South Africa's Zuma draws flak for Christianity comments
South African President Jacob Zuma was Wednesday at the centre of a row over his comments that Christianity had brought in orphans and retirement homes.
South Africa's Times newspaper Wednesday quoted Zuma, a Christian, as saying: "Long before the arrival of religion and (the) gospel, we had our own ways of doing things.
"Those were the times that the religious people refer to as dark days but ... there were no orphans or old-age homes. Christianity has brought along these things."
The South African Council of Churches reacted immediately, saying they were shocked by Zuma's comments. About 80 percent of South Africa is Christian.
"We do not understand why the president, whom we have always counted as one amongst us Christians, would find the Christian faith to be so hopeless with regard to building humanity," Reverend Mautji Pataki said.
"The Lord Jesus Christ was a friend to orphans and widowers and the old and the disabled."
Zuma's aides, however, said his comments had been reported out of context.
"While we welcome the advent of Western culture, some useful traditional ways of doing things and aspects of African culture were undermined or even eroded," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.
"This does not in any way imply a negation or rejection of Christianity."
The chief whip of the ruling African National Congress party, Mathole Motshekga, said some missionaries came to Africa to aid colonisation.
"A distinction should therefore be drawn between Christianity as a faith and nefarious missionary activities, which have brought sufferings upon our people," Motshekga said.
© 2011 AFP