South African hate speech bill could lead to unfair curbs on religious freedom
Church leaders have called for a redrafting of a South African Hate Speech Bill because it could lead to the registering of all places of worship and the state licensing of ‘religious practitioners’.
According to proposals the registration and licensing of religion would be undertaken by a government-appointed body named the ‘Peer Review Council’. Critics of the proposals which are out for consultation until December 1, point to authoritarian and totalitarian states which similarly insist on licensing of ministers.
Bishop Philip Le Feucre, formerly Bishop of St Marks in the Anglican Church of South Africa is one of those responding to the consultation. He said: “Pray for us to be wise in the Holy Spirit – we need to avoid thoughtless knee-jerk reactions.”
The South African government is determined to bring in a new bill to tackle hate speech after criticism that racism persists in post-apartheid South Africa.
The Bishop of Johannesburg, Dr Steve Moreo last week criticised Julius Malema who leads the Economic Freedom Figher’s Party, for controversial comments. He recently said in a speech to his supporters: “We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people – at least for now.”
Bishop Moreo said that such speech had no place in South Africa.
He said: “Christians can have no truck with this hateful, anti-Christian rhetoric. All South Africans can trace the history of their lives to the influence of many people, from different races, various creeds and backgrounds.
“None of us exists in a vacuum, for all of us are made in the image of God and are dependent on the community of the faiths to which we each belong,” he said.