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Wed Jul 30 02:57:16 SAST 2014

Now for the gospel according to Zuma

CANAAN MDLETSHE and ANDILE NDLOVU | 21 December, 2011 00:18
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.

President Jacob Zuma has blamed religion, particularly Christianity, for the loss of humanity in society.

The ANC leader, who was ordained as a priest of the Full Gospel Church, in KwaZulu-Natal in 2007, said yesterday that the arrival of Christianity brought problems for Africans.

"As Africans, long before the arrival of religion and [the] gospel, we had our own ways of doing things.

"Those were times that the religious people refer to as dark days but we know that, during those times, there were no orphans or old-age homes. Christianity has brought along these things," he said.

Zuma was speaking at KwaMaphumulo, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, during the launch of a road safety and crime awareness campaign.

It is not the first time that Zuma has raised eyebrows with his comments on religion.

In June this year he was forced to apologise to the SA Council of Churches for "misusing" Jesus' name during the local government elections campaign.

As the ANC prepares to celebrate its centenary, Zuma's statements fly in the face of the ruling party's rich history of association with the churches.

The ANC was formed in 1912 at the Dutch Reformed Church in Waaihoek, Bloemfontein, and its founding president, Dr John Langalibalele Dube, was a priest.

Yesterday, African Christian Democratic Party leader the Rev Kenneth Meshoe lambasted Zuma and said his comments were "hypocritical".

"Firstly, the president needs to be rebuked for hypocrisy because for him to blame Christianity when he knows churches were at the forefront of the struggle is disappointing," Meshoe said, "and he knows that what he said is not true, having claimed to be a Christian himself.

"Secondly, during elections he doesn't run to the graveyards to get votes from the ancestors, but he runs to churches."

On the "orphanages" and "old- age homes" issues, taught children to look after their parents.

"It is ridiculous for the President to make such suggestions. It's tantamount to foolishness to blame old-age homes on Christianity. In fact we teach children to take care of elders. We teach them against 'dumping' of parents at old-age homes."

Yesterday, Zuma said it was crucial that South Africans return to the "old days of doing things" because the modern way had caused problems in society.

"We have passed laws that prohibit you as a parent [from using] corporal punishment. Today, when, as a parent, you bring your child [to] order by using corporal punishment, you are breaking the law, but the person who passed that law cannot raise your child the way you want to.

"I am not blaming such legislation but I can't be diplomatic about this. It's a fact," Zuma said.

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Wed Jul 30 02:57:17 SAST 2014 ::