Celebrity walks out as bishop den­i­grates gays

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - HEIDI GIOKOS heidi.giokos@inl.co.za @hei­di­giokos

A GHANA­IAN bishop preach­ing at the Grace Bi­ble Church in Soweto has be­come the cen­tre of a so­cial me­dia storm af­ter his ho­mo­pho­bic com­ments were broad­cast across var­i­ous on­line plat­forms by out­spo­ken celebrity Somizi Mh­longo.

Dur­ing Bishop Dag He­wardMills’s ser­mon, the bishop said an­i­mals have mul­ti­ple part­ners, but one would never see crea­tures of the same sex part­ner­ing up. “Dogs, cats, leop­ards… men­tion the an­i­mal. Which one has one part­ner? It is just like ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity… you don’t have male and male…

“If you use that rea­son­ing, you will find that ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is not nat­u­ral. You don’t find two male dogs, two male lions, two male im­palas… Two male cats, even lizards, two ele­phants,” said He­ward-Mills. “It is un­nat­u­ral.

“Yes, there is noth­ing like that in na­ture. And in the same way there is noth­ing like one to one… Na­ture is one to sev­eral,” he said.

It was dur­ing this point of the ser­mon that Mh­longo, who was in the con­gre­ga­tion, dra­mat­i­cally made his exit from the church.

“I just stood up. The lady next to me was beg­ging me not to leave. And I asked her why?

“It’s like go­ing to a sem­i­nar, and the per­son who is sup­posed to be mo­ti­vat­ing you is be­ing racist,” Mh­longo said. What also dis­ap­pointed him was when he heard the con­gre­gants cheer­ing the bishop when he made the com­ments on ho­mo­sex­u­als.

“There are so many gay peo­ple in the church, and they sat there through­out the whole ser­vice. I just thought I am not go­ing to sit there and lis­ten to some­body of­fend­ing me,” he said.

The en­raged and emo­tional en­ter­tainer then ex­pressed his outrage in two videos he posted on In­sta­gram yes­ter­day. He made it clear his soul was right with God and that what oth­ers thought of him was none of his busi­ness.

Somizi told The Star he had been a mem­ber of the church since 1995 and al­ways felt com­fort­able there. This was no longer the case af­ter He­ward-Mills’s of­fen­sive speech, and he was plan­ning to boy­cott the church, he said.

“The topic was fine; it was about why the soul was im­por­tant. Then all of a sud­den he switched and started speak­ing about ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. How ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity is dis­gust­ing, and even an­i­mals don’t do it.

“I just thought to my­self, why would I sit through this,” said Mh­longo.

By last night, Mh­longo’s videos had been viewed more than 60 000 times, with hun­dreds of com­ments, and the hash­tag #GraceBi­bleChurch trended for much of yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Many who com­mented on Mh­longo’s videos said a church should not be the place of judg­ment, but rather of love.

Kele­mosesI had this to say: “Per­son­ally, I do not un­der­stand why peo­ple have a prob­lem with gay men! I re­ally fail to un­der­stand it! This is you, you are com­fort­able in who you are… em­brace it Somizi… Who are they to judge?”

Gugukhwela said: “The rea­son I stopped go­ing (to church) was ex­actly that. They preach to love one an­other, but yet when some­one is dif­fer­ent, ac­cord­ing to them, then they hold back their love… I mean hello ????

“I don’t go (to church). My be­lief is God is within all of us.”

But not ev­ery­one agreed with Mh­longo’s point of view.

“The bishop wasn’t judg­ing any­one, but preach­ing the word. BUT WE ALL KNOW THE TRUTH HURTS,” wrote _thando. lwethu.

Pas­tor Ezekiel Mathole, from the church, dis­missed claims that there is dis­crim­i­na­tion against ho­mo­sex­u­als at the in­sti­tu­tion.

“Grace Bi­ble Church wel­comes ev­ery­body and does not dis­crim­i­nate against any­one, re­gard­less of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. And it is the right of the in­di­vid­u­als to sit through them or de­cide to walk out,” he said.

The per­son who is sup­posed to be mo­ti­vat­ing you is be­ing racist

PIC­TURE: SIZWE NDINGANE

EN­RAGED: Bishop Dag He­ward-Mills, left, and singer and ac­tor Somizi Mh­longo, who was in­fu­ri­ated by a ser­mon in Soweto.

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