Friday 8 November 2013

Democratic Alliance mock Jacob Zuma for being Christian and claim he has no right to hold faith in the public realm.

There is nothing quite like a politician feigning insult for another person’s apparent sake. The politician who has purported to raise alarm in this instance: is the same one which every year sends out these ridiculous press releases about what a good Catholic he is and how he attends Fatima and wants other individual people to join him in this experience. He also prides himself in representing the cancer organisation of South Africa. For all his faithfulness to Fatima, or rather to trips to there: he does not hold too much faithfulness to his Catholic faith. Recently, when South Africa was blighted by terrible xenophobic attacks: he almost comically took the opportunity to argue that more cosmetic surgeries on homosexual people ought to be conducted, on their private parts. He went on and on about the great grandeur of altering a man to look like a woman and how this certainly in his view was good for human rights. He sent me three press releases that day. None of them condemned xenophobia in any way or form. His unfortunate lack of conscience, was fortunate for me in highlighting it, my article of his impolite behaviour was quite the popular critique. There is nothing like a politician feigning insult for another person’s apparent sake. Nothing quite distracts from the real issues.

Recently his Excellency President Jacob Zuma made strong remarks against rape, stated that politics needed to be more cordial and civil and asked for prayers both for his own party and others, that they may cease to insult those elected positions of leadership in South Africa through name-calling. Jacob Zuma also made reference to his religion, Protestant Christianity. It is perhaps apt that he made such reference. Jacob Zuma was speaking to Protestant bishops. Zuma also acknowledged that we are all in it together in South Africa: he said that as such, it was the duty of churches to pray for the leadership of South Africa. This is how I interpret statements Zuma made several weeks ago, granted with some hyperbolic language, the type of hard to take serious self-importance which is the forte of the current president of the Republic of South Africa. This is not however how a certain shadow minister of the Democratic Alliance official opposition party, under the leadership of Ms Helen Zille: perceived this speech of the President of the Republic of South Africa.

I recently received an email which I verified as from the ‘famed’ politician above, the shadow minister of home affairs, who loves to act at feigning insult for another person’s apparent sake.

‘Closing the gap between Church and government is dangerous’ harked that unangelic howl. The contents of the gentleman’s unfortunate email press release were all the more alarmist and reactionary.

‘About a month ago Jacob (not the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham in the Old Testament) Zuma addressed the Presbyterian Synod in Giyani.  (Why a political leader would be invited to address a religious synod is beyond me.)’ Stated Mister Manny De Freitas, in his shadowy role as Shadow Minister of Home Affairs for the Democratic Alliance.

No doubt Mister De Freitas took out some or other Bible from his regular trips to Fatima, looked at the index and searched enthralled, for that name Jacob. Somehow he found the genealogy of said Jacob, one assumes without us of course actually bothering at attempting checking it. Why a politician would periodically make consistent pilgrimages to Fatima is not beyond me, why he would trumpet such trips loudly to the press is not beyond me. Why Helen Zille would be invited to address the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) is also not beyond me. Politicians like to address anyone of any religion, even people they don’t like very much: it is certainly a way to gain votes. Assuming however that Jacob Zuma did not request to be invited to the synod of Protestant bishops or whatnot: why on earth would anyone at all attempt to invite a president to address their gathering? Why would the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) invite Premier of the Western Cape Ms Helen Zille to address their meeting? Perhaps it has something to do with prestige, the honour associated with government officials, or the draw of a well-known speaker?

Mister Manny De Freitas could not stop there. Zuma had the audacity to say that the church was not entirely separated from the state, but that God required churches to pray for the leaders of the country, and that this showed that even the church and the state are connected in their humanity. Mister Manny De Freitas would have none of that.

‘Increasingly Zuma has been bringing Church and State closer and closer.’ Manny De Freitas made his unsubstantiated claim in hopes of being glorified before the sons of man or whatnot, ‘This is not even my analysis’ Manny De Freitas smugly attempted to convince whatever media he thinks in his pocket. Instead according to Manny De Freitas who considers his own word to be God Almighty from the highest heaven : ‘Zuma at that same Synod said that God had made a connection between government and the Church.’

Such is what He loudly squealed. He being Manny not God, but speaking with the sureness of his own ‘divine’ consciousness.

‘The President’s irresponsible statements continue to flabbergast me.’ Manny said of the President of the Republic of South Africa’s asking Protestant church rulers to pray for those in secular power, for the politicians of South Africa, because, as Mister Jacob Zuma made known to the bishops of a Protestant church: the church is not entirely separated from the world or from the state as though it lived in some bubble, unaffected by political corruption.

