Thursday 4 June 2015

Jesus, Deliver Us From Churches

The name says it all: End Times Disciples Ministries.
It's the appellation of a church at which the pastor, Prophet Penuel Tshepo, can command the spirit of snakes to enter the congregation; he can also cause the temperature to plummet so far that the congregants shiver and fumble around for blankets.
But he can also cause temperatures to shoot up so high church members have to take their clothes off.
Were this "place of worship" an isolated incident, one probably would have no cause for concern. But this Soshanguve church hits the public domain at a time when we have pastors who force their congregants to graze on grass like animals, and also drink petrol - to be cleansed.
We have a pastor in Durban who takes his female congregants - the ones desperately in need of marriage - to the beach.
Once there, he gets them to strip naked. Then he kisses them on their buttocks. All of this in the belief that once their backsides have received the divine kiss, the Romeo of each woman's dreams will come gambolling on horseback, in shining armour, to whisk the woman in question down the aisle.

What about the pastor who has instructed all his female congregants never to come to church wearing underwear, for how else will the holy spirit penetrate them with all the intrusive panties and bras in the way? Hallelujah!
The women are actually inspected as they walk through the church doors. "Are these panties that I see on you my sister, no panties in the Kingdom of God."
"Solution-based" churches have mushroomed all over the country, and beyond.
The amazing thing is that these churches are not without followers. People travel all the way to Nigeria and Kenya in search of religious "solutions".
There was a time when I would console myself that these outrageous developments would soon be a thing of the past. After all, so-called born-again churches come and go.
But my concern is, by the time they go away - if ever they are going to fade away - how many victims they would have claimed.
You see, in times of crisis brought to bear by devastating disease and huge unemployment, some people get so desperate they will do absolutely anything they are told will ameliorate their current position.
If, like the damsels in distress that I referred to above, they have been told to strip naked so the doors of matrimony shall be open to them, they will do exactly that.
Some will even kill their own children if need be - if the so-called holy man in question preaches that such an act will solve their problems and bring the elusive riches.
To some of us, these are laughing matters. But there are thousands of people in this country who are so desperate they can't even think properly.
You can't argue with them. You can't advise them. If you do, you are labelled a servant of Satan. Or, as is the fashion, as someone who is jealous. That's the operational word: jealousy.
It beats me how jealousy comes into it. I see a friend, a neighbour or a relative taking his hard-earned money to enrich a pastor who is already super-affluent, and try to warn him: "Brother, careful what you're doing."
Do I get a "Thank you, brother, for opening my eyes"? No, I get this: "You are jealous just because pastor so-and-so is going to pray for me and I am going to be rich."
It's really sad what desperation can do to people.
It can reduce relatively sober-minded people into babbling fools who move around the world like zombies whose brains have been sucked out of their skulls.
The abuse of people's faith gets more worrisome when even mainstream churches, which are known for restraint and their conservative stance on many things, join the bandwagon and start capitalising on people's ignorance and destitution.
I read a newspaper report early this week in which a reverend from the Methodist Church in KwaNdengezi township, in KwaZulu-Natal, is prescribing to congregants how much they should contribute at Sunday collection: the unemployed must donate a minimum of R50 every Sunday, while those with jobs are expected to pop out a generous R200.
If you can't contribute, not only are you jeopardising your chances of entering the gates of heaven, but when you die the church will not bury you. Amen.
So, early this week some congregants took to the streets bearing placards with such messages as: "Presiding Bishop Help us! Free us! From such Oppressive leadership".
The reverend monitors these contributions through tickets that are issued to congregants.
Every time a contribution is made, it is entered in the ticket. If there are no contributions forthcoming from said congregant, the ticket will reflect a deficit, putting the congregant's name in the church's bad books.
In the Bible, Jesus Christ cracked the whip on moneylenders conducting their business from the premises of a synagogue.
About time the holy whip was cracked once again.

By Fred Khumalo


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