DURBAN – A group of concerned pastors met on Saturday to discuss the CRL push to regulate religion in South Africa.
“We are going to oppose this with all the Church’s behind us,” said Pastor Melvin Reddy after a group of Phoenix pastors met to discuss the proposed regulations.
After investigating the alleged commercialisation of religion and the abuse of belief systems in South Africa, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic communities (CRL) shared their findings with about 50 religious and traditional leaders in a meeting last Tuesday. “We conducted hearings to discoverer whether or not commercialisation existed in an organization using cross sectional witnesses from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and traditional African communities,” said deputy chair person of the CRL, David Mosoma. The aim of the investigation was to make sure that there was “a sense of order” in all religious institutions. “We found clear evidence of commercialisation in cases where people were expected to pay for blessings, prayer or blessed objects,” said Mosoma.
According to an online article on the Freedom of Religion South Africa (FORSA) site, the CRL has recommended that regulations be put in place to combat the commercialization of religion as well as non-compliance with the law, including the absence of bank accounts, annual financial reports, proper governance structures, and visas (for foreign religious leaders). “Any changes that affect the operational function of the Church, transgressed by the CRL will be met with resistance,” said Reddy.
The proposed regulations will be recommended to parliament and these include the establishment of ‘accredited umbrella organisations’ to exercise authority over and discipline all church bodies. “Our recommendation is that a council should have authority to hold religious leaders accountable in the case of untoward actions such as the promotion of national discord,” said Mosoma.
One of the recommendations was to put into place a system that will make it compulsory for religious leaders to hold a licence. “Pastors are called into the ministry, not given licences,” said Reddy, “we can’t be given a licence in the way a driver’s licence or business licence is issued, we are ordained by a senior pastor who tutors us.”
The CRL recommendations are subject to further discussion, said Mosoma.