‘A few years ago he arrogantly stated that the ANC would rule until Jesus comes.’ Manny De Freitas continued his tirade, again purposely misunderstanding the concept that when Jesus comes it is the end of the world according to the religion Jacob Zuma follows, Manny quickly adds ‘If this is true lets pray that it’s really soon’.

‘I would wager a bet that Zuma has never read the Constitution – not even once.’ Manny De Freitas quickly quips, but what follows suggest that he also has not read the constitution, if we are to assume Jacob Zuma has not.

‘The Constitution is clear that it does not recognize any connection between the Government and the Church’ Manny further solicits media with his uninformed sound bite, although I have not seen such clarity, in fact the constitution makes direct links between the government and religion when reference is made to marriage ceremonies. There is not even separation between the judiciary, the executive, and Parliament in the sense that Manny De Freitas will demand it. The South African national anthem is God bless Africa. Christian holy days are respected government holidays in South Africa. We ask witnesses to make a religious oath in court although they are allowed to make an affirmation instead.

‘The Constitution is clear that it does not recognize any connection between the Government and the Church and guarantees the freedom of religion, belief and opinion.’ Manny De Freitas says as he continues to enforce the impression that he has never read the constitution, which does not guarantee freedom of religion, belief and opinion. The case of Prince versus the Law Society is just one example of how religion is validly limited in South Africa. Belief is also not guaranteed, and opinion is limited in the Bill of Rights itself. Perhaps Manny De Freitas should spend less time at Fatima wooing voters under the naughty guise of being a Catholic politician, and more time researching his own false claims.

Manny De Freitas then purports to read minds, he smirks, no doubt as it is he who now pronounces an ultimate judgement upon Jacob Zuma: ‘In Zuma’s world, he doesn’t understand that there are even people that don’t believe or even care if Jesus comes.’

Manny De Freitas then attempts to get a bit nasty, or rather a bit more nasty than he had been in his quick judgements against anyone who professes a Christian faith ‘Someone should provide him the breaking news that there are even people who don’t believe in, or even know, Jesus’ Manny De Freitas is quick to mock Jacob Zuma. Perhaps it is people like Manny De Freitas that caused Jacob Zuma to feel the need to pray that politicians act in a civil manner in the treatment of one another.

As someone who breaks news, I find Manny De Freitas wanting in his use of English: this is not breaking news, nor should anyone presume to abuse language in such a manner to mock the religion of another person. In fact one of those limits on freedom of speech which Manny De Freitas forgot to read in the Bill of Rights forbids hate speech against religions.

Manny elaborates, yes he elaborates, shockingly as he has herein: ‘Someone should provide him the breaking news that there are even people who don’t believe in, or even know, Jesus and that it’s acceptable as we all have the freedom to believe, or not believe, in whatever we like.’

Perhaps Manny should read State versus Blom. We do not have the right to believe whatever we want in South Africa. Yes, we have the freedom to choose what religion we follow, as does Jacob Zuma who was practising his Christian faith by speaking. Manny De Freitas is perhaps not speaking from the law then, but his own belief system. Perhaps cults are something, something which Manny De Freitas desires to be deeply accepting of. Perhaps Manny De Freitas should launch a campaign to repeal the Witchcraft Suppression Act, which imprisons people for up to 25 years for their belief in witchcraft, and making accusations that a person is a witch or wizard or sorcerer of some type. Perhaps he should repeal the provisions which make practices such as selling psychic services of a sort unlawful and punishable by jail or a fine.

‘History has shown us over and over again the danger of mixing religion, any religion with government.’ Manny De Freitas claims without so much as a footnote, a broad and very inappropriate and universal claim. Is he speaking of the Pharaohs? Is he speaking of the Queen of England? Is he speaking of the emperors of Rome? Is he speaking of the Roman Dutch basis of our law which we have thanks to the Roman Catholic Church? Does he hate the Knights of Malta? Does he hate and despise the Vatican City state? Does he think Andorra should not exist?

But Manny De Freitas will not stop there. He clearly believes that any person who might think that religion might have a positive impact upon the government, people like the Pope, the leader of his own claimed religion: can have no knowledge whatsoever of history.

