An investigation has been launched to root out exploitation by cash-hungry religious leaders. This investigation would probe the affairs, especially the finances of all churches, mosques and synagogues and other faith based organisations. The investigation will also look at illicit practices and the commercialisation of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems.
“We want to investigate the religious practices in South Africa and several issues around the commercialisation of religion. We want to identify the social thinking that makes some members of our society vulnerable and gullible to actions and views expressed in religious ceremonies,” said Professor David Mosoma, the deputy chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Religious, cultural and linguistic communities (CRL Rights Commission).
Recent news headlines have exposed a number of cases where religious leaders have preyed on naïve and unsuspecting individuals by soliciting cash in exchange for dubious religious practises. The most talked about case is that of a Pretoria church, where followers were made to eat snakes, rats and hair. A self-styled prophet gained notoriety after photos showed him dangling a live snake into a man’s mouth.
Mosoma said the commission hoped to assess a religious framework to deal with these prevailing challenges. The aim is to suggest recommendations that will address the status quo with respect to the commercialisation of religion. Mosoma added they would also identify funding models for governance issues.
The investigation was triggered by a flood of complaints from people of different faiths.
“We have to make sure that we respond appropriately,” said Mosoma.
Any complaints on religious leaders can be forwarded to the commission.
“We are not going to discriminate against religion. We are looking at religion in totality.”
For more information, visit www.crlcommission.org.za. VOC