SABC News - Gauteng Premier considers church regulation:Wednesday 7 October 2015

Gauteng Premier considers church regulation

Wednesday 7 October 2015 09:10

Tshepo Phagane

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says churches have a role to play in addressing societal challenges.

David Makhura says churches have a role to play in addressing societal challenges.(SABC)

Gauteng Premier David Makhura is not ruling out regulating churches. This is in the wake of what he termed harmful religious practices in which some church leaders fed their congregation human hair, grass, snakes and rats.

Makhura addressed the media at the end of a two day summit between government and faith based organisations.

He also wants the religious community to feel free to criticise government when it gets things wrong.  

Makhura says the decision on whether or not to regulate churches will have to be done in consultation with the faith based organisations including the shutting down of a church which is believed to be involved in harmful religious practices.

"The sector needs to give us guidance. What are the instruments for self-regulation when they have reached a point that these harmful religious practices needs to be stopped through some instruments like law or we must go and shut down some particular churches? I believe in a leadership where we do this together with the sector.  I can’t rule out that we might get to a point where we have regulation."

Gauteng is facing a number of challenges including crime, drugs, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, poverty and moral degeneration

The South African Council of Churches is opposed to the idea of government regulating churches. The Council’s Reverend Gift Moerane says there is a need for more dialogue.

"We should actually develop a certain framework in terms of the Do's and Don’ts because as people of faith we should agree - the basic principle of every religion is that the rights of every person is important as your right.  So to make another person drink petrol you are dehumanising that person.  It is not something you can find in the koran, bible – it is wrong."

Gauteng is facing a number of challenges including crime, drugs, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, poverty and moral degeneration. Makhura says faith based organisations including the traditional leadership have a key role to play in helping government to deal with them as they have influence in society.

"The social fibre, the moral fibre of society is very weak. The church like the schools and the family play an important role in shaping character.  We want to work with them to also deal with corruption. We want to build a government that is transparent, responsive and responsible.  And even with us if we do something wrong they must say to us as government - here you are doing something wrong.  They must criticise us."

Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa from the Moral Regeneration Movement says lack of values is behind the many social ills we see in the society.

"We see people behaving in a way that is anti-social. This is caused by lack of certain values and that is where the moral generation programme comes in. It is actually saying we need shared values that would act as a glue in society to keep us together and give rise to social cohesion."

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