– Its perhaps time McCauley learns to submit to black religious leadership first. –
The unfolding Pastor Omotoso scandal and trial has its own sideshows, earlier this week we learnt of a prominent Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane who in veiled sense threatened Pastor Omotoso with the following words, “they must release you we waiting for you outside.” These words despite Omotoso’s charge sheet is simply not in the spirit of democracy and is less to be expected from a cabinet member. By Tuesday, we read of an opinion piece with Pastor Ray McCauley as the author.
The Star of this Tuesday carries an opinion piece by the controversial Pastor Ray McCauley of Rhema Church. McCauley regularly shares opinions in the Star, often these are framed as of someone who claims a right to be the self-appointed leader of Independent Churches in South Africa. McCauley’s claim to fame in a public political presence is not without question given the protracted and challenging history of an apartheid South Africa. The physical church edifice and infrastructure is often identified as that which thrust him into a socio and political landscape when many key personality funerals and events were hosted at such.
It is my conscious intention to engage McCauley and the known ghost-writers who penned this note. This response must not remotely be misconstrued as a defence of Omotoso whom I already in an earlier piece condemned on the strength of the led evidence as submitted by Cheryl Zondi. It is my submission that Omotoso is merely used by McCauley to exert himself into space he long has claimed for himself.
McCauley naturally like all of us have a right to an opinion which is not herewith questioned. He like all of us is entitled to be angry with the revelations of a Pastor Omotoso church scandal, which involves as we are learning more than 30 witnesses lined up to testify. In what was a very eventful and painful week of evidence led by a brave Cheryl Zondi who intermittently waved away a tear, as she took us all into confidence on what she lived through under the leadership and abuse of the foreign-born Omotoso, McCauley ventured his mind as his right but also made some interesting claims which warrant engaging.
At first glance, the undiscerning eye will want to make this very controversial opinion piece, that I postulate uses Omotoso for its own end, out as a pastoral comment, yet it is an opinion piece and hence must be engaged for what it is. In this conflation of self-appointed claimed authority, accusations, deductions and oblivious of any appreciation of a recognised recorded trajectory of church-history mixed with CRL plagiarised proposals the mind of South Africa’s self-appointed faith leader is laid bare. McCauley takes the title co-chairperson more serious than anything else because the former bodybuilder turned pastor does not submit to any leadership and particularly not apartheid classified black leadership.
It is an open secret that Pastor Ray McCauley has never penned any of his own books including his autobiography, or any of the many articles that have appeared under his name. He has thus, for the duration of his ministry, social and public political commentary life been depending on what is considered ghost-writers, one of the benefits of being wealthy of having access to resources. Unfortunately, the ghost-writers in McCauley’s case are nowhere ever acknowledged. We also know that many of these after a while left Rhema when relations soured. Let us also accept that Pastor McCauley was never a friend of the SACC, he by default during the Zuma presidency given the association with Vusi Mona claimed to be a Zuma supporter moved to support President Zuma. Zuma’s presidency did not afford the SACC the celestial identity it held in Mandela and half the tenure of Mbeki. This inadvertently was during a time when parliamentarian and former chief whip of the ANC Dr Mathole Motshekga oversaw the formation of a National Religious Leadership chaired by Bishop Daniel Matebesi the same Pastor McCauley always claim as his co-chair designation ad-in-finitum.
The article is his attempt to lend his voice in authority to the much-publicised yet mooted regulation notion essentially aimed at the Christian faith expression at the hand of a minuscule and insignificant few independent church leaders who have made themselves guilty of unorthodox and discomforting extraordinary practices as advanced by the interim CRL research report. I had the privilege of studying and engaging the CRL report on the day of its release and participated along with its Chairperson Xaluva in a panel interview on the then ANN7 platform. McCauley’s ghost-writing let him claim the moral and acclaimed leadership high ground to argue his justification for what the CRL presented in a questionable a hardly conclusive sense of a PEER Review structure. http://weeklyxpose.co.za/2017/07/11/reflections-discomfort-crl-commercialisation-religion-report/
It is important to engage McCauley known for having led the now-defunct IFCC (Independent Federation of Christian Churches) which was really the brainchild of the late Pastor Ed Roebert, and for which McCauley stood accused by some as having hijacked the vision. It was also claimed that the IFCC was formed at the time as a counterforce to the then powerful SACC, apparently with apartheid resources.
