ACDP deserved better support for its strategic role in Parliament

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and family cast their votes today, for ACDP (PHOTO: Facebook).
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and family out to cast their votes on May 7. (PHOTO: Facebook).

The African Christian Democratic Party, which despite its small representation in Parliament, has played a key role in defending religious freedom in South Africa over the past 20 years, will feel justifiably disappointed at the lack of support it enjoyed at the polls on May 7.

Clearly calls by prominent Christian leaders such as Angus Buchan for Christians to vote for parties that are unashamedly Christian were not heeded by the majority of South Africa’s Christian voters. With most of the votes in at the time of posting this report, the ACDP appears likely to lose one of its current three Parliamentary seats, and the Freedom Front Plus seems set to retain its meagre three seats in the 400 member House of Assembly.

Over the past 20 years of democracy a small number of ACDP MPs have managed to bring a Biblical worldview into Parliamentary debate. At the time of the drafting of the Constitution the party succeeded in getting a proposed clause referring to South Africa as a secular state dropped, thereby ensuring a measure of protection for religious freedom in the Constitution. The ACDP also succeeded in preventing legislation which would have outlawed spanking of children which would have criminalised churches who taught this form of discipline and parents who used it. Recently the ACDP, working with FOR SA, secured an amendment in the Women’s Empowerment and Equity (WEGE) Bill which prevented onerous Government interference in charities, NGOs and churches.

In 1994, a year after it was launched, the ACDP won two seats. The party fared better in 1999 (6 seats) and 2004 (7 seats) but only won 3 seats in 2009. The scant support for the ACDP in 2014 probably reflects the low level of awareness among Christians of the seriousness of the increasing attack on Christian values and freedoms in the courts and in the legislative domain. While the right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution there is a war of values raging around the interpretation of constitutional rights and the balancing of competing rights. If the ACDP finds itself with only two MPs they will carry a heavy burden of responsibility in the days ahead. An encouraging recent development is the emergence of FOR SA which is mobilising Churches to unite in defending religious freedom. Perhaps as the Christian voice inside Parliament is decreased we will see a stronger Church voice in the public arena. Hopefully too, the tangible increase in prayer which has accompanied this year’s election will be sustained.

  • Election results can be viewed here.

27 Comments

  1. I too am saddened by the loss of a clear christian voice within government.The work of keeping our liberties has just increased exponentially as we lose our light & voice within Parliament.My prayer now is that the church will realise how serious our situation is in SA & support our efforts to protect our religious liberty with FORSA. Without the Church joining us we will have no voice! May we also,like never before, in prayer- petition the Heavenlies to grant us peace to continue our mission of making disciples on earth,without fear of the sword of government.

    • Yes I had the displeasure of my head Ps. Suggest that us congregants vote for the DA a political party that is a pro-homosexual right proponent and a party that embraces abortion unconditionally and in key areas is not Biblically family-values based! When I studied @ Wits in the ’80s, we rejected liberational theology, yet certain Ps feel they have the right to preach politics from the pulpit! Ps Meshoe do not throw down the towel, we need to pray in God-based funds into the ACDP Jesus is the victory….each ACDP supporter recruit one!

  2. It’s important for Christians to truly engage with others on level playing fields and not retreat behind inaccessible and laagers. This is unhealthy for the Christians who end up in stagnant little pools out of touch with the “world” and also unhealthy for the world which increasingly misunderstands Christians. Salt and light. I think the problem comes when Christians get insecure in what they believe (which often masks itself in brazen over-confidence and fundamentalism)and an inability to really listen and understand where others. Fear is the problem… fear of being tainted or led astray. The cures for this are (1) love for the world and (2) faith in the Father. If either of those two are missing you will be able to speak TO the world but not listen TO the world i.e. monologue, no conversation. Don’t be scared. (PS – this also involves not over-censoring inputs on this webpage so that “weaker” brethren aren’t “led astray” … God can protect and keep them too!)

