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New South African church celebrates drinking alcohol

FOR RELEASE SATURDAY, APRIL 2018 AT 09H00GMT. Leader of the Gabola Church, self-proclaimed Pope, Tsietsi Makiti, delivers his sermon during a service in a bar in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg Sunday, April 15 2018. The new church in South Africa celebrates drinking alcohol and holds enthusiastic, alcohol fuelled services in bars, for those who have been rejected by other churches because they drink alcohol. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)

ORANGE FARM, South Africa (AP) — Dressed in a red robe and a gold-trimmed bishop’s miter, the clergyman pours whiskey into his cupped hand and anoints the forehead of the man sitting before him.

“You are hereby invested as a minister … This is a double tot,” he says of the remaining whiskey in the chalice. He hands it to the new minister, who downs it.

“Hallelujah!” shout the congregation members who erupt in singing and dancing, swigging from bottles of beer.

Welcome to Gabola Church, which celebrates the drinking of alcohol. The South African church was started eight months ago and has found an enthusiastic following.

“We are a church for those who have been rejected by other churches because they drink alcohol,” Gabola’s founder and self-declared pope, Tsietsi Makiti, told The Associated Press. “Gabola Church is established to redeem the people who are rejected, who are regarded as sinners. We drink for deliverance. We are drinking for the Holy Ghost to come into us.”

Others in South Africa are outraged by Gabola, saying it is not a church at all.

“Gabola has nothing to do with the word of God. Those are not church services,” said Archbishop Modiri Patrick Shole, director of the South African Union Council of Independent Churches. “They are using the Bible to promote taverns and drinking liquor. It is blasphemous. It is heresy and totally against the doctrines.” He said his organization intends to see that authorities close Gabola for breaking municipal regulations that say churches should not be located near bars.

Gabola is not a member of the mainstream South African Council of Churches, which said it has no comment about it. Gabola is not affiliated with any other denominations.

About 80 percent of South Africa’s 56 million people profess to be Christian. In addition to Catholic and Protestant denominations, there are small independent ones with unusual practices like handling snakes. One pastor recently was found guilty of assault for spraying Doom, a popular insecticide, into worshippers’ faces, which was supposed to chase away evil spirits.

The condemnation by other Christian organizations did not bother the 30 worshippers attending a recent Gabola service, held in a bar in the sprawling Orange Farm township 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Johannesburg.

A pool table served as the altar, adorned with bottles of whiskey and beer. Six ministers at the altar solemnly blessed the chilled jumbo bottles of beer bought by most churchgoers. A few drank whiskey, brandy or other beverages, all of them similarly blessed. The congregation sang hymns praising the positive effects of drinking. Three new Gabola members were baptized with beer which covered their foreheads and dripped down their faces.

Gabola means “drinking” in Tswana, one of South Africa’s official languages.

“Our aim is to convert bars, taverns and shebeens into churches,” Makiti said. “And we convert the tavern-owners into pastors.”

People in other churches “say they are holy but they drink by the back doors, in secret. They think God does not see them,” he said. “But the Lord zooms in on them and can see them. We drink openly at our services. We do so in peace and we love each other.”

Gabola’s leader said he encourages people to drink responsibly and emphasizes that alcohol will only be sold and blessed to people who are 20, two years older than South Africa’s legal drinking age.

The rousing hymns praising the effects of alcohol brought church members to their feet and they enthusiastically stomped and danced in a circle, often around a beer bottle. As the three-hour service progressed they became louder, more animated and sloppier. Some dozed off during the sermon.

“Nothing is as happy in the world as people who drink,” said Nigel Lehasa, who explained scripture during the service and described himself as Gabola’s professor. “There is no fighting, no arguing. We have nothing but love.”

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  • What we might call “taking the p**s”?

    “Some dozed off during the sermon” – always sensible but hardly a novel reaction.

  • Matthew 11:19

    The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.

