FOR SA (Freedom of Religion South Africa) is a legal advocacy organisation working to protect and promote the constitutional right to religious freedom in South Africa. We do this by engaging with government on policies, and making submissions to Parliament on draft legislation, that may negatively impact on religious freedom. We also appear – as a “friend of the court” or principal party – before government commissions and the Courts (including the Constitutional Court) in cases affecting religious freedom.
Increasingly, laws are proposed that make the State rather than the Bible the highest authority on what Christians should believe, and how they should act according to those beliefs. Many of these laws subscribe to a secular liberalist world-view and as such, are in direct conflict with Christian and family values.
This is a serious threat to the constitutional rights of religious freedom, freedom of religious expression, freedom of association and the rights of religious communities. Our Constitutional Court has recognised that together these rights give churches a degree of autonomy to govern their own affairs.
– The Honourable Justice Sachs in Christian Education SA v Minister of Education v Minister of Education (2000) (Constitutional Court)
The Real Threat
The real threat lies in that these laws open the door to persecution of Christians in South Africa. Religious persecution is often thought of as extreme physical acts of violence directed at adherents of a particular faith. As a result of this limited understanding of religious persecution, it is often not recognised until it is too late. A common but more subtle form of persecution is the outlawing of Christian teachings and practices that are seen to contradict the secular liberalist world-view. As a result of the criminalisation of such teachings and practices, Christian pastors and members of the faith are forced to choose between obeying the law and obeying their faith, with potentially harsh consequences should they choose to disobey the law. This is a situation that should be avoided in an open and democratic society built on human dignity, equality and freedom.
Against this background, FOR SA serves as a voice for Christians in South Africa to government and society on issues affecting the autonomy of the church and our constitutional freedom as Christians to:
- believe what we believe according to our interpretation of the Bible;
- declare our religious beliefs openly and without fear of interference or punishment by the State; and
- manifest our religious beliefs by worship and by practice or by teaching and dissemination.
Calling Christians to Stand Together
FOR SA believe that together and with God for us, Christians in South Africa can make a difference – to the glory of God and the good of our nation.
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