Doom Rights and Political Wrongs

In a time where the state has failed to deliver on its messianic promises of wealth and equality, South Africans have started looking to alternative sources for salvation.

A quick glance at some of last year’s events suggests a growing concern for our communities.

From the violent student protests, religious extremists and political mob attacks, it seems our Constitutional rights are taking a beating.

Extremists everywhere.

Whether religious or not, every group with a common cause has its extremist elements. We all have blood on our hands. Occasionally, egg on our faces too.

A few centuries ago, an atheistic French Revolution brought Europe to its knees. And radical communism still has countries spiraling out of progress in periodic revolutions.

The world of organised religion is usually worse. Islamic Jihad terrorists target innocent people in their attacks on governments. India’s social applications of Hindu reincarnation led to severe economic discrimination in the ‘caste’ system. Likewise in Christianity, from the medieval inquisitions and wars to the modern doomsday prophets spreading apocalyptic hysteria, things can get messy.

Which brings us to our latest religious extremist. In this particular worldview, activities like huffing a can of Doom, or chugging a bottle of household detergent without getting sick, demonstrate divine power.

Not too long ago, another pastor in Soshanguve also had his church members enthusiastically eating snakes and rodents- even hair… under the ‘power of the Spirit’.

But as silly and outrageous as these acts may seem, there were no laws being broken. The SAPS arrested the snake pastor on the charge of cruelty to animals. They really had nothing on him.

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“Not too long ago, another pastor in Soshanguve also had his church members enthusiastically eating snakes and rodents- even hair… under the ‘power of the Spirit’.”

Constitutional Freedom.

According to the law, if someone commits a crime, he or she is to be reported, investigated, arrested, prosecuted and then sentenced.

There are reasons for this. If we short-circuit the process or allow unauthorised persons to perform these tasks, we open the doors to all sorts of problems, leading inevitably to anarchy.

Our Constitution states in the Bill of Rights, that any radical pastor, no matter how unconventionally minded or how bizarre, has the “freedom of expression” and is allowed to “impart information or ideas”.

Moreover, his audience has “the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion”, as well as the right to participate in religious activities where “attendance at them is free and voluntary” (Ch.2.Sec.12-14).

In other words, these pastors and their followers are protected by the Constitution. Which means that any group or individual who obstructs these rights is guilty of a criminal act.

But we really ought to know this by now… these are the same principles that ended Apartheid.


How ironic that a nation celebrating its third decade of restored human rights and democratic freedom would apply those rights so poorly. Picture:


A harsh reality.

This becomes a tough pill to swallow when people are led into beliefs and activities considered ‘weird’. Or embarrassing. Or dangerous. But mostly, weird.

I suppose one could argue that an ‘intervention’ by the community is warranted in cases where the group feels its members are in danger.

But the health risks of Doom inhalation or Dettol ingestion, for example, are hardly life threatening in moderate amounts. And even if they were- the ‘victims’ supposedly in danger here, were actually free and consenting adults.

‘We the people’, have the right to eat harmful foods, smoke harmful cigarettes, drink harmful alcohol, engage in harmful sports and even receive harmful medical treatment. We’re free to follow any icon we choose, whether it’s Jesus, or Ghandi, or Madiba- or even Hitler.

Well, not so much Hitler… But we’re still free to be ‘weird’, and even a little dangerous… as long as we’re not stepping on the freedom rights of others.

The real concern though, is the reaction of community members forming mobs and intimidating their snake-eating or doom-spraying neighbours. Mobs, too often it seems, instigated by political activists.

It would have been more justified for the mob to target bartenders at the local tavern, or shop cashiers selling sugar, coffee, Coke- or even Lotto tickets.

For religious maniacs to be singled out and robbed of their Constitutional rights by self-appointed community gangs is rather unconscionable.

The following video demonstrates EFF supporters disrupting a church service:


The political extremist.

According to the spokesperson of the EFF, the mob’s justification for burning down the snake-pastor’s church was him ‘committing a crime against black people’. But this is not a valid charge. It’s not even an intelligible one.

If the mob is dissatisfied with weird pastors having the right to freedom, let the record state that its disagreement lies with the Constitution itself. And any party is welcome to challenge the Constitution. Democratically. Through votes.

Until then, the mob’s rights to express their disapproval extend only as far as “peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions”. And this expressly prohibits “the incitement of imminent violence or advocacy of hatred based on religion”.

Political mob extremism is not only an illegal response, but it is detrimental to the empowerment of the community.

When religious members are ridiculed and persecuted for their beliefs, they experience alienation from their communities. This puts them in the position where they either suffer an existential crisis of faith, or they simply become more deeply entrenched in their radical beliefs. Now we’re just creating more extremists.

We need a better response from the community…

Firstly, the response needs to be legal. It needs to nourish community rights, not rape them. It must be public, involving input from all stakeholders in the group. And lastly, it needs to be ecclesiastical… meaning, it needs to be church-based.