  • So wo actually represents Jesus? Teetotaling Babtists, or “have a tot a lot” Africans? On the same subject, google “Christian polygamy in Africa” for a laff about the never changing, clear and present Word o’ God.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11English Standard Version (ESV)

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  • Interestingly, in pre-Christian times, alcohol was almost always viewed as divine in nature. Many pagan rites included alcohol. It was the purview of some specific deities (e.g. Dionysius aka Bacchus) and the subject of their associated cults. Thus, it’s not coincidental that Christianity included wine as a component of its communion rite. 

    In spite of the fact that Christianity has a reputation for teetotaling, that reputation is undeserved. Some of the best beers in the world, for instance, are made by monks (i.e. the Trappist ales of Belgium). Monks also operated wineries; in the 17th century, for instance, the French monk Dom Pérignon came up with a number of innovations in wine production and storage. 

    Arguably, it was the cloisters of Europe that maintained, and later improved upon, brewing and winemaking from the classical world. In a very real sense, then, Christianity is responsible for ensuring alcohol remains an integral part of our culture. So this particular effort seems appropriate. 

  • There is zero connection between the use of wine in the Eucharist and pagan drinking cults.

    In many churches mustum, which is non-alcoholic, is used. The connection is between the grape (fruit) and the wine, not the effect of alcohol.

    Most of Christianity, however, has zero objection to the use of alcoholic beverages in moderation.

  • Re: “There is zero connection between the use of wine in the Eucharist and pagan drinking cults.” 

    Except for the use of wine in Christian communion. It’s one of two components (the other being bread). 

    Re: “In many churches mustum, which is non-alcoholic, is used.” 

    I’m sure that’s what they use, but both scripture and liturgy explicitly call for “wine.” Using must instead of wine is a later innovation and not, as far as anyone knows, original Christian practice. 

    Re: “Most of Christianity, however, has zero objection to the use of alcoholic beverages in moderation.” 

    True, but the American temperance movement was propelled by no small amount of Christian fervor. Whatever the case, though, I think I was clear when I said that modern associations between temperance and Christianity are undeserved. I don’t know, maybe I didn’t say that. I really don’t feel like going back to check … not for you, anyway. 

  • There is no uniform set of beliefs for atheists except for the lack of belief in the supernatural. You should know that by now.

  • The English word “wine” does not appear in the prescription for the sacrament.

    Mustum was used in the first generation of Christians and still is by some, like the Ethiopians.

    The connection in Christianity is life, the fruit of the vine, one of the deity’s gifts.

    The pagan connection was inebriation.

    Temperance is a minor strain in Christianity, moderation a major theme.

  • Re: “The English word ‘wine’ does not appear in the prescription for the sacrament.” 

    Of course “the English word ‘wine’ does not appear” in Christianity’s oldest documentation. Its followers didn’t use English. They wrote in Greek. 

    Re: “Mustum was used in the first generation of Christians and still is by some, like the Ethiopians.” 

    Please provide a citation of this, using Christian documents that date to the first century BCE. I bet you can’t find a single one that clearly prefers must to actual wine. But hey, you might surprise me and actually (for once) have a valid point to make. 

    Re: “The connection in Christianity is life, the fruit of the vine, one of the deity’s gifts.” 

    Yes, pagans of the day agreed with Christians that wine was a gift of the gods. I’m pretty certain I said something like that already. 

    Re: “The pagan connection was inebriation.” 

    It wasn’t only pagans who got inebriated. Christians were doing it, too. During communion, even! Paul addresses this tendency (by some) in 1 Cor 11:21. So don’t say only pagans got wasted. It’s just not true. 

    Re: “Temperance is a minor strain in Christianity, moderation a major theme.” 

    For the third time, I already said Christianity’s reputation as promoting abstinence from alcohol is undeserved. Why do you keep telling me this, over and over again? Are you really as daft as you seem? 

  • “Of course “the English word ‘wine’ does not appear” in Christianity’s oldest documentation. Its followers didn’t use English. They wrote in Greek.”

    Bingo.

