In October 2016, the CRL Rights Commission released its Report on the “commercialisation” of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems. The Report recommends the broad-scale regulation of religion in South Africa, including the compulsory registration of all religious institutions and religious practitioners.
The deadline for comments on this Report, which will ultimately be presented to Parliament, is Tuesday, 28 February. (A copy of the CRL’s Report is available at http://forsa.org.za/document-library/ – scroll down to and click on “CRL Report on commercialisation of religion”).
Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) and the SA Council for the Protection and Promotion of Religious Rights and Freedoms (who oversees the SA Charter for Religious Rights and Freedoms), in consultation with other lawyers, believe that the CRL’s recommendations, if implemented, would violate the constitutional right to religious freedom and freedom of association. The religious sector is already heavily regulated by various laws, which should be implemented and enforced to address the problems identified by the CRL in its Report.
In the circumstances, FOR SA, on behalf of its signed-up members and the various (including many of the major) churches, denominations and organisations who have asked FOR SA to represent them in this matter, will be making a comprehensive submission to the CRL with regard to its Report, explaining why their recommendations are not only constitutional, but unnecessary and unworkable. A summary of the submissions that we intend to make, can be found here.
It is critical that religious institutions and practitioners make their voices heard at this stage, before the CRL submits the Report to Parliament, in order to influence what is ultimately put before Parliament.
CALL TO ACTION:
- FOR SIGNED-UP MEMBERS OF FOR SA: If you have joined FOR SA as a member and do not wish to stand with us on this issue, please notify us accordingly at firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than Tuesday, 21 February.
- FOR ORGANISATIONS/PERSONS NOT SIGNED UP AS MEMBERS OF FOR SA: If you have not joined FOR SA as an organisation and wish nonetheless to stand with us on this issue, please also notify us at email@example.com by no later than Tuesday, 21 February (and indicate the official name and contact details of your organisation, as well as the capacity in which you are representing them).
- SUBMIT YOUR OWN COMMENTS TO THE CRL: For those religious institutions, practitioners, organisations or individuals who wish to submit their own comments (separate from FOR SA’s submission) to the CRL, you are welcome to do so by e-mailing the CRL Rights Commission directly at firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than Tuesday, 28 February. (It would be helpful if FOR SA were to be copied into your response to the CRL).
In order to assist you, FOR SA has prepared a ‘sample submission’ that you can either copy/paste on your own letterheads, or use as background information to prepare and submit your comments on the Report, to the CRL.Download the Sample Submission here
- SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION TO THE CRL, at https://www.change.org/p/crl-rights-commission-keep-religion-free-from-regulation-in-south-africa