HomeNewsSouth AfricaFreedom of religion and speech facing one of greatest threats yet!

Freedom of religion and speech facing one of greatest threats yet!

 
two-reports

Two proposed pieces of legislation which potentially pose a major threat to freedom of religion and speech in South Africa were published in the last week –the CRL Report on Regulation of Religion, released  by Chair Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, eft, and the Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill announced by Justice Minister Mike Masutha, right.

See Opinion by Ron Steele

This week has seen the State proposing two pieces of legislation which arguably pose one of the greatest threats to religious freedom (including the autonomy of the Church to govern her own affairs) and free speech in South Africa yet! If we do not take action on these, our freedom to believe, speak, and lives our lives according to the Word of God may well be forever changed.

CRL Report on Regulation of Religion
On Wednesday, October 26 2016 the CRL Rights Commission released its Report on the “commercialisation” of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems, on its website (http://www.crlcommission.org.za/download-documents.html – scroll down to “Commercialisation Report”). Pages 31 – 39 contain the Commission’s proposals for regulation, and are most important (and most concerning!).

The CRL Rights Commission has invited comments on the Report, by no later than FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18 2016. Comments can be submitted directly to the Commission at info@crlrightscommission.org.za

Hate Crimes & Hate Speech Bill
This week also, the Department of Justice released the long-awaited draft Hate Crimes & Hate Speech Bill. A copy of the Bill is available on the Department’s website at http://www.justice.gov.za/legislation/bills/2016-HateCrimes-HateSpeechBill.pdf.

This Bill will make certain offences a “hate crime” (and as such, carry a heavier sentence) if the offence was motivated, for example, by the victim’s race, gender or sexual orientation etc.

What is really concerning about the Bill however, is the extremely broad definition of “hate speech” (section 4 of the Bill), which includes in its scope any communication that is considered “abusive or insulting” and intending to “bring into contempt or ridicule” a person or group of persons on the basis of, for example, their gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity etc. (Related offences include the distribution, including through e-mail or social media, of communications that contain such “hate speech”).

Needless to say, this definition will have dire implications for Christians, and will make it illegal to speak certain Scriptures which people holding to a non-Biblical worldview, may regard as “offensive”. In terms of the Bill, “hate speech” offenders will be sentenced to a fine or 3 years’ imprisonment, and a fine or 10 years’ imprisonment for a repeated offence!

The deadline for comments on the Bill, is THURSDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2016. (The Department intends to introduce the Bill in Parliament in March 2017 already!). Comments can be submitted directly to the Department of Justice at hatecrimes@justice.gov.za

A united voice
As an organisation that works to protect religious freedom in South Africa, Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is extremely concerned about the impact that these proposed laws will have on religious freedom, free speech and the autonomy of the Church to govern her own affairs. As such, FOR SA will be submitting comments both on the CRL’s Report and the Hate Crimes Bill.

Church leaders who share FOR SA’s concerns, are welcome to contact us at legal@forsa.org.za – either with a view to adding their support to the submissions that FOR SA will ultimately make, or preparing their own submissions on the back of ours. We also welcome any input that you may have in this regard!

We have not been given much time to act, but act we must – for the sake of our own freedom, but also that of generations to come! What we do, or fail to do, today, could forever change the religious landscape of our country. Pray for us as we defend our freedoms before government and Parliament, but also stand with us – together, we can make a change for the good of our country and ultimately, for His glory!

*For more information about FOR SA, to join the organisation (at no cost) and/or sign up to our Newsletter, visit www.forsa.org.za Also follow us on Facebook at “Freedom of Religion SA”.

As a non-profit organisation, we are entirely dependent upon God’s grace for finances. Your generosity will help make a significant difference as we work to fulfil our mission to keep the doors open for the Gospel by advocating for religious freedom. We appreciate every gift, big or small! To make a donation (through EFT or Payfast), visit http://forsa.org.za/donate/

 
 

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9 Comments

  1. Frank Scott says:

    It seems evident to me that objections by church denominations, groups, etc will not be considered but that as citizens we need to object individually. Many people, Christians and other religions alike will not get sure how to do so. I would like to suggest that a basic letter of objection be drafted up and supplied so that we can overwhelm the department with objections.

    • Stef Davi says:

      Great idea Scott supposedly would speed up the process quicker and help leaders to distribute this to their church members…
      Should this be the way to do it?

  2. FOR SA says:

    Dear Frank and Stef, thank you for the valuable suggestion. From FOR SA’s side, we will (in addition to preparing full submissions to the CRL and Department of Justice respectively) prepare a basic letter of objection, which we’ll make available on our website (www.forsa.org.za) and also distribute it through our networks, from where churches can distribute it further to their own members or networks. We really do need the Body of Christ to stand together and speak with one voice with regard to these issues, but I agree that having huge numbers of citizens (voters) object individually, will certainly turn up the heat! Please keep an eye out on Gateway News, as well as our website and Facebook page (“Freedom of Religion SA”), for more information in this regard!

  3. Rev. I L Karshagen says:

    If I am to be found guilty of proclaiming God’s Word without shame, then so be it!

  4. Craige Harvey says:

    Thanks for standing in the gap guys. I would like to concur with the suggestion made for a correctly worded document that could form the basis of the Christian Communities objections.
    Please advise when and where it will be available.

    Blessings Craige

  5. Chris van Rooyen says:

    Please email me a copy of the basic letter of objection once finalised. Thank you..

  6. Ugo says:

    I would also like to have the letter of objection. The Church is built and established on Biblical truth and principles and I stand for that truth.

  7. Deline Adlam says:

    Please also forward me a copy of the basic letter of objection.