In Gateway News earlier this year, I wrote of the recent proposal by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) to remove Good Friday and Christmas as public holidays on the SA calendar. According to the SALRC, to have the two main Christian holidays as paid public holidays, amounts to unfair discrimination towards people of other faiths.
This is not the first time that attempts are being made to remove Christian holidays from our national calendar. Already in 1994, Ascension Day was completely removed from the national calendar and Easter Monday was changed to Family Day.
As Christians (who in terms of the last census, make up 79.8% of the South African population), it is up to us to stand up and say “hands off Christian holidays!” If we don’t, who will?!
The deadline for comments on the SALRC’s proposal, is May 31
Churches, Christian ministries, businesses and individuals can object to the removal of the two remaining Christian holidays from the national calendar, in one of two ways:
- By signing an online petition. (See link to petition here – http://handsoffchristianholidays.yolasite.com/petition.php); and/or
- By submitting written comment to the SALRC by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by post to The Secretary, SALRC, Private Bag X668, Pretoria, 0001.
For those who wish to submit their own written comment to the SALRC, herewith some guidelines:
- Churches and organisations who wish to make written submissions, are best advised to do so on a formal letterhead of their church / organisation addressed to The Secretary of the SALRC, and in the subject header put “COMMENT ON SALRC DISCUSSION PAPER 133: PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS ACT, 36 OF 1994”;
- The submission (letter) should make it very clear whether the author (of the letter) agrees with or objects to the SALRC’s proposal to review Christian holidays, and on what ground(s) objection is made;
- The grounds of objection should be set out in separate paragraphs that are numbered for easy reference;
- 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 two 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-holidays/);
- While the submission may be drafted in firm language, at all times the tone of the letter should be courteous and respectful; and
- The letter should ideally be signed by its author, and also provide the necessary contact details.
Note that, contrary to what readers may have been informed through sms or social media, the SALRC has not yet, in this round, held any public hearings on the matter. It is not clear whether public hearings on the matter will be held following receipt of the submissions or at this point in time. I will however be in touch with the SALRC in this regard, and through Gateway News advise readers of any developments (including any hearings that may take place).
For now, it is most important that Christians take action and make their views known to the SALRC before the deadline of May 31, whereafter no further comments will be considered by the SALRC. Let’s not miss the opportunity to stand up and be counted!