Church leaders and Christians are planning to stage a mass gathering on the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria from 10am on Sunday to protest against the unfair treatment of the Church under lockdown which they see as an attack on Christianity.
“We are going there to defend the borders of Christianity. If we accept things as they are, the government shall soon regulate churches and start dictating to us what we should and should not preach. We can no longer be the sleeping giant anymore. The healing of the land shall begin with the healing of the Church,” said Unity Fellowship Church leader Pastor Mpfariseni Mukhuba in a sermon last Sunday.
Since the initial implementation of Covid-19 lockdown regulations in South Africa churches have been discriminated against and treated differently to other sectors of society, she said. “When other sectors are opened churches remain closed or they are extremely restricted,” she said.
She said people were suffering and even dying as a result of depression, fear and anxiety as a result of being deprived of receiving a message of hope and counselling at church during these trying pandemic times. People’s spirituality, which is very important — even to their healing — was being ignored by authorities
“Now we find that the hospitals of God, which is the churches, are closed or severely restricted, which goes against our beliefs. It goes against Constitution — the inequality, with other sectors being labelled as contributing to the economy and the church is not contributing to the economy.
“We want to speak to our government. They haven’t been listening to us. We have done submissions, we have had meetings with them and when we speak it is like we are not listened to.
“And another thing we are speaking against is the police brutality against the Church. People are having meetings all over and we don’t see them being brutalised by police and we don’t see them visiting all these clubs that are operating at full capacity. But we see police Sunday after Sunday — they are going to churches.”
Pastor Mukhuba said that Johannesburg Metro Police had even fired rubber bullets at her congregants inside the church on February 28. At the time police claimed they were attacked by congregants and Pastor Makhuba was arrested and charged with malicious damage to property, assault and contravening regulations of the Disaster Management Act. The case against her has been repeatedly postponed and she said she was due to make her sixth appearance at the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto later this month.
She said the organisers of the upcoming mass protest event had reached out to political parties to hear their view on the unfair treatment of churches under lockdown. “We feel they have been quiet about the oppression of the Church,” she said. She said the ACDP has called on Christians to participate in Sunday’s protest. Other Christian political parties had also expressed support for the initiative.
Asked about church support for the protest, she said: “So many servants of God — church leaders — are involved because they see this is not going to go away on its own. We have got different churches — Black, White, Indian, Coloured; we are now speaking with one voice. Churches all over the country.”
“We are going to be there [at the Union Buildings], with our children on Sunday. We are going to pray there, and we are going to hand over a memorandum [to a representative of government demanding that churches be opened to 100% of capacity],” she said.
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