Wednesday, September 30, 2009

False Profits

Yesterday I received a newsletter sent out the previous day by Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute (FPI), a US religious-right-inspired right wing group based in Cape Town, which is trying very hard to impose religious law on the state. In it, he was careful to mention the dangers of having liberal laws which are "clearly" responsible for "moral corruption" in the country - and which also threaten his religion and of course, "the family" as if gay people and women are not a part of it. He also made the suggestion that this is perfect time to take advantage of Zuma's invitation to the religious conservatives to "work with government", whatever that means. I think you know.

"Please consider a financial contribution to the vital work of Family Policy Institute today and help keep us on the frontlines of the battle to defend the family & advance your values in society." He pleads.

Mr Naidoo and his fundamentalist little group - which has offices in Parliament street in Cape Town - have taken issue with the usual knotty problems which irritate the religious right wing - such as what people do in the privacy of their own lives for one thing, and the matter of abortion, gay rights, feminism, marriage equality, pornography and prostitution.

Of course, he had an abundance of very, very relevant scriptural quotes to - um, quote, to prove his many points.

This man with his suave words of seduction, poster-boy profile photo and bible-thumping routine is fast turning into a one-man comedy act. But behind the amusement and irritation this overgrown biblical literalist causes for those watching bemusedly from the sidelines, there is a deep-seated element of danger he and his allies pose to human rights, liberty and democracy.

This week, according to the newsletter, Errol is in Gauteng meeting with religious ministers eager to join their churches with his "growing" network to wage a crusade against all the dastardly sinners out there. Reading his letter, I wonder if there is anyone Mr. Naidoo would not point a finger at, except possibly his own reflection in the mirror. Reflecting on his poster-boy avatar, perhaps he might do so just to say "man, you look so hot!"

He expressed sentiments that millions of "unborn babies" are being "murdered" each year and even gave some interesting "statistics" to back him up. I wonder if he gets his abortion "statistics" and "facts" from the same source as the "facts" on homosexuality he proclaims? If it is Paul Cameron, then as far as credibility goes, his goose is cooked. Now as abortion isn't really my interest, I will not delve further into this particular topic at this time, suffice to say that there is no shortage of people on the planet and I find it puzzling that a bundle of inate cells - even those put there by rapists - can be described as "babies".

For the past few months, Naidoo and his handful of supporters has been focusing on opposing the drive to legalize prostitution. Perhaps Errol feels prostitutes should turn from their lives of sin and make an honest living like he does, campaigning against human rights and equality and begging for donations to keep on doing it. Before that, he made his annual attempt to ban the Pink Loerie in Knysna - and in between he pauses to focus on abortion and his other main interest - those darn pesky homosexuals and their ubiquitous agenda. Before that, he teamed up with Christian Action Network figurehead Peter Hammond in an unsuccessful pre-election attempt to try and unite the deeply divided religious right political parties into a single Republican Party for South Africa.


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Errol is in Gauteng this week - meeting religious groups, as I mentioned earlier - but also waiting patiently to meet with government ministers to try and influence them into turning fundamentalist, "finding God" and banning abortion. Between the ACDP, Family Policy Institute and Rhema's new baby - the NILC, it should be pretty clear that the religious right in South Africa is trying very, very hard to extend its influence into Parliament and government. Having a receptive and welcoming attitude towards such skulduggery from the ruling party certainly does not inspire confidence in those who voted for a government which is supposed to guard the SA Constitution from those proclaiming openly their intentions to tear their human rights right out of it.

I note the lengths to which these groups are prepared to go to, to influence government and to network churches in order to get their way and rob you of your human rights, and it gives me cold chills.

Just because you don't read about it in the press doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Just because you don't see behind closed doors doesn't mean there is nothing happening behind them.

I encourage religious and political bodies which are pro-democracy and pro human rights to approach the government about the apparent anti human-rights bias under whose influence it seems to be swaying these days.

I can assure you that the talks will not be restricted just to abortion, but will also encompass gay rights and the legalization of prostitution as well as anything else which they happen to dislike and wish to have abolished.

Naidoo says ""Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." (Proverbs 31:8).", but doesn't add "...and drown out the voices of those who speak for them against you" when it comes to attacking the civil rights of the pink community and of women.

People as fanatical and uncompromisingly fundamentalist as these are cut from the same cloth as those who will oppress their fellow human beings or fly planes through buildings - and they will feel no remorse, nor guilt - instead, they will thank God for the blood that covers their hands.

Knowledge is power. Find out more.

I find it striking that there is a glaring absence of opposition from religious leaders. Don't they know about this? Don't they care? It seems to me that those who oppose human rights in religious circles these days are the most active and vocal - and those who support human rights, silent.

This is not only tragic and apathetic, it is also dangerous!

A minister I spoke to recently told me of his experiences conversing with "Christian" fundamentalists. We discussed the coming of Christ, his status as the "New Covenant", which means that HE is "the way, the truth and the life" and NOT a book written and corrupted by men. He is the "Word of God" - and not the same books, which were written from oral tradition roughly 60 years after Christs death and whose translations are flawed and all differ from each other.

They have placed a book on the altar of their worship instead of the God they claim to follow. They have placed themselves in the position to receive fame and glory and worldly wealth and to honor themselves and their ambitions, instead of leading their believers in prayers of gratitude and thanks and in the practice of Christs teachings. They aspire after the fame and fortune of being "evangelists", the hero-worship and trappings of success that come with it, the book deals, broadcasting syndication, private jets and properties. They preach an exclusive God who only cares about those who follow laws which have no basis in love, laws set and placed by men who claimed to be speaking for God! What a sublime way to claim authority, follow your ambitions while not requiring one iota of proof! No wonder warnings of false prophets are included with the package!

My minister friend said: "The more these people describe who they think God is, the more they seem to describe my image of the Devil".

If God is love - and Jesus is of the Trinity, then Jesus has to be love also. God is inclusion, not exclusion. And anyone who pushes agendas of exclusion and persecution - and anything which is not out of love, is not of God.

At least one person who replied to my forwarded message yesterday was outraged - and he wasn't even part of the pink community in terms of sexual orientation or gender identity.

"I'm outraged!" He declared, "But I showed this to my gay friend and he lost interest and just asked: "What's the FPI?" We must do more. WE MUST DO MORE! I'm no Harvey Milk..."

Yes, we must do more. And your friend illustrates my point that education and information is the key. How can any of us know about what is being done against us - and still remain apathetic? That doesn't make sense. Surely apathy results from ignorance?

Perhaps instead of saying "we must do more", we should say "more of us should do something"?

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