    “Please provide a citation of this”

    https://books.google.com/books?id=_yRGAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA677&lpg=PA677&dq=eucharist+OR+communion+%22mustum%22+copt+OR+ethiopian&source=bl&ots=9eNBc0f0PY&sig=osUTBQgWUI9sNcbblCfjoQS0M-M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjroJ6y8s3aAhXQq1kKHVNRC3QQ6AEIYTAI#v=onepage&q=eucharist%20OR%20communion%20%22mustum%22%20copt%20OR%20ethiopian&f=false

    “Yes, pagans of the day agreed with Christians that wine was a gift of the gods.”

    Pagans celebrated its intoxicating characteristics.

    Christians celebrated its fruit provided by the deity characteristic, and its relationship to Jesus as the vine.

    John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

    “So don’t say only pagans got wasted. It’s just not true.”

    Different topic: sin. That’s why Paul admonishes.

  • He does know – but he can’t get his head around the fact that other people don’t suffer from his superstition affliction. Thus the nonsense he has to spew in order to stop his brain siding with reason.

    It’s like riding a bike – if he slows down he’s more likely to fall off so he has to keep pedalling ever faster even when he knows his road is a cul-de-sac.

  • Over here the main thrust to promoting teetotalism seems to have come from early Quakers and other loudly religious industrialists who built model villages for their staff – whom they expected to attend promptly for long hours – sober.
    Was this another example of dressing up something unpalatable in the fear-control that superstitious belief is often involved in?

    As an aside – in the 1950/60s my father used to order “non-alcoholic wine” for use at communion services – I believe it was normal wine which had the alcohol removed prior to bottling. Minimum delivery was 6 bottles as I recall (I were nobbut a lad).

    edit – Seems the minimum is now a full crate – https://www.jmchurchsupplies.co.uk/product/non-alcoholic-communion-wine/

  • Except when you are insisting that all atheists “believe” the same thing, that there is only one definition of atheism.

    You certainly tried to prove that to me one time, even though two of the three sources that you cited ty declare that “Atheists believe and insist that there is no god” disagreed with you.

    Didn’t you know that dishonesty is a sin?

  • Since I have not insisted that all atheists “believe” the same thing – in fact I have argued the contrary – point not taken.

    I hold that atheism is anti-theism, and that lumping agnostics into the definition is an error.

    Disagreement is not a sin in my moral system.

  • You are no more honest about this than you are about anything else. You declared, unequivocally, that atheism IS “there are no gods”. I remember distinctly, and you provided citations, at least two of which didntsay what you said they said.

    So much for your “moral system.”

  • Ah, now you’re adopting the Spuddie approach – disagreement = dishonesty.

    The etymology of “atheism” is “anti theism”, against a belief in a deity or deities.

    I understand that you would like it amended to include “don’t know if there is a deity or deities”, “haven’t thought about whether there is a deity or deities”, and so on for rather obvious reasons.

  • No, dear. Not even remotely.

    I’m adopting the approach that I know what you said, and I am quite clear about it.

  • Re: “‘Please provide a citation of this'” 

    And you did, except it doesn’t match up with what was requested, which was a citation from 1st century CE Christians who claimed must was required instead of normal wine. Your quotations are of Aquinas and other late medieval authors. They are not from 1st century Christians. They’re something like 12 centuries later. 

    Once again you prove you cannot follow a conversation, and don’t know what you’re talking about. 

    Re: “Christians celebrated its fruit provided by the deity characteristic, and its relationship to Jesus as the vine.” 

    Actually, the pagans did that, too. Christians were not unique in this regard. Bacchians, for example, believed themselves to be infused with the spirit of Bacchus during their observances. Entire books have been written (e.g. this one: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Wine+and+Philosophy%3A+A+Symposium+on+Thinking+and+Drinking-p-9781405154314) concerning the philosophizing that revolved around alcohol in the pre-Christian world. 

    To think no one had ever thought that “deeply” about alcohol, before Christians came along, is typical Christianist arrogance and ignorance. 

  • “To think no one had ever thought that ‘deeply’ about alcohol, before Christians came along, is typical Christianist arrogance and ignorance.”

    The connection for Christians is fruit of the vine, and the vine and the branches, NOT alcohol, which is typical anti-Christian arrogance and ignorance.

