Christian party leader has strong words for Desmond Tutu's assisted dying endorsement

AP
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A South African, conservative Christian political party recently condemned Archbishop Desmond Tutu's statements last week in favour of assisted suicide.

The Christian Democratic Party said that Jesus Christ would liken Tutu to the "son of Satan" for supporting such measures.

"In his desire to be in the limelight it would appear that he (Tutu) has become a friend of the enemy instead of a friend of God," party leader Rev Theunis Botha said in a statement.

"It is our opinion that should Jesus Christ have been on the Earth today He would have greeted him with the same disdain that He treated the Pharisees of His day by calling him a 'hypocrite,' 'whited sepulchre' and 'a son of Satan'."

Botha sees Tutu's liberal stances on other issues as evidence of a departure from God's will.

"To his support for abortion and same-sex-marriage, Bishop Tutu now adds euthanasia (suicide) on the list of things he supports that are totally contrary to the Word of God," Botha said.

In an article published Saturday, Tutu cited the case of 28-year-old Craig Schonegevel as an example of when assisted suicide should be permissible. Schonegevel suffered from neurofibromatosis – a genetic disorder that increases the occurrence of tumor formation on nerve tissue.

After doctors refused to assist him in suicide, he swallowed 12 sleeping pills and suffocated himself with plastic bags. Tutu said that his case demonstrates that South Africa's laws need to be changed.

"Some people opine that with good palliative care there is no need for assisted dying, no need for people to request to be legally given a lethal dose of medication," he wrote in the Observer.

"That was not the case for Craig Schonegevel. Others assert their right to autonomy and consciousness – why exit in the fog of sedation when there's the alternative of being alert and truly present with loved ones?"

Peers in the House of Lords are due to debate Lord Falconer's controversial Assisted Dying Bill this Friday. The proposed new law would enable doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who have stated a clearly expressed intention to end their lives.

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