Complaint over Bible billboard

2010-03-30 22:37

Pretoria - May a Christian put a Bible verse on a billboard saying that people are fools if they deny the existence of God?

The Advertising Standards Authority was confronted with this question on Tuesday, after they received a complaint about such a billboard alongside the busy Zambezi Avenue in Pretoria.

The billboard quotes the first sentence of Psalm 14: "The fool says in his heart: 'There is no God'."

The billboard was placed there by Pastor David Grobler from Unite 180, the youth ministry of the Pentecostal Church's Shalom centre.

'Implies atheists are stupid'

Danie Hamman found the message on the board so offensive that he submitted a complaint.

In his complaint he says the board implies that anyone who doesn't believe in God is "silly, stupid, a madman" etc.

Hamman is a successful businessman and pilot. He doesn't believe in the existence of God but he doesn't consider himself to be "foolish" or "stupid".

Grobler's defence was based on the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of speech entrenched in the Constitution.

Other examples

If he is not allowed to proclaim this Bible verse in public, he wants to know why and how his case is any different from other religious slogans such as "Real men follow Jesus" and "Repent and you will be saved".

The implications of the above slogans are, after all, that men who don't follow Jesus are not real men, and that people who do not repent will go to hell.

The two parties had to deliver their final arguments to the commission of the advertising standards authority on Tuesday so that the finding could be made.

After the sitting of the commission, Grobler said he hopes the verdict is decided in his favour for the sake of religious freedom, but nonetheless, he is slightly worried.

A spokesperson for the Advertising Standards Authority said the decision will be announced in a week's time or later.