He may not want to recall that at one of these IFCC gatherings in the early 90’s proved categorically clear in asserting that he will not submit to any African, Coloured or Indian church leader because ‘they have no track record of having led anything successfully.’ McCauley is known for not submitting to any leader that is not sharing a denotation of apartheid classified white. Hence he continues to refer to himself joint-chairperson of the NRLC. He later joined the SACC the same he never had anything good to comment on, over an elongated period, even in this setting McCauley sees himself as a co-leader, not as one submitting to SACC leadership.
McCauley in his own words, “There are many dubious characters calling themselves prophets, bishops, and apostles among other titles, but whose claim to these titles cannot be backed up by credible deeds in ministry”.
The problem with McCauley’s conclusive views on religion in 2018 lays perhaps in its own dubious character. I as an educated Pentecostal Faith believer first ordained by the oldest Pentecostal Church in SA, namely the AFM-SA, (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa) in 1992, readily admits and know that from the birth of the AFM-SA in 1908 to deep in the 1950’s the criteria for anyone to be a pastor was the presence of the gift of speaking in tongues. I also which to put it on record that the AFM-SA in its racial composition of an apartheid past and beyond its 1996 unification, struggled for many years to be accepted as a mainline church, meaning recognised by those who are of the denominational settings who have come to define the panoply of religious life in SA both at theology as science and practical faith life.
The Charismatic Church of which McCauley and others make up its SA presence essentially share the Pentecostal Theology and doctrinal stance of the oldest SA Pentecostal church, they may have modernised liturgy, dress code and opened the pulpits in charismatic worship but the theology is still the same.
I am saying this to remind a seeming selective amnesia suffering McCauley or his pen-person that the Pentecostal church from inception, the world over was considered a sect at first, they were given no respect space or dignity by the religious fraternities of the day and it took a very long time to be accepted in these religious fraternities.
No different to the followers of Jesus’ who were castigated and denigrated as indolent, deceived, backwards and gullible by the stoic Sadducees and Pharisees. The general critique against this church formation was its unorthodox expression of faith, its lack of education and an absent footprint of researched theological doctrinal foothold. McCauley’s RHEMA while an American imported church formation with its name appropriated equally so from the late Kenneth Hagin Ministries, was always considered a sect bereft of respectable education and one where the ‘intelligible’ thought theology was always an absent ingredient for this very stream. McCauley today speaks as a self-ordained authority in the false claim of an original solid theology structured, ethos and Didache when all of us who sojourned the last 30 years know different
We must then conclude that a McCauley being vocal confirms it is easy for all of us when we seemingly have ‘arrived’ in whatever shape size or form of acceptance to condemn others as charlatans when we ourselves were considered at some stage “kansvatters” fake and definitely uneducated a bunch of self-appointed pastors. I, therefore, plead with McCauley to remain conscious of firstly the documented history of the Pentecostal Church Movement and its later development of varied Charismatic expressions, not forgetting his own past when others declared him uninformed and uneducated as a self-made pastor.
Hence the accusations of ‘charlatans’ the claims of ‘clowns’ and labelling people ‘gullible’, that his article invokes, in accusing people who practice their constitutional rights of freedom of association purports to have questionable dimensions to it. Let us remember, the entire Pentecostal Movement born in Los Angeles, California under the unction of the Holy Spirit when a one-eyed African American William Seymour Holiness preacher who initiated the Azusa Street Revival, broke the racial barriers as God began to use him in birthing the Pentecostal Church. So slow down Ray, pause and reflect, our Pentecostal Faith was considered a fake church and bereft of any theologically astute prisms and thought life for a long period.
Another challenge I have with McCauley is his opportunistic use of the New Testament Scholar, theologian and gifted writer, Paul. He remonstrates, “Paul could lay claim to the title of apostle given the many letters he wrote and the churches he established, And the man was learned too”
Saul, who became Paul, the one who was a Zealot, Pharisee, and a Roman soldier, who also sat at the feet of the scholar Gamaliel was a fanatical persecutor of the early Church of Jesus Chris in its infancy until his Damascus experience and encounter with God. It is interesting that McCauley in this season seeks to make Paul’s volume of work the criteria, may I remind McCauley more than half of the original apostles wrote nothing. Peter had a writer called Mark who penned the Gospel of Mark as Peter’s account and Mark possibly also wrote the epistles for Peter. The apostleship had nothing to do with volumes of either written work or planted churches as some like McCauley in an armchair comment today seek to advance.
