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‘Christian schools’ agree to oppose court case

 

courtcaseLast week in Gateway News, FOR SA (Freedom of Religion South Africa) reported on the High Court proceedings instituted against six public schools (four in Gauteng, and two in the Western Cape) to effectively remove Christianity from those schools.

The school principals met with FEDSAS (the Federation of School Governing Bodies of South African Schools) and their legal team on Friday last week to consider their position and the way forward.  The outcome of this meeting was that the schools are in full agreement that the application brought against them by OGOD (Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie), should be opposed. 

The next step
By this Friday the schools have to deliver a document, notifiying the Johannesburg High Court and OGOD of their intention to oppose the court proceedings. 

Thereafter, the schools have 15 work days to deliver Affidavits answering the case against them.  Given the complexity of the legal arguments involved, the schools will in all likelihood request an extension of the period within which to deliver their Answering Affidavits. OGOD will then have an opportunity to reply. 

As a next step, the parties will have to present their legal arguments to the Court – first in writing and then also orally.  Several months may therefore pass before the case is heard and decided. If the case goes to the Constitutional Court, which is very likely to happen, it may take much longer even for the matter to be finalised. 

A number of churches and organisations (including FOR SA) have already indicated that they would like to join the proceedings as Amici Curiae (“Friends of the Court”).  The thinking at this stage is to possibly create an umbrella-type organisation / party that can act on behalf of all these churches and organisations in Court.  For more information, churches and/or organisations are welcome to contact FOR SA who will put them in contact with Teresa Conradie of the IPJ (Institute for Public Justice) who is coordinating the efforts in this regard. (For the contact details of and/or more information about FOR SA, visit www.forsa.org.za). 

Supporting the schools
This case confirms what FOR SA has been saying over the last few months, namely that there is an escalating threat to the religious freedom of Christians in South Africa. 

As an organisation that actively works to protect and promote freedom of religion in South Africa, FOR SA has already offered its assistance and support to the six schools, to FEDSAS and the legal team – both in terms of rallying the Church and Christians in South Africa behind the schools, and helping with the preparation of legal arguments. FOR SA will also remain in contact with FEDSAS and the legal team so as to communicate any developments in the case to Churches and the Christian public.

As Christians we must recognise the importance of this case (which is likely to be a “watershed case” for religious freedom in South Africa) and the severe ramifications it may have not only for the six schools involved, but for our freedom as Christians to believe, preach and live our lives according to the Word of God. If ever there was a time to stand united and to act, it is now! 

In a media release by FEDSAS dated 5 September 2014, Mr Paul Colditz (CEO of FEDSAS) stated that “[t]he schools have received overwhelming support from the public and organisations”. He went on to say that AfriForum had already offered to pay some of the legal costs of the schools.

FOR SA encourages Christians to: 

  • PRAY without ceasing – for the schools and their legal team, for OGOD as well as for the Judge who will be hearing the case;
  • GIVE FINANCIALLY towards keeping our faith free in South Africa. Every contribution, great and small, is appreciated. For more details, visit http://forsa.org.za/donate/;
  • At no cost, JOIN FOR SA thus enabling us to speak on behalf of Christians in South Africa on issues affecting our religious freedom and the autonomy of the Church.  To sign up as a member of FOR SA, visit http://forsa.org.za/contact-us/join-us/; and
  • FOLLOW FOR SA on Facebook at “Freedom of Religion SA”, and sign up for the FOR SA Newsletter on our website (www.forsa.org.za), to receive the latest updates on issues concerning our freedom of religion and the autonomy of the Church. 
 
 

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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.
 

21 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    You religious freedom ends at the school gate as far as I am concerned. You do not have the right to abuse state facilities for your religious expression at the expense of other or non-religious views. These are State schools that receive state funding provided by tax-payers of all varieties of faith. Why should Christians have the right to dominate over all others? You fundamentally misunderstand what religious freedom entails. What you are arguing for is not religious freedom, it is for religious domination over the rights of others that do not share your faith. It is really not hard to understand, surely?

