JOHANNESBURG JULY 18, 2017(CISA)-Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has opposed recommendations by the government to regulate churches in the country.
“We fully understand and share government’s unhappiness with certain practices done in the name of religion, such as requiring adherents to drink petrol or eat grass. However, we believe that there is sufficient existing legislation that can be evoked to deal with most of these harmful practices,” said Archbishop Stephen Brislin, President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
“The recommendation that new laws be introduced to enforce registration of pastors and ministers is overkill and a response that one would expect more from a totalitarian state than a constitutional democracy,” the bishops said.
On July 11, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities in South Africa issued a report to Parliament recommending that all religious practitioners be registered under umbrella organizations that would be recognized by the state and subject to “peer-review committees.”
According to the commission, the proposed committees would each cover a religion, for example, one for Christians and one for Muslims, and would be responsible for religious self-regulation and accountability.
In a statement July 14, the bishops said that they will oppose the recommendation and will make submissions to the appropriate bodies in due course.
“We are concerned about the recommendations of the commission that priests, ministers of religion and pastors will, by law, have to register with government as practitioners,” the bishops said.