Thinking about all the gay-hating homophobic groups infesting our fair country today, and masquerading as religious institutions - I counted the big boys. Right at the top of the list of loonies, there's the "Christian Action Network" (CAN), a vocal umbrella body which has fallen remarkably silent of late - while it seems other newer associated groups which haven't been around long enough to lose their veneer of respectability yet, have taken their repugnant agenda into the halls of government.
Rhema Church and its NILC body seem by their level of involvement in the ANC and Parliament to be virtually employed by the ruling party to achieve their aim of policing the morality of South Africans. Who can forget their apt and fitting moniker, "Zuma's God Squad"? Yes, I can picture them driving black squad-cars and paddy-wagons around town, riding over pedestrians and arriving in the nick of time to block a child-endangering Pride march or to haul same sex couples off to jail for threatening "the family" with public displays of affection.
Aside from the derogatory comments and snide remarks from other groups in this country with vested interests in actual politics (such as the ACDP, CDA, PACYL and other comics), these are the biggest religious fundamentalist bodies muscling in on political matters surrounding civil rights of an entire sector of South African society.
I stopped for a moment to take stock of some of the newer religious right wing groups surfacing in South Africa. Top of the list has got to be Erroll Naidoo's Family Policy Institute (FPI). Based in Cape Town, this group is supported directly by the US religious right wing group the Family Research Council. The FRC, as I've reported before, is a recognized hate-group in the USA. Who do they hate? Well, probably everybody who isn't a Christian fundamentalist with extremist views on abortion, secularism, evolution, home-schooling, gun laws or homosexuality. Naidoo hates gay people - in fact, he even admitted it in an interview - and he has spent at least 15 years proving it by taking action to oppose or undo every single human or civil rights gain our community has made since 1992. Currently he is working on overturning gay marriage equality, but warming up on prostitution and pornography first.
An interesting new arrival on the scene in South Africa is the "GODLY GOVERNANCE NETWORK" There is more to the GGN than meets the eye - they seem to be birds of a feather with the same principles as Errol and CAN - and I wouldn't be surprised if there is ACDP involvement and connections to the Family Policy Institute or CAN too. Looking on their website, I found just what I was looking for - posted articles by Peter Hammond (CAN), Steve Swart (ACDP) and Erroll Naidoo (FPI) - and all of them outspoken haters of gay people. The GGN is in my opinion, just another head of the same right wing "great commissionist" hydra monster which is currently raising head after head in local politics.
It seems to me that like the CAN, FPI and any other group which uses the words "salt and light" as mystical symbols, this is yet another US religious right supported group which should be avoided by anyone actually looking for a church that will actually teach you Christianity.
Then there is the JASA, or rather poorly named "Justice Alliance of SA". This group is fronted by a man who brands himself as "John Smyth QC" - the QC is for "Queens Council", which is an English law practitioner, and incidentally not of any import in South Africa. Mr Smyth also brands himself as an expert in constitutional law - and chiefly in the context of finding ways to defeat it in order to advance his religious fundamentalist agenda.
During the court battle for gay marriage in 2005-6, he was a "friend of the court" on the side against marriage equality. Mr Smyth is also neck-deep in the pig-pit called "Doctors For Life" - a group of charlatans pretending to be bona fide medical experts, banding together to push religious fundamentalist clap-trap as medical and scientific fact. DFL's chief concern was (and still is) gay rights, gay marriage, numerous slanderous and manufactured lies surrounding health risks and gay sex, HIV, and naturally, abortion. In the "world view" of groups of this ilk, ALL life is sacred - unless of course, if it is gay.
According to Mr Smyth's personal website, "In 1984 John and Anne Smyth moved with their family to Zimbabwe to do mission work. After two years with African Enterprise they founded Zambesi Ministries which they directed for the next 15 years until John reached 60. Anne and John now make their home in Cape Town. John is available as a consultant in constitutional law and serves Doctors for Life International and the Justice Alliance of South Africa."