    Once again you prove you cannot follow a conversation, and don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • Re: “The connection for Christians is fruit of the vine, and the vine and the branches …” 

    I repeat, Christians were not the only ones who thought in those terms. They simply were not — no matter how fiercely and sanctimoniously you insist otherwise. You simply do not know what you are talking about. 

    And thank you for conceding your “citation” was in error. 

    Re: “Once again you prove you cannot follow a conversation, and don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

    Says a guy who provided an irrelevant citation, who is the actual person here who can’t follow a conversation, and who doesn’t even have the ethical fortitude to admit his mistakes. 

    As I’ve told you before, you’re a stellar exemplar of exactly why I am proud to be a Christian apostate. The stench of your religion’s ignorance, immaturity, arrogance, and immorality is overwhelming. You repeatedly live down to all my expectations of Christianists. 

    Please, by all means, keep it up! I’m enjoying the hell out of the way you just keep exposing the intellectual bankruptcy of your religion. It’d be a joy to behold if if weren’t so sad. 

  • “’The connection for Christians is fruit of the vine, and the vine and the branches …’”

    “I repeat, Christians were not the only ones who thought in those terms.”

    Since you have provided zero citation to establish that proposition, I suppose you’ll just have to accept that other people may not take you at your word.

    “Bacchians, for example, believed themselves to be infused with the spirit of Bacchus during their observances.” does not equate to:

    John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

    “As I’ve told you before, you’re a stellar exemplar of exactly why I am proud to be a Christian apostate.”

    You’re a Christian apostate because you’re totally self-centered.

  • When you admit you provided an erroneous citation, we may be able to continue this conversation. Do you have the integrity to do that? I doubt it. Your Christianism gets in the way. 

  • Honey, I will. You know what you said. I know what you said. It’s not the first time, it won’t be the last.

    If you didn’t have intellectual dishonesty, you would lack any honesty whatsoever.

  • The etymology? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    But you are contradicting yourself yet again.

  • Booby joe, or his pet parrot, joe bob, never make mistakes. Practically god like in that aspect…

    Like god creating satan whom he knew would fall..

    Like god creating Adam, whom he knew would fall.

    Like god calling pedophiles to the priesthood.

    And so forth.

  • She “struggled” with her homosexuality only because hateful “Christian” people insisted that she feel shame and guilt. Well, many, if not most of us do not feel shame and guilt, and many of us thank God for our sexuality.

  • Well, check that one up to inability to read on your part.

    Well, back to trying to formulate a moral system for yourself.

  • I haven’t made any mistakes.

    What you’ve failed to do is establish any relationship between pagan polytheistic claptrap that celebrates drinking to a monotheistic Christian sacrament that celebrates the deity’s love for mankind, except that the first in Rome and the second in Palestine use the the most common drink in the Mediterranean, wine.

    Your hatred for Christianity is driving a blatantly silly parallel that makes no sense whatsoever.

    So, what else is new?

    Heh heh heh heh heh …

  • You still won’t admit your citation was erroneous. I have nothing to say to you until you own up to that. I guess being a Christianist hasn’t given you any integrity, has it? So much for morals coming from Jesus, right? 

  • It was not “erroneous”.

    It was not what you wanted.

    On the other hand, you’ve provided zero citations, so there you go.

  • As a moderate consumer of alcohol, and a Christian, this enterprise (for lack of a better word) is a farce at its worst. I note that the bulk of comments on this thread have nothing to do with the substance of the article, but rather the continuing debate between believers in God and those that don’t. I wish people would stay on topic.

  • You said you’d provide citations of 1st century Christians specifying must rather than wine should be used in communion. 

    You promised that. Not me. 

    Either you have the integrity to admit you were wrong, or you don’t. So which is it? 

  • I don’t need help. I need for sociopaths like yourself to disappear. That would help.

  • Very funny, Bobosé, re moral system. Now which of your many aliases is the “real” one again?

    Oh, the irony.

  • You are probably irritating Bob Arnzen. He’s gonna come and get ya. No one raises his pet parrot from the dead without a proper prayer to The Great God Bob.

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