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'Pastor' Zuma raises eyebrows

Published May 7, 2007


By Bronwyn Gerretsen and Sapa

"Odd." This was how Bishop Rubin Philip of the Anglican Church reacted on Sunday to news that ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma had been made an honorary pastor at a meeting of independent churches.

Zuma was declared a priest by Bishop Ben Mthethwa at the Full Gospel Community Church in Ntuzuma, Durban, on Saturday.

Philip said the incident would "definitely not have happened in the Anglican Church", which did not have a category for honorary pastors.

"This comes as a bit of a surprise. Anyone who becomes a pastor has studied theology and has served in the church as a leader. I find it odd that anyone can be made an honorary pastor," he said.

Philip said a separation had to be made between church leadership where people underwent no proper training and "the kind of thing that Zuma does". "The churches could have prayed for Zuma if they had wanted to, or assured him of their support if they had wanted to, but making him an honorary pastor is perhaps going a bit too far," he said.

Zuma's spokesperson, Ranjeni Munusamy, said she was unable to comment on his religious beliefs and whether he attended church on Sundays.

Zuma denied that the function at Ntuzuma was part of a political campaign. "This (being ordained) is a symbol that has been decided upon by the church. In fact, it symbolises the collaboration between the church and politicians. This is, in a sense, to arm me with my work as one of the leaders, that we could jointly lead the people," he said.

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