Reg­u­late church sec­tor

The Rep - - EDITORIAL OPINION - ... with Phumelele P Hlati

The hor­rific rev­e­la­tions about what was hap­pen­ing in the house­hold of the self-pro­claimed man of God Ti­mothy Omo­toso have left many peo­ple ab­so­lutely shocked and dis­gusted. The tes­ti­mony of state wit­ness Ch­eryl Zondi has laid bare the de­prav­ity of Omo­toso and his in­ner cir­cle.

That these de­praved things were done un­der the guise of Chris­tian­ity makes this all the more dis­gust­ing. The last thing peo­ple ex­pect to find there is abuse and sex­ual ex­ploita­tion from the self-anointed “man of God”. The dic­tionary de­fines a cult as “a sys­tem of re­li­gious wor­ship es­pe­cially as ex­pressed in cer­e­monies; de­vo­tion or homage to a per­son or a thing”.

To all in­tents and pur­poses what Omo­toso was run­ning, was a cult. He gave him­self all the rights to do as he pleased with the mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion. The cen­tral point of so many cults is sex­ual ex­ploita­tion and sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion of the leader, who al­ways hap­pens to be male.

One won­ders why this kind of thing al­ways hap­pens in a re­li­gious en­vi­ron­ment, con­trary to ev­ery stated in­ten­tion and aim of a re­li­gion. The Ro­man Catholic Church in the West is reel­ing from sex­ual abuse scan­dals go­ing back decades com­mit­ted by their priests and, to a lesser ex­tent, their nuns.

Does re­li­gion at­tract de­viant char­ac­ters, or what is it about the re­li­gious en­vi­ron­ment that lends it­self to such de­viant be­hav­iour?

Should so­ci­ety be ex­tra vig­i­lant when we send our young ones to church?

Af­ter all these shenani­gans re­ported daily about churches, should we look at them, from now on, dif­fer­ently? Should we trust them? If we have to watch a re­li­gious leader like a hawk in case he could be a sex­ual preda­tor, then what is the use of risk­ing the well­be­ing of our young ones by send­ing them to these re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions?

The world is a rough place – has that also in­fil­trated the churches and taken root in them? Do churches have the abil­ity and the will to tackle this is­sue? Has the time come for all churches to be strictly reg­u­lated and be af­fil­i­ated to one reg­u­la­tory body? Why is it so easy for any­one to open a church, for­mu­late their own rules and be ac­count­able to no one? Shouldn’t there be min­i­mum stan­dards for any re­li­gious leader to ob­tain be­fore they are al­lowed to form a church?

As things stand, I could wake up to­mor­row and tell peo­ple I am a prophet and form a church, col­lect money and go out and do what­ever I like and no one would stop me.

Gov­ern­ment has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to reg­u­late this sec­tor. The coun­try ex­empts churches from pay­ing tax, so reg­u­lat­ing them should re­ally be a must. In ac­tual fact, we pay the churches to ex­ist through the tax ex­emp­tions they en­joy. If a church doesn’t com­ply then they should be made to op­er­ate like a nor­mal busi­ness and pay com­pany tax like all other com­mer­cial en­ter­prises.

Enough is enough, we have tol­er­ated these char­la­tans long enough.

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