Church leadership cannot be insulated from accountability

Johannesburg – South Africa was once again treated to yet another church scandal.

This time around, an audio emerged of popular pastor, Bishop Israel Makamu of the Endless Hope Bible Church, asking for sexual favours from a female member.

Makamu quit his job as presenter on Moja Love amid the storm the audio caused. However, the charismatic man of the cloth went on to officiate veteran actor Ernest Msibi’s wedding, hot on the heels of the sex scandal.

His alleged victim has since laid a sexual assault charge. My issue is not with the merits or demerits of the case.

Mine is about accountability in the church as an important institution in our democratic society.

The church, in most instances, demands accountability from leaders in other sectors of society such as politics, business, sports and entertainment.

However, it appears the church, especially the charismatic movement sets its own standards.

Rogue pastors who steal from their congregants; those who make their followers eat snakes and all manner of things, and those who ask for sexual favours or sleep with their members, are seemingly forgiven and life goes on. There is no question that the House of the Lord has been infiltrated by the tsotsis – the men and women whose interest is only to use the word to line their pockets.

It is common cause that the charismatic church movement is harbouring hoodlums whose sole aim is to loot from the poor.

It is high time that the church leadership and congregants hold their wayward pastors to account.

That they are human and falter is a given. But the abuse of the pulpit must be called out and those in the wrong should be punished accordingly and be given space to atone. Leaders in other sectors of society also ought to ensure that fake pastors are held to account and brought to book.

The church leadership cannot be insulated from accountability. The church remains an integral part of our society.

We look to the men of the cloth to help in the fight against social ills such as teenage pregnancy and substance abuse.

Many churches continue to provide shelter for the destitute, food for the hungry, education for the downtrodden and other necessities. Pastors do not only provide spiritual guidance, but are also regarded as a moral compass.

It is within this context that we cannot afford to have the church hijacked by wrong elements. Makamu and others remind us of the centrality of accountability in the church in order to avoid the abuse of the pulpit for nefarious ends.

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