On the 11th of October 2016, religious and traditional leaders, together with Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA), sat in a meeting with CRL Rights Commission to discuss the outcome of the Commission following the investigations into the commercialization of religion and the abuse of people’s belief systems. In its findings, the Commission concluded that there was evidence of commercialization of religion and unlawful practices in some churches. The CRL subsequently recommended to Parliament that legislation be adopted “providing for peer review mechanisms, registration of religious and traditional healers institutions, together with clearance and registration of religious practitioners and workers”.
A proposal was put forward by the CRL which argued for the establishment of an organization that would have the authority to monitor, investigate and discipline its members (registered churches). This proposal outlined the freedom of churches to decide which umbrella body they want to belong to. All churches will however have to belong to some regulated organization. In addition “every pastor will have to be registered / licensed in order to practice, and will be required to have a basic knowledge of running a bank account, running a meeting, governance structures, etc.”
From making people eat grass, drink petrol, get run over by cars, lock themselves in refrigerators and, much recently, allow them to assault law enforcement officials, pastors have slowly become the law unto themselves. This past week a metro cop was assaulted by a group of congregants belonging to The Revelation Church of God. The members of the church kicked and punched the metro cop who was performing his duties in the Johannesburg CBD. The metro cop was allegedly lawfully clamping a car that was illegally parked which belongs to a member of the church on Claim Street in Hillbrow‚ because the vehicle was causing traffic congestion. The act of the officer was in association with a larger operation of the Metro Police. The officer and a tow truck driver were viciously attacked by members of the church in Hillbrow.
Churches in this country have continued be irresponsible with people’s lives, their health and actions. The law has also failed for a very long time to take action against anyone who has put in danger the lives of others in the name of some ridiculous religious practices. Religion should not exist especially in this time to exploit ordinary people who only seek hope in believing. Churches in this country still continue to be arrogant to the law and do so with impunity.
In a report on Monday the church has defended its member’s actions after a violent incident occurred. On its Facebook page‚ the church said: “Instead of police helping to remove squatters from our land‚ they choose to attack church members with shootings & pepper sprays … This is the Freedom we fought for‚ for our own people to attack us.” One of the congregants was arrested when the JMPD officer’s firearm was handed back at the Johannesburg Central Police Station. JMPD spokesperson chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said on Monday that the officer is recovering well. “He was unconscious when he was taken in‚ but he was observed last night and taken for tests. I can’t confirm if he has been discharged this morning but he did gain consciousness.”