawyer being shot.
Mbiye, 39, is the spiritual leader of the Cite Bethel “revival church,” a Protestant offshoot founded by his father, Emmanuel, where worshippers express their faith through song, mystical trances and, above all, cash donations.
His jubilant prayer songs are beloved in the Central African country — his video clip “Tango Naye” has been watched more than 21 million times on Youtube.
Mbiye asks the faithful to pay between $50 to $100 to see him perform live with his female choir. The price is comparable to concerts by top Congolese music stars like Koffi Olomide or Fally Ipupa.
The theme of his sermon on Sunday was “Transform yourself,” and at the end of the service he asked the hundreds of worshippers to give generously and contribute a tithe, or a tenth of their income.
But the fervent support of his followers at the sermon took on a greater resonance after serious allegations against the pastor.
One of his former followers and assistants, 20-year-old Eliane Bafeno, has filed a complaint against Mbiye for rape and also for abortion, which is banned under Congolese law.
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