  3. Amen Lance.

    The solution is definitely to break free of our fear of letting go of fundamentalism. Too many churches become obsessed with control, whereas Jesus’s approach was always dialogue, engagement, and learning with the world.

  4. I personally changed my vote this time round and voted for the ACDP.
    All we as christians can do now is pray with expectant hearts that the almighty God will open the eyes of the blind and soften the hearts of the stubborn so that the rest of the country especially those in power will come to a saving knowledge of Christ our redeemer. Nothing is impossible for our God. Like Jabez in 1 Chronicles, pray that God will bless us, and He will.

  5. I think that the vote reflects the state of South African Christians values. Sadly, most believers do not allow their faith to influence their public life. Most Christians do not understand the threat of secular humanism in our government and are completely oblivious to the great work which has been accomplished by ACDP members of parliament who have tirelessly served in office.

  6. South Africa deserves government that it has voted for. The clever people tell us that 70 – 80% of the country is Christian, but when we look around us we have to say: “That can never be!”
    We as a nation have voted overwhelmingly for the pro Antichrist parties that we want to rule over us. We were protesting against the ruling parties before the elections. We were moaning and complaining about poor governance and corrupt officials. After voting for these very same people again, within the next week or two we will return to protesting and complaining about the very same people we have just voted into power. What a crazy state of affairs!!
    Matt 15:7-9
    7 “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
    8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
    9 And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
    (NKJ)
    Rom 3:11-18
    11 There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.
    12 They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”
    13 “Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”;
    14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
    15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
    17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
    18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
    (NKJ)
    Who is going to challenge the nation to check itself to see whether or not it is saved/born again.
    Who is going to challenge the nation to put its trust in our Lord Jesus Christ instead of in politicians who will fail the people?
    South Africa has once again shown that it has no confidence in the saving power of Jesus Christ and His ability to change our hearts and our nation. South Africa is ashamed to declare its dependence upon Jesus Christ and it must therefore brace itself to face the consequences.
    Mark 8:38
    38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
    (NKJ)

  7. I have voted for the ACDP since 1994, untill this past election. No I did not vote for the DA, I voted for a new party, a party known as Peoples Alliance whose leader clearly stated that it was about Christ and the Gospel. http://www.peoplesalliance.org.za

    I read politics, I mean when I meditate on the Scriptures I see God speaking often to the issue of politics, not to mention many great works, books written by solid Christian men about politics. And so with this back ground I level the following criticism.

    The ACDP should have had a change of leadership in 2009 when its current leader led it to lose half of its support. The ACDPhas had a tendency to always blame outside forces as if those forces can be greater than God, but the ACDP has not done politics well since 2004.

    The ACDP should. have stuck to what made it a distinctive Christian party not try to stand for issues that the DA and other opposition parties stand for. It should have stood unashamedly for Christ and righteousness.

    The ACDP while having good people like Steve Swart and Cheryllyn Dudley in parliament has unfortunately not established good structures on the ground to support these people. This can be seen in the number of branches that existed in the four years before this year running up to the 2014 elections. The majority of their branches were only established in the last year.

    It is the branches that should make the ACDP appealing to the electorate, it is the branches and especially the members that would educate the Christian voter in their local settings what Christian politics is about.

    • Well, Billy, I’m afraid you wasted your vote on a very small, legalistic and judgmental party that is not likely to feature in SA politics. You would have done better to support the ACDP which is well-established and has a good track-record in Parliament.
      On one hand, too many Christians are easily offended, have a critical spirit and sow division in the Body of Christ, while on the other hand there are many who are compromised and undiscerning. Unity brings strength and those who are easily offended, divisive, etc., undermine Christian unity. Disunity also undermines our witness, for we are called to love one another. As Jesus said: “…for by this the world shall know that you belong to me”.
      N.B. I’m not referring to issues that require church discipline.
      John’s 1st letter an Philippians 2:1-11 refers.

