South African church leaders this week spoke out strongly against “blasphemous” remarks by the ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe over the weekend” in which he compared the political Tri-Partite Alliance (ANC, Cosatu and SACP) with the Biblical Holy Trinity.
Apostolic Faith Mission President, Dr Izak Burger said he was shocked by Mantashe’s “blatant blasphemous statements” and the Moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church Prof Nelus Niemandt said many Christians are hurt by “this type of blasphemy”.
According to media reports Mantashe made the Biblical comparison while addressing a political meeting at Wedela, Carletonville on Saturday. Beeld reports that Mantashe also said that as Jesus had 12 disciples, the ANC has had 12 presidents in its 100 year history, and that Mandela had led the people of South Africa as Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea.
“With these statements, Mr Mantashe stooped [to] the lowest level of political opportunism. What qualifies Mr Mantashe to make these statements? Can he explain his Christian orientation and theological accreditation?” says Burger, in a media statement released on Monday (November 4).
He continues: “Mr Mantashe’s cheap politicking also insults Christians of all races. If the previous misuse of the Bible has not caused concern amongst Christian citizens – then these latest pronouncements should be cause for great concern.
“The high levels of corruption, personal enrichment and pathetic service delivery by the ruling party indicates a complete lack of respect and fear of God.
“Mr Mantashe owes Christians in South Africa an unconditional apology. He should also explain why the Bible and the Christian faith are repeatedly singled out for exploitation and cheap political gain,” says Burger.
In his statement, also released on Monday, Niemandt says: “In recent years the Christian community in South Africa has expressed its dislike of political leaders’ abuse of the Bible and that which is holy to Christians — especially at election times. The President has done it, and now the Secretary General of the ANC the Holy Trinity has also misused and degraded the Holy Trinity as a metaphor for a political alliance for political gain. Many Christians are hurt by this type of blasphemy.
“We call on the ruling party to strongly censure this kind of behavior. We call on all Christians in our beloved country to stand in opposition to such behaviour. We want to call on other religions to help us to oppose this kind of abuse of our religions by registering their opposition to it in the strongest terms that they may deem fit. We know how the Muslims or Jews or Buddhists would have felt if they had to experience this type of religious abuse.
“May all of us at this time of the approaching elections, exercise wisdom and self-control in order to act in a way that is worthy of our country and our faith.”
The Beeld report notes that the ANC has a history of making controversial religious remarks in recent years, as follows:
February 2011: Zuma: “”When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork … When you are carrying an ANC membership card, you are blessed….When (Jesus) fetches us we will find (them) wearing black, green and gold, the holy ones belong to the ANC.”
October 2013: Zuma: “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 (the ANC) .”
May 2008: Pres. Jacob Zuma: “”It (the ANC) is even blessed in Heaven. That is why we will rule until Jesus comes back.”