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Christian response needed to threat to remove Christmas and Good Friday holidays

 
School children sing Christmas carols (PHOTO: File picture -- The Guardian)

South African School children sing Christmas carols (PHOTO: 2012 File picture — The Guardian)

The recent proposal by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) to remove Good Friday and Christmas as public holidays on the SA calendar, has triggered criticism around the country. Is the proposal as innocuous as it presents, or is there a greater agenda at work?

According to the SALRC, an advisory statutory body responsible for identifying and revising laws that are at odds with the Constitution, “there is an element of prejudicial treatment in that the two main Christian holidays are declared as paid public holidays and adherents of other religions who celebrate other faith-based holidays are disadvantaged in that their holidays are not declared public holidays and they do not have an automatic benefit of pay on those days.”  The SALRC accordingly suggests that either these holidays be reviewed, or that equal weight be given to holidays of other faiths. (SAHLRC Discussion Paper 133:  Project 25:  “Statutory Law Revision:  Legislation Administered by the Department of Home Affairs”, p 56. See link to Discussion Paper here – http://salawreform.justice.gov.za/dpapers/dp133.pdf?utm_source=GraphicMail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=NewsletterLink&utm_campaign=More+Salt+Please%21&utm_content)

At first glance, what the SALRC is proposing may seem “only fair”. It sounds so reasonable, so tolerant, so “nice” that we may easily be persuaded that what they are proposing, is okay – in any event not worth a fight. Surely, there are bigger battles to fight. Surely, it is not a “biggie” to God whether we spend Good Friday and Christmas at work or at home – what is a big deal to Him, is that we use these days to remember and commemorate what He has done for us (whether at work or at home). Other Christians still may argue that the days designated on our calendar as Good Friday and Christmas are historically not accurate, and that for this reason they are not really worth fighting over.

This is not simply about Christian holidays. This is (also) about the wave of secular humanism that is sweeping our country and that seeks to, bit by bit, remove Christianity from our society – as is happening in other countries in the West also.

The truth of the matter however is that what the SALRC is proposing, is far more serious than we may at first suspect. This is not simply about Christian holidays. This is (also) about the wave of secular humanism that is sweeping our country and that seeks to, bit by bit, remove Christianity from our society – as is happening in other countries in the West also. We should also not be so quick to believe that this is simply about giving equal treatment to all religions. No, it is (also) about establishing a new religion for South Africa, namely secular humanism.

In international news this week, one of Pope Francis’ new cardinals (Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, the archbishop of Bangkok) was reported to have said that “secularism is ‘a devil’ that presents an appealingly ‘nice’ face to the world”. I find myself in agreement with the cardinal’s comments.

And so, as Christians we need to be very careful before we conclude that this is not a fight to pick, lest we lose everything and lest our freedom to believe and honour God with our lives becomes something that is confined to the private sphere of our homes.

As Christians, we cannot afford the “nice face” of secularism to seduce us into surrendering that which we hold dear, our Christian heritage – because that is what it will be, a surrender and a loss for Christianity in South Africa. We should not be duped into believing that this cry for equality will have the result of keeping our own rights as Christians perfectly intact while also extending rights to others. History has shown that, what at first sight appears as a claim simply for equality, all too frequently is a claim for (or has the result of) preferential treatment for the minority groups who made these claims in the first place and, though small in number, whose scream is often the loudest. And so, as Christians we need to be very careful before we conclude that this is not a fight to pick, lest we lose everything and lest our freedom to believe and honour God with our lives becomes something that is confined to the private sphere of our homes.

(The details of the email address to which and cut-off date by which written comment on the SALRC’s recommendations can be submitted, appear at the bottom of this article).

The reasons for the change
This is not the first time that attempts are being made to remove Christian holidays from our national calendar. With the advent of our constitutional democracy in 1994, the calendar was changed to include days that “would be meaningful to all South Africans”.  Already at that time, Ascension Day was completely removed and Easter Monday was changed to Family Day, leaving two Christian holidays only on the calendar (namely Good Friday and Christmas). The other 10 public holidays on the national calendar, are all secular holidays.

GoodFriday
As recently as 2012, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (“the CRL Commission”) held countrywide consultative public hearings (without specifically inviting the church’s input however) to assess the need for a review of public holidays.Their review followed four complaints received from individuals, who complained that Christian public holidays amounted to unfair discrimination in that they favoured Christianity as a religion and furthermore “deepened religious divides”. Following a “Hands off Christmas and Good Friday!” protest by Christians at Constitution Hill, the matter was dropped.

