Friday, December 21, 2007

Shouting fire? - Botswana Guardian

Do we have a right to unrestricted free speech? Well, most of us would instinctively say that yes, of course we do, we live in a democracy and we can say what we like. Or can we?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, the famed American Supreme Court judge once said in a ruling that “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic”. In other words there are certain things you can’t say. You can’t shout fire in a theatre if there isn’t actually a fire. We’re simply not allowed to say things that will cause panic or that may cause death, injury or civil disturbance.

So what are we going to do about Pastor Tshifhiwa Irene who visited Francistown recently and who told the crowds that God has decided to end HIV/AIDS in a few days?

According to the Midweek Sun Pastor Irene, who had presumably forgotten to take her medication that day, reported that HIV was caused by a committee of demonic principals, chaired by Lucifer himself, who took blood from a crocodile, a snake, a tortoise and a hyena, mixed it with demonic saliva and blood which then somehow produced AIDS to destroy humanity. There’s no point in trying to understand this deranged claptrap because it’s, well, deranged claptrap.

However I suppose we’re all entitled to our ludicrous opinions. Botswana is a free country where the state isn’t allowed to forbid ideas, no matter how weird they might be.

What I DO object to is when people like Pastor Irene shout fire when there isn’t one. She apparently went on to report that on 20th November God started to roll out his big plan for ending HIV and AIDS and predicted that very soon “All children born of HIV positive mothers will be free of HIV”.

Let’s get our facts straight. There genuinely HAS been a reduction in the proportion of children of HIV positive mothers who were born with HIV and that’s tremendous news. But it wasn’t religion that did that, it was our Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission program. It was PMTCT that took the proportion of HIV positive children born to HIV positive mothers down from 40% to less than 4%. It was PMTCT backed up by rationalism, logic and medical science that did it.

Luckily also present at the so-called prayer crusade in Francistown was the local MP and Government Minister, Phandu Skelemani, who is reported to have said afterwards “She must be out of her mind” and proceeded to ask local politicians “How can any self-respecting leader attend such a misleading service?”

Coincidentally another recent story from Francistown reported that the police were investigating piles of anti-retroviral drugs and hospital cards that were found near makeshift community churches. It seems that encouraged by religious fanatics patients are throwing away their hugely expensive drugs in the hope of promised miracle cures. Cures that of course miraculously don’t ever happen.

I believe very strongly that if only one HIV positive person is persuaded to leave the PMTCT program or to discard their ARVs as a result of what Pastor Irene and her colleagues say then she and her fellow preachers will have blood on their hands. She has gone further than we should accept. Her speech may end up not being free but in fact very expensive indeed.


trabelani said...

instead of shutting down everything that she said if you know somebody who is HIV positive why dont you get that person to be prayed for & see what will happend at the end .. God said He will look at the heart of Men ,whoever belives will be totally healed of this dreadful thing called HIV AIDS ..

I say glory to Jesus for this grace that He is bringing to us ...

& shame to the devil for once again he has lost

Anonymous said...


1Kings 18:24 Then you will invoke the name of your god, and I will invoke the name of the Lord. The god who responds with fire will demonstrate that he is the true God.” 2 All the people responded, “This will be a fair test.”


Icorinthians 2:14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.


Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Isiah 55:10 The rain and snow fall from the sky

and do not return,

but instead water the earth

and make it produce and yield crops,

and provide seed for the planter and food for those who must eat.

:11 In the same way, the promise that I make

does not return to me, having accomplished nothing.

No, it is realized as I desire

and is fulfilled as I intend.”


Act 13:50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high social standing and the prominent men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their region.


Mat 11:20 Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which he had done many of his miracles, because they did not repent.

My Prayer..

Father we thank you for your word is the same yesterday,today and forever! and when you speak it shall come to pass!! father we thank you for your servants you are using today as your vessel for good news and hope to those who believe in you, we thank you for providing us with wisdom to know that those who criticize your servants indeed criticizes YOU lord, we thank you for the fire that burns all evil today whether the devil likes it or NOT! indeed we thank you for the revelation that comes in our generation, Lord if you said HIV/AIDS will be removed then no words of man nor actions will change that, no amount of citicism will reverse your promise to us oh Lord, Indeed we thank you for your word continues to live in us.
Now i send the fire of the Lord Jesus to go to all corners of the earth and burn all evil that is still left according to your will, i apply the blood of Jesus to all who call upon your name that they may be protected and forever be guarded by the angels of the heavens who are there to serve us, may your grace find us,Oh Lord as we approach world peace,we want to be there.

In the name of Jesus,Amen

Khodani Phillip

Richard Harriman said...

Firstly the bad news is that prayer simply doesn't work. The studies that have actually tried to establish whether prayer works with hospital patients have found that there is absolutely no effect. Instead of passively praying for someone who is ill I would rather see something actually DONE. Something that might actually help them get better or at least prolong their life, not offer false and deluded hopes.

Secondly, just quoting the Bible doesn't mean anything. The old rule that just because something is said out loud it isn't necessarily true applies. Just because it's written somewhere, it doesn't mean it's true.

Lastly, just posting a stream of second-rate rhetoric instead of an actual argument isn't really very useful.

Anonymous said...

This Irene is scared of death! She's trying to rally behind her more souls to die with her. Ke bo ga ke swe kele nosi.
I do agree that we need to be strict about these kinda of ppl, messages they bring, products they sell, in fact we should screen these before we allow them into the country! Free speech my behind..Given the size of our country and the impact some of these rhetoric or second rate arguments, revelations might have on us, I think we should regulate what ppl like her can say to the public. Especially when it comes to matters of national interest. AIDS here being the main one. Can u imagine if Irene and Jaffa ganged up together plus the Bio-disc 'phenomena' what would happen to our HIV positive citizens?

Aggg man...nxxxxxaaaaaa!!

Anonymous said...

I am a docctor of 21 years standing.I also believe in miracles because I am a beneficiary of the healing power of JESUS.I have watched Pastor Irene for some time from Nigeria. She is genuine. God is using her to affect lives positively. The calling of the FIRE is not physical fire. The HOLY SPIRIT is that fire.You can not see HIM but the effect is real.No one can see the wind but its effects only.The things of God are foolishness to the world. The government minister will not understand any thing in the healing service because he does not operate in the spirit. I don't blame him for not understanding.May God open his eyes and those of many others.

Dr.Tokan Baduku