Amended ‘Gender Equality Bill’ victory for Christians

forsa‘FOR SA’ (Freedom of Religion South Africa), an organisation pioneered by Cape Town church leader Andrew Selley, this week succeeded in persuading Parliament to amend the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, so as to exclude churches and public benefit organisations from the application of the Act.

 “This is a huge victory for freedom of religion, and ultimately for the Church in South Africa”, said Selley. ”Had the Bill not been amended, we would have undoubtedly seen a new persecution of Christians in South Africa as the church would have been muzzled from believing, teaching and practicing the teachings of Holy Scripture”. 

“We are pro women and pro the general intent of the Bill.  Our concern however was that the Bill in its original form severely threatened freedom of religion and freedom of religious expression,” he added.

Scriptures
Selley explained that had churches not been excluded from the Bill, the Bill would have effectively outlawed scriptures such as that the husband is the head of the home (Ephesians 5:23) and that Pastors who teach these scriptures could potentially have been found guilty of a criminal offence, punishable by a fine or five years’ imprisonment.

For other churches (including the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant churches) who believe that governance of the Church is reserved for men (according to their interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12), the Bill in its unamended form would have forced those churches to abandon their doctrine and to ensure that women make up at least 50% of their eldership (or governmental body) in the church.  Failure to comply could have also led to criminal conviction.

“Whether Christians hold to these specific beliefs or not, must not create dissension within us. The victory is that we have stopped government interfering in the sacred beliefs of religious communities, and have in this upheld freedom of belief/religion and freedom of speech,” added Selley.

Selley explained that had churches not been excluded from the application of the Bill, the Bill would have made the State rather than the Holy Bible, the highest authority on the roles of men and women in the church, and indirectly also in the home. This would have set a frightening precedent for legislation allowing the State to interfere in the autonomy of the church, and which autonomy has always been recognised as integral to the constitutional right to religious freedom.

ACDP
In a media statement by ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley, the ACDP welcomed the amendments to the Bill and said that the potential harm which could have resulted from this legislation is now significantly reduced. Dudley further congratulated FOR SA, JASA and Cause for Justice who called for the amendment of the Bill, so as to exclude churches and religious / charitable organisations, and who articulated concerns regarding the undermining of religious freedom as a constitutional right in South Africa.

The final Bill will be debated before the National Assembly on Tuesday, March 4.

Selley appealed to Christians in South Africa. “Thank God for this victory and continue to pray for our country. Spread the good news. If we work together in unity and with God on our side, we can make a difference.  We will have many more such battles this year, but praise God, we have won this one.”

FOR SA is a forum of different churches in South Africa and is currently in the process of being registered and established as a non-profit company. Recently, the forum was able to rally the signed support of Church leaders representing 12 million citizens on another issue relating to religious freedom.  The mandate of FOR SA, is to be a voice for freedom of religion and (religious) expression in South Africa, at national level. The organisation can be contacted at speakup.za@gmail.com

 

13 Comments

  1. I did not realise that the churches’ anti-woman stance was not negotiable. What a backward step for women and girls in South Africa. This is totally unconstitutional

    • Judith the church follow Christ who was a great campfighter for women liberty. If you read his story you will find countless evidence that he was their protector restorer and Lord. I hope you will find it true for you as well.

    • What’s unconstitutional is setting up government as a religious authority.

  2. We thank God for this; whatever one’s views on the roles of men and women in the church.
    Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s!

  3. God is good all the time. The presence of the ACDP in all of our parliaments is significantly important. It makes our country SA to be in peace with all the people living in it. We request all the SA to support the ACDP. Human value, home dignity and making homes as the first level of government with God leading the way, peace will be established among all men. South Africa MUST be the peaceful country. Thank you ACDP.

  4. Good news! It’s the worlds ultimate mission to destroy families, but His Word is faithful and true.

  5. Never tire of standing up for Biblical Truth. Jesus said, “I AM the way, the TRUTH and the life, no man comes to the Father except thru Me”. THY WORD IS TRUTH…

  6. Good to have some good news in our land where we respect the freedom of all people. You are right Andre Jesus won a great victory for the liberation of woman and restoring the family role as created by God.

  7. Although I agree with “freedom of religion”, “freedom FROM religion is just as important. What goes on behind closed doors in religious people’s homes is all find and dandy, but leave the rest of us out of it.

  8. Those taking exception to the amelioration of the Gender Bill apparently are opposed to freedom of religion and prefer a totalitarian government god to the Living God.

  9. This is good reason to thank God, not only for victory in this specific issue, but for victory in the broader context of preventing the State from dictating to the Church of Jesus Christ, who one Day will be openly recognised as King of king, Lord of lords.

  10. Father GOD, Bless and Guide all your obedient servants who have and will persevere in UNITY to speak out for Your Truth, Your Way, Your Life for mankind – JESUS!