Is a self regulatory body in South African religion even possible?

According to ENCA, religious leaders have responded to the CRL Rights Commission, saying that they will self regulate.

EWN reports that the CRL has been accused by some religious leaders of having gone beyond its mandate.

The religious leaders claimed that the CRL’s process of compiling its report on the abuse of people’s beliefs was flawed and non-inclusive.

The commissions chair, Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva, has fired back saying, “We hear people say they did not consult with them because we didn’t change the report to say what they wanted it to say.”

Meanwhile The Citizen reports that Limpopo pastor James Thubakgale has been rearrested for charges including rape, fraud, assault, concealing a death, theft, kidnapping and extortion.

Earlier this month self-proclaimed “prophet” Shepherd Bushiri was granted bail. He had been arrested for fraud, money laundering and contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), according to News24.

According to Times LIVE, Bushiri’s church was the scene of a stampede in December that killed three women.

EFF leader Julius Malema claims that people are being unfair to the ‘prophet’ according to Malawi 24.

According to the Pretoria East Rekord, a 29-year-old ‘false prophet’ was arrested for swindling someone out of R116 000 – he had apparently promised to double his victim’s money.

My Take

Self regulation isn’t going to work.

Various religions around the world are various religions because they can’t agree on the rules they’re all supposed to follow. Those that claim divine revelation all claim things to have been revealed, which the others disagree with on the strength of other divine revelations.

And no God has appeared to set anyone right – because there isn’t one. That’s part of what makes God so perfect for the role he is assigned, the ultimate fall guy for whatever bad idea some preacher had way back when.

And because ‘faith’ – an odd combination of being both gullible and stubborn – is sold as a virtue, we end up with a situation where one group’s divine truth is another group’s darkest heresy.

So how in the middle of all of this how are you supposed to get together some sort of self-regulatory framework?

And so far as a regulatory framework – one instituted by the secular authorities – goes, I’m not sure that would work out well either because whenever we give government the right to tell us what to believe, what is allowed tends to be whatever keeps that said government in power.

This is why religion, when mixed with politics, is such a corrupting influence on both. Politicians want you to believe things that serve the politicians’ interests.

I could go on ad infinitum on the harms being done by prophets, pastors, and even the major religions of the day – but a lot of these harms are already crimes that just need prosecuting.

And that’s really what we need here – not some whole new set of rules specifically for religious groups but rather simply enforcing the law whatever the context, without exceptions.

I mean, if a rock star makes his fans eat snakes and sprays doom in their faces – is that really any different to a pastor doing it? If there is a stampede at a soccer match is that different to a church? If you need to register as a financial service provider to take investments, why shouldn’t your pastor?

Just treat everyone the same, and it all sorts itself out. The problems crop up when you make special rules exempting one group or restricting another, so don’t do that.



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