In a letter sent by Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) to the CRL Rights Commission today, more than 50 (including a number of the major) churches, denominations and other faiths requested the Commission grant an extension to the deadline given for comments on the Commission’s proposed regulation of religion in SA, to 1 June 2017.

The letter follows two meetings organised by FOR SA in Cape Town and Johannesburg last week, where over 200 religious leaders gathered to discuss the Commission’s recent Report on the “Commercialisation of Religion”. The consensus of leaders at both meetings was that, given the magnitude of the regulations that are being proposed and the serious impact that these will have on each and every religious institution and practitioner in South Africa, the Commission’s original time frame (of 3 weeks only, with the current deadline being 18 November 2016) for comments is completely inadequate for the level of consultation that needs to take place within individual churches, denominations and the wider faith community before appropriate and informed comments can be made.

“We are hoping that the Commission will grant this extension in the interest of good faith towards the faith community of South Africa,” said Michael Swain, Executive Director of FOR SA.  “It is important to take into consideration the fact that many churches and denominations in particular will only have their annual general meetings in April next year”.

The Commission’s investigation into the “commercialisation” of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems, initiated towards the end of last year, followed a few isolated complaints of harmful or bizarre religious practices which also received high profile media coverage.  The solution currently proposed by the Commission, is to “fast track” legislation through Parliament that would impose a comprehensive regulatory framework on religion in South Africa. This would include mandatory registration and licensing of qualifying religious organisations as well as religious practitioners and places of worship.

ENDS

Download a copy of the letter sent to CRL Commission with signatories Download the CRL Report

For further information, please contact Michael Swain:

UPDATE (9 November 2016, 16h00):

Pursuant to a request by Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) on behalf of 50+ churches, denominations and other faiths, for an extension of the original deadline for comments on the CRL Rights Commission’s Report on the “Commercialisation” of Religion, the Commission this afternoon advised that “due to the high number of requests , the final date for comments has been moved to Tuesday, 28 February 2017.

 

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