On the 22nd of April 2017, thousands of Christians gathered in Bloemfontein to worship and pray over South Africa and the current political, economic crisis that it is going through. Many were waiting in earnest for the Christian leader and evangelist, Angus Buchan, who was to preach to the masses about the horrific and concerning events that are occurring in South Africa and in society today.
Although the event was supposed to be a spiritually uplifting one that would create a more positive, soulful atmosphere for South Africans, Angus Buchan's presence at the event and the statements he has made are extremely problematic.
Buchan has been widely criticised for being homophobic, queerphobic, sexist and misogynistic. He has been quoted as saying, "I cannot ever agree that homosexuality is right. I love them though, but they need help. We have prayed for them and God has changed their hearts," back in 2008 he further argued that simply praying over a homosexual or queer individual can "change them." What's just as concerning are the comments that he has made about women's roles in society; Buchan attempted to use the Bible to support his view that if men do their rightful duty then it will be easy for their wives "to submit to them."
This brings me to this criticism and question which we all need to ponder and reflect on: Is it right for a man, who has been openly homophobic and sexist in his statements, to be given such a large platform to continue preaching his views to people? Discrimination of all forms is wrong and simply allowing someone to move on with their life despite their discriminatory views is something that we as members of society need to fix.
Another criticism I have is for those who continue to agree, support, praise and admire Buchan, and other preachers who have been openly discriminatory by attempting to use the Bible to support their statements and remarks. Don't get me wrong, not all preachers and not all Christians are homophobic, sexist, Islamophobic etc, but the ones that are, still receive support and attention which is a major problem. This obviously means that there are some Christians who are either: too privileged to care about social injustices or they are the ones who are discriminatory.
A concern that has been raised by various politicians, citizens and critics after the mass gathering in Bloemfontein was the way Buchan worded parts of his sermon and prayers. Buchan's vision for South Africa is to have a "god-fearing state" and "Jesus-fearing parliament" which is problematic because he would like a political system that is based on religious influence, which can cause various belief issues and exclusion; in essence, other religious, cultural and faith-based beliefs would be treated as inferior as opposed to the Christian religion which Buchan would like to have as the dominant religious and political ideology in South Africa's society.
Separatism, religious fundamentalism in politics and discrimination of any kind, should never be accepted in our society nor should they be implemented as a part of our political, social, economic and legal systems.
Finally, Buchan wants all Christians to unite and achieve a "Christian South Africa" which, once again, is an issue because he fails to include the diversity of religions, cultures and beliefs in South Africa and furthermore, creates an exclusive, Christian privileged agenda for Christians only.
People of all faiths, religions, beliefs, and those who do not follow a faith or religion, need to be wary of pastors, preachers and leaders that try to use discriminatory or isolationist statements to convince people that they (the statements and viewpoints) are the only solutions to solving issues in the country. Separatism, religious fundamentalism in politics and discrimination of any kind, should never be accepted in our society nor should they be implemented as a part of our political, social, economic and legal systems.
Fortunately for us, we do have the Constitution that protects our constitutional democracy and our rights, but remember, this is just a document. It is how we act on upholding the Constitution which makes our society a better place and we need to seriously consider the roles that certain preachers have in our society and whether they are uniting or dividing us as a diverse nation.