    • David Erasmus says:

      Hi Tim, I think you are totally mislead. I also believe you don’t know the Lord. That’s the reason for your argument. satan has one priority in this world. To destroy, kill and steal from you and your family. I believe you are a sober man and intellectual thinking. Its strange that you allow this to happen to you and your family. The Christian way is the only way and not to dominate. Its done by free will and choice. Please research this topic before making a comment/statement.

    • John says:

      There is something you should know about state school finances. The government only contributes about 5% of the cost of running the school. The parents finance the rest. Therefore since I am paying the school schoolfees to teach my child I will have a say in how that is done. It’d called democracy. I’ll pray for you Tim and all those that find our Lord and GOD, who only teaches us to love, so scary for you. I pray that you will hear his call before it’s too late. GOD is not dead! Blessings to all of you.

    • colleen says:

      Tim it is not Christianity that is being driven out it is God that is being driven out of our schools . And when this is effectively done you will be left with a vacum that will be filled with nothing else but a godless generation who dont have the fear of God .
      Godly education allows our children to aspire to something more than what they are . Why would you look down on that

  2. Margaret Ferguson says:

    A very important issue that underlies this matter is ‘humanism’ versus ‘religious faith’. If the real or long term agenda of OGOD is to go in a humanist direction in schools, then it is actually acting against the law concerning the curriculum required in South African schools. The religious curriculum for South African schools requires that learners are exposed to a variety of faiths so if the long term agenda is for there to be no teaching of any faith in schools then one has ‘humanism’.The argument therefore that if you want your child to be instructed in a particular faith, you must send them to a private Christian school theoretically does not hold water – sadly, as I write as a Christian. I assume that ALL schools are required to adhere to the national curriculum including religious education.
    One could therefore as a Christian lobby for the removal of the religious education curriculum in entirety and that is a political lobby, not one for the courts

    One would expect OGOD to use curriculum as a tool so the Christian support group needs to be ready for that. Following the Court case they need to be proactive and not reactive to situations as the latter tends to catch people on the back foot.

    My understanding is that the S African curriculum requires schools to take cogniscence of what is the predominant religion in an area. There is clearly a dichotomy here – one one side saying there has to be a multi faith approach to the curriculum which seems to mitigate against the statement that schools must take cogniscance of the predominant religion of an area. Government clearly needs to be lobbied hard on having a clear and unequivocal position on the religious education in schools.

    The current situation is not a simple matter.

    • Tim says:

      The curriculum is not the issue here. The National Policy for Religion in Education is quite clear on this in that there is scope in the curriculum for ‘Religion Education’, which includes the education of religions in general, however not any particular or dominant religion. You are mistaken here.
      Thee removal religion education from the curriculum is not the intent of the court action. What is the intent is the removal of the deliberate favouring of one religion over others in terms of religious observances on school property, and for schools to openly indicate their religious bias. Where the Policy may err is that it allows for religious observances as long as these are on an equitable basis (i.e. all religions within reason), which may prove impractical and very difficult to monitor. We should not have the situation where a State school receiving state funding being allowed to discriminate against those that fall within its catchment area that do not belong to the school-endorsed faith. The Policy has been in place for over ten years now and sadly has not been monitored or enforced, which has allowed the status-quo of the previous apartheid CNE (Christian National Education) to continue without check. Dissenting opinions and opposing voices have until now been effectively drowned out and bullied into submission by the Christian majority, notwithstanding the fact that non-religious parents have been very reluctant to speak out lest they paint targets on their children’s backs. This is no exaggeration and can easily been seen now with the backlash and open vitriol being expressed on this issue by Christians who are definitely not displaying Christ-like behaviour.

