Selley urges action on new ‘Gender Bill’ threat to religious freedom

familyCape Town church leader Andrew Selley has called on Christian leaders in South Africa to take urgent united action to avert a new threat to religious freedom posed by a proposed Government Bill on gender equality.

In a letter to church and ministry leaders he warns that while the intent of the ‘Woman Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill’ is commendable, its implementation will allow the State to interfere in the internal workings of religious institutions. He asks leaders to submit comments to a public hearing at Parliament on January 29 and 30, proposing that they be exempted from the application of the Bill. 

Selley, whose Joshua Generation Church (JGC) is the target of another Government attack on religious freedom — a SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigation into the church’s teaching on corporal punishment — says a stipulation in the Gender Bill that women should have at least 50% representation in decision-making structures of public and private bodies (including religious institutions) poses a significant threat to religious freedom.

Following the launch of the SAHRC probe into JGC last year Selley mobilised leaders representing some 12 million Christians to cooperate in defending religious freedom in South Africa. Drawing from that experience in which some leaders focused on their different positions on corporal punishment, rather than on the bigger issue of the churches’ right to teach Scripture according to their convictions, he urges leaders to focus on the larger principle of religious freedom despite their differences in Biblical interpretation.

Government interference threat
Spelling out the danger of the Bill in its present form, Selley says: “There is no exception in the Bill to address the freedom of individuals and religious communities. This law, should it be passed, will allow Government to influence and eventually dictate how religious institutions interpret and teach portions of Scripture, especially with regards to the governance of religious institutions and the functioning of the family unit.

“On a practical level this means that religious leaders will most likely be prohibited from teaching Ephesians 5:23, and that the husband is the head of the family. Likewise the same applies to those that believe and teach that eldership is male. Both public and private bodies will have to ensure a minimum of 50% senior leaders are female, despite possibly having contrary religious convictions, or the lack of available or suitable leadership candidates.

“Furthermore, the enforcement of this law would mean that those teaching or acting on their beliefs could face potential fines or imprisonment.

“This law may also open the door for further persecution against religious institutions by lobby groups and human rights agencies, all of whom may attack the convictions and beliefs of those religious bodies that do not align with the Bill.”

Acknowledging doctrinal differences in the Church in South Africa, he writes: “We understand that not everyone agrees in the same interpretation of Scripture. Whatever your theological position is on the various subjects touched by the Bill, it is important to note that this is again an attempt at creating a very dangerous precedent for government’s interference and control of religious institutions, as well as of family life in South Africa. The fact that the state will try to force all those who believe differently should be of great concern to all.

The larger principle
“In proceeding along this road, believers of all walks of life and differing convictions will be deprived of their freedom of association, speech and belief. Whether your particular religious body agrees with male Eldership or that the Husband is the Head of the Home, or even whether homosexuality is acceptable or not, the fact is that the Gender Equality Bill in its present form is invasive and over-reaches Government’s role in Religious and Family affairs. In this matter we ask you to not get confused or caught up in the detail, but to let us hold to the larger principle of religious freedom in South Africa.”

Selley concludes his letter to leaders by pointing out that Parliament has invited the public to email comments on the Bill for consideration in public hearings on Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30.

“We have the opportunity to not only take note of this Bill, but to propose recommendations for the Bill to be changed from its current form.

“We ask that you sign the attached letter (or your own altered version thereof) and send through your recommendation for the amendment of the Bill to ,”  he says.

Leaders are also invited to request further information from Selley via the same email address .


  1. Must really gall you, Mr Selley, that the person you have to send submissions to happens to be female. I’m sure she’ll look kindly on you submissions.

    • Hi Carol. Thanks for your response. I have no problem submitting to any person- male or female. I just don’t think government should dictate religious conviction or interfere into what people believe. Blessings Andrew

      • Concerned_Christian

        The government is not dictating your religious convection. It is actually doing exactly what it is suppose to do by protecting people against discrimination. In this case a person using a twisted interpretation of scripture to satisfy their agenda.

