Joshua Generation Church (JGC) will champion the cause of defending religious freedom through an independent organisation operating under the auspices of the church, says lead elder, Andrew Selley.
In a letter of thanks to church leaders who have stood with JGC as it has come under attack because of its doctrine on corporal punishment, Selley says the experience has highlighted the greater issue of the threat to freedom of religious expression that affects “all of us”.
“Whilst we will continue to fight for parental rights, protection of the autonomy of family and to stop government interfering in reasonable parental practice; when a matter arises where the government dictates to a church what they may or may not preach and the extent to which they can share their faith with their congregants, this seriously threatens our right to freedom of religious expression,” he says.
The Cape Town church has been under investigation by the SA Human Rights Commission since August when a couple, Hannah and Adriaan Mostert, complained to the commission about their doctrine on corporal punishment. Selley says in an email to Gateway News that JGC has the signed support of churches representing about 11 million Christians who responded to their call for Christians to stand together to defend religious freedom. He says both the Muslim Judicial council and the Jewish Chief Rabbi have also given support.
“Wow – we want to thank you for the unbelievable support you have shown to us over the past few months. It has truly been overwhelming, and has offered us great encouragement when we needed it most,” he says in his letter to supporting churches.
He says the solidarity expressed by the churches has created such a stir that a Parliamentary Task Team has asked JGC to address them as many politicians are becoming concerned over the threat to religious freedom.
“To those of you who have given your support, thank you, we could not have done this without you,” he says.
The church expects to address the task team in late Jauary 2014.
In his letter to the churches, Selley says that a prohibition on communication that was imposed on them during the SAHRC investigation prevented them from keeping the churches updated of developments. The restriction has been lifted.
Addressing a Carte Blanche programme that reported on the SAHRC investigation of JCG, Selley writes: “Firstly, as the leadership team of JoshGen, we sincerely apologise for any confusion or misunderstanding that may have arisen with regards to our teaching material, that was flighted on Carte Blanche and covered in the press.The manual in question was revised as soon as we became aware that some of the material was being misunderstood outside of context, and creating confusion.
“As a church family, we endeavour to positively impact our community and society, not only through sound Biblical teaching, but also through living out the values contained therein, both in word and action.
“We remain committed to working alongside the local community groups, NPO’s, relevant role players and leaders, towards positive transformation of our society and to providing assistance to those in need.
“At this stage we are waiting on the final response from the South African Human Rights Commission, which is due sometime in February 2014.”
In response to a question from Gateway News about the church’s preparations for addressing the Parliamentary task team, he says: “We have put together a task team who have put in huge amount of work, looking at international law, social sciences, SA law, case studies etc. and we believe we have a very strong case.”
The information sourced by the task team has been submitted to the SAHRC at their request.