Religious leaders are outraged over a controversial proposal by KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo to have condoms distributed at churches.
Dhlomo, speaking at the male circumcision indaba at the Royal Hotel in Durban, asked members of the clergy to preach about HIV/Aids and the use and distribution of condoms to their congregations.
“Churches need to be more open in preaching about HIV/Aids, condom use and the eventuality of distributing condoms in our churches. Sex among children is a reality, just as is HIV/Aids,” said the MEC.
Schools have also come under pressure to distribute condoms after a call by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi earlier this year.
Religious leaders present during last Friday’s indaba unanimously rejected the proposal by the MEC, saying that it would promote underage sex and went against church principles.
Reverend Ronald Ndlovu, of KwaMalusi Omuhle Anglican church in Kwa-Dlangezwa, said, “Dhlomo said we must preach the message to encourage the distribution of condoms to schools and churches because of the Aids pandemic... We told the MEC that we are not in a position to agree on condoms being available in churches because we haven’t consulted with our congregations.”
Ndlovu said some pastors were strongly opposed to Dhlomo’s suggestion.
“By allowing condoms in church we are encouraging promiscuity and the youth to engage in sexual activities prematurely.”
He said it was clear to him that the government wanted to engage the church.
Reverend Dumisani Shezi, of St Peters Anglican Church in Greytown, said, “The MEC said the church needs to realise that these are people’s lives we are talking about and that the church needs to be more open about having condoms available, just like they are available in public toilets, shopping malls, taverns and tuck shops. But I will not allow it to happen in my church.”
Pastor Nkosiyazi Ngema, of the Independent Baptist Church in Stanger, said Dhlomo believed the church needed to play a more active role in society.
“Dhlomo was saying that the church can also play a role in decreasing HIV... I preach about HIV/Aids in my church. We are caught in a difficult situation because there is a conflict in that it goes against the values taught to us by the Bible.”
Ngema said he wouldn’t force people to use condoms if they chose not to. “I don’t want to say I want condoms available in my church, but we are living in difficult times...
“We need to educate pastors about HIV, then the congregation, and only then can you mention condoms,” said Ngema.
Dhlomo, responding to the Sunday Tribune, said he was merely throwing the idea (distribution of condoms in churches) out there to start a dialogue.
“It would be nice if people abstained, but if they are not going to, then we are saying that condoms should be available,” said Dhlomo.
“We are saying we don’t like it when our kids get pregnant. We want school governing bodies, teachers, the community to tell the kids where they can find condoms. We don’t want to deprive them (of access to condoms).”
He said the church played an important role in society and the condoms may be available for people in the community, not necessarily those in the congregation.
“They (pastors and priests) should go and discuss it with their churches and communities,” said Dhlomo. - Tribune