Clerics’ mandate is not to judge others

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Yet again our democratically elected government and president are being subjected to derision and admonishment by a coterie of organisations and individuals. Never would I have imagined that the head of the SA Council of Churches and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu would stand on a pedestal of self-righteousness to oppose our movement and president with such passionate intensity. Hey, “Honourable Men of God”, you go to the extent of using prayer as an instrument to threaten our democratically elected president (“Tell Zuma I will pray for him – Tutu”, The Star Africa, December 12).

You proclaim with audacious bravado that you are praying for Helen Zille because, you see, like you, Zille is an “honourable” woman and President Jacob Zuma is not. You remind us that Zille has sought to help South Africa on to a “more healthy footing”. The farms in De Doorns where she reigns supreme were burning – but, you see, we can’t blame Zille. She is an “honourable” woman. In Marikana we can blame Zuma because he is a dishonourable man.

I will focus on you “Honourable Men of God” – I will, for now, avoid business leaders, because they are more “honourable”.

I will focus on you. Because the church is the conscience of a country, we must take seriously your utterings. You boldly proclaim “that there is unhappiness in the country” about leaders who have lost their moral compass – I suspect that by “leaders who have lost their moral compass” you are referring to the president, but I’m not sure who else you are referring to. I wonder what would lead you to come to such a conclusion.

Is it because Zuma is a polygamist? Is it because of his erstwhile links to Schabir Shaik or is it because of “Nkandlagate/Zumaville”?

I hear loud voices screaming and squealing, but when I listen attentively I’m not getting the gist of what the complaint is about. Am I hearing you saying that Zuma is not fit to be president, am I hearing you saying that he is so morally depraved and that you’ll pray until… Prayer, Bishop? Is that what you are saying?

I thought a fellow traveller with you, a Dr Allan Boesak, went to jail for fraud. I never heard this squealing.

I thought scandals came out of the Vatican about abused and sodomised boys. I don’t remember hearing this squealing.

I thought there were stories in newspapers about “Honourable Men of God” being involved in some dastardly deeds. I never got to hear the gnashing of teeth or to see the throwing of hands in the air in despair, let alone a condemnation of these wayward “Honourable Men of God”.

What I hear is that numbers in churches are declining, particularly in the establishment churches – the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church… The only growing churches are the so-called charismatic churches, which are fast becoming the embodiment of crass materialism codified as prosperity.

Your mandate is aptly captured in the Good Book: your mandate is not to pray for the fall of leaders, your mandate is not to judge. Let God judge.

May

I remind you about how God worked or used polygamous leaders even though he did not approve of polygamy. You see, God does not discount people because of their cultural inclination, even when he disapproves of the culture they are practising. One of the people he used mightily was Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines. As you would know, Solomon succeeded David as king.

I am also tempted to remind you to look at the lives of the disciples. They all had serious shortcomings, but God used them nonetheless.

Our president and our movement never climbed on podiums when Bishop Jo Seoka was accused of skulduggery. We trusted the internal processes of the Anglican Church to establish the truth. These processes unearthed the truth and Seoka was acquitted.

Why then, my dear “Honourable Men of God”, do you allow yourselves to be swayed by what is written in the papers even before the public protector and auditor-general have released their reports on “Nkandlagate/ Zumaville”? You’d do well to assist dysfunctional families. You’d do well to help uplift communities. You’d do well to set up your churches as centres of skills development. You’d do well to link up with schools to implement life skills programmes. There is so much you can do as “Honourable Men of God” instead of expending your energy to pray for the downfall of one man and the organisation he leads.

l DN Chauke is a teacher based in Meredale, Joburg.


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