Opinion: Is this the truth behind Oscar Bougardt’s accusations?

Loving the limelight (Facebook)

Pastor Bougardt loving the limelight (Facebook)

“Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another.” – Leviticus 19:11

Rev Oscar Bougardt is the pastor at Calvary H.O.P.E Ministries in Cape Town. He has repeatedly been in the news for his extreme homophobic comments, self-justified by his arguably erroneous interpretation of the Bible.

Some of his reported claims, however, are simply untruths intended to harm and hurt. His recent statement, reported by News24, that “99% of pedophiles stem from homosexuality” is a case in point.

Rev Bougardt was charged in the Equality Court by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in 2014. The SAHRC instituted proceedings against Pastor Bougardt in terms of section 20 of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000, in respect of an alleged contravention of section 10(1) of the Equality Act and section 9 and 10 of the Constitution.

The settlement agreement prohibits Pastor Bougardt to, among others, publishing further statements that are discriminatory or incite hatred or harm on the grounds of sexual orientations.

This has not stopped him, however, and he has continued to make these kinds of statements to the press, and on his Facebook and Twitter feeds.

His most recent statements stem from a visit to meet banned US pastor Steven Anderson in the US. Anderson, members of his church and/or associates were banned from entering the Republic in 2016 by the Minister of Home Affairs. It seems that Rev Bougardt is determined to import Anderson’s brand of hate, directly in conflict with the banning order imposed by the Minister.

Part of his strategy is to use his position of influence as a church official to spread defamatory and unfounded statements in order to create a culture of fear and disgust against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. He is seemingly abusing his position of power within the community to stoke hate and harm, and judging from comments by members of his flock on his Facebook page, his tactics seem to be working.

Comments by his followers, like “Kill ‘em all” and “South Africa should start executing sodomites,” on his Facebook page clearly show that his statements are inciting hatred that could lead to violence against LGBTI people. (They are also against the law.)

Rev Bougardt then cunningly puts the word “pedophile” next to the word “homosexual”, making claims that he cannot substantiate, and in the process he demonizes a segment of our society. He is even reported to have said that children are exposed to grave danger when they are in the same room as a homosexual.

Let us be clear: There is absolutely no evidence available in any credible research that proves that there is any connection between pedophilia and homosexuality. It is all a figment of the reverend’s imagination. (Perhaps it is part of a strategy he learned from Anderson?) But once he has uttered that untruth, it starts festering like a cancer and has the potential to in time spread and lead to violence. It is formulated in such a way so as to undermine the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

When the backlash comes and people like myself call on him to supply evidence to back up his claims, Rev Bougardt suddenly becomes the victim; crying crocodile tears and claiming that he and his family are receiving threatening messages. Suddenly it becomes a case of religious persecution and an attack on Christianity. When he is challenged to provide evidence to back up the outrageous claims, he keeps silent. When he asks for an opportunity to “tell his side of the story” and is afforded that opportunity, he refuses to participate and hides behind his lawyer.

From being the aggressor, unfairly and viciously attacking a segment of society, he turns around to play the victim. He claims to be persecuted because of his beliefs, and he has a chorus of supporters who egg him on, blindly following him and blaming everyone else for a crisis he created through his hateful statements.

The appalling hypocrisy of these accusations perpetuated by anti-gay religious bigots, of course, is that many churches are themselves no strangers to what they accuse gay men of doing. There is a growing body of evidence that the Catholic Church, Protestant Church and Evangelical Churches are fertile ground for the abuse of children.

The Ashley Madison information dump exposed evangelical hero Josh Duggar as a sexual deviant, while Sovereign Grace Ministries were revealed to be the center of decades long sexual abuse against children. With VictimsOfCrime.Org asserting that one in five girls and one in 20 boys become victims of sexual abuse, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) grimly adds:

“The majority of perpetrators are someone the child or family knows. As many as 93% of victims under the age of 18 know the abuser.”

The above goes a long way towards explaining why a child, pre-teen or adolescent is more likely to be molested in church than by an LGBTI stranger.

In fact, US evangelical leaders have grown concerned enough about sexual abuse in their ranks that Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE – www.netgrace.org) was launched to train, educate and help faith communities prevent this from happening. Sadly, the facts revealed in a Powerpoint slide presentation show they’ve got a long road ahead of them:

  • Child abuse accusations against US protestant churches average 70 per week. (GRACE acknowledges that the number could be a lot higher due to under-reporting.)
  • One percent of churches surveyed reported abuse accusations annually.
  • 42 percent were volunteers, 25 percent were paid staff, 25 percent were other children.
  • The average child molester sexually assaults 50-150 children before being caught.
Bougardt recently visited hate pastor Steven Anderson in the US

Bougardt recently visited hate pastor Steven Anderson in the US

The evidence that some churches are hotbeds of sexual assault against children is growing. Could this be why many are so quick to spread lies about the non-existent link between homosexuality and pedophilia? Could it be that church officials are statistically proven to be more dangerous to children than LGBTI people, and it is they, therefore, that should not be allowed in the same room as a child? Oh, the irony!

It is not the first time that attention is being diverted to innocent LGBTI people in order to hide secrets. Examples of the most virulently anti-gay pastors being caught with gay rent boys and drugs, or being gay or bisexual themselves, abound.

As for our very own Reverend, he is likely using the accusations against the LGBTI community (and his association with Anderson) as an easy and cynical way to increase his profile. In the words of one of his Facebook fans, “[…]You are becoming very famous now, pastor O.‬”

GaySA Radio has launched a campaign against hate called #UprisingOfLove. A number of high profile people and organisatons have committed themselves to counter all the hate in the world with love and compassion. You too can join the movement. Share how you are going to spread the love in 2017 by using the hashtag on social media.

GaySA Radio is an internet radio station broadcasting on www.gaysaradio.co.za. Hendrik Baird, Station Manager at GaySA Radio, is writing this article in his personal capacity and his views do not necessarily reflect those of GaySA Radio, its management, sponsors or advertisers.

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