African Enterprise, I might point out, was heavily involved in the fight to deprive gay people of the right to marriage equality in South Africa in 2005-6. Their fearless leader, Michael Cassidy (yet another homophobic American evangelist living here and heading up their multinational operation) was also leading another group called the Marriage Alliance of SA (MASA), a splinter group of SACLA - the religious right wing organisation which declared open war on homosexuality in 2004-5 during the lead-up to the court case. Both Cassidy and Naidoo made spectacles of themselves, grandstanding in the press, making slanderous remarks about the Pink Community. Nowadays Cassidy seems to be exploiting ways to unite all the charismatic churches into one ecumenical movement, and supporting that other champion of the Patriarchy and cave-man lifestyle - "pray-away-the-gay" wing nut and potato prophet, Angus Buchan.
In my experience, the deeper you dig into this tar pit of dark ambition and fascist fervor, the more worms you will find squirming around in the daylight, the more narrow-minded little people you will find with links to multiple little fundamentalist organizations and back-yard or basement groups, each conspiring in their own zealous little way to bring about their religious fundamentalist revolution.
You will find some people who lead one little group, sitting over drinks (non-alcoholic of course) with buddies who run similar organizations, and you will find them sitting on the same Boards or Interest Groups of other bodies together, having fingers in the pie in several Community Based Organizations or Non Profit Organizations. Naturally they will all be respected members of high-flying charismatic churches, and raking in the money to do "God's work", building a better mouse-trap.
It is very strange to me now, thinking back to when I was a kid - when people spoke of conservative churches, I used to think in terms of what people wore to church and what kind of music they played there. The "conservative" churches forced people to wear suits or neat prim dresses and Sunday hats - and sang songs you could slit your wrists to with a smile. The "nice" churches used to let you wear a nice pair of jeans or a smart short or skirt and a t-shirt and sneakers - and had ministers that led worship with a guitar.
These days it seems to me the churches full of youth clad in jeans, t-shirts and gym-shoes, with live bands and multimedia displays who are the conservative ones. Why conservative? Because while the music may be easier on the ear, the message isn't the inclusiveness of God's love - it's the CONTROL and DOMINION they want to extend over every part of every person's life, whether they are Christian or not. In fact the whole machine doesn't even seem to compute that there is such a scenario - if you're not a Christian, resistance is futile - you WILL be assimilated. And you WILL obey. Suddenly, the old folks with their formality and suits and Sunday hats don't seem quite as bad, do they?
Conservatives. Religious fundamentalists. Extremists. They are to my mind, a bunch of people whose asses are so tight, if they were to fart, only a dog could hear it.
It is alarming to me to see an increasing number of these religious fundamentalist organizations whose entire existence seems focused on politics, government and on getting into it - with clear intentions of turning the country into a theocratic state or theonomy. If they seem obsessed with government, politics and power - and getting into it as soon as possible, it's because they ARE. I have to ask myself, how long will it take before they succeed? Or will the moderate, inert majority that makes up society, slow them down and frustrate them until they weary of their fervor, zealotry and fanaticism? I hope so.
And what is with Cape Town anyway? Of all the groups I have found so far that have founded themselves on homophobic notions, paranoia, extremism and hysteria in this country - most of them are based in the Cape Town area! Is it something in the water? Is it the close proximity to the nuclear power station? Is it, like, the mountain, man? What?
CAN (and most of it's hundred-plus affiliates, including Africa Christian Action, Gospel Defence League and Frontline Fellowship), Family Policy Institute, Doctors For Life, and Nurses For Life (the last two of which also have offices in Holland). There are at least four different "ex-gay" so-called "ministries" in Cape Town, with sub-branches and representatives and "cell-groups" around the country, with a steady supply of fresh victims referred to them by local churches who believe it is possible to pray away the gay - or torture it out of you. All of these are foreign imports connected to either NARTH or Exodus International, both American groups shirking the blame for hundreds of thousands, if not millions - of ruined lives over the years. But yes, it is a small price to pay for salvation, and the cost of keeping children safe from perverts - and church doors open *wink*.
"Godly Governance Network" on the other hand, are registered in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape - at the opposite end of the country. Hmm. From one extreme to another.