Albania used to be a Christian nation, but the Ottoman Empire wanted to conquer it fully: so it taxed Albanian Christians until a large majority converted to Islam. When Rome split from Constantinople in Albania also, the Eastern Roman Empire demanded conversion to Greek Orthodoxy. The North of Albania refused to convert. The North remained Catholic, to this day it has a large Catholic population. Much of the rest of the country who did later under the Ottomans convert to the Muslim faith in the process lost their patriotism, and submitted to foreign rule, because their former faith had been eradicated by taxes, and their rebellious spirit with it. ‘Albanianism is the religion of Albania’ this is the phrase which reunited Albania into one nation once again. Targeting the majority religion of the country is a sure way to destroy its defiance against human rights abuses. This is what Things Fall Apart is all about: the use of Protestant Christianity to subdue the people of Africa, in concert with the persecution of the majority religion. Forbidding religion from entering the public sphere, was a method used in Angola in an attempt to control the population. Similar tactics were used in other Marxist regimes at the time. The Nazis saw a similar need to muzzle free religious expression if they were to conduct the genocide successfully.

‘It never turns out well,’ Manny boasts of what he thinks is knowledge or at least thinks sounds like knowledge: in criticising Zuma for associating himself with a religious faith. But this is not enough for Manny, anyone who contradicts the ‘man God’ Manny De-Freitas must be publicly humiliated and he thus says, ‘ but then I doubt that Zuma’s ever read any book, let alone a history book.’

Clearly Manny De Freitas expects a weak and foolish press, he ends with that phrase of phrases ‘kind regards’, a phrase usually used for friends and close acquaintances.

Though perhaps Manny De Freitas should be educated a bit about history and South Africa:

The concept that the church and the state are not one, but separate entities which can be at war with one another: is a Christian concept according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The Encyclopaedia Britannica details that this comes from the words of the founder of Christianity, who is known by the Latinised name of Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Mark chapter 12 verse 17, Jesus states that Christians must render unto Caesar that which is the property of Caesar’s and not give unto Caesar that which belongs to God.

The word secular was developed by the Roman Catholic Church to refer to the laity in comparison to the religious such as priests and nuns and monks. The laity lived a secular or worldly life with secular vocations such as law. Unlike Egypt or Rome, the spiritual world and the physical world are differentiated so far as which powerbase governs what.

‘During the 1st century AD the Apostles, living under a pagan empire, taught respect for and obedience to the governing powers so long as such obedience did not violate the higher, or divine, law, which superseded political jurisdiction. Among the Church Fathers, who lived in a period when Christianity had become the religion of the empire, the emphasis on the primacy of the spiritual was even stronger. They insisted upon the independence of the church and the right of the church to judge the actions of the secular ruler.’
(Encyclopaedia Britannica ‘church and state’ (2012) Deluxe Edition)

Concepts such as natural law have currency for the simple fact that Christians are believed to have a moral duty to obey those placed in secular authority above them. The exception is where these rules would be against the will of God or natural law. Despite this distinction Christianity itself has created many theocratic states. Flavius Valerius Constantinus, the first Roman emperor to openly profess Christianity, a gentleman of Albanian origin: also declared himself priest and Emperor and claimed to take power over certain functions of the church without ever being ordained (Encyclopaedia Britannica ‘Constantine I’, ‘Albania’, ‘Christianity’ (2012) Deluxe Edition). In more recent history there are the papal states and Calvin’s Geneva. Nations which in some way Mix church and state include every member of Britain’s Commonwealth who’s secular and religious head is a King or Queen of England. This is a good portion of the nations of the earth. Malta is run by the Knights of Malta, and most famously the Vatican City state is both head of the world’s largest religious organisation, and itself a secular state with secular laws and powers. In large swathes of Protestantism and other forms of Christian thinking a belief in a divine right of a ruler to rule has certainly hold sway until recent times. The Holy Roman Empire and the Russian Czar’s held such opinions.

In the old Testament of the Bible: right after Noah and his sons got off of the arc, his one son saw Noah naked and drunk. The son in question called the other sons and told them of it. The other sons avoided looking at the undignified form of the seeming ruler of humanity at that moment. They did however cover him with a cloak, walking backwards to avoid seeing the naked form of the ruler. The son who violated the dignity of Noah, was cursed to slavery.

The president of the Republic of South Africa adheres to a Protestant Christian belief system, with some emphasis on the Old Testament of the Bible, the church Jacob Zuma adheres to also views polygamy in a permissive manner. President Jacob Zuma is known to strongly hold to the traditions of his ancestors, and to a most Africanist Christian viewpoint. I do not agree with the president on many things, that does not however mean that I could be morally permitted to unthinkingly mock him simply for his differing beliefs, merely because they are different than mine.

