Pastors worldwide especially clergymen in Nigeria have expressed outrage as a SouthÂ African cleric, Pastor Xola Skosana blasphemed Jesus Christ by saying he was HIVÂ positive.
A British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC report said that Skosena was preaching aÂ sermon to his congregation titled, â€˜Jesus was HIV-positiveâ€™
â€œToday, I will start a three part sermon on â€˜Jesus was HIV-positive,â€ BBC reportedÂ Pastor Skosana as telling stunned worshippers during a church service.
The sermon first threw his church in Cape Townâ€™s Khayelitsha town into silence andÂ later murmuring as tongues were wagging not only in his church but across SouthÂ Africa.
Many Christians across the world have beenÂ outraged, saying the pastor portrayedÂ Jesus Christ as sexually promiscuous.
It is generally believed that HIV is mainly transmitted through sex but can also beÂ spread through other means like needle sharing, blood transfusion, pregnancy orÂ breast feeding.
Pastor Skosana told his audience at the Luhlaza High School Hall, venue of hisÂ weekly services that in many parts of the Bible, Jesus Christ put himself in theÂ position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalized.
â€œJesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness. Isaiah 53, forÂ example clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirminitiesÂ and brokenness of humanity,â€ the pastor told BBC.
But he added, â€œThereâ€™s no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HIV virus in hisÂ blood stream,â€ said the pastor whose church was a fast growing church in SouthÂ Africa. He quickly emphasised that he was using the metaphor to highlight the dangerÂ of the HIV/AIDS pandemic which still carries stigma in South Africa townships.
â€œThe best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatiseÂ AIDS and create an environment where they know God is not against them, heâ€™s notÂ ashamed of them,â€ Pastor Skosana said.
But Pastor Mike Bele of the Nomzamo Baptist Church Gugulethu said most clergy inÂ Khayelisthsa and Cape Town are strongly opposed to associating Jesus with HIV.
â€œThe subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scatching matter,â€ Bele said.
He added, â€œI believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures andÂ the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to theÂ ground.â€
Reacting, the Prelate Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Ola Makinde described the pastorÂ as a mad man, saying that he has blasphemed the Lord. He called on all believers toÂ continue to pray for him so that God should forgive him because he is an ignorantÂ man, adding: â€œSomething is wrong with him upstairs. Let us ignore him. When did HIVÂ come into existence?â€
Another Methodist Church leader, Rev. Oladepo Darmola described the statementÂ credited to the pastor as blasphemous, saying that everyone knew that Christ neverÂ had sexual relationship and that the Bible did not tell us that there was HIV/AIDSÂ during the time of Jesus Christ, saying it was discovered in the 70s.
â€œIt is natural for people to blaspheme because of the liberal notion ofÂ Christianity. The statement is sarcastic and a sad comment. We should not glorifyÂ the statement. Christians need to keep their cool and calm because God will fightÂ for us,â€ he said.
Director of Communication, Catholic Church of Nigeria, Rev. Gabriel Osu saidÂ something must be wrong upstairs with the man, saying it is an attempt by the man toÂ gain cheap popularity.
According to him, the statement is totally condemnable, adding that people shouldÂ learn to guard their tongue.
â€œIt is blasphemy, the man is sick and his statement should be condemned totally,â€Â Rev. Osu said.