Friday, November 5, 2010

Pastor’s ‘Jesus was HIV-positive’ claim sparks outrage

NOTE: Zachimalawi published a story this week, where a South African pastor was saying that 'Jesus was HIV-positive'. Online publication, Nyasa Times, took the cue from Zachimalawi and followed the story up. Today, Zachimalawi takes the cue from Nysa Times on what other pastors are saying on the issue.

A Pastor in Cape Town, South Africa has sparked anger by claiming in his sermons that Jesus Christ was HIV positive.

“Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive,” Pastor Xola Skosana said in a Sunday church service in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township, according to BBC.

His bizarre claim quickly spread across the country. And Christians have reacted angrily, claiming it portrays Jesus as sexually promiscuous.

“The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter,” said another local pastor, Mike Bele.

“’I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground.”

Pastor Skosana, whose non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry is part of a growing charismatic movement in South Africa, insists his message is more about giving hope than anything else.

By making the claim, he hopes to remove the stigma attached to HIV suffers.

HIV is predominantly transmitted through sex but can also be spread by the transfer of contaminated blood into the system through needle-sharing.

“Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity,” he told the BBC.

He is also quick to emphasise that he is using the metaphor to highlight the danger of the HIV/Aids pandemic, which still carries a stigma in South Africa’s townships.

“Of course, there’s no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream,” says the pastor.

“The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he’s not ashamed of them.”

According to Mail and Guardian newspaper, Skosana (43) underwent a HIV test in front of his congregation last Sunday. But he lost two sisters to HIV/Aids. One died last month at the age of 44. The other died in 2003 in her early 20s.

The churchman cited a passage in the Bible where Jesus says: “I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”

The pastor said he chose the title for his three-part sermon to draw attention to “a very serious issue”.

“In many parts of the Bible, God put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick, the marginalised,” he said. “When we attend to those who are sick, we are attending to him. When we ignore people who are sick, we are ignoring him.”

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