Religious communities ‘given power to choose’, says lobby group

Religious communities ‘given power to choose’, says lobby group

“The best thing the president has done is, if you like, given the power and the respect to religious communities to do what they believe is right.”

Catholic Church

Lobby group Freedom of Religion believe President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to life the ban on religious gatherings is a step in the right direction for the recognition of churches as an essential service.

Last week Tuesday, the government gave the green light for places of worship to resume with their services under level 3 of the lockdown.

But since then, a number of churches leaders have made a U-turn, calling on their congregants to rather stay home.

The lobby group’s executive director Michael Swain says the churches are well within their rights to change their minds.

“I think it’s a very sensible and reasonable response because when the president said that you may reopen, he didn’t say you must reopen. He gave the option and gave clear and stringent guidelines as to what would be needed from any religious organisation or place of worship that did reopen.

“Pastors and religious leaders and others have looked at these, looked at the situation, where they’re people are, where they see the health risks are and they are responding accordingly.”

SA observes National Day of Prayer

South Africans are observing a National Day of Prayer as the country remains in lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared 31 May a National Day of Prayer. "I urge all South Africans to heed the call of the leaders of our various faith communities for a national day of prayer," Ramaphosa said.

Amid the rising rate of Covid-19 infections and deaths, worshippers will have to observe social distancing and wear face masks as per the regulations.

Only a maximum of 50 congregants are permitted to attend a sermon.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa lauded churches for adhering to lockdown regulations thus far.

He added he’s happy with the plan presented by the churches to ensure safety of their congregants in level 3.

“We are very, very pleased by the churches by and large, and in fact all of them, complied with the lockdown provisions – from small churches to the large churches, realising the dangers that people would be open to,” said Ramaphosa.


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