        Jesus gave no explicit teaching on the role of women in the church. In fact, he left no teaching at all concerning women as a class of people…. He treated every woman he met as a person in her own right.

        That is because women are human beings and therefore the government is obliged to protect from exactly this kind of discrimination that you propose.

        • A voice of sanity! Thank you for expressing the view of many millions of Christians. Isn’t it ironic that those Christians who want the ‘right’ to be the head of the household base their demand on the Old Testament rather than the what Christ himself did and said. I suppose that’s because they can’t find any evidence to support their demand

          • Assuming the basis of this argument is human rights which it is not and can never be, what about the rights of women who believe that husbands are the head of the home and that eldership is a male role. How do these women have their religious freedom or must they submit themselves to your position against their will?

          • I dont know what bible you read from carol let alone if you actually are reading any bible because Ephesians 5:22-24 says “wives submit to your husbands as to the Loed. For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church. verse 24 goes on to say “And so wives must submit completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ”

      • And I don’t think (and neither does our Constitution) that you have the right to infringe on anyone else’s rights, no matter what you say God says you can do

        • Invoking the constitution is silly because in the pre amble to the constitution it says that “the constitution is sovereign”. Yet mere men have written the constitution and men are not sovereign. God alone is sovereign. “Hear o Israel the Lord your God is one, worship him and him alone shall you worship” Deut 6:4

          Those proposing this bill and those opposing it should pay careful attention to the history behind this statement “Kurios Iesous”

    • What is Jesus to you? Is He Prophet, Priest or King?

  2. Wanting 50% representation of any specific gender in decision-making structures of public and private bodies is absolutely ludicrous. Especially when the population make-up between gender isn’t 50%.

  3. I think that people’s obsession with gender issues is similar to that of race. Instead of reacting to actual incidents of abuse of individuals on gender lines, people shallowly and generically attack Christians on their perceived notions of discrimination which is actually fueled by their own prejudices. A good cause Andrew and also nice response to Carol who automatically labels you without knowing you. Blessings

  4. Oh yes – because “God” forbid that the almighty patriarchy should lose control of the church!

    Think Mr Selley is demonstrating the classical blindness to the very thing that leads to persecution of others – EXCLUSION and isolation from any decision-making processes which directly affect them.

    Legal measures which protect women from discrimination are being attacked under the banner of “religious freedom” because these individuals view religious freedom as something which belongs to one caste of humanity – and not to anyone else!

    I think it is time that Christians stopped sitting silently by while those who they allow to make decisions on their behalf also perpetuate injustice and human rights abuses in their name!

    • No Christina. You are obviously ready to attack without looking at what is being said. Andrew Selley clearly stated that “the intent of the ‘Woman mpowerment and Gender Equality Bill’ is commendable”. It is the implementation that is dangerous. There is no desire here to perpetuate injustice or abuse human rights. In fact the bill as it stands will create all kinds of problems in businesses, charities and religious institutions.

      • Concerned_Christian

        Nonsense. That is simply weasel words to justify the position of this person.

        If you / they have no desire to perpetuate injustice or abuse human rights, then why the objection to the Bill? The Bill is all for stopping the perpetuation of discrimination yet you / they object to it?

        You simply want to protect yourself from this bill because what is being proposed by mr. Selley is discrimination.

        • Concerned Christian do you know Jesus as Lord and Saviour or do you just belong to a Christian Fellowship? I ask only because I an not ashamed to admit, as Bobby Visser, that I am a Christ-follower due ONLY to my intimate relationship with Jesus. When you call yourself Christian and not by your own name, you are representing me and all the body of Christ while hiding who you really are. Please stop hiding from man … God sees all …

  5. Oh my! This man likes to be in the news, hey?

  6. Please ladies, this isn’t about women’s rights or patriarchy; it’s about the government interfering in freedom of religion!
    If you don’t like a patriarchal church, join one that allows women leaders – but please don’t support government interference in religious affairs! Personally I have no problem with women leaders in the church as I believe that there has been much misunderstanding of what Paul wrote. However, I do have problems with abortion and homosexuality. The next step by the government will doubtless be that all churches in South Africa will have to employ homosexuals – and that is definitely non Scriptural! This is just the thin edge of the wedge. If you do a bit of research you will be shocked at what governments in Europe and America are doing to interfere with the Christian church… I plead with you all; please forget about petty squabbles over gender and concentrate on the vital issue: Government is starting to interfere in how your church should be run. What will be their next step?

