People who go to cult churches are not necessarily stupid or gullible but desperate‚ says an expert on the sociology of cults and sects.
Professor Maria Frahma-Arp from the department of religious studies at the University of Johannesburg made the argument at a round-table discussion aimed to address the confusion‚ concerns and pains caused by some religious organisations whether they are called a church‚ sect or cult.
She highlighted the high youth unemployment rate‚ the economic disenfranchisation of the majority‚ the rise in witchcraft and the looming development of Pentecostal type churches as some of the key reasons why people participate in cultist churches.
"People are not stupid or gullible. They are strategic. When you are desperate you want to do something extraordinary so that God can see you‚" she said.
She also spoke of the idea of self-sacrifice for prosperity. "What the pastors are saying is that if you eat a snake you will be prosperous. And we know that in Africa people open churches for financial prosperity‚" said Frahma-Arp.