It would appear as if the SALRC’s current review of the two remaining Christian public holidays on the calendar, stem from the same considerations as before and as such, require closer scrutiny in this article.

Firstly, our Constitutional Court has repeatedly held that the constitutional demand for equality does not necessarily imply sameness of treatment. In each case, we have to examine the impact of the discriminatory action upon the particular people concerned to determine whether its overall impact is one which furthers the constitutional goal of equality or not. Where a law differentiates between different groups of people, a relevant question is whether the regulation is arbitrary or manifests “naked preferences” that serve no legitimate governmental purpose.

In this case, it cannot be argued that the differentiation is arbitrary or has a “naked preference” for Christianity. In terms of the last census, 79.8% of South Africans self-identify as Christians, 15.1% have no religion, 1.5% follow Islam, 1.2% Hinduism, 0.3% African religion, and 0.2% Judaism. It would be fair to say that around the world, there is a direct correlation between the majority religion of the country and the religious days that are set apart as public holidays in that country. Even so, it must be borne in mind that of the 12 public holidays on our calendar, only two are Christian.The other 10, which are all of a secular nature, include days like Workers’ Day, Youth Day and National Women’s Day. By parity of reasoning, employers, the elderly and even men could argue that they are being discriminated against because they do not have a special public holiday dedicated to them!

One could only imagine the impact on our already suffering economy if, in the name of equality, we were to give a public holiday to every group in our society!

One could only imagine the impact on our already suffering economy if, in the name of equality, we were to give a public holiday to every group in our society!  It simply does not make sense for almost 80% of the (Christian) population to take a day off for a religious holiday that is observed by less than 20%. On the other hand, Christian holidays are observed as public holidays largely as a matter of economics and viability. It is impractical for most businesses to remain open when 80% of their employees / clients are on holiday.

What the SALRC seems to overlook also, is that section 2(2) of the Public Holidays Act specifically provides that “any public holiday shall be exchangeable for any other day which is fixed by agreement or agreed to between an employer and employee”. In other words, the same Act that provides for two Christian public holidays on the national calendar, gives non-Christian employees the right to, instead of Good Friday or Christmas, request paid leave on another day (e.g. Ramadan for Muslims, or Diwali for Hindus). The majority of employers in South Africa have no problem with such requests and display a great degree of tolerance towards people of different religions in their workforce.

In the absence proof of the discriminatory impact that Christian public holidays have on others, it is hard to accept that these holidays serve to “deepen religious divides”. In this regard, it is worth noting the statement of Moss Ntlha in his capacity as General Secretary of TEASA (and who himself also forms part of the leadership team of Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) as follows: “The transformation project we embarked on as a nation in 1994, set about to end tyranny as we had under apartheid. To suggest that the peaceful and voluntary celebration of Christian festivals by the overwhelming majority of South Africans is oppressive and an affront to religious minorities is ludicrous.  It is like suggesting South Africans must stop singing ‘Nkosi sikeleli Afrika, a song sung by the people of South Africa in their struggle against apartheid simply because it is a Christian hymn and therefore oppressive to non-Christians.”

Incidentally, in a recent interview on Watchmen on the Wall, ACDP leader, Rev Kenneth Meshoe pointed out that already people are saying that our national anthem is a Christian song and that we should change it so that we have a secular song that will embrace everybody. According to Rev  Meshoe, “we have to remind South Africans that, in spite of what people might be saying, we are not a secular state … and the fact that we have ‘Nkosi sikelele’ in our Constitution (“God bless us”), is an example and a proof that we are not a secular state. A secular state does not make reference to God in their Constitution.”

Our country has more than its fair share of headaches at the moment. Crime continues to surge, our economy is in dire straits, poverty and unemployment remain huge challenges, not to mention the power crisis that negatively affects all South Africans across the board. These are some of the areas that require our country’s urgent attention – not whether to abolish Christian public holidays.

A Christian response
How then should we respond to the possible removal of Christian public holidays that honour the religious beliefs of nearly 80 percent of the population, from our national calendar? Should we turn the other cheek? Not this time. We have to respond — before worse things happen.

Pray, we must, but this is also an opportunity for us as Christians to take action and to use our freedom to protect our freedom and our faith. Take action by:

  • Submitting written comment and representations with regard to the SALRC’s recommendations, by e-mail to gmoloi@justice.gov.za by no later than May 31, 2015;
  • Joining Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) as a Christian organisation that works to protect and promote freedom of religion and the autonomy of the church in South Africa, by signing up on its webpage (forsa.org.za);
  • Making a donation to FOR SA to assist in its work to protect, and serve as a voice for, religious freedom in SA;
  • Following FOR SA on its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FreedomOfReligionSA) for the latest updates on religious freedom and related issues.
 
