Jacob Zuma slams Christianity
Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has berated Christianity for bringing on the existence of orphans and old age homes, The Times reported on Wednesday.
"As Africans, long before the arrival of religion and [the] gospel, we had our own ways of doing things," Zuma was quoted as saying at the launch of a road safety and crime awareness campaign at KwaMaphumulo in KwaZulu-Natal.
"Those were times that the religious people refer to as dark days but we know that, during those times, there were no orphans or old-age homes. Christianity has brought along these things," he said.
Zuma, who in 2007 was ordained as an honorary pastor at a meeting of independent charismatic churches in Durban, told the crowd that South Africans should return to the "old way of doing things" because modernity had been harmful to society.
"We have passed laws that prohibit you as a parent [from using] corporal punishment. Today, when, as a parent, you bring your child [to] order by using corporal punishment, you are breaking the law, but the person who passed that law cannot raise your child the way you want to."
Zuma said while he did not blame such legislation, "I can't be diplomatic about this. It's a fact".
Zuma's apparent criticism of Christianity is in marked contrast to the ANC's long history of using religious terminology to promote itself.
Rule for eternity
On Tuesday, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said the ANC needed to remain steadfast as the ruler of South Africa until Jesus returned to the world.
Motshekga received thunderous applause after he told attendants at the Limpopo African National Congress's elective conference in Polokwane, "the organisation has a responsibility to rule until Jesus pays us another visit".
These remarks echoed comments made by Zuma in June 2009 at a rally in Mpumalanga, when he said that the ANC "will rule until Jesus comes".
In February this year, Zuma caused outrage after he apparently tried to woo Eastern Cape voters for the local elections by telling them they would go to heaven if they voted for the ANC; and conversely would experience fiery damnation if they did not.
A Democratic Alliance transcript of Zuma's remarks during the voter registration drive in Mthatha claimed he said: "When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven. When you don't vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork... who cooks people.
"When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed. When you get up there, there are different cards used but when you have an ANC card, you will be let through to go to heaven."
At the time, ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said that if the word "heaven" was inappropriate in a figurative sense, expressions such as 'marriage made in heaven', 'heavenly voices' and 'sweets from heaven' would not exist.
Six months earlier, Free State ANC leader Ace Magashule told some 900 ANC delegates at a provincial list conference in Bethlehem that they should follow party leader Zuma the same way people in church followed Jesus.
In December 2008, Magashule told Volksblad newspaper that Zuma was suffering just like Jesus Christ did.
"Jesus was persecuted. He was called names and betrayed. It's the same kind of suffering Mr Zuma has had to bear recently, but he's still standing strong. He's not giving up."
At the time Zuma was involved in appealing with a Supreme Court of Appeal case where he was defending a High Court ruling that saw graft charges dropped against him.
The ruling was later upheld.
Magashule said at the time he was not saying Zuma was Jesus.
"He can't be Jesus. I merely compared the kind of persecution that had to be endured."
In November 2008, Zuma said that South Africa was a country based on the rules and principles of God.
Speaking at a national presidential religious leaders’ conference he said: "When all of us take office in government... we raise our right hand and indeed pronounce... so help me God. I believe no-one can argue South Africa is not based on the principles of God," said Zuma.
During Zuma's 2006 trial rape, many of his supporters likened him to Jesus.
"Zuma is Jesus," read one a banner outside the South Gauteng High Court at the time, while another supporter carried a white, wooden home-made crucifix asking: "Why are you crucifying Zuma?"
The crucifix also bore a decoupaged picture of Zuma with outstretched arms.