  7. ChristopherBlackwell

    I am fascinated by the idea that treating people fairly is somehow interfering with religious freedom. I am amazed that treating people unfairly or bullying them is considered to be a religious right.

    Please point out where Jesus ever went along with this idea? I sort of suspect people will use quotes from the Old Testament which is often the refuge for those ignoring what Jesus himself said on any subject.

    If Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior I would think that his own words would be paramount among those that claim to follow him.

  8. Don’t you think that putting a “like” or “dislike” button next to the comments will be a good idea? That would give us the opportunity to state how we feel about the comments. Please consider that? Thank you.

  9. Although I do disagree that woman are (in some churches) put down etc I am with Andrew on this issue that we cannot allow even one ruling that gives the government the right to dictate how we should operate our religious freedom rights … can you imagine what the muslim communities are going thru now if they got hold of this too … Andrew maybe including them in on this fight might get us a bigger foothold into fighting this matter??? What is the Jewish perspective on this??? and other religions?

    Go with God’s blessing Andrew …

    Signed “your ray of sunshine from the rear of the church”


    • Stephan, don’t you think that including the Muslims here (as Mr Selley did with the previous writing on spanking) is a rather dangerous thing to do? What will happen if the Muslims want the favor returned one or other time when they feel their religious freedom is being threatened? Would Mr Selley be so nice as to support them, specially if it is a point that stands directly opposite of his own beliefs?

  10. ChristopherBlackwell


    I would have thought a reply button gives you a very good way to show what you agree with or disagree with. More importantly it gives you a way to show why you like or dislike something and that might be useful to everyone.

    • Yes Christopher, the reply button serves a good purpose but it will be much quicker if there are a number of comments you agree with or not with to just click a button :) Thanks in any case.

  11. My prayers are for this cause Mr Selley. Your detractors are much as you expected no doubt. I wonder if they consider the Godhead unconstitutional because there is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit but no wife or daughter? Be of good courage and humour brother. We live in such absurd times as to have those who do not believe that Jesus was actually God wanting to have representation in the Christian church. Mathew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

  12. The bulls-eye of this discussion is that the church world wide was caught sleeping when governments brought law’s that restricted the freedom of religion. Andrew is a timely trumpeter awakening the church in South Africa. The wall around the dart board is full of misaimings.

  13. Please note that Christina Engela (real name Engelbrecht) is not a Christian. She is a dysphoric “transsexual” lesbian, and is opposed to Biblical Christianity and its values, opposes the Lordship of Jesus Christ and therefore has a spirit of antichrist. She has an agenda to undermine Biblical Christianity. Do not feed the trolls.

  14. To all those opposing Mr Selley, just look what happened in the garden of eden when a women was left to make a decision……

    • Ah now come on Shawn! The Bible teaches us clearly that “6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate..” Please take not of the fact that she gave to her husband with her! It seems that Mr Adam was standing right next to Eve when this happened. Pity that he didn’t exercised his headship then. Maybe we would all still have been in the garden of Eden :)

  15. Another observation Mr Selley, “Not all those who call on me ,Lord,Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do the will of my father”. My bet is the majority of people commenting against your proposals are just pew warmers who have “itchy ears” and surround themselves with preachers who preach what they want to hear.Therefore they have no revelation from the “Spirit who guides us into all truth”. The people commenting against your proposals also dont understand the principles of “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and wives submit to your husbands”.Whenever someone discusses this topic there are always some women who get uptight about the “submit” word because they have missed the dynamics of the principle. They are the same ones objecting to your principles. The Word of God says that there will be a “falling away of the faith in the last days”.Lets see how long these pew warmers will last…. Jesus said “All those who live Godly lives in Christ shall suffer persecution”. So you press on Mr Selley.

