It occurs to me that there is a growing phenomenon around religious accountability over the last few years. South Africans are becoming increasingly critical of human rights abuses that occur under the banner of Faith. The last 5 or so years have seen denominations of every kind coming under the spotlight in national news and social media for incidents ranging from outrages to downright unacceptable offenses committed by religious leaders and adherents of faith.
The News Real
The SABC seems to be on a religious witch hunt with the latest incident of the alleged resurrection of a dead man by pastor Alph Lukau of Alleluia International Ministries. This just weeks after the blatantly sexist remarks made by ANC Chaplin General Vukile Mehana that brought patriarchy in the South African Methodist Church under heavy public scrutiny. Not too long ago we had news coverage around The Doom incident where church leaders sprayed insect killer on followers as part of their healing ministry. Another story in 2016 saw an openly gay mosque sparked outrage & protest among the Western Cape’s Islamic community. A similar international issue is also making its media rounds with the world’s first high ranking catholic official Cardinal George Pell being convicted of sexual abuse of minors.
This divisive and abusive nature of faith has angered me for as long as I can remember, I’ve personally seen “renowned” men of god take special offerings for the purchase of new cars while taking money from the poorest who are struggling to feed & educate their children. These are the same churches that have the audacity to preach that poverty is a virtue. Pastor Alph Lukau has also come under scrutiny for he’s gross wealth, allegedly owning Bentleys and other sports cars coming from the proceeds of he’s church. The catholic churches are well known for the continuous cover up of sex scandals. The church in particular has a long history of getting away scot free with some of the worst human rights abuses standing resolute in its belief that it is exacting the will of god, with the rest of us having to stand by idly because we must “Respect Religion”.
The Protected Class
This awareness is of paramount importance because religion and its institutions are a protected class, the incident with Vukile Mehana though being a clear violation of Women’s Rights & Dignity was allowed to be handled internally by the Methodist Church. The National Catholic Church has similarly been allowed to handle its own sexual offense matters for centuries, which is why the prosecution of Cardinal George Pell is making international news. The wave we are seeing now has finally gotten the state involved with South Africa’s own CRL pursuing and investigation into Alleluia International Ministries, something I firmly believe they should have done with the Methodist incident. It gives me a great sense of fulfillment that as a society we have finally gathered the courage to hold the church accountable for its actions. The church does not stand apart from society, and nor should the rules with which it governs itself. Its age old principles & social constructs are in fierce conflict with a modern society that holds human dignity and well being in the highest regard, as the public we must be allowed to criticize and discuss these matters in an open dialogue!
Well-done South Africa for this massive leap forward in human consciousness.
I encourage you to read some of the press releases around the matters highlighted in this article.
- ANC Chaplin General Vukile Mehana Makes Degrading Remarks About Women
- Rights Commission Accuses Pastor Alph Of Misleading Public
- Doom Pastor Charged With Assault
- Cape Town’s Openly Gay Mosque
- Cardinal George Pell Convicted of Sexual Abuse
Pastor Alph Incident
Methodist Church Incident
Open Mosque Incident
Cardinal Goerge Pell Convicted Of Sex Abuse