Curbing religious freedom?

2017-01-24 06:01

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The closing date for public comments on the latest draft of the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill is fast approaching, which is 31 January.

Most South Africans are unaware of this legislation and its potential implications for freedom of speech and religion in the country.

It would particularly infringe on the constitutional right to freedom of religion and belief of ordinary citizens. Due to the broad phrases used in this document, it could mean that religious sermons and practices will be subject to frequent scrutiny in future. These may also even be subjected to government approval, to ensure that no harm results from it and that it offends no-one, both inside and outside of that religion.

This seems like a form of political correctness in which merely relaying unpopular things that are clearly stated in scriptures like the Bible for example, could be punishable by law.

This kind of criminalisation and censure is commonly found in communist and non-religious countries. Since when does the voice and will of man have greater authority than the Word of God? Is this yet another hindrance for God to be able to bless our country?

What is also of concern, is the short time period made available for public comment on this Bill, and the lack of public awareness campaigns on it.

Could this be interpreted as deliberate attempts to have only a small minority objecting, as it would easily give government the authority to pass it into law?

The vast majority of South Africans are actively practising different religions, and would no doubt have already objected to it, had they been made more aware of what it entails; and how they could go about lodging these dissatisfactions with Parliament.

G Contaldi Tafelsig

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