There should be strict rules and guidelines in the constitution to restrict anyone feeling free enough to utter the words “self-proclaimed” where religion is concerned.
We have seen religious leaders of churches that serve as spiritual homes to thousands of people being thrust into the spotlight, one by one, for alleged dishonest practices.
“Self-proclaimed” prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife (who’s the heiress of his congregation) were recently arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering. They were granted bail of R100,000 each at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria. Their church is still open.
Just recently, yet another spiritual father to thousands in the country, Pastor Alph Lukau, gained his own spotlight for all the wrong reasons when a video showing him resurrecting a man from the dead was not received as planned on social media.
Many accused him of being a fake pastor with fake miracles, but his church still went on to defend him by releasing a statement that read: “Whilst this should be the celebrated reality the unfortunate truth is that miracles which are delivered through the power of God are now no longer celebrated for what they are, being divine interventions, they are, conversely, in fact attacked and ridiculed along with those who believe that through the grace and power of God anything is possible. We are accused of being charlatans and those who share our belief in the divine power of God are labelled naive.” His church is still open.
“It’s freedom of religion! That is the price we have to pay for freedom of religion,” said one of my colleagues.
“Regulating religion would not just be about regulating religion, it would also be about regulating people’s beliefs.
“We have to allow this to happen. Unfortunately, people have to learn on their own.”
I think quite differently from my colleague. While we all have our reservations about these pastors, we have identified the fact that these issues need to end!
I believe that putting laws in place in the form of strict guidelines and rules on how spiritual leaders are selected and allowed to practice will be a big help.
Making religious schools compulsory, going through a licensing process and acknowledging that the licence could be revoked at any point if there is proof of any malpractice would ideally be the solution. It would force spiritual leaders to be accountable for their actions and scare them from doing anything that is not in line with their religious practices.
I agree with the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission chairperson, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, who said religion was in a crisis situation and needed regulation to deal with the issues.
We can have discussions on the dangers of state regulation of religion and how it will compromise the freedom of its community, of how it may bring up other problems like corruption, of how helpful self-regulation of the religious community by its own leaders will be. But the answer to all this havoc is regulation.
We can’t let fake spiritual leaders be free scam people any longer. We must act now!