Pastor Errol Naidoo
In October last year Mambaonline broke a story about a Christian minister, the Rev. Oscar Peter Bougardt, whose anti-gay views caused considerable outrage. The story was quickly picked up by other media outlets.
Surprisingly, Bougardt was in no way upset that our report led to him being thoroughly lambasted by the mainstream media. He seemed, instead, to revel in the attention. He continues to send us regular unsolicited e-mails with hate-filled diatribes which we refuse to report on. The more we ignore Bougardt, the more horrific his words become. His desperation in trying to goad us to repeat his rants is both transparent and tragic.
Pastor Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute also understands the power of vilifying the gay and lesbian community. He is aware that he needs to up the ante in sheer outrageousness in order to secure headlines and column inches in the press. The truth is, without this kind of exposure Naidoo’s reach would probably remain limited to a fringe monitory of Christians.
Naidoo has long been a thorn in the gay community’s side with his lobbying against LGBTI events in Knysna and Cape Town, all in the guise of a holy man doing righteous work. This past week, however, he achieved his most successful and most cynical coup yet; linking gays and lesbians, and a “death culture” we apparently perpetuate, to the tragic massacre of 34 protesting miners.
This absurd position was laid out in Naidoo’s regular newsletter at the height of the Marikana media frenzy and, unsurprisingly, became a sensation. Once again he was in the spotlight.
Soon after, it was both fascinating and disturbing to listen to Naidoo play the victim in an interview on 702 Talk Radio. He complained that he was being demonised by the media. “It is all meant to silence people because the homosexual lobby groups all talk about human rights, but they refuse to tolerate any other view other than their own,” he said.
This shows the naked ignorance and bigotry of Naidoo’s position. What he fails to realise, or acknowledge, is that the words he speaks and the actions he takes are of a very different nature from the right to equality sought by the LGBTI community.
“It is time that individuals like Naidoo be held accountable for the tangible harm that they cause through their self-righteous crusades…”
Our community wants no more than what is due to every other citizen in South Africa. Our community’s lobbying and campaigning are for rights that affect no-one other than its members. We do not wish to take anyone else’s rights away nor in any way lessen anyone else. We have never tried to force straight people of the same sex to marry, we have never tried to force churches to accept our marriages or even to marry us, nor do we, contrary to religious propaganda, try to “convert” people to homosexuality (as if such a thing were even possible).
Errol Naidoo, on the other hand, stands for something very different. He works to dehumanise and diminish us, including railing against our right to marry under civil law – an area that churches have no business in. He wishes to stop us from holding events that no one is forced to attend, and he, in his own words, “hates” us; a frightening admission from a religious man.
Bizarrely, despite the vast majority of South Africans identifying as Christians, including, ironically, many if not most gays and lesbians, Naidoo says that Christians are being persecuted. He believes that this empowered majority is somehow under threat from LGBTI people, a minority.
Unlike Christians, however, our persecution is not at all imagined.
Naidoo’s words seek to forcibly shape others outside of his fringe Christian constituency, based on little more than dogma and irrational beliefs. He actively works to disempower others through untruthful, biased and manipulative language. And make no mistake, his hate-filled words can harm.
While I am not aware of any on-going attacks against Christians in South Africa because of their religious beliefs, gays and lesbians are targets for physical, and sometimes deadly, attack on a daily basis. Disempowered men filled with rage and a desperate need to assert their power at any cost are fuelled by the patriarchal belief system championed by those such as Naidoo, Contralesa’s Patekile Holomisa and Jon Qwelane.
It is Naidoo and his kind who are stoking the fires of this true ‘culture of death’ in South Africa. It is their message and warped views that are used by some to justify a society in which LGBTI people are stabbed, shot, dismembered and set on fire simply for being who they are. If Naidoo were a true man of the cloth, modelled on Jesus Christ, it is these atrocities he would be vociferously condemning in his newsletters, instead of attacking the victims.
It is time that individuals like Naidoo be held accountable for the harm that they cause through their self-righteous crusades. Theirs is a campaign to impose their rigid, unloving and dangerous way of life on our society and to self-servingly bask in the media limelight, no matter the cost to the rest of us.
The news that Naidoo is to be given a broader public platform on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on DSTV to promote his dangerous and immoral campaign on a weekly basis is frightening indeed. This channel and its broadcaster need to question if they, as responsible media, are prepared to play a part in promoting Naidoo’s culture of death.