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‘When religious members are ridiculed and persecuted for their beliefs, they experience alienation from their communities…” Image:


The Church and State.

The church plays a huge role in the nourishment of the community – and in a sense represents its soul. In a society it caters to spiritual, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, familial, relational, social and moral needs, to name but a few. These are aspects the government could never handle. And thank God for that. Can you imagine the taxes?

There exists a relative separation between church and state. They operate under different regulations and occupy separate spheres of influence.

The separation exists to protect the people. It protects non-religious people from theocratic tyranny. And it allows religious people to participate in the spirituality they choose without government interference.

History has taught us repeatedly where the borders lie, and what happens when one claims the role of the other.

In the end you’re either left with a government that regulates everything down to the smallest details of love and art. Or you have a country run by a Catholic pope or an Egyptian demigod, with all other religious views squashed.

When the community is facing a religious extreme that isn’t breaking any state laws, you can’t call the cops. And you most definitely can’t call your comrades to start a riot. You call the church.

The church also operates under a ‘constitution’. Consider Lethebo Rabalago, for example (also known as Dr.Doom, or ‘die Doominee’).

This young man is a pastor of the Mount Zion Christian Assembly Church in Zebediele, Limpopo.

There is a congregation of community members that look to him for spiritual guidance and authority. He is accountable to them to pastor and lead them according to the faith he professes.


“…spiritual guidance and authority..”


A better solution.

It just so happens that this extremist’s particular faith is inscribed in the Christian Bible.

Lethebo’s authority and methodology extends to the teachings of the Book, and no further. It is his constitution, enforced by the church. And any pastor wanting to use the Bible’s authority is tethered by consistency to its principles. Which includes its stipulations regarding extremists…

Members of a church are to be corrected and disciplined by the leadership of the church, or in cases where the leadership itself is at fault, by the network, denomination or fraternity of churches under which it falls.

This approach plays out as a rational and moral interchange in a public forum, since the alleged crimes were committed in the public pulpit.

If the extremist can justify himself to the church authorities, he gets to keep his devoted members in a haze of insecticide. Assuming that’s what they want, of course.

If his views can’t be theologically defended, they are exposed as ecclesiastically ‘criminal’, and he is then excommunicated from the church. In other words, he becomes a heretic.

Since the refutation is public, his followers can make an informed decision as to whether they truly want him as their spiritual guide or they can seek another church that operates more in line with the ‘constitution’.

So then. How do we uphold the constitutional right to freedom in light of religious or political threats?

By recognizing and respecting the constitutional rights bestowed upon the suspect. And by reporting the crime to the relevant authorities- to the church if the crime is theological, and to the state if the crime is against the law.

“How do we uphold the constitutional right to freedom in light of religious or political threats…?” Image: Pinterest.


Problem solved.

To end this somewhat dreary discussion on a lighter note, allow me to share a few thoughts.

According to the power Lethebo and these other extremists claim to have, they should really be doing a lot more than what we’ve seen so far.

The apostles in the Bible they seek to emulate, were much more impressive. They could manipulate the laws of science and nature. They healed disabilities, deformities, and terminal illness. They ironically also experienced extremists among the people and left no doubt as to whom the Spirit of God was backing. They even raised the dead every now and then.

Why are today’s extremists not visiting hospitals and discharging all patients? Or turning solemn funeral convoys into traffic jams of people delirious with joy?

In fact, if they were truly trying to demonstrate divine power, they should be challenging the Sangomas to power showdowns, like Paul and Elijah did.

Snakes? Anything short of a Steve Irwin documentary would be rather unimpressive.

And surely there are better ‘invincibility’ indicators than household detergents or insecticides. Like, say, chopping up a gram of Anthrax with a credit card and doing lines through a gun barrel (See Chuck Norris).

That would be some hardcore divinity. Perhaps a deacon could record it Live for Facebook and really show the world where the power’s at?

But that’s just me. And probably also why I wasn’t given any divine powers…

In the meantime, let’s give the community the freedom to choose. Not a religious “Fear Factor” challenge. Nor a panga for political crusade. Just freedom, and peace.

And let’s honour both church and state in these situations where religion and politics clash. We need both. Both the laws of man, and the laws of God. Otherwise, we lose the right to freedom.

* Biblical references (English Standard Version):
Deut.4:2-8; Ps.2; Is.8:20; 24:5; Matt.5:18; Jn.14:16-18; 21:15-17; Ac.15:28; 25:11; Rom.3:19; 5:5; 13; 14:7; 1Pt.5:1-4; 2Pt.1:21; 1Tim.1:8-10; 2Tim.2:24-26; 3:16-17; 1Cor.2:13

Also read:

EFF will soon ‘have fellowship’ with Doom pastor – Ndlozi

‘Doom’ prophet says he was chosen before birth

‘Pastor Doom’ flees from home

Health dept obtains court interdict against Doom prophet


Jaryd Moore

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