Call for churches to be reopened immediately during level 4 lockdown
Share this article:
Cape Town - Amid the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, pastors across the country have called for churches to be reopened with immediate effect.
Pastors Against Churches Closure (PACC) Western Cape organiser Siniko Nxesi said the group has condemned the government's “criminalisation of religious practices” and was taking worship to public spaces as part of its call for the government to reopen churches.
The group’s Western Cape followers embarked on a convoy yesterday to occupy the Cape Town International Airport for prayer, meditation and to voice their opposition against the closing of churches under the Covid-19 alert level 4 restrictions.
Nxesi said: “We believe that the closing of churches is irrational because taxis, buses, malls, factories and mines were open and operating at full capacity. What can they do that the church can't do? Freedom of religion is a guaranteed right in South Africa and there is a separation between religion and the state - we believe the state has overstepped its place.”
Nxesi said yesterday was a successful day of raising awareness for their plight. However, if it so happened that churches were not able to reopen after the president’s next address, they were prepared to intensify their efforts and continue to occupy even more public spaces such as malls and the freeway for worship purposes.
PACC Western Cape chairperson Zongamele Baliso said the movement was supported by around 300 churches in the province.
Baliso said churches could comply with the protocols in the same way that businesses were able to comply and that they were not afraid of spreading Covid-19 as they could not be tagged as the only super-spreader.
Nxesi said the church needed to be reopened for a number of reasons, but most importantly many people needed the church to act as a spiritual hospital, especially since most of their congregants could not afford to see psychologists and psychiatrists when dealing with their mental health and grief.
The organiser said they also rejected the call to host church services online because most people could not afford data to access these services.
“We are so disappointed in our government for treating the church as non-essential and we will continue fighting till the church is never closed again,” said Baliso.