 

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You are welcome to make comments that add value to the article above and to engage in thoughtful, constructive discussion with fellow readers. Comments that contain vulgar language will be removed. Hostile, demeaning, disrespectful, propagandistic comments may also be moved. This is a Christian website and if you wish to vent against Christian beliefs you have probably come to the wrong place and your comments may be removed. Ongoing debates and repetitiveness will not be tolerated.
 

46 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    There is a growing effort worldwide to crush Christianity. If we are silent, we condone and enable God’ enemies. It is time to “stand up for Jesus”.

  2. Stephanie says:

    SA has always been a Christian country, if you wish to worship in another faith that is your choice, but foremost we are Christians & if you find that unacceptable go to a country which is not Christian

  3. Rosalind Roman says:

    Agree
    Jesus loves everybody. So do we. Therefore Christianity is needed in South Africa.

  4. Eben says:

    Thank you for this insight.The time has now really arrived for us as Christians to awake, arise, shake ourselves from the dust and stand our ground.

  5. Today is Satanic Black Sabbath. Anyone ever wondered why they leave us alone? Maybe we have just added Jesus to the mix like with everything We have been led to believe…luvja W

  6. Mpho says:

    Viva christianity viva let’s stand our ground.

  7. Bongani Nkosi says:

    If its like that to you our government if you council the Christian holidays you need also to council all the south African holidays

  8. Joey says:

    Ons is te gemaklik met veranderinge en tevrede solank ons net rustig met ons eie lewens kan voortgaan. Ander verdedig hul gelowe met die doodstraf as daar net geskimp word dat daar godslasterlik opgetree is.
    Kom broers en susters, Laat ons SAAM staan vir Jesus, dit is NIE Kerk gebonde nie.

  9. Could you -for those of us who is not so good in writing – give an example of what to write in connection with Good Friday and Christmas? Kind regards.

  10. Porchia Stuurman says:

    Christmas and Good Friday can not be removed; it’s enough that we accommodate other people, they don’t need to change us! South Africa nerver had a problem with that until many other countries gained ownership of our country.
    Nowif the government feels to add other religions, let it but not to remove our Christian holidays

  11. Madie says:

    Sould we not object to the removal of Good Friday and Christmas, we are not Christians at all. This is an opportunity to unite all Christians to stand together for what we believe in.

  12. Tulsa says:

    South Africa belongs to the one and only true God! We are a beacon of light to the rest of the world. There is a revival coming to South Africa! God is pouring out his spirit in these last days and he is doing a mighty thing!

  13. Hester says:

    GOD is Love, HE is The Beginning and The End. HE is Alpha and The Omega. Only HIS Rule will endure, it can Never be destroyed. The LORD JESUS is Alive and HIS Unfailing Love endures. HE forgives sin and Never think of it again, when you confess HIM as the only True Living God. If you call upon the Name of The Lord Jesus, you will be saved.

  14. Hester says:

    Jesus Christ is The Way and The Truth and The Life. No one comes to The FATHER except through HIM.

  15. Thabo says:

    Am against the removal of those christian Holiday’s let them remain like that. God have mercy on us

  16. Kobus Vosloo says:

    South Africa’s population is almost 80% Christian. While there is only 10 official holidays on our calendar of which only 2 are Christian. There is no discrimination whatsoever, only an continuous effort to quench Christianity from our country. Stop meddling with Christianity and start governing the country in fairness, truth and honesty. My wish for this country is peace and true respect for each other. Christianity is the only solution to South Africa’s problems.

  17. Leon Kilian says:

    Celebrating Christmas and Good Friday is part of our Christian heritage through many generations, worldwide. It is an important part of honouring the Lord Jesus as a nation and it would be a huge mistake to remove these holidays from our calendar.

  18. maria says:

    Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour unto Jim I raised my voice and asked His will be done in this matter. We serve The only living God . Anen Shalom

  19. Nkululeko says:

    Am against the removal of those
    christian Holiday’s

    Remember the Gomora and Sodoma

  20. Moses Mabokane Mampa says:

    Christmas is in december,most companies are closed for holidays.goodfriday is once in a year for remembrance.that makes it one day out of 11 holidays during the year,what harm does it make.why cant they cancel another holiday if really we are a christian country.

