THE Dutch Reformed Church, found guilty of discriminating against a music teacher by sacking him when they discovered he was gay, is in a quandary over the apology it has been ordered to make.
Dominee Dirkie van der Spuy, head of the Moreleta Park congregation in Pretoria, was disappointed by the High Court judgment in favour of Johan Strydom, who won his discrimination case earlier this week.
The pastor said the church would have to study the judgment before deciding on how to apologise to Strydom.
He added that the church could not, however, apologise for the word of God.
But Christian values teach us to reach out to everyone in love, even to the sinner. We would want him (Strydom) to have peace.
Calling a man a “sinner” after you’ve just been found guilty of discriminating against him is hardly a good start to a judicially-ordered apology.
What Van der Spuy should be saying, we respectfully suggest, is:
We are a bunch of pathetic, deluded balmpots who used a foolish old book written by superstition-riddled primitives to treat you like shit, just as we used it for decades to justify treating all non-white South Africans like shit. We are an affront to humanity, and we apologise to you unconditionally for any distress our Christian bigotry caused you.
Strydom, according to Pretoria News, said a public apology by the church would help other homosexuals. He added that the judgment would mean a lot to other gay people in the workplace, and prospective employers would now have to adhere to sound labour practices.
His lawyer, James Spies, said although they would prefer a public apology, the court only stipulated that it should be an unconditional apology.
It will have to be done within a reasonable time and I think it will probably be by way of a letter.
Spies added that the constitution prevailed over the right to religious freedom.
It means that you cannot infringe upon another’s right because of your religious beliefs.
Van der Spuy said the church would consider whether it would appeal the judgment.
UPDATE – September 2, 2008: Predictably, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth among certain fundies in S Africa, as this report indicates. We predict that this story will run, and run.