    • I believe they do unashamedly stand for Christ and righteousness. I never got any other impression. Also – lack of finances is huge. Hence the lack of so called structure and support. They ran on R250000.00. Others had millions. Churches helped them more in earlier elections – now churches are so divided and trying to remain “neutral” they actually have shot themselves in the foot. That did not help. I realised by getting involved as a volunteer this election that they need skills, strategy, ideas – it is not lack if will. It is lack of resource. And that is frightening. I am impressed they are still going with the pressure I was exposed to. I

  8. Jesus did not play politics despite lots of pressure and inevitable popularity in doing so. I don’t think we can equate a vote for the ACDP with true faith in Jesus. Maybe its actually those who are using Jesus’ wonderful Name to their own ends who actually vote ACDP? Our kingdom is not of this world, remember?

    • Roy, Jesus has given us much instruction on how to be involved in politics as His people in His world. I recommend you read the Scriptures and see what He has taught us.

    • The fact is that the ACDP was raised up to be salt and light in government. With the increasing pressures on churches and Christians to conform to unBiblical, post-modern, secular-humanist values, it is vital that we have a voice in government. In this day and age, we have the privilege of being able to participate in choosing our government, whereas historically, any democracy prior to the 20th century was selective (no universal franchise) and ordinary people had no say.
      Those who say Christians should have no part in politics are thus saying they prefer to be ruled by the godless and are denying Christians an opportunity to take a influential stand at least for godly values which are being swept aside by moral relativism that is destroying the fabric of society. I am not advocating legalism and am the first to say that the Gospel is key to inner transformation and healing (salvation = healing).
      Furthermore, the ACDP’s people in public office are often approached by other party’s representatives for counsel and prayer!
      The ACDP has achieved far more than what is mentioned in this article.
      Those who voted for parties like the DA and the ANC are actually endorsing those parties’ secular-humanist values and policies. Christians have been swayed by worldly reasoning and even fear, instead of exercising spiritual, moral and political discernment.

  9. All I can say is that there are radically saved on fire Christians in all the different party’s..just bern for Jesus in whatever party you thought could best govern all South African’s just like some christians are called to go and minister to Moslem’s and others are called to start or support ministries to Israel..both are gr8..its not one or the other just shine where you are and be big hearted enough to bless all christians everywhere they are..enlarge your heart and let God flood you and fill you with His abounding love..then just maybe we will attract the world to us ,and if we stopped shouting at them,they would give us their ear and listen to our message,after all,thats what we all want ,is it not?

  10. MIRACLE- God has intervened in spite of terrible support from so many Christians , Cheryllyn Verdon Dudley of the ACDP has been reelected to serve in National Parliament!! Thus all 3 Christian members of Parliament have been reelected!!! This is excellent news as Cheryllyn has great influence in some very strategic & important areas of government & will be able to help us fight to keep government from interfering too much in family, protecting parental authority. She previously (2007) was at the forefront & was able to help protect moderate parental chastisement & stop government from outlawing it, & will be able now to help us again in this as government attempts this again. Also as government tries to stop us teaching our children that Jesus is the only way & that, under God- sex should be between & man & woman, Cherylin will be at the forefront again, protecting our children & families from laws that will open the door to persecution. Christian , as well as many non christian parents across SA can thank God for her re-election, as she will be able to help protect these values. Cherylin served with us in fighting the Bill which would have outlawed the belief that the husband is the head of the home, as Christ the Church(Ephesians 5) , & was able to influence the sub-committee that met on this from the inside, while also helping us prepare our presentation to Parliament from the outside. Effectively stopping pastors that preach this from 5year jail terms which the Bill initially mentioned. God has done a miracle for His Church, in spite of His church & we must thank Him for His mercy!!

  11. Mark 16 – Mathew 28 …. The Great Commission …..focuses alot on discipleship … & teaching to obey “All” what i have commanded…. ”
    Jesus has commissioned us with such an amazing responsibility and in spite of only 1% of our Nation upholding Biblical Values …. we have a lot of ground to occupy….. If JESUS was a candidate for Presidency would our vote change ? Apparently Not! Not unless His Truth is in our hearts ….. Never the less He is still the King of Glory. JESUS said “Take heart …I have overcome the World…” Some of the greatest spiritual breakthroughs are when man reaches his own end and looks to the King….The battle is the Lords. Jeremiah 9v19- “…Let not the Wise man boast in his Wisdom, Let not the rich man boast in his riches, let not “The Mighty” boast in their might BUT let him that boasts boast in the Lord….”

