Pic: De Kuilen High School / Facebook
A Cape Town school is facing a backlash after it allowed a homophobic pastor to tell its pupils that gay people will go to hell.
According to reports, the pastor, identified by News24 as Pickard Henn, spoke to pupils at an event at De Kuilen High School in Kuilsriver on Wednesday last week, hosted by Christian organisation Christelike Studente Vereniging (CSV).
He was then invited back to address students again on Friday at an assembly attended by matric pupils.
It’s claimed that Henn, touted as a “motivational speaker,” compared LGBTQ people to murderers and paedophiles and said that they have “no place in heaven.”
He also allegedly stated that gay people are “as bad as Hitler” and that young individuals who have sex before marriage are prostitutes. The pastor further described sangomas as “devils and witches.”
Cape Talk said that while the first event was voluntary for pupils, the second talk was allegedly mandatory for matric students.
Pupils are said to have been so shocked and hurt by Henn’s comments that they have since been offered counselling by the school.
According to his Facebook page, Henn is the founder of Christ In Action Ministries, based in Upington in the Northern Cape. Images on his page and website show him preaching to school children in uniform, suggesting that he does this regularly.
Speaking to News24, he said of his Wednesday talk: “There were people that openly confessed that they were gay. Gay people were never personally addressed but I did address the whole category which we [are] all we born in – SIN! Now we need to be born again!”
The Western Cape Education Department has gotten involved in the matter. Bronagh Hammond, the Department’s Director of Communications, told Cape Talk that she was only aware of one of the events at the school but confirmed that the department had received reports of “a lot of hate speech.”
She said that while schools have the right to offer voluntary religious clubs and expression to students, these kinds of statements would be “disgusting” if proven to be true.
“We don’t want to shut down engagements like this, however, in this instance, of course, we want to shut down anyone that would come into our school and spew such vitriol,” said Hammond.
“We’re just hoping that the school uses this as an opportunity to showcase what intolerance can do and what hatred can come out of intolerance,” she added.
It’s not the first time that questions have been asked about South African schools allowing homophobic religious speakers to address students. Last year, pupils at St. Andrew’s College in Grahamstown spoke out against a guest preacher’s sermon that condemned homosexuality and described same-sex marriage as satanic.