Rhema’s Ray Mccauley

A report that a President Zuma sanctioned religious body will work to reverse gay marriage rights in South Africa has been slammed by activists.

An article in last Friday’s issue of the Mail & Guardian, headlined “Zuma’s New God Squad Wants Liberal Laws To Go”, claimed that:

“The National Interfaith Leadership Council (NILC), formed by Rhema church leader Ray McCauley and closely associated with President Jacob Zuma, flew its conservative colours this week, saying that it wants to revisit laws legalising abortion and same-sex marriages.”

According to the newspaper, Nthabiseng Khunou, an ANC MP and member of the NILC, confirmed that the organisation would “play a role” in reviewing legislation legalising abortion and gay marriage.

“I know most churches want them abolished, so the reason for NILC is to give a voice to people who don’t have it,” he was quoted as saying.

The article raised concerns that the NILC was closely connected to the ANC, including using the ruling party’s offices and facilities in Parliament to disseminate its communications. The newspaper further said that at least four of the Council’s 20-member secretariat are ANC MPs.

McCauley, however, told the newspaper that there were no formal links between the organisation and the ANC.

In March, ahead of the April 22 elections, Zuma, in a controversial visit to Rhema’s headquarters, urged religious bodies to engage the government on the issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

SA GLAAD, which described the NILC as “not only hostile to gay rights and women’s rights – but at its core – human rights as well,” was the first activist organisation to express its dismay at the report:

“…Mr Zuma put the hard-won rights of the gay community to marry their partners on the bargaining table to secure more votes from the discerning Christian right”, said SA GLAAD in a statement.

The organisation went on to add: “If Mr Zuma was bluffing when he made his offer to win their votes, then this promise has come back to haunt him. One has to question Mr Zuma’s intentions towards the pink community when he himself has made homophobic remarks which made headlines a few years ago. If his offer was a bluff at all, then Rhema and Ray Mccauley and fundamentalists in SA have just called it.”

SA GLAAD noted that South Africa was a secular democracy and that religion had no place in governing the country.

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