  21. […] It is advisable to not (only) make an emotional appeal to the SALRC, but put forward reasonable arguments as to why these holidays should be kept on the national calendar e.g. the majority of people in South Africa are Christians;  only 2 of the 12 public holidays are Christian, the rest are all secular;  the impact on the economy if every group in society were to be given a public holiday; the fact that the law gives non-Christian employees the right to exchange Good Friday and/or Christmas for any other day of their choosing . (For these and other arguments, see my article in Gateway News earlier this year –   http://gatewaynews.co.za/christian-response-needed-to-threat-to-remove-christmas-and-good-friday-hol…); […]

  22. Lynne says:

    We will succumb to despair and anxiety if the freedom to believe and honour God with our lives is taken away from us by taking away Good Friday and Christmas Day. We cannot allow this to happen. We believe and have faith, so strong, that this will not happen. Nobody defies God or can stand in his way. His will be done.

  23. Philip Blom says:

    This is good!!! The only feast gerntiles need to celebrate is Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles. None of this Babylonian stuff, like Christ Mass and Good Friday!

    Zechariah 14:16 [ The Nations Worship the King ] And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

  24. farai says:

    We need to understand that religion just like christianity is not formed by a country and is not bestored on another country by another country or by foreigners its a matter of choice, so lets not create wars for no reason and stand for what we believe in as Christians.These holidays mean a lot to us as the day i was born myself and the day i got independence.truth is there is on God

  25. farai says:

    The end is here as it was written in the holy bible. The signs are showing. We need to stand together as christians

  26. Pastor Manzini P.k says:

    It is high time indeed to stand our ground beloved.Let’s stand united with one voice and say no to the removal of our two holidays,S.A is a christian country.

  27. Nyiko Sithole says:

    We say no for the government to remove our two holidays,we as south Africans this holidays means a lot… no please no

  28. Oniccah says:

    It is not acceptable for Christmas and Good Friday to be removed as Public Holiday. Christian religion contribute to the economy of this country i.e assist the government in terms of ethical behaviour. South African Government is strike by crime, corruptions, sicknesses etc. Health sectors are not coping with the volume of work and required resources, Prisons are full with prisoners and only Christian religion could assist to deliver the oppressed mind through the power of Almighty God. It is imperative therefore we have to celebrate the favour that God providing on those two holidays. Removal of these holidays would destroy the peace and joy of this country. Non-Christian country are always in war for no reason. So, a question is, as South Africans do we want to copy unhealthy lives styles, wrong doings and wars that are happening in North Africa?

  29. Prophet of the South says:

    I note with sadness that South Africa is intending to remove Christian holidays. But I am more saddened by the Church’s response of protesting this action. 1. Why should we expect support and favours from the world when we are not of this world? 2. Why should we fight flesh and blood when our warfare is not against them? 3. Did the LORD, the Law and the Prophets not warn us about this? Here is my message to the church – it is the last hour. Do not rejoice that you have holidays and are heard in places of power and authority; rejoice that your names are written in heaven!!! These holidays are not going to take anyone of you to heaven. Let the dead bury one another – but you, work your faith and salvation with fear and trembling. Jesus never said we must celebrate Good Friday or Christmas, He said we must LOVE ONE ANOTHER. This very thing we have forgotten and are fighting Satan on the rulership of this world, the very world that is perishing.

    • Jean says:

      You’ve said it all. They thought by taking Ascension Day, we won’t celebrate it by we still go no matter what time it is . That’s why at schools there’s no more prayer time. If a person as a parent don’t instill it at home, our kids are doomed.

  30. Rakgole Mokolo says:

    Christmas and Good Friday are part and parcel of our lives. Close to 80% of South Africans are Christians and so hands-off our holidays in the name of Jesus.

  31. micheal says:

    christmass and good friday holiday cannot be remove, south africa is christain nation

  32. Tshepiso says:

    But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance and there shall be holiness;and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions;.We refuse to stagger or vaccilate,on your ignorance of lack of knowlege.MZANSI IS A CHRISTIAN NATION LED BY GOD

  33. Jericho says:

    if they remove our public holidays then it means they must;
    1. Change the national anthem as it is Christianity based.
    2. Give men, young and elderly people holidays as they do not have one.
    3. Think about the economy, the currency would decrease if the two holidays are removed.

    CHRISTIANITY WILL ALWAYS BE PART AND PARCELS OF MANY PEOPLE IN SA.

  34. Jones says:

    We need to stand up and be heard by this government as it truly giving satan the power by changing these Holidays it’s like the government is rulled by the devil himself as they do decisions that are unholy they now allowed abortion to be legally and now they want to remove the Christian holidays they must be worship the devil because whatever they do is antichrist and devilish.