For McCauley to use the criteria of education when tons of pastors in the Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches never went to any formal seminary but attended local non-accredited “Word-Schools” is rather convenient if not mischievous. Let us again remind McCauley that Paul despite his intellect and powerful ministry was not accepted by the church of Jerusalem under Simon Peter’s leadership. He had to go and defend himself to the church who spared him no grace, never trusted him until he in Acts 10, eclipsed the appointed leader of the church Peter, who placed his Jewish cultural preferences as sacrosanct after God instructed him to eat what was in the lowered from heaven sheet. Paul then becomes the evidence that God always had the so-called Heathen in mind.
When McCauley label some today for not being able to put together an intelligible paragraph we must surprisingly admit we have come full circle because we know how McCauley’s own lack of education was used against him. He, therefore, emulates today the same ones who accused and rejected the Pentecostal Movement at the hand of that very same education diaphragm. If he from his glass-tower today calls them ‘clowns’, may he pause to know Jesus was called worse by a so-called intelligent religious bunch of hypocrites whom he retorted in the description of being white-washed tombstones, who were not ready to embrace his challenging teaching that exposed their hypocrisy?
The historical Jesus, whom I profess as my Saviour and Lord, was hardly considered a success for ministry if the 21ST Century monied church economy is the dictate. We know he never had a huge church, building or a consistent following he till his death battled to keep the 12 on the straight and the narrow. If Jesus had to be assessed by the 21st-Century capitalist driven minds of church expressions they would have said of him he ran a ‘tuckshop’ because they are ‘megachurch’ inebriated to claim success and impact Jesus never planted any churches for that to become the measurement for His impact. They would never have invited him because he was too controversial, and had no credentials they could vet to afford him their palatial pulpits. It is, therefore, the false capitalistic mind of those who advance a false notion of a ‘mega-church’ as the maximum symbol to confirm impact. It is from the bedrock of this very false notion that McCauley’s writer pens this note that renders him inadvertently a modern ‘papacy- status’ of the SA independent Christian Church community.
Glaringly present throughout McCauley’s shout is a person who inserts himself as above reproach, seldom admitting his own flawed reality that we all share, one who can claim moral high ground and is naturally as they in the Charismatic movement lexicon rank themselves as “Generals”. We must hear McCauley because he tells us he has earned the inalienable right to speak authoritatively on the subject matter of who can be a pastor and who not. He wants to tell us pastors must be vetted; may we ask who vetted him and many others when they announced their calls?
Not only does McCauley claim this right but he equally proves instructive we not sure by what authority, his instructive dictate seeks to browbeat us into an acceptance of a CRL proposal of an adopted Peer Review Mechanism which really has at aim the establishment of a superior organisation that will control accreditation and vetting of pastors and churches. Unfortunately, those bidding for this super State endorsed structure of the organisation are not exempted from their own political and self-interests agendas.
McCauley laments those who join churches, when he says, “The sad thing is there will always be a gullible audience ready to be the followers of these religious con artists. And let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that only the poor and uneducated are the followers of these dubious religious leaders.” I penned an article a few years ago in the TNA publications in which I argue all Faiths imbibes gullibility, to pretend gullibility was not the cause for the establishment of RHEMA is to be sophistic, to say the least. The believer believes less on what he has scientifically observed, intellectually understood, or the vastness of research comprehended. The act and life of faith suggest gullibility and that has been the story of all faith formations and their respective footprints. When McCauley reads followers of other church expressions the riot act, as being gullible, he cannot remotely attempt to claim Rhema members from inception were astute and not gullible in joining his vision as borrowed from the USA. To, therefore, advance gullibility is a none argument. Regardless of education to believe in a God you have never seen takes faith and faith is informed by assumptions made and predicated on that which you seldom can defend or explain in a rational sense.
