Parliamentary portfolio committees this week heard the conflicting views of the CRL Rights Commission and the religious sector — represented by Freedom of Religion SA (FOR SA) — on how to deal with commercialisation of religion and other abuses in the religious arena.
At a workshop at parliament on Tuesday the CRL presented its final report and recommendations on the “Commercialisation of Religion and Abuse of People’s Belief Systems” and FOR SA was given an opportunity to share widespread concerns of the religious community about what is seen as attempt by the CRL to implement state control of religion. FOR SA argues that existing laws are in place to deal with the legitimate concerns that the CRL seeks to address, and that its recommendations are unworkable and unconstitutional (See more on FOR SA’s concerns here).
The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and other committees participated in the workshop.
FOR SA was invited to make a follow-up, full presentation to the COGTA portfolio committee and the committee also invited anybody else who wants to give input, to let it have their views, reports the ACDP. Individual churches are also encouraged to request an opportunity to make submissions to the COGTA portfolio committee chair at email@example.com. Meetings are expected to take place in August/September.
The ACDP warned against rushing the process of responding to the CRL’s report and risking unintended consequences.
“Despite the contentious nature of the issues being discussed, freedom of religion and belief is important and must not be undermined. Tolerance is an important element but does not negate the need for Christians to take some responsibility and perhaps the initiative regarding their own standards of behaviour and ethics,” said ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley in a media statement.