Meshoe says he wasn't trying to impose Christian rules on society, but simply arguing the economic folly of Ancestors Day as a public holiday.
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe has clarified his stance on the proposed Ancestors Day, stating that imposing his religion on others was against Christianity but that a public holiday to honour African religion made no economic sense.
Meshoe had at the weekend lambasted a proposal by liquor brand Castle Milk Stout and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) to annually honour and observe Ancestors Day on 8 March.
In a statement, Meshoe opposed the proposal, stating that: “While we acknowledge that millions of South Africans consult and worship their dead ancestors, committed evangelic Christians know that God’s word denounces such practices.”
The reverend said at the time: “This nation desperately needs God’s intervention and not dead ancestors.
“Let us use Saturday 8 May 2021 as a day to intensify our prayers to ask our living God to save our souls, deliver us from evil, heal our land, bless and prosper all our people in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.”
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But on Tuesday, Meshoe said he was not against anyone exercising their democratic right to follow a faith of their choice.
Speaking to The Citizen, Meshoe said his statement was taken out of context and that he was only opposing proposing the day as a national public holiday.
“My statement is informed by the fact that our [country’s] debt is about 80% of the GDP… We need more days – more time for people to work and hope that we will come out of this junk status.”
While his party was based on Christian fundamentals, he said imposing their beliefs on a democratic society was against his faith.
Quoting John 3:16 in the Bible, he said Jesus practised democracy.
“If that impression [imposing his beliefs] was created, it was the wrong impression.
“People who want to impose do not understand the teachings of Christ. One of the popular verses, John 3:16… mentions ‘whosoever’. The word ‘whosoever’ has a democratic essence in it. It gives people choice.
“If anyone wants to impose Christianity, I would publicly oppose them. It would be wrong. That is not what Christ taught people since He never imposed,” Meshoe told The Citizen.
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But Contralesa remained resolute in their proposal, stating they only wanted to honour and celebrate their late great-grandparents and their ancestors.
One would never find traditional leaders slamming the beliefs of Christians, said Contralesa president Kgosi Mathupa Mokoena.
“You won’t hear a single day when chiefs and traditional leaders talk about the church and saying the church is wrong. We allow them to do what they want and they must just have peace and accept that we are doing what we think is good for us.
“Those of ACDP, when they have their sermons, they talk about God of Abraham and Isaac. Those are someone else’s ancestors,” said Mokoena.