Investigate churches

2017-11-15 06:01
Moeti Molelekoa - Social Observer

Moeti Molelekoa - Social Observer

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Recent remarks by a homophobic foreign religious leader that the power of his prayer can cure gay and lesbian people, are quite disturbing.

Remarks by this leader got me to appeal to parliament to urgently adopt the report of the Commission for the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission).

The commission, promoting and protecting the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic communities, led by chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, has started an investigation into unorthodox religious practises.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva has recommended that religious leaders and institutions must register and pay tax like any business in South Africa.

These are some of the recommendations contained in the final report of the CRL Commission, following its investigation into the commercialisation of churches in South Africa.

The investigation followed reports of unconventional practices by some church leaders which include congregants being made to eat grass and snakes and being sprayed with pesticides such as Doom.

Recently, one prophet was captured by the e-NCA television programme, Check-point, claiming that the power of his prayer can cure gay people.

In our democratic constitution, being gay or lesbian is recognised as valid sexual orientations.

Several non-governmental organisations and individuals, such as television personality Somizi Mhlongo, help in breaking stereotypes about gays and lesbians.

Mhlongo, a self-confessed gay person, is motivating people to be more open about their sexuality.

More people are accepting their sexuality and coming out of the closet, and then there comes someone claiming to be a prophet condemning innocent people in their own country. Foreign nationals wishing to open churches in South Africa should undergo a strict vetting process.

According to the CRL Commission, there are no official figures of the number of religious leaders and institutions existing in South Africa.

Vulnerable people are falling prey to strange and unconventional methods employed by some religious leaders in the name of spiritual healing.

Therefore, the CRL Commission must not only concentrate on charismatic churches, but also investigate mainstream churches like the Methodist, Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Reformed Church amongst them.

Congregants in these churches are stressed by their leaders who are using church funds for their personal gains.

The commission is currently battling to investigate Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng, popularly known as Prophet Mboro, who drives in a sleek black BMW worth R2 million.

During the festive season leading to December, most churches are heading to the annual conferences and most certainly do not submit their financial statements for verification. Priests collect huge sums of money and disguise how they manage the affairs of their churches. Financial books balance, municipal services are deflated and taxes are not being paid.

I know of some churches that collect huge monies and still plead poverty to both the municipality and the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Sars should do an in-depth investigation into tax evasion by such religious institutions.

The police must also play their role and enforce the law without fear or favour.

South Africa is a permissive country, without stringent regulatory frame-work policies that are not enforced by the Department of Home Affairs.

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