  16. Oh my, who needs enemy if we who call ourselves “Christians” fight ourselves like this?! I guess it’s good in a sense. No more can we hide in the grey areas. Either you are for God or you are against. May these topics and issues that we face sift out those luke warm/deceitful characters in our mids. May each false word spoken in these comments be exposed for what they are. May those who are in the truth know the importance of their prayers and intersession. What we see here is obviously what we have read in the Bible… What man will be and how he will act in the last days. No use quarreling with unteachable spirits and hardend hearts. ALL THE BEST TO THIS CAUSE!!! God have mercy on our land…

  17. Rev Ian Karshagen

    Biblical Truth is not discrimination. “Discrimination” is a word often loosely used when trying to defend Godlessness.

  18. Concerned_Christian

    Rev Ian Karshagen – so that is how Apartheid was justified from the pulpit?

    I would love to know how you reconcile that statement with the love of Jesus Christ our Saviour?

    Honestly you lot sound like men walking very far from Jesus trying to defend your hardened hearts. I do not see the love of Jesus in your words, but the agenda of men.

  19. Concerned_Christian

    Maybe Mr. Selley needs to read his new testament for a change: Galatians 3:26-29 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

  20. Again Concerned Christian you take things out of context. That scripture is talking about salvation not function in the church.

    • Concerned_Christian

      Salvation is the function of the church Ben. That is what Jesus is all about. Your church is not more important than Jesus and what he is about.

  21. Dear All, this is totally pathetic. The Discussion is not supposed to be about gender issues or the dogmas of different denominations, or how certain laymen amongst us choose to interpret Jesus’ words! IT IS ABOUT THE RIGHT OF GOVERNMENT – ANY GOVERNMENT – TO INTERFERE IN THE RUNNING OF ANT CHURCH OR RELIGIOUS ORGANISATION!!! Church and state are supposed to be separate institutions. I reiterate; please have a look at what is happening in Europe and America where Christianity is being attacked on all levels.
    This is just the thin edge of the wedge. Instead of fighting each other and trying to seem so clever over little points of doctrine, why not get back to the Point. WE NEED TO UNITE TO SAVE THE CHURCH FROM OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE!!

  22. I was under the impression that this was a Christian forum not a forum for those subscribing to the Humanist manifesto.
    By you comment you imply that the ideas of man are above those of God. Please read my comment carefully. perhaps you have had a bitter experience in the Church? The fact still remains that no Christian may countenance interference by government in Christian affairs. If people are being trampled on in a church it is up to the congregation to get rid of them. Alternatively one cam vote with one’s feet.

    • Concerned_Christian

      It is not for the church to decide what is / is not discrimination because so many to do not follow the example of Christ.

      That is a government’s function to protect each and every citizen.

  23. I am a women and I don’t want it any other way. God has created men with a purpose and women for just an important purpose. Women who want to be equal and override male authority are looking to get there fingers burnt. I will gladly submit to my husband who the Lord has provided me, cause then I know he will love me like Christ loved the church that He laid down His life for it. Go read Eph 5:22-33 carefully. Men like to use the first part but throw out the 2nd part no wonder the ladies are getting upset and rebellious. But if you understand the full concept of this scripture, both men and women will realize how extraordinarily beautiful it truly is and how perfect God’s way and will is. This is Godly order and where there is no Godly order, there is chaos. I agree 100% that the government should stay out of it. The government do not rule under the authority of God and do not follow the Wisdom of God which will surely lead to more distraction and chaos. Just look at our children and what the impact is of government interference. Persecution is inevitable, cause Jesus said that is what will happen.. but we will still be the winners in the end through Him. God bless all His children and may many more be transferred out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.

