Religious Intolerance vs Freedom of Speech

2015-07-01 10:39

The acting SRC president of UCT Zizipho Pae wrote on her Facebook “We are institutionalizing and normalizing sin! Sin May God have mercy on us....

Some students reacted strongly to the statement demanding that disciplinary action immediately be taken against Pae, and her position as student leader be revoked.I am disturbed by how this statement has been interpreted as some form of religious intolerance. What I find interesting is the fact that Zizipho has not even responded to explain what she meant by this statement yet we are being intolerant towards her beliefs. And perhaps violating her freedom of expression right.

While I am not advocating for any form of hate speech, written or verbal. We all have the right to freedom expression, BUT need to remember that nobody is free from the consequences of what they express. I am certainly no “law fundi” but what I do know is that just like any other laws and rights, there are limitations.

If religious tolerance means freedom, then by silencing my religious views you are being intolerant. In fact most religions teach “religious intolerance” to a certain degree.

Religious intolerance is when an individual or a group specifically refuses to tolerate practices, persons or beliefs on religious grounds. Coming from a Christian background I will make references to Christianity as it would be disrespectful for me to make reference to Muslims or any other religion if I don’t share the same beliefs. I write about Christianity because I am knowledgeable about it, we need to refrain from writing about other religions if our level of knowledge regarding those religions is limited. If you don’t believe in it then chances that your knowledge is limited are high.

The bible says "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? ... Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." -2 Corinthians 6:14, 17

In as much as the bible makes it very clear about where Christians stand with people who do not share the same beliefs….the very same bible again says:

And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” – John 10:16

My approach to this is debate is biased as it only brings the Christian perspective into the table. Talking down about other religions reflects disrespect. If it is not what I believe in why should I be bothered with shaming it? The same bible again says

“Judge not, that ye be not judged: Matthew 7:1

In a society that portrays Christianity to be an institution that is on the lookout for those who have the committed the most sins and what sin is worse than the other. The bible again says “there is no sin greater than other” therefore passing the judgement is wrong too.

Section 16 of the Bill of Rights and Section 36 outlines the freedom of expression rights. In the era of social media may we all familiarise ourselves with it and think before we write or judge what we read on social media. The constitution is there to serve as a guideline but cannot control what people feel and believe in.

Again before passing any judgement to Zizipho let us remember “democracy should not be imposed through exploiting fundamental rights of any citizen”.

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