Religious watchdog finalising report into regulating church leaders

The watchdog wants the establishment of a body that will govern the operation and conduct of church leaders.

The CRL Rights Commission holding a discussion on the state of the nations psyche and how it affects the religious sector. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – Cultural and religious watchdog, the CRL Rights Commission, says it’s in the final stages of compiling a report recommending that Parliament regulate religious leaders across the country.

Several pastors have made headlines in recent months, claiming to heal congregants using controversial methods such as spraying church goers with doom.

The watchdog wants the establishment of a body that will govern the operation and conduct of church leaders.

It held a roundtable discussion with a panel of experts in Johannesburg on Wednesday on the state of the nation’s psyche and how it affects the religious sector.

Commission chair Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva says some sort of legal framework is needed.

“We are professionalising the priesthood but not doctrine. We’re saying to a professional affiliate to a particular body, has nothing to the doctrine that you preach.”

ABNORMAL RELIGIOUS ACTS

The CRL commission has heard that some pastors perform abnormal religious acts to demonstrate their power over congregants and to keep them beholden to the church.

Sociology expert at Monash University Alex Asakitikpi says some pastors use controversial practices to attract congregants.

“They have to do this because they want to keep them glued to the system [and] they must do things that are unique in that organisation.”

He says some pastors perform the abnormal activities for publicity.

“But beyond that, they also want to engage in controversial activities and for them, controversies are a cheap source of advertisement.”

The CRL commission says it wants to gets to bottom of the commercialisation of religion and the abuse of people’s belief systems.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)