Reneto Adams: MoBay cult behaviour not surprisingSunday, October 24, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
Retired Senior Superintendent of Police Reneto Adams says the 'cut-throat' religion practised at the Montego Bay-based Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries should not come as a surprise.
Adams, unyielding in his view, holds that cult practice is not a new occurrence in Jamaica.
“This cult behaviour has always been around in Jamaica, some more severe and some more subtle. These things happen in Jamaica every day. It has been an ongoing phenomenon. It's just because of the media or because something extraordinary has taken place why some of them are exposed. Some people that want to get healing or to get rich, or even to get a visa, they have to make people blood spill and kill man and all dem things. Dem foolishness deh gwaan every day,” Adams said in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.
“You know the lodge, you know the obeah, you know the voodoo. Many of them demand very extreme conditions for you to be a member,” he continued.
The throats of two members of Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries, which is headed by Pastor Kevin Smith, were slit during a ritual and a third person was killed in a confrontation with the police, who said they were fired upon as they approached the premises on Sunday, October 17.
“PCC go immediately today (Sunday), now. The Flood is coming. Go Now. RUN. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Leave immediately. Leave immediately. Run. All who are sealed yesterday come now,” read one of the pastor's posts on the Sunday before the bizarre “sacrifices”.
Further, 42 members of the congregation — 31 women and 11 men — as well as 14 children were taken into custody. The children were placed in State care, while the women and seven of the men were charged with breaches of the Disaster Risk Management Act and granted bail. Four of the men, including Smith, remain in custody. The other two, the Jamaica Observer was told by police, have been released.
Adams told the Sunday Observer that during his years in the constabulary force he learned that criminals, especially those who had been charged and faced imprisonment, would turn to cults to seek their freedom.
“If you were to have a great experience with these criminals who have been charged with serious offences, some have gone to obeah men and other people who profess to have supernatural power,” he said.
“They go to these people to do things to make sure that they are acquitted… you would be surprised by the things they do. They go and raid graves, they raid coffins, they raid cemeteries. And you would be surprised to know the level of 'society that is involved in these cults and the level of society that is involved in obeah, voodooism, and other forms of mischievous religious ideas.”
He further pointed to Alexander Bedward, a preacher of Jamaican Revivalism who was known as the “Lord of August Town” and leader of the Jamaica Native Baptist Free Church in the early 1900s in Jamaica as an example of how some Jamaicans have always been obsequious towards religious leaders.
Bedward, who told his followers to sell their possessions, including owned land, and give him all the profits also convinced some 30,000 loyal supporters that they could fly back to Africa if they climbed into a breadfruit tree in August Town. In demonstrating to the people he fell and broke his legs and had to be hospitalised.
“He would woo all his members and forced them to gather up a lot of people. And the members, it's white that they used to dress in, and he told them about the coming of the Lord,” Adams said.
The wearing of all white he likened to instructions from Smith to his congregants, via Facebook, that read: “THE ARK is Loading now! 123 Albion Road. Leave immediately dressed in White. PCC registered only now.”
Also, in 1921, Bedward and 800 followers marched to Kingston, prepared to battle their enemies, after he proclaimed that he was a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was arrested and Bedward was sent to a mental asylum, where he remained until his death in November 1930.
“If you remember the history of the church, and religion especially,” stated Adams, “a lot of factors came together. Remember the pagan is a part of the Christian religion and those who used to worship other gods other than who we in the west would call the true God. People used to worship golden images and give sacrifices to golden images with the expectations that this dormant symbol [could] yield them riches, bring them good luck or them their souls for heaven.”
When the church does something now, he added, we are all amazed and disappointed.
“But these things are not new with religion. Religion has always been promising people the impossible. And people who are weak in their mentality and really look something, especially people who are dispossessed. When they need something and are made promises by people who are in high authority, like this man, [Kevin Smith], who has a doctorate, people will join and do what they say,” he said.
“The church has put itself into a very precarious situation. I want to be very cautious, but many of the leaders are leading their flock astray. And, instead of being spiritual, some churches are more physical and practical with a view to getting material gain,” he stated.
But various church leaders have denounced the gruesome acts committed at Pathways International Kingdom Restoration Ministries. In a news release, the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) condemned the killings and defended true Christianity.
“The JCC is outraged at the loss of life and injury connected with the recently reported religious tragedy in Montego Bay, St James. The council offers comfort to those who mourn the loss of loved ones and associates and prays for the recovery of those who have suffered injuries,” the release said.
The JCC also commended the security forces for their swift action and intervention.
Adams echoed similar sentiments.
“The police did the right thing. They went in and had these people arrested. I am only shocked in the sense that this was happening in the lockdown and the police never had the intelligence, it would seem. And if not the police, other persons in the society should've had the intelligence that this was going on and have it reported before it reached the extreme it reached,” he said.
He theorised that similar activities may account for rising crime statistics across the island.
“People go and kill because they are told by these leaders that human blood haffi run. So, all that can be a possibility. Even if it is a small percentage that this is happening. I am not ruling that out.”