Is there an agenda in South Africa to interfere with Christians’ rights to hold Biblical positions?
This question was left hanging in the air last night after the screening of a televised interview with the principal of the Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein which the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says is guilty of discriminating against homosexuals.
Appearing on the Watchman On The Wall programme on TBN Africa last night, Pastor Cornelis van Heyningen, principal of the Chistian arts training centre, said they will appeal against the recent ruling. While Creare holds a Biblical view that homosexual practice is sinful it has never discriminated against homosexuals and it believes in respecting every human being, he said.
He told the tv programme host, Errol Naidoo, that he was shocked by wording in the SAHRC’s finding which appears to oppose the centre’s right to hold a view based on Scripture.
The relevant wording is: “The issue in the present complaint is that the respondent expresses a religious view that the practice of homosexuality is deemed to be contrary to the divine will”.
Later in the programme, Advocate Reg Willis, who will represent Creare in its appeal against the SAHRC ruling, said Section 15 of the South African Constitution, which deals with freedom of religion, does not delve adequately into the question of competing human rights and religious freedoms. Questions such as the right of Christians to hold a Biblical view on homosexuality could only be settled in the Constitutional Court, he said.
He said it was difficult to understand how the SAHRC made a finding on Creare since they had failed to properly frame any allegations against the centre. No people had made any complaints or allegations about Creare. However the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affaris, Andries Nel, ordered an investigation in terms of Section 9 of the Constitution relating to unfairly discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation. Willis said Nel had merely referred the commission to some words in a prospectus. He agreed in general when Naidoo said that it seemed the commission based its ruling on newspaper reports rather than on any documents or anything that Heyningen had said.
Van Heyningen said that the trouble started after a reporter phoned him and asked him some questions. The next thing a report appeared in the Sunday Times falsely stating that Creare said it could cure homosexuals and that it compared itself to a rehabilitation centre. These false reports were quickly repeated by other secular news media, he said.
He said the centre has never claimed that it can “cure” homosexality. Nor has it during its 17 years of operation ever asked any of its thousands of students about their sexual orientation or taken action against any students because of their sexual orientation.
Five to six thousand students attend part-time arts courses. About 20 to 30 students participate in a church-afilliated full-time programme preparing them for Christian ministry. During a course on human sexuality one or two of these students typically ask for help in getting out of an unwanted homosexual lifestyle.
“We don’t see homosexuality as a disease that needs a cure,” said Heynigen.
Referring to people who asked for help with changing their lifestyle, he said: “Change must happen through loving people, through accepting people, through having respect for people, knowing that God believes in them. Even before we can believe in God He believes in us, knowing what He has created.”
He said that every person has a longing to love and worship “this God”. Many do not realise that they have such a longing.
“We need to show this God to them”.
He dismissed as unfounded, statements by Deputy Minister Nel, that stating the view that homosexuals are not born that way and can change, promotes violence against homosexuals.
“We we need to respect the rights of every human being,” he said.
“But what about respecting the rights of the many people who believe they are not born that way [homosexual]?”
He said: “We need to honour the human rights of those who want to change, and somewhere there must be a facility for them.”
Both Van Heyningen and Naidoo said they knew many people who had successfully changed from a homosexual to a heterosexual lifestyle. There were thousands of such people, said Naidoo.
One of the studio guests on last night’s Watchman On the Wall was Andre Bekker, who changed after 32 years of living as a homosexual. He is now married, with children and leads a Christian ministry.
Naidoo said he believes the SAHRC campaign against Ceare implicated the entire church in South Africa.
“We have to stand as a united church against this [campaign]which I believe is an attack on the integrity of God’s word,” he said.