      • Tim, thanks for sharing your point of view. Please note our commenting guidelines: repetition and excessive debating is discouraged. Just a friendly heads-up. (EDITOR)

        • Tim says:

          Fair enough Andre, and thanks for allowing me to comment. I think it is important though to provide an opposing view where necessary as I don’t think the full truth is being received on this issue and much misunderstanding results.

  3. Margaret Ferguson says:

    I was a politician overseas with a responsibility in the sphere of education and hence I decided to check out the government position on religious education in schools in S Africa.From what I could see there is a dichotomy. How can the schools on one hand offer a multi faith even handed approach and at the same time the system requires that they take cogniscance of the predominant religion of the area. The two do not add up. There needs to be clarity on this issue – that is a political matter

    You seem to say, Tim. that I am mistaken in the statement I made that the national curriculum requires a multi faith approach – but you are saying the same. When one starts to think ‘out of the box’ and not be overly focused one then sees a number of layers that could emerge whatever the nature of the court action.

  4. Hugh G Wetmore says:

    Thanks for the stimulating debate. I was alerted to these Charges against the 6 State Schools for overtly favouring Christianity in State Time at State expense. I have read the 2003 Religion Education Policy, and it is obvious that the 6 schools have contravened its requirements. Here’s an encouraging insight: The Policy also brackets Secular Humanism with the major religions, implying it too is a Religion. Which it is – a godless Religion. I propose that we Christians do not oppose the charges head-on. Rather that we reach an out-of-court settlement and then creatively strategise together on a way to separate ‘Church’ and ‘State’. We must lobby against the dominance of Secular Humanism with its Evolutionist basis, and for equal time to teach Creation as well as Evolution. As soon as we gain space for Creation in the curriculum, the Creator (Intelligent Designer, God) will be on the agenda, and from Him externally-based laws and moral values can be posited in contrast to the Subjective Relativism of an Evolution-based Humanism, where each person makes her own truth and lives by his own moral values. We’ll prove that that road leads to chaos.

    History has taught us that Constantine’s merging of Church and State was not good for Christian discipleship. Likewise the Holy Roman Empire and King Henry VIII merged Church and State to the detriment of the Church. Recently apartheid’s Christian National Education has weakened the credibility of the Christian Faith in the eyes of many. A survey-analysis of P Johnstone’s OPERATION WORLD shows that Christianity has grown least in countries that tolerate Christianity, and has grown best in countries hostile to the Gospel. God’s plan is that Christians be as yeast, not take over the bakery. Let the State be the State, and the Church be the Church. The Home and Church must not rely on the State to educate the children. We must rise up and seize the Day! We must be salt and light in a foreign environment. That’s our calling as believers!

  5. Jeannette Smith says:

    Is it only Christianity that teaching that they are referring to. What about the Islamic teaching? Are they going to come down hard on their teaching?

  6. Hugh G Wetmore says:

    Ferguson is right and wise: it is not possible to have a single Education Policy that is both multi-faith and recognises the predominant religion in the area. Google the “Religion Education Policy 2003” and read the Policy itself. I find it does not favour ‘the predominant religion in the area’. A crucial paragraph reads: “Therefore, in this cooperative model for the relationship between religion and the secular state, public schools can permit religious instruction outside of the formal school curriculum, as long as they are voluntary and equitable, but public schools cannot promote religious interests within their programmes of formal education. Public schools are enjoined against any form of religious instruction, indoctrination, propaganda, catechism, conversion, or confession. Although these forms of religious education might be highly valued in the context of the home, family, or religious community, when they are practised in public schools they violate the Constitution by introducing religious discrimination into a public institution that serves a religiously diverse society.” For me, this is fair, and it provides a constitutional platform to demand that both Evolution and Creation be presented fairly, on objective scientific grounds – not religious grounds.

