A South African pastor has provoked outrage after beginning a recent sermon with the claim that Jesus Christ was HIV-positive.
Xola Skosana stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township with the bold statement, news of which then quickly spread across the country.
And Christians have reacted angrily, claiming it portrays Jesus as sexually promiscuous.
'The subject of my Jesus being HIV-positive is a scathing matter,' said another local pastor, Mike Bele.
'I believe no anointed leader with a sound mind about the scriptures and the role of Christ in our lives would deliberately drag the name of Christ to the ground.'
Pastor Skosana, whose non-denominational Hope for Life Ministry is part of a growing charismatic movement in South Africa, insists his message is more about giving hope than anything else.
By making the claim, he hopes to remove the stigma attached to HIV suffers in his country.
More than 5.7million people live with the virus in South Africa - more than in any other country. Pastor Skosana himself lost two sisters to Aids.
HIV is predominantly transmitted through sex but can also be spread by the transfer of contaminated blood into the system through needle-sharing.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can also be a cause.
'Wherever you open the scriptures Jesus puts himself in the shoes of people who experience brokenness,' the Pastor told the BBC. 'Isaiah 53, for example, clearly paints a picture of Jesus who takes upon himself the infirmities and the brokenness of humanity.
'Of course, there's no scientific evidence that Jesus had the HI virus in his bloodstream. The best gift we can give to people who are HIV-positive is to help de-stigmatise Aids and create an environment where they know God is not against them, he's not ashamed of them.'
To conclude his sermon, he says: 'The message to the church is that it is not enough for us to give people food privately and give them groceries, we must create an environment that's empowering because most people who are HIV-positive will not necessarily die of Aids-related sickness but more of a broken heart, out of rejection.'
Despite the angry reaction from some Christians others have come to the pastor's defence.
Reverend Siyabulela Gidi, the director of South African Council of Churches in the Western Cape, added: 'What Pastor Skosana is clearly saying is that Christ at this point in time would be on the side of the people who are HIV-positive - people who are being sidelined by the very church that is attacking him.
'Pastor Skosana has fortunately got the country talking, he's got the world talking and that is what theology is all about.'
Aids activists have also given the sermon their backing.
'It takes away the stigma that HIV is a sin and that it's God's punishment,' said Vuyiseka Dubula, general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign, a South African Aids activist group.
'To associate Jesus with HIV is powerful, particularly for those who go to church'
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