When Jacob Zuma made this speech I wondered how it related to the Witchcraft Suppression Act, although I did not look further into it. This is the speech which Mister Manny De Freitas above so wantonly mocked and so fully misinterpreted:

‘“If you don’t respect those in leadership, if you don’t respect authority then you are bordering on a curse,” said Zuma, who once said the ANC would rule until Jesus returned.
 ‘“Whether we like it or not, God has made a connection between the government and the church. That’s why he says you, as a church, should pray for it.”
 ‘He likened people who lack “values” by raping children and the aged to animals. “If you don’t have that, (values), then you are not different from animals.”
 ‘Zuma urged the church to pray for politicians who insult leaders. Without mentioning names, he said their language was rough and disrespectful.
 ‘“Because if you allow them to insult those in authority, you are creating a society that is angry with itself,” said Zuma.
 ‘However, the ANC leader said his fellow comrades were also guilty of this “careless” language. “I am not saying the ANC is innocent of the careless language.”
 ‘ANC MP John Jeffrey recently apologised for calling Mazibuko, the DA’s parliamentary leader, “a person of substantial weight”.’

(Independent Newspapers South Africa ’Zuma invokes wrath of God’ 7 October 2013 at 7:55 AM)

Jacob Zuma’s words are certainly not pleasant words, nor are their words which I strongly agree with. Certainly you should respect leadership, even where there is lack of leadership: so far as you are required to do so. That does not mean that one cannot be critical of leadership or speak of leadership in its true place: bad leadership should be treated as bad leadership. Insulting the human dignity of leaders in an unbecoming manner however is perhaps uncivilised. As for any curse connected to this, I might be quite in danger of such a curse for I am often critical of public figures in an appropriate manner in order to hold them accountable and to ensure that they do the job in a proper manner. Certainly the government and morals are connected. The separation of church and state tends to be to enable one to criticise the other, generally the church of the state. His strong words against rape of the elderly and children certainly reflect recent headlines and some public opinion among sectors of the population. He should not however only condemn rape of the children and of the elderly. Any and every rape is immoral and wrong and illegal. The rape case brought against the president was not as strong as media would have portrayed it as. That does not however preclude him from at the time being morally obligated to strongly condemn all rape in South Africa. The fact that I’m not the government allows me to criticise the government. This is important. The church also is separate from the state in order to criticise the state. His wording might be quite strong, the polite and cordial political discussion based on the issues and not name-calling: is certainly preferable, however.

Should Jacob Zuma had been permitted to attend a synod of religion?

Is that not up to the religion in question? South Africa does not have separation of powers but cooperative governance so far as the judiciary, executive and Parliament are concerned. The government periodically cooperate with various churches, and seek the advice of civil society in accordance with the demands of the constitution for inclusive and cooperative government, in governing the state. Jacob Zuma however has every right to associate with his own religion or a gathering of people in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic. He is an ordinary citizen of South Africa so far as this is concerned. Premier of the Western Cape and head of the Democratic Alliance opposition party, Helen Zille has in the past made public address to the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) at a meeting of the league. She too is a head of a part of the government. It was up to the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) whether or not they wanted the Premier of the Western Cape to address a meeting. It was up to this Presbyterian church whether or not they wanted to have the president of the Republic, a natural human being: to address their meeting. There was no abuse of the constitution in that sense.

Do I approve of the decision of this church to have the president speak to them? No, not particularly. I also do not particularly approve of Helen Zille speaking to the Catholic Women’s League (CWL). There is however no closing gap between religion and the state. Certainly there is no gap in the first place in South Africa, but rather cooperative government which seeks the assistance of civil society in leading South Africa. The church and the state are not one institution, nor do they have one head. In fact there are many churches in South Africa. None of these churches are part of the government, although they are given special status by the government, and are able to perform marriages in certain cases.

Disclaimer: Nothing I’ve said in this article should be considered to be legal advice in any way or form. For legal advice please approach your own legal practitioner with the appropriate skills to deal with your specific issue, appropriately set forth your issue to them and act as you deem appropriate with the legal advice. Legal information is merely provided for journalistic purposes and entertainment in this article, not for the purposes of taking legal action. I have mentioned laws and South African court cases which I have studied at the tertiary level at law school, my mention is made from memory, to inform in a journalistic manner but not in any way as legal advice. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice.

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