  35. Mikhenso says:

    Hands off to goodfriday and Christmas holidays

  36. zandi says:

    I personally can see where this is coming from however, should they decide to remove our faithful days from the public holiday calendar, then the organizations that we work for should include/add these 2 days that have been scratched off the calendar to our religious leave days. In my opinion, this could potentially be a win win situation, however, the lack of consideration in compensating through the additional religious leave days could potentially result in a good portion of the country’s population being exposed to secularism, which in this day and age shouldn’t hold ground considering all the other major matters that bother the country as it is.

  37. Concerned christian says:

    It is said that other religious holidays are not recognised on the calender but in question why do all religions have the time off along with all çhristians.The devil is a liar he think he can triumph but our faith and belief in God stretches bigger and wider than public holidays on a calender if he thinks that he will triumph over God’s people he has another ing coming rise up christians the persisting battle is growing bigger bring back pray in our schools and everywhere else lets not be executed for our beliefs and trust God to be before us as we fight this battle and come out victorious

  38. Amanda says:

    If God is for us, who can be against us.
    Religion was removed from schools, it never harmed anyone from the previous generation now its our religious holidays what next…I only feel pity for those trying to conquer Our Heavenly Father…Lord have mercy.

  39. Abel says:

    The Lord is at hand let us all pray to the Lord to give us courage and strength and will to trust in His name. we have been commanded by the Lord to love one another we the house of the lord and still pray for our Government. Elijah ran away from the Government but Elisha with his double portion the government of the time wanted him by their side. Christians arounfd the globe it’s time to rise and dust ourselves and know why we have been called. John 1.4

  40. Bianca says:

    This is stupendous and outrageous, all other religions also gets paid for Good Friday and Christmas holidays along with Christians, so whether Muslims don’t get a paid day for the day of Ramadaan, they do for a matter of fact get paid for other public holidays just like Christians does. So when the government wants to take our paid Christian holidays away, they are taking that exact paid day away from the other faiths as well, and if the government wants to pay other faiths on their Religious days then all other faiths should be excluded when Christians get paid for Good Friday and Christmas, in fact Christians doesn’t even get paid for Ascension day so what’s the big deal… I just think that the government is raising other issue here, first we had racism and now it’s between religions that
    they want to create a battle, CAN’T THEY JUST STOP THIS SEGREGATION ALREADY!

  41. Cate Pretorius says:

    Take the four (five) Christian holidays and make them floating ‘Cultural holidays’. No change for Christians, they still have their holidays. Big change for non-Christians, they can use the four or five days when it is important to their culture or religion.

  42. RSA LAING says:

    CHRISTIANS UNITE – ONCE AGAIN WE HAVE A BLATANT ATTACK ON OUR BELOVED SAVIOUR
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    A DISRESPECTFUL AND BLASPHEMOUS PICTURE OF JESUS CHRIST APPEARED ON DSTV / MULTICHOICE ON THE ZALEB PROGRAMME ON THE CHANNEL GLOW ON 22 JULY 2015 AT +- 16H30.

    IT WAS AN OFFENSIVE PICTURE DEPICTING JESUS CHRIST WITH A PAIR OF SUNGLASSES ON, CARRYING A GIRL OVER EACH SHOULDER SHOWING THEIR NAKED BOTTOMS.

    [1] CHRISTIANS [THE MAJORITY IN S.A. = +- 80% OF THE POPULATION] NEED TO UNITE TO BOYCOTT THE GLOW CHANNEL OR CANCEL THEIR DSTV SUBSCRIPTIONS AND / OR
    [2] SEND YOUR COMPLAINTS TO enquiries@multichoice.co.za and the SA Broadcasting and Complaints Commission

    The choice is yours!

  43. MAKIBA says:

    It is disappointing to realise that South Africans put satanic government in power not knowing. The government proves what the national party use to publish truthful. They removed bibs from schools. Our children know nothing about God. Too much of a thing is not good at all. Crime is all over SA because of poor judgement. Fearing God is the beginning of wisdom. You cannot just decide to mislead people and expect everybody to follow you. ANC was hiding its true colours in sheep skin. They are hyenas. They ruined the country.

  44. Mimo says:

    Illuminati is here, as it is written in the bible Revelation chp 13.
    So guys do not be shocked what the government will do, after all it is to fulfill the biblical prophesy. Their so called sananda Jesus will be worshiped by them only not us as will wait for the real Jesus, we will not be fooled by fake magic of their Jesus as it is already exposed we know all about it

  45. Thuli says:

    This is when our faith has to be accompanied by our actions……..true Christianity has to be protected for generations to come. Please advise what the latest status of this matter is.