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2009-11-04 12:22
 I first encountered the phenomenon that is Pastor Ray on TV, one wife and many, many kilograms ago. Ray was being interviewed by that old TV teddy-bore, Tony Sanderson, the presenter of SABC 1's Late Night Live in the late ‘80s. And if you don't remember any of that, or why an oily god-botherer would be a guest on a late night entertainment show (clue: apartheid), you've no doubt also forgotten the late, great hypnotist, Max Collie, who happened to be the second guest that evening.

Tony Sanderson, you might remember, was gifted with the desperate-to-be-loved personality of an abused Labrador that made any non-moron want to punch him in the throat. So naturally, he was extremely popular in suburban South Africa, and somehow managing to whine and dry-hump his way from 5FM's (then Radio 5) drive-time slot to the nation's TV screens.

As always, Sanderson struggled to get his guests to pal up, and asked McCauley if he'd ever been hypnotised (or something like that). The pastor was immediately disdainful, mumbling something about hypnotism being a dark art because it removes your God-given free will, or some such primitive superstition.

Collie fired back, saying that what he did on stage with his volunteers was no different to what McCauley did to his audience from the pulpit.

There was a stunned silence – enough time for a teenage cheer from me – before Sanderson stepped in and did the exact opposite of what any TV host should do when guests start beating their chests: he changed the subject. Pussy! As in 'cat'. I'm lying about the cat.

Under the yoke of self-imposed stupidity that is unwavering faith, McCauley was as insufferable as you'd expect, revealing a bit of a cruel streak under that supercilious smile. He somehow reminded me of a used car salesman trapped in the twilight zone between kissing his last arse of the day and downing a half bottle of gin – both scary.  Eminently unlikable, in other words.

Now, I admit to an unforgivable lack of scepticism when I read across the media and the blogosphere that McCauley is a bastard of a boss, a psychologically abusive husband and an all-round, gluttonous carcinogen of a man. This is because I'm too busy celebrating. Hooray! For once, I have the same opinion as everyone else! It feels so warm and comforting, I'm even tempted to try it again. But then I read the reasons why people dislike him, and I'm back in contrary mode.

The main reason people despise McCauley seems to be his unrepentant suckling at the tit of his holy cash-cow until his corpulent dew-flaps  sweat pure butter. With his ostentatious, hedonistic lifestyle, his Harley-Davidson , his mutton-dressed-as-lamb glam, the fat, greying and balding McCauley looks like your dad in a perpetual state of midlife crisis. His most expensive accessory is his wife, Zelda, a Barbie-brained Botox receptacle – apparently she takes it in the face at least once a week for Pastor Ray – who plays the Little Orphan Annie to her husband's Daddy Warbucks, if you fast forward that musical story a decade or so. On second thoughts, don't. It's a repulsive image.

But come on – how is McCauley any different from the thousands of other greed-driven senior executives that pollute our urban landscape with their nouveau riche flash? Sure, he doesn't actually have a product to sell, but if you don't tell his punters, everyone walks away happy. That's business, folks - even a commie like me can see that. And at least McCauley never takes more than his clients want to give. Ethically, this places him orders of magnitude above banks, cellphone companies and landlords.

Besides, Jesus loved money. He encouraged is followers to sell their possessions and give donations (Luke 12:33) and even encouraged embezzlement to win his favour (Luke 16:1-9). He owned a house, ate expensive food (Mark 2:14-15 - later re-translated out of embarrassment for Jesus' materialism as Jesus rudely inviting himself to Levi's house), etc. He's twice described as a glutton and a drunkard (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34 and was not as averse to luxury and squander as they would have you believe in Sunday school. Check out the lesson of the wasteful anointment (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8) for more on that. He stole too – grain, in Matt. 12:1, and a colt (Luke 19:30-35), so for all we know, McCauley could be better than Jesus.

Then there's the whole getting cosy with Jacob Zuma thing, and if you didn't see this one coming 1.61 kms away, welcome back to Planet People. Leaving Christian values like tolerance and forgiveness aside for a moment (if I may), or even the Christian faith's stated primary mission to spread the Word to whoever will hear it, it's plain to see that McCauley is perfectly positioned to be the king's western witchdoctor. His congregation is far more reflective of the country's demographics than most local businesses are, and he doesn't even have to pay them to put up with his bullshit. Quite the contrary, in fact.

We only need to remember how old Nationalist MPs joined the ANC without so much as an ideological wobble, or remind ourselves of local companies with roots in the Broederbond who now happily suck face with communist China, to realise that anyone in McCauley's position would have done exactly the same thing. Like I said, it's just business, and in this world, unshakable ideology is just a harmless pastime for the powerless. Don't take it personally.

The reason I dislike McCauley has little to do with his religion or even his repugnant homophobia – as religious leader, I take that as a given. But you know how some people just get your hackles up for no real reason? And then years later, that person does something that makes you justify why you disliked them in the first place? Well, that's how I feel about McCauley. He's simply becoming everything I thought he was when I first laid eyes on him. The scary thing is: I think he's on a roll.

Follow Chris McEvoy on Twitter as chrismcevoy_ He always twots backs. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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