  12. Hugh G Wetmore

    I wish to finish Stef’s quotation from Jeremiah 9:23,24 “… boast in the LORD who exercises Kindness, Justice,and righteousness in the earth, for in these (He) delights”. Major on the positive criteria that God holds Government accountable for when He appoints Rulers (Rom 13:1-4). Any Party or Politician who wants to govern must have these planks in its/his/her election platform: KINDNESS ie the welfare of the citizens (Rom 10:4; Isaiah 58:6-12), JUSTICE (ie no discrimination, every have access to fair courts (Isaiah 59:4) that function under the Rule of Law (1 Samuel 10:25)and Righteousness ie Moral standards compatible with God’s Word correctly interpreted (2 Tim 3:16,17). All in a humble servant-leadership mode (‘not boasting’, and Mark 10:42-45). It is important to realise that in God’s Common Grace a politician does NOT have to be a Christian to govern with these qualities. We must not expect the Party to be the Church! The Nationalist Party was closely identified with the Church and the Church with that Party – but the Party did not promote what God requires in Jeremiah 9:23,24. In the early 1990s Chiluba became President of Zambia and publicly dedicated the Nation to Jesus Christ. A remarkable Christian speech. (I have a copy). But his Government became as corrupt as Kaunda’s had been. On the other hand Confucian Lee Kuan Yew governed Singapore 95% according to God’s requirements, and the nation prospered, little crime, no porn, high family values, and all poverty eliminated. Finally, I urge all ‘Christian’ parties to combine and work for these values, while at the same time Christians should work within the other Parties to steer their policies towards what God wants: KJR in H (Kindness, Justice and Righteousness in Humility).

    • Thought-provoking input, Hugh! I am interested in how you would define / determine “correctly interpreted” (re ref to 2 Tim above. What are the criteria to judge whether the Word is being correctly interpreted by a church / individual?

  13. Pray continually. Let us pray that the eyes of so many Christians who vote for humanist political parties may be opened. Lets continue to pray that God raise up righteous leaders and government in this nation. Be strong and be courageous. Do not be dismayed. God will intervene at the appointed time. Continue to do good and pray that all Christian parties unite and move forward in unity. Blessings. Pst Hlengani Chauke

  14. Hugh G Wetmore

    Thanks, Lance. 1 Tim 3:16,17 refer to the inspiration of Scripture with the purpose of directing righteous living. We are to ‘correctly divide the word of truth’. I recommend my book “Why Christians Disagree when they interpret Scripture” (Struik/TEASA 2001) for a study in Biblical Interpretation in the context of Christian unity. I can send you a copy for R60 – email me at wetmore@singingtheword.co.za ot order. It attempts to answer the question you ask.

  15. I cannot believe that there are no Christians in the other political parties albeit that these parties are secular and humanistic. Afterall many believers work for secular organisations, corporations and unbelieving bosses. The problem, I believe lies in the fact that we live lives that are divided between the secular and the sacred. Perhaps instead of exhorting us Christians to vote for a particular party, we should be teaching our people that they are Christians 24/7 and then equipping them to change their employer body, their political party, their community from the inside out. Just a thought.

  16. samuel H Kennedy

    My response to Eleanor is:The ACDP has become salt that has lost it’s flavor by their coalescing with the DA in Swellendam & through their coalition of opposition with the DA & other anti Christ parties in Parliament…& she is silent on this. I agree with Billy & John. Hypocrites is what the ACDP has become. Their recent statement of values over religion bears testament to this. I suggest you don’t delete my posts as I will lodge a complaint with BCCSA. You have No right to delete my reply. People need to know the hypocrisy of the ACDP & it’s converts. Amen.