  24. To suggest that opposition to this bill equates with oppression of women is ridiculous. Lets look at this rationally:
    1. A few years ago Helen Zille, whilst Premier of the Western Cape had a cabinet that was predominantly male. This bill would have undermined her rights as a female leader to choose the cabinet she wished.
    2. The same would apply to many thousands of women in SA who run their own businesses.
    3. Within the church, there are millions of ladies, many of them strong, intelligent and well educated who do not believe that elders/priests should be male. This bill would remove their rights and freedoms.
    4. This bill would mean that even in churches that believe in women elders/priests, the choice of leaders would be determined by quotas and not the will of God. Again this would undermine rights and beliefs of many women.

    Andrew Selley, as a church leader, is not fighting for political or business organisations. He is focussing on religious freedoms. Make no mistake, however, this bill is likely to be problematic for millions of women in this country. To not share the same narrow brand of ‘feminism’ as some of those commenting here is not to be anti women. I wonder, for example, how many of them would be in favour of a bill that compelled all business, churches etc. to have a minimum of 80% black decision makers. Would objection to such onerous quotas make a person racist? Absolutely not. We need to find other, less damaging ways to redress the very real problems ofthis nation

    • Concerned_Christian

      More weasel words from men trying to protect their kingdom. A kingdom very far from The Kingdom.

      More men claiming they have the authoritative knowledge of the “Will of God”. The sheer arrogance!

  25. Spot on Mike. Glad to see a breath of fresh air (as opposed to all the misguided hot air).

  26. We don’t believe there’s a place for women elders in the church. When the apostle Paul said that a woman should not “teach or exercise authority over a man” (1 Timothy 2:12), he did not follow that statement with a cultural argument. Rather he went all the way back to creation to show that women weren’t intended to dominate men (vv. 13-14). The reasons he gave are that the woman was created after the man, and that she was deceived when acting independently of his leadership.

    Paul goes on to say in 1 Timothy 2:15 that “women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” That verse is not talking about women’s eternal destiny, but means that they are saved from being second-class citizens through the privilege of rearing children. God designed a woman to fulfill a role in the home that no man ever can (Proverbs 31:10-31; Titus 2:4-5).

    Our society’s current thinking on the woman’s role is contrary to the priorities revealed in the Bible. Genesis 3 explains why that conflict exists. After the Fall, God told the woman, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). Genesis 4:7 helps us to understand what that verse means. There God told Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Exactly the same phrase is used in both passages. So in the same way sin tries to dominate us all, fallen women desire to overpower their husbands, and fallen men tend to oppress them in the same way sin oppresses the sinner. The intended balance, of course, is achieved when men and women lead and submit in a godly manner (Ephesians 5:22-33).

  27. Hey guys we are supposed to be Christians and behave Christ like. So why the insecurity from both genders. God created man a partner with whom to share his existence hence woman. There is nowhere recorded that I’m aware of the the Lord ever stated that women are lesser people yet we quibble over trivial matters. Yes we are to stand up and defend freedom of religion not make a fight out of it

  28. Pray and be obedient to your government. Stop arguing. It is not your fight but God’s. It’s sad to see christians fighting like this,that is to say if you are!

  29. Why is it that the Bible,(what all Christians base their teachings on) mentions the Father, Son and He(the Holy Spirit)….. mmmm not seeing any Her in there, (can anybody show me differently?) Reason being is that Gay rights would then be argued which according to scripture God is apposed to, the reality is just like it is the Fathers genetic code that dictates the gender of a child – interesting leadership from conception..:)men who step up to the plate as they should are the stronger, the protectors, the providers, and the ultimate guardians of the family. Here is a shocker and a reality to the actual point and origin of the argument, Imagine Julius Malema comes into power, and says you before getting married must pay R10 000 to the Government without choice,…. are you going to say sure – not a problem – common –

  30. Concerned Christian – .” … the world will know you are Mine by your love one for another …” (Jesus speaking …Bobby’s paraphrase) … so why do you not stop attacking, give direct scriptures and give the world your full identity (What is your name and where do you live … give us some background, seeing that you didn’t fully answer my first question to you)or are you just playing devil’s advocate for sensationalism’s sake?