Alliance flays 'religious capture'

File Photo
File Photo

The All African Federation of Churches (AAFC) is up in arms over what it has described as "religious capture", which it says has been unleashed by a Chapter 9 institution.

Following a meeting with a group of church leaders affiliated to it, the federation said it had considered the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities' (CRL Rights Commission) preliminary report on the commercialisation of religion and abuse of people's belief systems.

"The federation has noted with great concern, disgust and utter disappointment the agenda of religious capture unleashed by the CRL commission to the religious sector with its intended target being indigenous and spiritual churches," AAFC national coordinator Bishop Zeblon Mbele said.

The commission instituted an investigation following reports about pastors from Pretoria who were feeding people snakes, rats, grass, human hair, ants, pieces of cloth and making them drink petrol.

The federation, which is a coalition of 2000 indigenous churches consisting of Zionists, charismatic and Apostolic churches, has been opposed to the investigative study that was launched in August last year. It had called for the hearings, which were held countrywide, to be halted but the CRL did not budge.

"... The investigation was a witch-hunt with predetermined outcomes," Mbele said, adding that the CRL Rights Commission had violated the rights of religious communities and went against its mandate, which is to promote and protect religion.

The AAFC also called on spiritual and indigenous churches to "join hands and unite against the return of spiritual colonisation". "This is leading to the capture of our religions, which will be handed over to those who continue to resist our journey to fully transforming South Africa.

"The majority view must rule and be protected by our institutions in general and [the] CRL in particular as rightful and legitimate. We do not support the CRL's disrespectful, disregard and undermining of our spiritual origin," Mbele said.

Releasing the preliminary report last month, chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said recommendations were that churches should be regulated, among other things.

The federation has called on parliament, portfolio committees on justice and constitutional development, and cooperative governance to "reject the so-called report due to its lack of credibility and vast factual inaccuracies".

"This report is based on hearsay, gossip and ... must be rejected with contempt it deserves."

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