Take Action on Threats to Religious Freedom

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Please click here to read Christian Action’s article on Freedom of Religion at Risk in South Africa, for an explanation on these momentous threats to religious freedom. FOR SA have published the following updates and further calls to action:

 

Joint Statement on the “Prophet of Doom”

Thank you to everyone who, on very short notice, added their support to the Joint Statement on the “Prophet of Doom”. We believe that this Statement sends out a strong and united message from the Body of Christ in South Africa, that we in no way associate ourselves with such unbiblical, and indeed criminal practices. We have sent a copy of the Joint Statement to the Chairlady of the CRL Rights Commission. The Statement was also positively reported on in various newspapers.

We would encourage you to keep speaking out against such unlawful practices, which are indeed a threat to the right to religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution, falls outside the bounds of that right and should be prosecuted in terms of the relevant laws.

During the course of this week, FOR SA will be addressing a letter to the Commission, making specific recommendations as to how this incident could be dealt with from a legal/ legal procedural point of view and explaining why it is not correct, as has been repeatedly suggested by the CRL Commission (also in the media), that nothing can be done where people willingly participate in such harmful / criminal activities.

CRL Report on the “Commercialisation” of Religion

The deadline for comments on the CRL’s Report on the “Commercialisation” of Religion has been extended to 28 February 2017. We encourage you, and your congregation to write a response to this Report. FORSA have sent a letter to the Chairwoman of the CRL Commission, requesting the Commission’s formal response to our earlier request for a further extension until 1 June.

Click here to read the Christian Action Network’s Comments on the CRL’s Report. (Please do not simply copy our Submission, please use your own words).

In the meanwhile, FOR SA met with representatives of the Council for Religious Rights and Freedoms (CRRF), the body overseeing the Charter for Religious Rights and Freedoms, to discuss the Report and the recommendations made by the CRL in detail and to consider its implications from a legal (and practical) point of view. FOR SA believes that their approach to the Report, roughly and without going into the details here, should be along the following lines:

1)   We agree that there are real problems / abuses taking place in the name of faith;

2)    We share the CRL’s concerns, and appreciate their efforts in investigating this issue and wanting to do something about it;

3)   The answer to the actual problems identified by the CRL in their Report, is not regulation however. Why not?

a.  The proposed regulation will make serious inroads on the right to religious freedom and freedom of association, and are in fact unconstitutional;

b.   It will give too much power to the State, thereby opening the door to potential abuse of political power;

c.   It is unnecessary (as all the problems identified by the CRL in their Report, can be addressed through enforcement of existing laws); 

d.   Regulation will not solve the actual problems identified by the CRL in their Report (i.e. is ineffective); and

e.   Practically, and given in particular the diverse nature of the faith community in SA, the proposed regulation is unworkable.

4)   In the circumstances, and as an ALTERNATIVE proposal for the actual problems identified in the Report, we propose:

a.  That existing legislation be implemented / enforced, where unlawful / criminal activities take place in the name of faith;

b.  That, where necessary, existing law be supplemented or improved (rather than creating a new law, requiring additional resource and capacity. This, when the State is finding it difficult enough to implement and enforce the existing legislation!).

NEXT STEPS:

It would be helpful from a strategic point of view, if each individual church, denomination or religious institution were to,at this stage, send a brief e-mail / letter to the CRL Rights Commission:

a) Thanking them for the extension (at least until 28 February, but request a further extension to allow for proper consultation and input); and

b)  Stating simply that your institution will be submitting comments on the Report, including proposals dealing with the problems identified by the Commission in their Report.

The e-mail can be addressed to the Chairlady, Mrs Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and cc’d to Mr Brian Makeketa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you or your institution/group has already prepared any comments on/response to the Report, you are also welcome to send FORSA a copy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Hate Speech Bill

The deadline for comments on the Hate Speech Bill has been extended to 31 January 2017. FOR SA has requested a further extension until 1 March from the Minister of Justice. The Deputy Minister’s PA has further advised that FOR SA could attempt to set up a meeting(s) with the Deputy Minister, where the religious community can directly engage with him with regard to our concerns from a religious freedom point of view. Details will be made available in due course.

Meetings in Different Provinces in 2017

FOR SA is in the process of arranging meetings with religious leaders in different provinces for February 2017, specifically with a view to presenting our final views on the CRL Report to you in anticipation of the deadline on Tuesday, 28 February 2017. We will let you have the dates and places of these meetings as soon as possible.

Visit the FOR SA website (www.forsa.org.za) and Facebook page (“Freedom of Religion SA”) for regular updates (including articles, and TV / radio interviews) on these and other religious freedom issues.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery… You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5: 1, 13

See also: Biblical Principles for True Freedom

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