  7. Lodewyk says:

    Sad indeed that we have to defend this,Jesus did not defend Himself.Also sad,that we have to exept willing or not,the ungodly learnings,our children have to face.Surely not for the better,look at the moral standards of so called grown up countries like America, Britain -other secular,deep down rotten!! Sad,that it is O.K to learn our children (they have to) about evolution but please,do not talk about THE CREATOR!! of the Heavens and also of our earth!.LORD please keep us, till YOU will return, and wad ever the outcoming of this,even so LORD save more precious souls,let YOUR will be done in JESUS name,AMEN..

  8. roy fitz says:

    The truth well win out. God is still on the throne. It’s better to have all views and beliefs given exposure … the false views make the truth shine all the brighter. But humanists do have a God-given right to believe as they do, don’t they?

  9. Observer says:

    The Schools Act is a higher law than the Religion in Education Policy. In terms of the Schools Act, the parent body is allowed to vote for the ethos of a school. A local school has an 85% Christian attendance and has a Christian ethos. However, the Religion in Education Policy is followed in the curriculum. As far as I know, pupils have the right to opt out of assignments or activities with which they are uncomfortable.
    I also know of government schools where there is a Hindu ethos or an Islamic ethos. Is OGOD also going to take them to court? OGOD is actually dictatorial, not democratic, in denying the right of parents to choose the ethos for their children’s schools. The issue is actually values, because I personally know that most atheists/ humanists espouse a different value system from most religious people. So what value system will our children be taught?
    The Religion in Education Policy was the brainchild of the atheist Minister of Education at the time, Kader Asmal, who also wanted all religion removed from schools. (Reckon he wouldn’t fare well in an Islamic state!).

    • David Dawson says:

      the Schools Act is trumped by Constitution and as all new laws state that in Act itself.

      Basic building block of Constitution is Human Dignity.

      Do you have a problem with dignity?

      If you were a Christian in a Muslim school, would you enjoy being forced to partake in Islamic rituals? Do you not think you have the right to be treated with respect also?

  10. Eleanor says:

    So how did you hack my name?
    Admin: Does this site have a security problem?

    I wasn’t referring to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights is also about equality and freedom, something which humanists want to limit regarding religious freedom.
    You missed my point. The policy is not higher than the Schools Act. The key issue is about values. Secular humanist values differ from those of Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Secular humanists are a minority that are trying to force their values and worldview on the majority.
    So what about the “dignity” of people of faith?
    I repeat: No child is forced to to participate in religious observances. My one son, in Grade 2, was uncomfortable when he was asked to do an assignment involving a Hindu god, and was allowed to do another task.
    Even when I was at school yonks ago, pre-1994, under the Nats’ CNE, children of other faiths were allowed to opt out of assembly and “Scripture” lessons. They did their own religious studies.

  11. […] of a neutral, or even an unsympathetic government. And this is the kind of Government we now have. In light of certain State schools that have recently come under fire for calling themselves “C…, it is in this paradigm that State Schools must operate, according to the Policy Paper published in […]

  12. Dries says:

    Every time the nation of Israel moved away from God, God allowed a evil ungodly man to take them away from their promised land or allowed then to suffer. When the early Christians stuck together in Jerusalem and did not move out to spread the word as commanded persecution befall them. Keep in mind our fight is not against people but against the powers and principalities. We should ask the question what are we as Christians doing wrong, turn to God and ask His forgiveness and He will turn His face back onto us and redeem us from the evil of this world. Believe it or but Christianity are still the majority faith in SA but we have allowed this ungodly world view to overtake us and have even celebrated our open mindedness to allow equality to other religions and world views. What do we expect is going to happen. God tells us “I AM A JEALOUS GOD” That mean He does not share His throne. Why are we willing to hand out God’s possessions that He gave to us whilst we were a Godly nation.

  13. Lodewyk says:

    Amen, Dries we were worldwide known a Christian nation..But between all the battle going on,(Jesus said,)”they ” will kill you,put you in prison persecute you.. But I, have overcome the world..