He uses the Omotoso case to now become a final authority to give the CRL report legs where he highlights what the report sets out almost in a form of plagiarism sense. I had expected McCauley to cite the CRL report for its conclusions and what it presents as solutions. It is not Ray McCauley who first thought of a Code of Practice or a Peer Review structure it was not even the CRL but submissions made to the CRL that was captured in its 39-page report of which its first 25 pages constitute sheer background information. It is important that McCauley desists acting like it was his brainchild of a peer review and a code and what that code must entail. That is rather opportunistic on his part, something McCauley often stands accused of.
He back in the day used his historic association with ANC MK veteran Carl Niehaus to facilitate an opportunity to be on the programme of the late Oom Beyers Naude’s funeral as one of those who prayed. We also know Ray McCauley before a Mandela release did not share the same sentiments he has since Mandela was released. McCauley must learn to embrace being someone’s deputy because he submits to no one and particularly not any apartheid defined black person.
His writing seems to want to dictate today how religious organisations must be formed, when the CRL stands naked for its one-sided and convenient condemnation of doom insecticide-spraying pastors, when it failed in its report to give SA a didactic attempt in explaining as to how faith traditions evolve and as to why it is correct to accept the mainline churches and not others in their faith practice life.
I agree with the writer of McCauley’s article on the subject matter that no one is above the law and we must draw a distinction between the moral and the criminal. When he says that we must also be red-carding the very church who have pleaded silence on the abuse of young boys, girls and nuns as the Roman Catholic Church currently is dealing with. Let us also not forget when we today condemn Omotoso and his need for this blind loyalty how churches like Rhema under McCauley require nothing less than a fierce loyalty to a supreme mortal that rules by decree that easily can see a cup of coffee emptied at an individual in a fit of rage in a board meeting. We must condemn this abuse with the same verve we are encouraged to do of Omotoso.
He raises a pertinent issue if society has an issue with the conduct or integrity of a religious leader what are the governance structures that can be approached? And here I make a distinction between the ethical and the criminal. Again, this issue is not answered by the proposed “Umbrella organisation’ philosophy of the CRL. Off course moral and criminal matters have different premises and whatever entails the criminal is answered by a functional judicial system. The moral as he advances is assumed to be that where for example a pastor divorces, is overtaken with habits that bring the Christian Faith in disrepute etc. These are and should be dealt with by the body the pastor and church subscribe to not an external superimposed structure of a CRL umbrella organisation who acts as final arbiter. The invoking of how society must deal with that is also in a sense flawed because society is bigger than the local church and society at large may not want for example a McCauley anymore as a pastor when his local church would argue the opposite. It is convenient to invoke this society notion when it suits us and to be oblivious to it when it would affect us. Let pastors be governed by their local assemblies no different to how Rhema and all others are governed.
McCauley’s final point on self-regulation was uttered long before and is not new, the right to freedom of association in faith expression is a constitutional right. The pressure of regulation is borne from those who seek to encroach on this right. Self-regulation then becomes Faith’s answer to the fabricated need to regulate in this season. There is no unison voice or any voice regardless of name or size that can claim it speaks in total authority on behalf of the church, in particular, the independent churches in SA. There is no record that the church by enlarge ever agreed to adopt regulation and by extension the pseudo form of it under the guise of lusty organisations whose fantasy is to control the church of Jesus Christ under their political loaded and self-serving interest blankets.
The debate on regulation and self- regulation is very far from being fully ventilated and concluded and we will not allow the CRL, a McCauley or any formation with its own interests to instruct the church on peer review structures etc. Govern the expression of which you were endowed, leave the rest of the Body of Christ to be led by those God have ordained whom you often don’t respect because they according to you are too insignificant and not famous.
Omotoso and every other real or fake pastor must be condemned where the truth of claims can stand legal muster. Let the courts pronounce on Omotoso, he can’t be denied his constitutional rights to a fair trial because the ANCWL is caught in a conundrum of doublespeak as to when it wants to defend victims of abuse when it supports one and rejects the other. Neither can Omotoso be used by the McCauley machinery in his crusade to become SA’s pastor as a means to a political end. The Mokonyane and McCauley rants are sideshows and must be treated for what it is.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine