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Religious hysteria grips S Africa over proposed Equality Act changes

Religious hysteria grips S Africa over proposed Equality Act changes June 18, 2021

I HAVE to hand it to the folk over at far-right, anti-vax LifeSiteNews. They have a talent for unearthing some of the scariest faith-heads you’re every liable to encounter outside a horror movie.

Image via YouTube

Their latest offering is Nadene Badenhorst, above, legal counsel for Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) who warns in an hysterical video that a proposed amendment to the Promotion of Equality and the Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) will:

Transform the Equality Act into the most dangerous piece of legislation we have seen. If adopted in its current form, religious rights will simply be trampled underfoot.

Badenhorst, South Africa’s answer to Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern, claims that changes to the act will result in:

Persons of faith dragged before courts and potentially face very severe penalties in the form of fines, even jail time, even closure of churches and other places of worship simply for expressing and living out their religious convictions and beliefs.

If this bill goes through, every person and every organisation of whatever faith will have a target on their back.

An explanation of what the amendments aim to achieve is to be found in this report, and I can see nothing in it to cause alarm. In fact, religion isn’t even mentioned. Maybe Badenhorst got her slacks in a swivel over this:

The Bill … fleshes out the constitutional duty of the state to promote equality and to eliminate unfair discrimination. It proposes that state institutions have the duty to run information campaigns to make people familiar with the Act and to take measures to eliminate unfair discrimination and promote equality.

But she reckons:

Religious organisations will be expected to bring their doctrines and their internal workings in line with the bill, with government being able to prescribe what equality and no unfair discrimination should look like in their organizations. And as a result, religious organisations may well, in the name of equality, be forced to accept members or appoint leaders or employees whose beliefs go against the organisation’s own convictions and beliefs.

This is not equality. This is tyranny … the greatest threat to religious freedom since the advent of our democracy in 1994.

And she blathered on:

Every person of whatever faith, every institution of whatever faith, will be drastically impacted. Religious autonomy will be overruled. Independent faith by schools will be a thing of the past. The state will regulate you and activists will police you. Your voice will be muted, and state-financed litigation, with potentially ruinous sanctions, await you.

LSN claims it’s not just Christians who are gravely concerned about the potential impact of the Amendment Bill. It quoted the Council of Muslim Theologians as saying:

If the Bill is adopted in its current form, the state will have the right to, effectively, disallow certain beliefs and practices that it deems to be discriminatory or against a predetermined definition of equality. It may, for example, inhibit the right of an Imam to criticice, censure or speak out against practices deemed sinful and vile in Islam like same-sex marriages.

Ah. I wondered when the gay thing would surface.

In such an instance, the state will not only hold the Imam liable but also the committee responsible for the affairs of the masjid.

The Council added:

The Bill will allow the state to prescribe what may or what may not be said, published or propagated. The Bill will also allow the State to decide what we, as Muslims, may or may not do as an expression of our beliefs and religious values. This is tantamount to state regulation of religion which flies in the face of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

It is quite foreseeable that people and institutions of faith will be dragged before Court simply because someone does not like, does not agree with, or is offended by the expression of our religious convictions and beliefs.

Image via YouTube

Michael Swain, above, Executive Director of FOR SA, added:

Although our Constitution does not establish a hierarchy of rights, and therefore all human rights are equally worthy of protection, it is often people who express and live out conservative or religious values who find themselves in the cross hairs of this law.

PEPUDA is frequently used by activists who orchestrate and lodge unfair discrimination claims with Chapter 9 institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission and the Gender Equality Commission, and then press these state institutions to litigate on their behalf using taxpayer money.

Christian groups such as FOR SA had conniptions when the Biden administration fulfilled it’s promise to pass an Equalities Act. The House of Representatives voted in February to pass a bill that would ban discrimination against people based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also substantially expand the areas to which those discrimination protections apply.

Alliance Defending Freedom warned that it is:

A  deliberate attempt to force people of faith – good people who serve everyone – to promote messages and celebrate events that conflict with their sincere beliefs. The ‘Equality Act’ would also threaten the equal treatment of women and upend the bedrock understanding of male and female in our law and culture.

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